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Gator Report

Antonya English

Gators Dorian Finney-Smith has suspension lifted

Florida junior F Dorian Finney-Smith has been reinstated to the basketball team, coach Billy Donovan said today.

He is expected to play when the Gators host Tennessee on Saturday night at the O'Connell Center.

"Obviously he served his penalty," Donovan said Friday afternoon. "He served his penalty, did all the things that we asked him to do, and expected him to do."

Finney-Smith, the team's second leading scorer and top rebounder, has missed the past three games - Vanderbilt, LSU and Missouri - while suspended for violation of team rules. Donovan has not said publicly the exact reason for the suspension.

"When I first suspended him we kept him out of practice for about five days, " Donovan said. "We brought him back into practice and he needed to do some things. He's done everything that we've asked him to do up to this point and time."

Freshman guard Chris Chiozza said the team did not lose confidence in Finney-Smith because of the suspension and welcomes him back, hoping he'll be able  to help the team immediately. The Gators have lost six of their last seven  games. …

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Gators to open spring practice on March 16

Florida will officially kick off the Jim McElwain era when spring practice begins on May 16.

However, fans won't be able to see the product but once this spring.

All spring practices are closed to the public.

The annual Orange and Blue game will be held on Saturday, April 11 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

 

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Florida postpones massive renovation to Stephen C. O'Connell Center

The proposed $45-$50 million renovation of the Stephen C. O'Connell Center has been postponed one year, the University Athletic Association announced today.

Construction was set to begin immediately after the conclusion of the Gator men's basketball home regular season in March.

The UAA said an aggressive schedule, escalating costs, and a change in the construction management team were all contributing factors in the decision to delay Current cost estimates for the project are
approximately $60 million.

“The renovation proposal is a major renewal of one of our campus’s most iconic buildings,' said Florida president Kent Fuchs, who took over the position in January. "It’s incumbent on us to take the time and do it right.

Postponing the project will allow for completion of the construction management team’s design plans, which the UAA said is currently about 60 percent complete. A new construction manager has been brought in, and a construction schedule and budget are expected within the next couple
of months.

The UAA said it is assessing what effects the change will have on its various athletic and community events which are held at the O'Connell Center. …

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Gators coach Jim McElwain puts Colorado home up for sale

If you know anyone in the Fort Collins, Co. area that's looking for a new house, Gators football coach Jim McElwain has one to sell.

McElwain, who was hired in December to replace Will Muschamp, has put his home on the market for $1.3 million, according to Matt Stephens of The Coloradoan.

The property is listed as having four bedrooms and six bathrooms within 7,174 square feet on 2.3 acres. According to county records, McElwain purchased the home for $1.15 million in June 2012. A ranch-style home, it also has a five-car garage, more than 1,100 square feet of patio, indoor and outdoor kitchens, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a fire pit, hot tub and theater room.

 

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Will Billy Donovan get win No. 500 this season?

Billy Donovan needs just one more win to become only the second men’s Division I basketball coach to reach 500 wins before turning 50. Donovan turns 50 in May.

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Billy Donovan needs just one more win to become only the second men’s Division I basketball coach to reach 500 wins before turning 50. Donovan turns 50 in May.

When Florida played at Missouri Tuesday night, the Gators were trying to secure a victory and a personal milestone for coach Billy Donovan.

Donovan needs just one more win to become only the second men’s Division I basketball coach to reach 500 wins before turning 50. Donovan turns 50 in May.

But after last night, and yet another late-game collapse and loss, the question now becomes whether Donovan will get win No. 500 this season?

Florida has three regular season games remaining - Tennessee on Saturday, Texas A&M on March 3, then the Gators close with a game at Kentucky on March 7.

The latter two are NCAA-tournament bound teams. Tennessee is struggling, but so was Missouri before it snapped a school-record 13-game losing streak with a win against Florida. That's how this season has gone for the Gators.

Donovan said about two weeks ago it was possible the Gators wouldn't finish with a .500 record. At 13-15, it's clearly feasible he is right, particularly if the Gators continue to be without their top two players - Michael Frazier(ankle) and Dorian Finney-Smith (suspension). …

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Could Dante Fowler, Jr. be the No. 2 pick in NFL Draft?

