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SEC Hoops Roundup 3/5/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Florida 72 – South Carolina 46. Video Highlights

1. 37-point night for Michael Frazier II includes 11 3-pointers.  22nd straight win for the Gators – one game away from perfect regular season conference record.

2. South Carolina coach Frank Martin on Frazier’s performance:  ”We never put a hand in his face.  I thought we were late to him every single time.”

Kentucky 55 – Alabama 48. Video Highlights

3. Despite shooting less than 33% from the floor, Kentucky gets the win.  Julius Randle grabs 11 rebounds and scores 12 points - only UK player to reach double digits.

4. Alabama loses its 18th game of the year – most losses since the 1969-70 season. Zero road wins in conference play for the Crimson Tide.

Wednesday SEC Hoops Schedule

Mississippi State at Georgia

Texas A&M at Missouri

Ole Miss at Arkansas

Tennessee at Auburn

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Florida’s Class Grows By Four

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxFlorida’s junior day last weekend helped the Gators added four commitments to their class of 2015.

Florida received commitments from the following in-state prospects in the last week: wide receivers Deondre Farrier from Orlando and Tristan Payton from Jacksonville, offensive lineman Tyler Jordan from Jacksonville and linebacker Camrin Knight from Tallahassee.

“It feels great to be a Gator,” Payton told the Orlando Sentinel. “I remember liking Tim Tebow … and Percy Harvin was my favorite.”

Payton has become a favorite receiver of First Coast quarterback De’Andre Johnson, who’s committed to Florida State.

“He’s a ‘Nole,” Payton said of Johnson. “He was proud of me with the decision I made and stuff like that, but he was all in my face talking about, ‘Go Noles.’ But not too much. When I came over here I didn’t have any offers or anything, so he was proud of me  for getting that offer from Florida.”

Florida was the first SEC school to offer Knight, who had already received official invitations from schools such as Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Florida’s proximity helped the Gators land Knight.

“I chose Florida because it’s close to home,” Knight told Rivals.com. “It’s like two and a half hours away, it’s a nice school, has nice facilities and I like what they are going to do this upcoming season.”

Florida, which has five commitments for the 2015 class, will continue to try to build recruiting momentum before the season begins. Several highly-touted prospects, including quarterback Dwayne Lawson from Tampa, Fla., and receiver Preston Williams from Hampton, Ga., visited Florida recently.

Williams told Rivals he is “100 percent” committed to Tennessee but plans to visit other schools to make sure. Gainesville was the most recent stop.

“It was a great experience,” Williams said of his Florida trip. “I like Florida a lot. They showed me everything. I saw the whole city and I really saw more what they have on campus.”

Lawson liked what he saw when he visited Florida. He told Rivals the Gators and Tennessee are standing out along with Central Florida and Ohio State. All four schools have offered Lawson.

“Those schools really do a good job recruiting me,” he said. “They show me the most love. They message me whenever they have time and they come to my school when they are allowed to.”

Lawson’s decision could come sooner than he originally planned. He said he will likely take unofficial visits to Tennessee, Central Florida and Ohio State before he chooses a school.

“I don’t really know what I should do right now,” Lawson said. “I think I need to talk to my coaches a little bit more about it before I do anything. I was going to wait until National Signing Day, but I don’t think that would be the best idea right now. I know some schools are going to want to know who their guy is.”

 

Sullivan chooses Auburn

Auburn received a commitment last weekend from linebacker Elijah Sullivan from Tucker (Ga.) High School.

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SEC Headlines 2/14/2014

headlines-friBacklash From Proposed NCAA Rule Change

1. “The best defensive coaches have admitted defeat and asked for help, and sadly, the NCAA is riding to their rescue.”

2. Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin:  ”No way should the defense be able to dictate the pace of the game. That’s why it’s called ‘defense.’”

3. Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper; “I just wish coaches would be honest and stop using player safety as their only reason they want to slow down offenses.”

4. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy: “The 10-second rule is like asking basketball to take away the shot clock – Boring!”

5. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema declines comment.  Nick Saban unavailable Thursday.  Neither man was on panel but did address the NCAA committee that proposed the rule change. Proposal was also a topic at a mid-January AFCA Convention.

6. Matt Hayes:  ”So a new rule could prevent the offense from snapping in the first 11 seconds of a play. Do you really think that’s going to slow down offenses?”

7. National coordinator of officiating: “I think it’s fair to say there’s not really much hard data on this.”

8. “You could get a delay of game penalty for going too quickly in college football in 2014.”

