PARTING THOUGHTS: MUST READ, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2013 SEASON, PLAYERS & TEAM
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 softball over the weekend advanced to the Championship Series of the Women's College World Series for the first time since 2011, outscoring its three opponents 21-3 on the way to the Promised Land. Senior right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers extended her consecutive scoreless innings streak to 38 - including 32-straight in NCAA Tournament play - while winning all three games and giving up just three runs in 35 innings pitched. UF has outscored its NCAA Tournament competition 70-7 over nine games and enters the first-ever all-SEC Championship Series hoping to capture the first national title in program history. Florida was swept both times it advanced to the series in 2009 and 2011.
An epically disappointing performance by Gators baseball saw the country's No. 2 overall seed swept out of its self-hosted Gainesville Regional after it fell 5-2 on Saturday to the Tar Heels. North Carolina scored all five of its runs coming out of a rain delay in excess of three hours, making it the second-straight day that Florida had such a delay and saw itself taking advantage of after it ended. UF finished the season 40-23 with a ton of quality RPI victories but none of it will matter now. The Gators have now lost their last six games in the NCAA Tournament dating back to the 2012 College World Series including back-to-back sweeps in the 2013 Bloomington Regional and this year's Gainesville Regional.
Two former Florida basketball players have advanced to the 2014 NBA Finals, guaranteeing that someone who played for the Gators will win an NBA Championship for the fourth-straight year. Miami's Udonis Haslem will be looking for his fourth career ring (third-straight), while San Antonio's Matt Bonner is hoping to win his second. Haslem and Bonner each started two games in their respective Conference Finals games but neither was a big-time contributor to his respective team. Haslem was held to 1.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.7 minutes in last year's NBA Finals, while Bonner averaged 2.2 points and 1.4 points in 7.0 minutes per game in the same series.
Off and relaxing for a day after taking three NBA visits last week, Florida center Patric Young has two more big-time work outs scheduled over the next few days. He will fly to Chicago, Illinois, on Monday for a Tuesday work out with the Bulls and head a bit further north Wednesday for a visit with the New York Knicks. Young has 14 total workouts now scheduled with 11 remaining. He will be traveling back and forth across the country until the NBA Draft on June 26, where he is expected to be a second-round selection.
Rookies selected on the third day of the NFL Draft do not often start their first season, but Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans did and saw plenty of time on the field in 2013. Nevertheless, he is fighting for his starting job this offseason and will have a bit of a roadblock to overcome as he will now miss minicamp after undergoing a procedure to correct a bone spur on his foot. Evans is expected to be able to return when training camp begins, but he will be slightly behind Winston Guy at free safety when he returns.
Southeastern Conference presidents, athletic directors and coaches met about a number of topics last week at the SEC Spring Meetings, and while a lot seemed to go Florida's way, president Bernie Machen left the proceedings with a bit of a sour taste in his mouth. Asked about the SEC's decision to allow graduate students open enrollment into league schools as long as they have one year of eligibility remaining - ending a restriction that previously required transfers to have at least two years left - Machen not only voiced his displeasure but actually took a shot at one of the Gators' newest players. "If they really wanted to transfer somewhere else, they should sit out a year," he said. "Why didn't [Jon] Horford stay at Michigan another year? Because he had a free pass. … Go to grad school at Michigan. They have some pretty good grad schools. It's really just a way for a school to fill a void at the very last minute or a player going to get more playing time without having to sit out."