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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 gymnastics made history over the weekend by winning the program's first NCAA Championship, doing so in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion. In the process, No. 1 Florida became just the fifth team in NCAA history to win the national title in the 32 years in which the organization has been governing the sport. The Gators finished with a final score of 197.575 while registering the worst and best event marks of the entire meet. Florida put itself in a major hole right out of the gate as two gymnasts fell off the balance beam; UF was forced to count one of their scores. However, head coach Rhonda Faehn regrouped the gymnasts before they went back out of the floor and helped motivate them to score an incredible 49.725 on the floor exercise. The score was both a school- and NCAA Super Six-record for the event.
The Gators continued their comeback over the final two events by continuing to post dominant scores. Florida trailed Alabama by 0.025 heading into the final rotation but saw the Crimson Tide mimic the Gators by falling off the beam. Considering Florida fell to Alabama by 0.075 points just one year ago, the chance at redemption was just another reason the UF had to pull off the win. The Gators did just that and made plenty of history in the process. Freshman Bridget Sloan, who won the NCAA's individual all-around championship on Friday, registered three 9.9500s and one 9.900 to lead Florida to victory on Saturday. On Sunday during individual competition, she won the beam with a 9.900. Junior Alaina Johnson took the individual title in the parallel bars that day with a 9.9125.
All-Star David Lee, the NBA's double-double leader who led the Golden State Warriors into the playoffs, was ruled out for the season on Sunday after he tore his right hip flexor during Game 1 of his team's first-round playoff series on Saturday. Though he will not need surgery to repair the injury, Lee will miss at least three months of action while it heals and he rehabs. Lee has been fantastic ever since he joined Golden State but was playing at another level this season. The Warriors had a tough task going up against the Nuggets anyway but without Lee in the fold, winning the series is basically impossible for Golden State at this point. "We can't replace him, and we know that," head coach Mark Jackson said. "We cannot replace David Lee."
The gymnastics team was far from the only Gators women's program to have a huge weekend as No. 2 women's tennis brought home the 2013 SEC Tournament Championship with a 4-0 sweep of Georgia. Florida has now won four-straight SEC Tournament titles along with 10 of the last 13 (and 18 of the last 23) to go along with four consecutive SEC regular-season championships. Seniors Lauren Embree and Caroline Hitimana became the first players in team history to go 8-0 in SEC Championship opportunities. Florida has struggled in doubles this season but uncharacteristically won the point on Sunday. The Gators then dominated singles in the early going to take a 3-0 lead. Florida, however, had to fight for the match-clincher and eventually got it from junior Olivia Janowicz, who came back to win her match 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Once quarterback coach Steve Clarkson claimed that he fixed Tim Tebow last week, the player's real offseason quarterback coaches got angry. According to Dennis Gile and Mike Giavondo, they spent three months in Scottsdale, AZ working with Tebow in the offseason with Clarkson only working with the player for a single day. The coaches told SB Nation that they trained Tebow for free in an effort to help him turn his career around. But how much did Tebow actually improve under their tutelage? Gile told the website that both Steve Young and Jim Zorn watched Tebow throw with the former coming away impressed. "Steve Young's mouth was hitting the floor," he said. "'Wow, you got it!' is what he said exactly."
Routing Northwestern in lacrosse is something that almost never happens to one of the sport's premier programs. No. 3 Florida lacrosse, however, was able to do just that on Saturday by obliterating the visitors 22-4 in Gainesville, FL. The Gators took down the Wildcats on the way to the program's third-straight American Lacrosse Conference regular season title, which UF received a share of for finishing league play with a 5-1 record. Saturday's rout took place on Senior Day, the first in Florida lacrosse history. A total of 13 true seniors (and one redshirt junior) currently make up 45 percent of the Gators' roster. They combined to score 15 of the team's 22 goals on the afternoon though it was a sophomore, Shannon Gilroy, who led the way with a match-high five goals. The seniors represent the No. 1-ranked recruiting class that got Florida lacrosse off the ground four years ago. Incredibly, the Gators have been in the national title picture each of the last two seasons and should make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament once again in 2013.
Scouts can be fickle but up until this point, none have come out against the rapid rise of Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. That was until this past weekend when three separate scouts all expressed concerns about Floyd to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Two scouts questioned his arm length, noting that he will struggle keeping offensive linemen off of him because of his short arms (31 ¾ in.). "He's got shorter arms than [Sheldon] Richardson, and I think it shows. He gets kind of Velcro'd on blockers too much," one said. The biggest criticism came from another anonymous scout, who said Floyd is simply a media creation. "Those idiots on TV made Floyd. He's not that good," he said.