A new mock draft by Nate Davis of USA Today Sports has Dante Fowler Jr., the former St. Petersburg Lakewood standout, at No. 2 in the 2015 NFL Draft.

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A new mock draft by Nate Davis of USA Today Sports has Dante Fowler Jr., the former St. Petersburg Lakewood standout, at No. 2 in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Dante Fowler, Jr. went to the NFL Combine last week hoping to prove to scouts what he's believed in his mind all along: that's he has the talent to be a Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft.

"To be honest with you that’s the way I always train myself to be I’m not gonna lie," Fowler said before leaving for the combine. "I always wanted to be the number one guy the top person in my caliber and I felt you know that’s the type of person that I was.  . . . I’m just glad to see that my work is being recognized now."

Apparently, he made a pretty good impression.

A new mock draft by Nate Davis of USA Today Sports has Fowler, the former St. Petersburg Lakewood standout, at No. 2 in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Check out Davis' logic on why Fowler might be headed to the Tennessee Titans.

In other mock drafts, Fowler is projected at No. 6 to the New York Jets by SB Nation, and Bleacher Report has him projected at No. 5 to the Washington Redskins.

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Gators Dorian Finney-Smith's suspension won't be lifted for Missouri game

Junior F Dorian Finney-Smith has not had his indefinite suspension lifted, and will not play when the Gators play at Missouri Tuesday night, coach Billy Donovan said.

“He’s out," Donovan said Monday morning. "He’s not playing tomorrow. Probably revisit it again after this game. We’ve got to take off Wednesday, so I’ll have an update on Thursday, if we do media. But he’s out for this game."

Finney-Smith, the team's second leading scorer and top rebounder, was suspended last Wednesday. He has already missed games against Vanderbilt and at LSU. Donovan has not said specfically what the nature of the suspension is, but said Finney-Smith has made decisions that are not in the best interest of the team.

Donovan said the decision to suspend last season's SEC Sixth Man of the Year was solely his, but he did consult with the athletic administration, including athletic director Jeremy Foley, before making the final decision. …

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Gators softball remains undefeated

After an oustanding weekend performance, the Florida softball team remains undefeated.

The Gators (16-0) totaled 30 runs and 10 home runs in a doubleheader sweep of Mercer on Sunday. Florida won by scores of 20-3 (5 innings) and 10-3.

The victories were highlighted by Briana Little, who had a three-homer, nine-RBI game, in just her second start of the season. Little’s three-homer game was the first in Florida history, and her nine RBI in the game was a single-game school record.

"I was just really excited to get in the game, and to be ready," Little said. "I'm just happy to be able to contribute to the team. I was just going up there looking for pitches to hit hard."

On Saturday, led by a nine-RBI day from Lauren Haeger and 16 strikeouts from their pitching staff, the Gators won both games of a doubleheader at the Aquafina Invitational, defeating Illinois State, 4-1, and Kansas, 7-1.

Aleshia Ocasio threw a one-hit complete game against the Redbirds, striking out five and issuing no walks, while Haeger and Delanie Gourley combined to hold Kansas to one run on six hits with three walks and 11 strikeouts. …

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NCAA won't hand down further punishment to Gators for NCAA violation

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has determined that former Florida offensive coordinator Joker Phillips committed a Level II infraction when he met with a recruit outside of the NCAA contact period.

AP photo

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has determined that former Florida offensive coordinator Joker Phillips committed a Level II infraction when he met with a recruit outside of the NCAA contact period.

The full NCAA investigation report here

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has determined that former Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips committed a Level II infraction when he arranged an impermissible meeting with a high school junior with the help of a reporter that covers recruiting, but the Gators will not receive any additional sanctions from the NCAA because of their actions following the infraction.

The NCAA announced on Friday afternoon that "the panel determined the former coach’s contact with the prospect was a Level II violation because it was not inadvertent and provided more than a minimal recruiting advantage. Specifically, the former coach was able to get the prospect’s contact information at a time when coaches who were following the rules were unable to have the same level of contact."

