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2 posts from February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014

HOOPS: Chasing greatness

 

GAINESVILLE -- No. 1 Florida clinched the Southeastern Conference league title before February ended -- its third outright championship in four years -- but these Gators' goals are far from complete.

They're striving for greatness.

Florida is in the midst of a 20-game winning streak and UF coach Billy Donovan's thematic message has been received, absorbed and echoed like a pirate's parrot.

Not even Jay-Z and LeBron talk about greatness as much as Florida's players.

"We’re trying to chase greatness," sophomore shooting guard Michael Frazier II said. "We’re not settling for this. We still have a game tomorrow, and that’s what we’re focusing on. It’s great to have [SEC league title] honor. But we still have a lot of things to accomplish. We still have a lot of goals."

Added forward Dorian Finney-Smith: "Every play, moment by moment, every possession you've got to strive for greatness. Take care of the ball, just do everything right. … We're just trying to strive for greatness. We're thinking about bigger things."

Earlier in the week, Donovan downplayed his team's No. 1 ranking and on Friday he acknowledged -- despite the league title -- UF's quest for a national championship is just getting started.

"I’m really, really proud of them, but I still think there’s more out there in front of us that we have a chance and opportunity to go out and try to chase," Donovan said.

“The league is not over. We still have three games remaining. We’re playing against a very, very talented, very good team in LSU tomorrow afternoon. I think our guys certainly set out to compete for an SEC championship in early January but at the same point, the season’s not over. We’ve got three games left to be played. Our guys have done a good job up to this point in time of staying focused and going through the process of getting prepared for each game and I don’t think this game is any different for us in terms of you want to continue playing well. … In a week or maybe a little bit longer the SEC Tournament will start, the post season will start, so this is something where we’re playing against some good teams and we have an opportunity to keep moving in that direction. I still think there is a lot out there in front of our team.”

The Gators host the Tigers on Saturday at 4 p.m. on CBS.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Brunch Buffet: Gators clinch outright title

GAINESVILLE -- There's plenty of nourishment for everyone. 

THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?

The nation's top ranked men's basketball team clinched the Southeastern Conference regular season title without even taking the court Thursday evening. 

No. 1 Florida earned a share of the SEC title following its win at Vanderbilt on Tuesday, but with No. 17 Kentucky falling at home to Arkansas the Gators won their third outright league championship (2011, 2013, 2014) in the past four seasons. 

By virtue of winning the league title, Billy Donovan's team will be a No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament, have a double-bye and open the quarterfinal round Friday afternoon (March 14; 1 p.m.) in Atlanta (Georgia Dome). 

The Gators host the LSU Tigers this Saturday (4 p.m., CBS) with a chance to extend its 20-game winning streak and cut down the nets in front of their home crowd.   

DEPTH BOLSTERED

According to Florida's resident in-house wordsmith…

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 11.03.19 AM

We should have more on Hill's status later this afternoon after meeting with Donovan.   

BRACKETOLOGY No. 391,736.0

Couple updated mock brackets… The Gators are No. 1 seed in the South Region (Orlando) in Jerry Palm's latest field of 68. Florida also remains the top seed in the South Region in Joe Lunardi's updated bracket. 

FREEBIE FLAWS PERSIST 

Florida had a nice four-game stretch at the charity stripe before a dreadful performance at the line nearly cost the Gators in Nashville. 

UF's 12 attempts against Vandy were a season-low, while shooting 58 percent (7-of-12) from the stripe was its second-worst effort at the line this season. 

The Gators, thanks in large part to senior center Patric Young's dramatic improvement at the free throw line, had coupled four-straight games -- including three close road tilts -- over 77 percent. 

(at) Tennessee - 77.3 % (17-of-22)

(at) Kentucky 78.8 % (22-of-28)

Auburn 82.1 % (23-of-28)

(at) Ole Miss 78.9 % (15-of-19)

Young, a career 57 percent free throw shooter, is 26 for his last 34 (76 percent) at the charity stripe. 

FOOTBALL SCHEDULE UPDATES

Florida and Florida State officially renewed their annual series through 2018, UF announced Thursday. 

The two state rivals have played annually since 1958 and their current contract was set to expire after the 2014 season. The Gators will host the Seminoles in 2015 and 2017, while they will travel to Tallahassee in 2016 and 2018. 

Meanwhile, Florida also announced an addition to its 2015 schedule, adding a September 12 home game against East Carolina. This made a former Gator Clause blogger quite happy.

Screen shot 2014-02-28 at 11.47.17 AM

LINK DUMP 

* A recap of UF's storylines following the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine

* The Curious Case of DFS - Late last week I called Finney-Smith UF's X-factor and following a dismal month he responded with a terrific (and game-saving) effort against the Commodores. DFS (19 points) outscored Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II combined (18 points). 

* Pro Day, anyone

* Following the Gators' annual Junior Day weekend, their 2015 recruiting class continues to grow. And grow. And grow.   

Enjoy the afternoon, everybody.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 


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