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April 2, 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 fans (especially those not in attendance) had mixed reactions about the 2012 Navy-Marine Corps Classic held aboard the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, FL, but the team had a fantastic experience as did those in attendance. With that in mind, the City of Jacksonville is working toward holding the event for the second-straight season and is hoping to reach an agreement with the U.S. Navy in the coming months. "The City of Jacksonville would like to continue the game and is working on a proposal to the Navy that includes several options for the 2013 Navy-Marine Corps Classic," executive director Alan Verlander told me last week. The proposal would include solutions to avoid the condensation that plagued the second half of the game last season. Though no teams have agreed to play in the potential game just yet (contact has been made to gauge general interest), it should come as no surprise that the city would prefer the Gators be one of those two teams.
A couple of individual NCAA titles have been captured by the Florida swimming program over the last two weekends. Junior Elizabeth Beisel brought home her second NCAA Championship, this time in the 400 Meter Individual Medley, which she swam in 4:00.49. On the men's side, the 800 Meter Freestyle Relay team of freshman Pawel Werner, redshirt junior Sebastien Rousseau, junior Marcin Cieslak and sophomore Dan Wallace won a title of their own with a school-record time of 6:13.27. Though the Gators have not yet won a team national title in 2012-13, Florida has four individual titles including two in track.
The Gators men's basketball team may have seen its season end in the Elite Eight but surprisingly the women's program is on its hottest stretch of the season as it is set to compete in the Final Four of the 2013 Women's NIT on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Drexel. UF is just the second program in WNIT history to win its first four games of the event on the road and has come through in the clutch over the last two contests with come-from-behind victories inside the last minute or two of the respective games. Florida defeated James Madison 85-80 on Saturday behind 27 points from freshman guard Sydney Moss and 20 more from junior G Jaterra Bonds, who hit four free throws in the waning seconds to extend the Gators' lead to five and clinch the game. The women's basketball program has never won a national title in either NCAA or NIT competition. The Gators are just two victories away from capturing the first in program history.
One goal for the No. 2 Florida lacrosse program was to go through the regular season undefeated but those hopes came crashing down over the weekend when the Gators (13-1, 1-1 ALC) were dealt an upset loss at the hands of No. 9 Penn State (7-3, 2-0 ALC). Florida was outscored 10-2 in the second half, blowing a three-goal first-half lead and falling 16-11 by the time the final whistle sounded. The Gators are looking to win the team's first national title and will be in position to be in contention once again. Florida advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in 2011 (its second year of existence) and went all the way to the Final Four in 2012 before losing a controversial game against Syracuse. The Gators' initial top-ranked recruiting class will be seniors with their last opportunity to win a title.
Realistically, quarterback Tim Tebow is getting screwed by the New York Jets. As I have touched on before, Tebow is being held hostage by a team that does not want him while backup quarterbacks throughout the league switch teams and find new opportunities. ESPNNewYork.com did the counting and found that 14 signal callers have changed teams already this offseason with the numbers unlikely to stop there. No team is going to trade a draft pick for a player after his current team has made it known it has no plans on having him on its roster for the upcoming season. So while players move back and forth across the NFL landscape, Tebow sits and waits to be cut, hoping that when he is finally released from the circus that is the Jets organization, a team comes calling for his services. Simply put, New York has done a terrific job ruining Tebow's career.
Six former Florida baseball players are on MLB active rosters at the start of the 2013 season. Among those active are 11-year veteran catcher David Ross (Boston Red Sox), 10-year veteran second baseman Mark Ellis (Los Angeles Dodgers), five-year veteran right-handed reliever Darren O'Day (Baltimore Orioles), left-handed reliever Steven "Paco" Rodriguez (Dodgers) and lefty Nick Maronde (Los Angeles Angels). Seven-year veteran third baseman Ryan Raburn (Cleveland Indians) is also playing; he attended UF for a season before transferring to SFCC.