Florida's self-imposed penalties included suspending Phillips from all off-campus recruiting for 30 days beginning on April 10, 2014 and the end of the recruitment of the prospect involved in the contact. …

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NCAA infractions committee set to announce decision on Florida football investigation

Joker Phillips resigned as the Gators' wide receivers coach in June, citing personal reasons. He joined the staff in December 2012 after three seasons as Kentucky's head coach.

[Associated Press (2013)]

Joker Phillips resigned as the Gators' wide receivers coach in June, citing personal reasons. He joined the staff in December 2012 after three seasons as Kentucky's head coach.

he NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. today to discuss potential sanctions against the University of Florida regarding former wide receivers coach Joker Phillips.

Phillips, a former Kentucky head coach, abruptly resigned last June after one season with the Gators.

After his resignation, reports surfaced that Phillips had been photographed having interaction with a recruit during an NCAA dead period. Florida athletic officials never specifically stated why Phillips resigned.

"We have not received the report yet, but we will receive it later today," Florida athletics officials said in a statement. "However, this is a final resolution to a matter that we dealt with last June regarding one of our former assistant football coaches."

Phillips resigned two months before the start of fall camp stating "personal reasons."

A 26-year coaching veteran, Phillips joined the staff in December 2012 after he was fired as the head coach at Kentucky. He spent three seasons (2010-2012) as the Wildcats' head coach, and is a former Kentucky player and assistant coach.

Check back here for more on the story this afternoon.

 

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Suspended Gators forward Dorian Finney-Smith to miss the LSU game

The suspension of Florida F Dorian Finney-Smith will extend at least through the weekend, Gators coach Billy Donovan said Wednesday night.

Dononvan announced prior to Wednesday night's game against Vanderbilt that Finney-Smith had been suspended indefinitely for "violation of team rules."

After the Gators' 50-47 win over the Commodores - without Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier (high ankle sprain) - Donovan said Finney-Smith will not play Saturday at LSU and his suspension will be “revisited on Monday.” The players said after the game they had known about the suspension since Monday.

This is the second time in Finney-Smith’s two seasons that he has been suspended. He started the 2013-14 three games in before going on to be named SEC Sixth Man of the Year.

Donovan seemed to indicate that Finney-Smith's suspension was related to his behavior and attitude with the team, but did not go into specifics, only saying he didn't want the suspension to serve as a negative reflection of Finney-Smith's character. …

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Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith suspended indefinitely

Junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been suspended indefinitely from the Florida baseketball team for violating team rules.

His suspension begins with tonight's game against Vanderbilt, and according to school officials likely will include more games.

That leaves the Gators without their two leading scorers. Junior G Michael Frazier is out with a high ankle sprain.

Florida coach Billy Donovan is expected to address Finney-Smith's suspension after tonight's game.

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Gators J.D. Tomlinson named SEC Golfer of the Week

A career-best finish at the SunTrust Gator Invitational helped Gator men’s golfer J.D. Tomlinson earn SEC Golfer of the Week honors, the conference announced today.

The senior shot a 3-under 207 this past weekend to tie for second place at the event on Sunday. The Gainesville native had recorded two ties for third place, most recently at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational in October, but Sunday was the first time he finished as runner-up. It was his third top-10 finish this year.

At the SunTrust Invitational, Tomlinson carded rounds of 67-70-70, finishing one stroke shy of his career-best 54-hole score (206) and two shots off the lead. He totaled a team-best 12 birdies at the event.

 

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Georgia exploring options to build indoor football practice facility at double the Gators' cost

One month ago, Florida and Georgia were the only two schoos in the SEC that did not have an indoor football practice facility on campus.

Now Florida is preparing to build a facility and Georgia is also exploring its options to do the same.

In January, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announced the Gators would build a $15 million indoor facility, which is expected to be completed in September.

On Tuesday, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity announced the Bulldogs are exploring options to build an indoor facility, at a cost of about $30 million. No date to begin construction was announced.

The Gators' facility will be a 120-yard, synthetic football field located on the site of the current Sanders Football Practice Fields. The project will include additional space for drill work on the north end of the field, three camera platforms, satellite training room facilities, equipment storage and restrooms. It also will include a newly designed entrance to the baseball stadium and the football practice facility.

