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June 1, 2012
FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING: Roster Review - Defense | Roster Review - Offense | Florida commitments and targets in the Rivals100
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Losing to Syracuse last year in the first incarnation of the new SEC/BIG EAST Challenge, Gators basketball may have been looking for a measure of revenge in 2012. Instead it will be Marquette looking for that revenge against Florida, the team that eliminated them in the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, as UF hosts MU as part of the 2012 Challenge on Nov. 29 in Gainesville, FL. Announced Friday, the game is one of a dozen non-conference contests already announced for the 2012-13 basketball season. The Gators will host Alabama State (Nov. 11), Savannah State (Nov. 20) and Central Florida (Nov. 23) and will play one more game as part of the Global Sports Main Event. Florida will also take on a currently undetermined opponent in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic on Dec. 29 in Sunrise, FL. Richmond, Wisconsin (Nov. 14) and Southeast Louisiana (Dec. 19) are the team's other non-conference home games, and UF is also scheduled to face Florida State, Arizona and Yale on the road as well as Kansas State in Kansas City, MO.
In a move that should increase sales and help fans across the state of Florida have a wider assortment of Gators merchandise to choose from, UF and LIDS have reached an agreement for the retailer to manage and operate the official team stories inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The two stores, formerly known as the Florida Gators Sports Shops, will now be known as the Gator Locker Rooms, which is a take-off of the LIDS Locker Rooms that can be found across the country. Fans will be able to hold loyalty cards that get them discounts and special offers and will also have the opportunity to personalize their purchases with custom embroidery and screen printing capabilities inside The Swamp. LIDS has also agreed to leverage Gators merchandise in existing storefronts throughout the state of Florida and will also be visible at other UF events selling gear.
Now that the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery is complete, former Gators guard Brad Beal has a better idea where he might be headed next season. With Charlotte at No. 2 and Washington at No. 3, many analysts believe Beal will wind up with one of those two teams. However, there has also been a lot of talk over the last 24 hours that either Cleveland or Portland could be interested in trading up into the No. 2 overall spot potentially to take Beal. Both teams have a pair of first-round draft choices. It is more likely that Cleveland would move up considering their second pick is No. 24 overall; the price may be too steep for Portland to give up No. 6 and No. 11 to move up only four spots. Potentially working against a trade are rumors that Beal could fall outside of the top three, meaning Cleveland might be able to grab him with their No. 4 overall pick.
Instead of leaving her future hanging in the balance, former Florida soccer star Heather Mitts announced last week that she had decided to retire from the sport she loves following the 2012 London Olympics. Both Mitts and fellow former Gators soccer star Abby Wambach were named to the U.S. Women's National Team for the event, making it the third-straight year that both have received that honor. Wambach was unable to compete in 2008 after fracturing her leg but undoubtedly made up for her absence by dominating the 2011 Women's World Cup last year. Mitts never stepped on the pitch in the World Cup and may be a bench defender once again for the Olympics, which the United States women have a great shot of winning.
New Seattle defensive tackle Jaye Howard called playing for the Seahawks an "unreal experience" earlier this week, noting that being in the same locker room with guys like Marshawn Lynch is "a great feeling" and something he will embrace for a long time. Despite his excitement, Howard has put his nose to the grindstone during organized team activities in Seattle and is already receiving rave reviews from head coach Pete Carroll and defensive line coach Todd Wash. "Jaye Howard showed up. He did some good things. He showed up on pass rush a couple times. I know Todd mentioned that he was surprised at his quickness. That's a really good sign," Carroll said. Wash added, "Jaye is an explosive player. He's learning that this level is a little bit different once our veterans got here. But we're very excited about his progress. He's eager to learn. He wants to know exactly what he can do better. He does a great job in the classroom, too. So we're really pleased with what we've got so far."
Gators fans may be upset that gymnastics, softball and lacrosse all floundered at the tail end of their seasons, but baseball is still around and set to begin their 2012 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Gainesville Regional against Bethune-Cookman. The No. 1 national seed, Florida will also have to get by Georgia Tech and Charleston in order to advance to the Super Regionals. Working against UF is a bit of history as only one No. 1 overall seed (Miami, 1999) has ever gone on to win the national title. In fact, only three have even made it all the way to the College World Series Championship Series with Texas falling in both 2004 and 2009.