March 30, 2012

The Silver Lining: 3/30 Orange & Blue News


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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & BASKETBALL: Potential transfer checking out Florida this weekend | Random Thoughts - Thankful for Donovan | Hines has new position, new number | Jenkins bigger,stronger, more sure-handed? | Football Practice Roundtable | Basketball season ending superlatives | Check out ITG Spring Practice Central

In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.

Landing the No. 1 ranking in both NCAA women's singles and doubles this week, junior tennis standout Allie Will became just the second player in team history to reach that point in both standings simultaneously (Nicole Arendt, 1991). Will and doubles partner sophomore Sofie Oyen were the No. 1 pairing on three separate occasions in 2011, but she had never owned the top spot in the singles rankings before. She won her 100th career singles match on Sunday and (with Oyen) improved to 12-0 in dual match doubles action this season. The last Gators women's tennis player to be ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles at even separate points in her career was Jessica Lehnhoff (1999-2002).

Instead of reaching a quick decision like some of his peers from North Carolina, Florida freshman guard Brad Beal will travel to St. Louis, MO this weekend and speak with his family about whether or not he will try his hand at the NBA Draft this season. According to The Gainesville Sun's Kevin Brockway, Beal leaving is not a no-brainer. His father Bobby Beal said it is "going to be a hard decision for him" because "I know that he loves college, loves the atmosphere down there." Beal is one of two players who the Gators are waiting on a decision from; the other is junior G Kenny Boynton. Boynton, not expected to be selected in the two rounds of the NBA Draft if he does declare, would likely wind up playing overseas if he decides to leave school. However, his father Kenny Boynton, Sr. told Brockway that he expects his son to return for his senior season. Boynton is undersized for a two-guard and does not possess the experience or a handle good enough to transition to point in the NBA. His shot, despite improving immensely this season, is still inconsistent and he has not made big enough strides in driving to the hoop and creating plays off the dribble.

Now 25 games into the 2012 season, Gators baseball fans are still waiting to see something - anything - from sophomore right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson on the hill. Unfortunately for the player, it is unknown when exactly that will occur. Following a start against William & Mary that lasted two whole outs, Whitson was pulled and has yet to return to the mound. Though head coach Kevin O'Sullivan did not go into too much detail, it is believed that an offseason groin injury Whitson suffered limited his ability to do prep work heading into the season. This short recovery time, along with an injury that he has perhaps not fully recovered from, led to a dip in his velocity that was evident in that start. O'Sullivan expected him to grab a start this week but has since decided to hold him out, possibly targeting next week as an opportunity to return him to the rotation.

Instead of letting sleeping dogs lie, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer made some pretty direct comments on Thursday when it came to the way the Denver Broncos handled quarterback Tim Tebow during his time with the team. Asked by ESPN what the New York Jets could do to best utilize Tebow's abilities, Meyer said simply, "Let him play. Just let him play." As to Tebow's up-and-down tenure on the field with Denver, he noted that the coaching staff was hindering his effectiveness rather than providing him with a platform on which to shine. "When they had success I think they [let him play]," he said. "When you started seeing him throw against those easy coverages it was because they had to stop the run." Head coach John Fox received a lot of credit for changing the offense to fit Tebow's skills; however, Meyer seems to believe (and undoubtedly many fans agree) that the player was actually handcuffed more than supported.

Now set to enter his second year with the team, former Gators offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert is being moved over to left tackle and tasked with protecting QB Ben Roethlisberger's blind side in 2012. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Gilbert to eventually be the team's left tackle in place of fellow former Florida player Max Starks (who did not begin the 2011 season with the team) but a rash of injuries pushed him into the starting right tackle role last year. Starks wound up returning to the team and recapturing his left tackle job as Gilbert was already entrenched on the right side and gaining experience. With Starks once again a free agent and sidelined while recovering from an ACL injury, Gilbert will retain the starting role he earned but move to the more important position. He and third-year center Maurkice Pouncey are now the two most important members of the Steelers' offensive line.

Gators fans will have plenty to watch this weekend even with men's basketball done for the 2012 season. Below are some games and matches to keep an eye out for between Friday and Sunday:

Baseball (23-2) is still ranked No.1 even after dropping their second game of the season last week. Florida will tackle the second half of their eight-game road trip with a three-game series against Ole Miss on Friday (7:30 p.m., Sun Sports), Saturday (2:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1:30 p.m.)

Softball is in a similar situation to the baseball team, hoping to rebound after their third loss of the season with a three-game road series against Georgia on Friday (8 p.m., ESPNU), Saturday (2:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m., FOX Sports Florida). The No. 4-ranked Gators (29-3) are looking to regain their winning ways gain plenty of momentum over the final month of the regular season.

Lacrosse is fresh off a record-setting victory, scoring a school-record 29 goals in the first shutout in team history against Fresno State on Wednesday. At 11-2 on the season and 1-0 in ALC action with a seven-match winning streak, No. 4 UF will take on Penn State on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Gainesville, FL

Tennis teams representing Florida will take on Auburn on Friday and Alabama on Sunday. The No. 2 women's team will travel to Auburn, AL for a 1 p.m. match on Friday and Tuscaloosa, AL for a 2 p.m. match on Sunday, while the No. 11 men's team will play hosts in Gainesville at 5 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Two other Gators teams will also be participating in action over the weekend as track & field will take part in the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, TX on Friday and Saturday and the women's golf team will play in the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, GA from Friday-Sunday.


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