9. FBS teams averaged 71.8 plays per game in 2013, compared to 70.5 in 1973.

SEC Football

10. Arkansas’ director of recruiting Chris Hauser is leaving. Fourth member of staff to leave since the end of the 2013 season.

11. Ole Miss defensive end Channing Ward pleads guilty to DUI charge.  Will pay a fine and attend classes.

12. Is Ole Miss the biggest potential sleeper game on the Texas A&M schedule this fall?

13. Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen on Butch Jones’s recruiting style: ”Butch does the best job in America with the communication and the constant mailing and constant direct messaging…”

14. Re-ranking the recruiting class of 2011.

SEC Media/Gay Athletes

15. Pat Forde on the Michael Sam story: “Young people today do not see it as salacious or sensational. They see it as personal and largely unremarkable.”

16. Michael Sam’s father claims he was “terribly misquoted” by the New York Times.

17. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is pretty sure there were gay players at Alabama.  How does he know?  He was their teammate.

SEC Basketball

18. Marquee Saturday matchup: Florida vs. Kentucky.  Gators start four senior – UK starts five freshmen.

19. John Calipari: ”For this game, I’m talking to our fans. The last eight minutes, no one sits down.”

20. Texas A&M freshman s Davonte Fitzgerald is out for the season.  Suffered knee injury in first half of game against LSU Wednesday night.

21. Tough stretch for Mississippi State.  Lost six games in a row – and 0-6 in SEC road play. Next two games are on the road.

Extra

22. Former Ole Miss player John Jerry linked to the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal. Some details in the 148-page report.

23. Johnny Manziel and the Houston Texans: “I want them to say absolutely, without a doubt, with 100 percent certainty, that I’m who they want.”

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SEC Headlines 2/8/2014

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Does the ACC want more games with the SEC?  8+1 model would reportedly include matchup for ACC teams against one SEC team every year.

2. Sources: Utah quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson top choice to join staff at Mississippi State.

3. Why did Florida safety Cody Riggs decide to transfer?  He says it was about academics, not football.

4. When Florida meets Michigan to open the 2017 season in Texas, it will be Gators first regular-season non-conference game played outside the state of Florida since 1991. $6 million payday.

5. No indoor practice facility at Georgia.  Prudence or stinginess?

6. Alabama coach Nick Saban no fan of the 5-star rating method for recruits.  “All these expectations get created for a guy when he’s 17 or 18 years old. And then he comes to college with these unrealistic expectations …”

7. Alabama quarterback and early enrollee David Cornwell: “I’m here to compete, get better, help this team however I can.”

SEC Basketball

8. Help Wanted.  SEC asks for ESPN for help with decreasing basketball attendance.  Down 23 percent this year at Missouri.

9. 20-year old age limit for the NBA?  Kentucky coach John Calipari supports the idea.

10. Dick Vitale on Florida: “They are one of the legitimate contenders for the [national] title.”

SEC/College News

11. NCAA wants “peace” as it battles multiple concussion lawsuits.

Extra

12. Letter from Dean Smith to Michael Jordan sells for more than $27,000.

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Surprise, Surprise… Athlete McKenzie Picks Georgia

PLAYER UPDATESunshine State prospect Isaiah McKenzie has elected to play his football in the SEC, but not with his homestate Gators.  The RB/WR prospect has said this morning that he’ll ink with Georgia.

The Bulldogs beat out fellow SEC rivals Ole Miss, Tennessee, and the aforementioned Florida as well as Oregon, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech for McKenzie’s services.  Big get for Mark Richt and company.

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SEC Headlines 1/30/2014

headlines-thuSEC Basketball

1. Steven Pearl on the chances his father Bruce returns to coach at Tennessee: ”I don’t know that it would ever work out for my father to coach here again.”

2. Pat Dooley on the SEC and the NCAA Tournament:  ”In the last five seasons, the league has had 19 teams make the field. In the previous 10 seasons, it had 58.

3. Gary Laney: “The assumption the college game has been taken over by one-and-done stars is simply wrong.”

4. Mike DeCourcy on Kentucky: ”Nothing that’s failing with these Wildcats is unresolvable.”

5. Florida at Mississippi State.  Gators highest-ranked team to play at Humphrey Coliseum since Kentucky in 2012.

6. Gators riding an 11-game winning streak - best run since reeling off 17 straight to start 2006-2006 season.

SEC  Football

7. Expect Auburn’s receiving corps to be better this fall.  Every member returns for an encore.

8. Top 10 SEC defensive linemen of the BCS era?  Athlon Sports puts Georgia defensive end David Pollack at No 1.

9. College players pushing a union have a supporter in AJ McCarron.

Extra

10. A Twitterstorm erupts when Syracuse football coach Scott Shafer calls Atlanta “#softnosed.”

11. How bad will Fox’s red-carpet interviews be during the Super Bowl pregame? “As horrible as the worst dreams that invade your mind at night.”

