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March 1, 2013
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators center Joakim Noah closed the month of February with gusto on Thursday as he posted a monster line to lead his Chicago Bulls past the Philadelphia 76ers 93-82. Noah registered 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks to record his second triple-double of the season but his first including blocks. In fact, Noah is the first player since Shawn Bradley (1998) to record a triple-double of 20+ points, 20+ boards and 10+ blocks and just the sixth player to accomplish the feat as long as blocks have been recorded as an official statistic (1973-74). As if that was not enough, Noah became the first player in NBA history to record a 20-20-10-block triple-double while shooting 65 percent or better from the field. Truly a career night for the big man.
Also on an absolute tear in the NBA recently is Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford, who has scored 21+ points in his last seven games and registered seven double-doubles over 11 games in the month of February including five 20-10 games. Over his last two games, Horford has registered a 20-20 performance (23 points, career-high-tying 22 rebounds on Monday) and 30-10 performance (career-high 34 points, 15 rebounds on Wednesday). Horford was not selected to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game and is certainly making it be known that he deserved to be on the East team now that the NBA is in the second half of its 2012-13 season.
Tim Tebow has watched as critics have lined up to trash him over the last year, but former Florida head coach Urban Meyer certainly remains in his corner. In an interview with WOCA 1730 AM on Wednesday, Meyer had this to say about Tebow and his future in the NFL. "I think I'm like every Gator fan and anybody that just appreciates great people and great warriors. There's got to be a team - it all comes down to one team believing in a human being or believing in an athlete or a player. I think I got the same feeling as most everybody that watched him and grew up with him," he said. "All they need is to let him get his foot in the door and he's going to win games, and I think he's going to win a Super Bowl. I still believe that, probably because I spent as much or more time with him as any other coach. I have that much confidence in him." Meyer went on to say that Tebow can be a winning quarterback if surrounded by a talented cast. He also noted that he still speaks with athletic director Jeremy Foley regularly and has had friends he made at UF visit him in Columbus, OH since moving over to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
On Tuesday, New England Patriots running back Jeff Demps let it be known that he wants to return to being a track athlete, but do so without giving up football. I spoke with Demps's agent, Daniel Rose of Gridiron Sports, on Thursday, and he reiterated to me that Demps's goal is to participate in both sports and do so with New England's permission. While that is the case, Demps is already planning to compete in the Florida Relays this April. "Jeff Demps has no intentions of leaving football. He loves doing both track and football. Representing Team USA in track and field in the Olympics and playing NFL football are a privilege and Jeff Demps loves both," Rose wrote via his agency's Twitter account. Whether or not the Patriots will be OK with this new development, especially given how it has transpired, remains to be seen.
Realistically tracking the speed and movement of football players could theoretically do wonders to aid in development methods to improve player safety. And that is exactly what the Southeastern Conference (along with the Big 12 and Pac-12) is trying to accomplish next season. According to a report from The Birmingham News, players in those three conferences will wear electronic tracking devices during the 2013 campaign in an effort to create a pool of information that the NCAA can use to further research in these areas. This information can also be used to benefit "media partners, and perhaps one day be used in coaching," SEC football officiating coordinator Steve Shaw told Jon Solomon. "To be honest, I'm not sure what all of the applications are. But it has potential benefit in player safety, so I think it's worth taking an initial step to see what the technology does."
Settling in for the weekend? If so, nine Gators sports teams will be in action over the next three days. Below are listings of where you can catch your favorite Florida team playing whether in Gainesville, FL or elsewhere.
No. 6/8 basketball has the biggest contest of the weekend as it hosts Alabama on Saturday at noon (ESPN) while holding a one-game lead on its visitors in the SEC standings.
No. 4/4 softball will play five games in three days, all in Gainesvillle and none on television. Florida will take on Drake (twice), Mount St. Mary's, Florida A&M and Presbyterian over the next few days.
No. 5/5 swimming & diving will be competing in the Bulldog Last Chance Meet in Athens, GA as participants look to earn NCAA automatic qualifying marks in their second-to-last opportunity of the season. The Gators will also host a Last Chance Meet on March 10 in Gainesville, FL just 11 days (women) and 18 days (men) before the NCAA Championships begin on March 21 and 28, respectively.
No. 3/7 track & field competes in the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, IN.
Unranked Florida baseball, on a five-game losing streak, hosts Miami for a three-game series. The Gators and Canes go head-to-head Friday at 7 p.m. (FOX Sports Florida), Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (Sun Sports) and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (not televised).
No. 4 women's tennis and No. 1 women's tennis player Lauren Embree take on Missouri on Friday at 6 p.m. and Texas A&M on Sunday at 1 p.m.; both matches are on the road. No. 16 men's tennis hosts Texas A&M on Sunday at 1 p.m.
No. 2 gymnastics takes on Minnesota on Friday at 7 p.m. in a match that will air on FOX Sports Florida.
No. 2 lacrosse looks for a measure of revenge Saturday against Syracuse, the team that knocked it from the 2012 NCAA Championship in a controversial match last season. That showdown will take place in Miami, FL at 5 p.m. and air live on Sun Sports.
Finally, women's basketball is in action on the road at South Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m. Check your local listings.