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May 3, 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 are certainly getting antsy when it comes to Tim Tebow's NFL future but a light was shined on his thought process Thursday by Yahoo! Sports' own Jason Cole. According to Cole, Tebow would "like to go where he can sit, learn behind [a] great QB & coach." Examples of teams that fit that bill include New England, New Orleans and Green Bay, among others. Though that is the correct mindset for Tebow to possess, it might have better served him to broadcast that information earlier in the process, such as when free agency hit on March 13.
A new channel for SEC programming is great for the entire league but how will the brand new SEC Network - set to debut in August 2014 - affect Florida fans? According to Mike Hill, the executive associate athletic director for external affairs, the Gators' presence on Sun Sports will be greatly reduced but not eliminated. The regional network will still air Florida coaches shows (Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan, Amanda Butler) as well as the magazine program "GatorZone Television." While "Breakfast With the Gators" - the show that re-airs Gators football games on Sunday morning - will be canceled, game replays will be shown online and on SEC Network (or another ESPN channel). Florida will also be forced to stream live games through ESPN in one way or another but should have the opportunity to air additional games via its GatorVision service.
The non-conference schedule for Gators basketball is starting to come together with two big games confirmed on Thursday for the 2013-14 season. Kansas announced its non-conference schedule and has its game with Florida, which has not yet been confirmed by UF, set for Dec. 10, 2013 in Gainesville, FL. The contest will be part of the inaugural SEC-Big 12 Challenge and is not expected to be a home-and-home series (though the Gators could face the Jayhawks in Kansas during a future Challenge). According to CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman, Florida will also face Memphis in the 2013 Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY on Dec. 17. Other non-conference games already announced or well-known for UF next season include at Wisconsin, vs. Florida State, vs. Richmond, the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL (opponent unannounced), and a five-team round robin with Arkansas Little-Rock, Middle Tennessee State, North Florida and Southern.
On Monday, Gators freshman gymnast Bridget Sloan was named the winner of the 2013 Honda Sports Award, which is given out to an outstanding athlete in each women's sport; then-freshman Kytra Hunter won the same honor in 2012. Florida has now won the Honda Sports Award in at least one sport for three-straight seasons (Kelsey Bruder, softball, 2011) and 16 total times since 1978 (including two Broderick Awards). It is an incredibly impressive feat - especially for a freshman - and Sloan's collegiate gymnastics career and medal haul (which already includes a team title and two individual championships) is just getting started.
Rising all the way to No. 1 in the national rankings, Florida women's tennis (22-2) was named the top overall seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and will host first- and second-round action in Gainesville from May 11-12. It was also announced this week that senior Lauren Embree, junior Alex Cercone and junior Sofie Oyen have been named to the 64-player draw for the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship tournament. (Embree/Oyen will also team up in the 2013 NCAA Doubles Championship tournament but have not been overly effective as a duo this season.) The Gators are hoping to win their third-straight NCAA team title, which would cap off an incredible career for Embree, who is already on the Mount Rushmore of the best Florida women's tennis players.
Simply dominant in ALC play this season, No. 2 Florida lacrosse (16-1) is hoping to win the ALC Tournament for the second-straight year and begins action on Friday against Ohio State in the semifinals of the event. The Gators have faced Northwestern in each of the last two ALC Tournament championship games, falling in 2011 but reigning victorious in 2012. Florida has won three of the last four showdowns against their budding rival and just recently whipped the Wildcats 22-4 on April 20 to clinch a share of the ALC regular-season title.