Here is more on Georgia's potential facility from Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald.

 

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Gators try to halt four-game losing streak tonight vs. Vanderbilt

In the first game between the Gators and Commodores, James Siakam, right, was nearly unstoppable for the Commodores with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

AP photo

In the first game between the Gators and Commodores, James Siakam, right, was nearly unstoppable for the Commodores with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

The Florida men's basketball team has a chance to do something a Gators team hasn't done since 1998.

And you can bet the Gators will be trying to do everything in their power not to achieve that distinction.

Florida will host Vanderbilt tonight at 7 hoping to end a four-game losing streak. The last Gators team to lose five consecutive was in 1998.

Incidentally, it was a 67-61 loss to Vanderbilt on Feb. 3 that began this current losing streak. And Gators coach Billy Donovan expects as tough a challenge tonight as it was the first meeting.

"They have a lot of freshmen, particularly in the backcourt, that continue to grow and get better," Donovan said. "I think winning always maybe changes or makes you feel differently or better about yourself. I’m sure for them winning some games, going on the road winning (this past Saturday at Alabama, their first SEC road win), they’re probably a very confident basektball team is right now.”

The Gators have struggled in nearly every area, but lack of offensive production has been a huge factor. Florida hasn't scored more than 62 points in its past six games and has a scoring offense (65.4) that is ranked No. 11 in the SEC.

"I think that this team's had some struggles," Donovan said. "I think you look at the consistency part, Devin (Robinson) goes against Ole Miss and plays pretty well at home, scores 14 points. Then he kinda comes back, he goes 0-4. Kasey (Hill) goes 0-for-7. (Chris) Chiozza's, I think, 1-for-5. Our shooting percentages, they have not been great. For Eli (Carter), you know, he goes six games where he's shooting 21 percent from the 3-point line and he comes back out against (Texas) A&M and gives us a pretty good performance and, to be honest with you, he probably single-handedly kept us in that game. So we've had some inconsistencies shooting the basketball and scoring the basketball.

"I think it's probably been well-documented in terms of the low-post presence of somebody to throw the ball inside to," Donovan said. We have thrown the ball inside a little bit more, but we haven't really gotten great production there. So we are limited and have a difficult time scoring."

Carter, a junior guard who was considered a prolific shooter when he transferred from Rutgers, said even the players are surprised by the offensive struggles. He said they entered the season expecting much better.

“It’s been a little shocking, just the mental lapses we have sometimes and how long it’s taken for us to come together," Carter said. "But we’re working hard and continuing to try to do better.”

At 12-13 (5-7 SEC), the Gators could struggle to finish the season at .500, Donovan said. Florida still has games at LSU and at undefeated and No. 1 Kentucky, and will host Tennessee and Texas A&M - all teams that are currently considered NCAA Tournament-bound in the SEC.

Fortunately, Donovan said, even with the struggles he believes his team is still fighting and hasn't become frustrated enough to throw in the towel.

"No, I don't sense that," he said. "I said all along this is a good group. I think as a coach I've got to help them get better, and I'm committed to try to do that and work with them. I don't think there's any finger-pointing at all. I don't feel like 'jeez, they've given up. . . I don’t sense that there’s frustration, certainly I think there’s disappointment. I think there’s probably surprise, considering how they came into the season and how they felt about our team. But I don’t get a sense at all that they’re frustrated. I don’t sense that at all from them.”

Carter said not only have the players not given up, they still believe they can turn this season around.

“I believe we’re right there, honestly," he said. "Guys come in here every single day with a good mindset. Guys have been getting a lot better individually and as a team we’re getting a lot better.”

In the first game between the Gators and Commodores, James Siakam was nearly unstoppable for the Commodores with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
 
“He really I thought did a great job in the game," Donovan said. "He really was the difference in a lot of ways. He scored the ball well around the basket, and a lot of it was off offensive rebounds, putbacks. He had blocked shots. He really dominated. He and (Damian) Jones I thought in particular played extremely well up front. And they in particular did a really, really good job on the glass. So we’re going to have to do a much, much better job on Wednesday than we did last time we were in Nashville because I thought he particular had a terrific game and was the difference in the game in a lot of respects.”

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