12. The biggest open secret about the NFL?  Gambling is good for the league’s bottom line.  “If they wanted to stop gambling, they’d stop the injury report.”

13. Peyton Manning wears the perfect Peyton Manning outfit.

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SEC Headlines 1/28/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Quarterback Jacob Coker says he felt like he was “coming home” by choosing Alabama.

2. Most of Nick Saban’s quarterback signees have transferred from Alabama.

3. Replacing the departing Jay Prosch at H-back won’t be an easy task for Auburn.

4. Kentucky is planning a new $45 million football training facility and practice fields.

5. There needs to be more than just an independent investigation into Missouri, writes Bryan Burwell.

6. Tracy Rocker joining Georgia’s staff is a “grand slam” move for the Bulldogs, writes Barrett Sallee.

SEC Basketball

7. Florida is No. 4 in the updated RPI rankings. Kentucky is the only other SEC team inside the top 50.

8. Alabama coach Anthony Grant says officiating has been inconsistent following offseason rule changes.

9. Arkansas will host Missouri tonight. Arkansas’ only home loss this season was in overtime against Florida.

10. LSU will need to keep forward Johnny O’Bryant on the floor when it hosts Kentucky tonight.

11. Kentucky coach John Calipari met with the media Monday to preview the LSU game.

12. Ole Miss’ NCAA tournament hopes have improved thanks to a four-game winning streak.

13. How do you defend Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson? Good question, says Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin.

14. The SEC won’t punish Mississippi State coach Rick Ray for his comments to Henderson last weekend.

15. Florida coach Billy Donovan doesn’t sense complacency from his team, which is led by a senior-laden group.

16. Florida forward Damontre Harris is making the most of his second chance but won’t play this season for the Gators.

17. Vanderbilt continues to battle despite being limited to only seven scholarship players.

Extra

18. Sensors used to track head hit counts are becoming more readily available.

19. Seth Davis applauded Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein for breaking out of a mini-slump. “Remember, folks, these are college kids, not robots.”

20. What happened to the buzz surrounding Michigan football?

21. Defensive lineman Avery Moss won’t play for Nebraska in 2014. He’s been banned from campus.

22. There are academic questions regarding SMU hoops player Keith Frazier, a former McDonald’s All-American.

23. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s success has helped former Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Holley Lifts Florida’s Class

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxFlorida’s 2014 class received some sizable momentum this week.

Defensive tackle Thomas Holley from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., switched his commitment from Penn State to Florida.

Holley, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle by Rivals, decided to go with a coaching staff he knew at Florida over a staff he would have to get to know at Penn State.

“I think it was just kind of hard for me to build a relationship with a coaching staff in two weeks, when I had spent 10 months building a relationship with the previous coaching staff,” Holley told ESPN. “It really came down to the why between Penn State and Florida. At Florida, I already had a great relationship with the coaching staff, so it made it an easier decision.”

Holley’s decision to choose Florida adds to an already impressive defensive haul in the 2014 class. Defensive backs Duke Dawson and Jalen Tabor have already enrolled at Florida and defensive end Gerald Willis III has committed.

Willis, who chose Florida over LSU at the Under Armour All-American game in St. Petersburg, Fla., earlier this month, appears solid in his commitment to Florida. His mother, April Justin, told 247Sports that Willis “will not flip at all” from his commitment.

Holley maintains his commitment to Florida is solid as well.

“I’m not trying to be a person that is constantly changing up what they want to do,” he said. “When I make a decision, I want to make sure it’s the right decision, and that’s why I’ve been taking my time with the process.

“Even after the coaching staff change, I took my time, I sat down with my family and weighed out all my options, and that’s what it came down to. This is my last hoorah, as far as schools. I don’t plan on changing up anytime soon. I don’t plan on decommitting from Florida and going somewhere else. This is it for me.”

Florida still has plenty of work to do on the offensive side of the ball. The Gators landed athlete Brandon Powell, who could play running back or wide receiver. But the Gators are still trying to recover from the losses of running back Dalvin Cook, who has enrolled at Florida State, and receiver Ermon Lane, who decommitted last week and appears to be leaning toward the Seminoles.

Florida is pursuing running backs Jeff Jones, who’s committed to Minnesota, and Derrell Scott, who’s also considering South Carolina and Tennessee. Receivers Eric Lauderdale, Isaiah McKenzie and C.J. Worton, a Florida State commit, are strongly considering Florida as well.

Gators coach Will Muschamp is selling playing time to prospects. He said this week every position is “open” following Florida’s 4-8 season.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to walk into a great situation to improve, play in an exciting offense,” Muschamp said. “This is still the University of Florida. We’ll compete and play for championships. That hasn’t changed. Not in one year, that hasn’t.”

 

Vandy’s class takes huge hit

Vanderbilt’s 2014 class is predictably in big trouble as the Commodores search for a replacement for coach James Franklin.

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Florida’s Muschamp Says Every Game Is Winnable Next Season

Will Muschamp’s team just suffered the most injury-plagued season in recent SEC history.  His team’s offense was less than stellar for the third straight season.  He’s had to bring in offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to try and install and win with a brand new offensive system.  A number of key players have decided to transfer or head to the NFL early.  Last year’s squad finished 4-8 with seven consecutive losses to close the season.  Those losses included rivalry games with Georgia and Florida State (who just won the national title) and a contest with FCS foe Georgia Southern.

In short, it was the worst season of Florida football since the 1970s.  So how is Will Muschamp approaching what appears to be a must-win season in 2014?

 

“Every game on our schedule next year is winnable.  That’s not a far stretch at all… We’re not that far off.”

 

So said the Gator coach to Matt Hayes of SportingNews.com.  Either he’s danged sure his team really is ready to rebound, he’s an eternal optimist, or he’s been huffing paint.

We can assume that Muschamp knows he’ll be a goner if the Gators don’t win next year anyway, so why worry about setting high expectations?  Still, that’s a mouthful of a statement for a coach who suffered through a 4-8 nightmare.

Here’s how the Florida schedule sets up in 2014:

 

Home vs Idaho (winnable)

Home vs Eastern Michigan (winnable)

Home vs Kentucky (winnable)

at Alabama (The Tide will be rebuilding in some areas, but come on)

at Tennessee (winnable)

Home vs LSU (The Tigers will have rebuild their offense from almost scratch, so winnable)

Home vs Missouri (we’ve seen ‘em up and we’ve seen ‘em down, so winnable)

in Jacksonville vs Georgia (alway tough, but winnable)

at Vanderbilt (winnable)

Home vs South Carolina (The Gamecocks lose stars on both sides of the ball, so winnable)

Home vs Eastern Kentucky (winnable)

at Florida State (FSU romped the Gators last year, so no)

 

Technically, every game is winnable before it’s played.  For example, Georgia Southern could have looked at Florida last preseason and said, “winnable.”  But there’s a different between a game being winnable and a game being won.  We don’t think Florida will (or even can) beat Alabama or Florida State on the road next year.  Not with an all-new everything on offense.

We also don’t think think the Gators will win all of those toss-up games (LSU, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina).

Muschamp has seen how quickly fortunes can change in the SEC.  His team went from 11-2 in 2012 to 4-8 in 2013.  Could his 2014 squad finish the regular season at 9-3 or 10-2?  Sure.  How big a turnaround it will take to save the coach’s job is another question.  Winning over the Florida fanbase is another matter entirely.

Kudos to the head Gator for not showing any fear to his players.  But “every game is winnable?”  Sorry.  Not buying that one.

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Driskel To Be Ready By Spring For Florida

jeff-driskelWill Muschamp pushed back the start of Florida’s spring practice this year to March 19th.  The goal: Get his likely starting quarterback healthy enough to take part.  Smart move.

Jeff Driskel is now expected to “be fine” in time for spring drills, according to his head coach.  Driskel will be trying to rebound from a broken leg suffered in September against Tennessee.  Getting Driskel back in time to work with new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was imperative.  Last year’s backup, Tyler Murphy, has transferred out, leaving the Gators with just one proven option at the signal-caller position.

Not all of the news from Gainesville is positive, however.  Top tailback Matt Jones will be on the shelf this spring, needing two more surgeries to repair a knee injury suffered last season.

Muschamp will enter the 2014 season on a seriously hot seat.  AD Jeremy Foley stood by his man after a 4-8 season last year.  Big improvement will likely be a requirement if the fourth-year head coach is to survive into 2015 at Florida.

Unfortunately, Muschamp has a quarterback who Roper will need to coach up, a new system for his offensive players to learn, and a number of holes to fill across his roster thanks to transfers and early departures.  On paper, it doesn’t look as though the Gators will be capable of a Auburn-style turnaround.  But then again, who saw Auburn going all the way from 3-9 to 12-2 in a single season.  So, yes, we’re saying Muschamp’s got a chance.  It may be a long one, but he’s got the opportunity to turn things around.  Getting Driskel back for spring practice is a major help in achieving that goal.

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