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Gator Report

Antonya English

"Desperate" Gators take on Alabama tonight trying to stop three game skid

The Florida baasketball team shot 48 percent from the floor and 60 percent from 3-pont range this past Saturday at Ole Miss.

Yet the Gators still lost the game.

It's been that kind of season for Billy Donovan's team.

The Gators return to action tonight at Alabama, and Florida junior guard Michael Frazier wasn't afraid to call it like it is as the team preapred to leave on Monday.

Florida is on a three-game losing streak and this is a team that's "desperate" for a win.

“We definitely need this win," said Frazier,  who had a season-high 27 points against Ole Miss. "We go into every game needing it. We’re desperate, so we gotta do what we gotta do to win the game. Period."

Alabama is among 10 SEC teams that are hanging around packed togehter trying to stay in contention in league play - behind undefeated and the nation's No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats. Those 10 teams are either 4-2, 3-3 or 2-4 in SEC games.

The road hasn't been kind to the Gators, who are 1-4 this season in true road games, 1-2 in SEC play away from the O'Connell Center.

Frazier said one of the drills the Gators continue to focus on in practice deals specifically with getting defensive stops - on the road. …

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Billy Donovan sticking with guard Kasey Hill

Despite his up and down play this season, Florida coach Billy Donovan said today he has no plans to bench sophomore PG Kasey Hill.

Hill is averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 assists per game. He has started 18 of the Gators' 19 games. But his consistency from game-to-game has been an issue.

He had 25 assists vs. 4 turnovers (6.25 ratio) over one three-game stretch (Kansas, Yale, Texas Southern). He had his first career 20-point game vs. North Carolina, including a 10-for-12 night from the free throw line. And he had a 10-assist, zero-turnover game vs. Yale, with 4-for-4 shooting.

But he has also had games like vs. South Carolina where he had six turnovers and one assist. Donovan said despite his up and down play, it's in the Gators' best interest right now to stick with him. …

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Former Gators coach Brad Lawing lands at rival Florida State

Another member of former Florida coach Will Muschamp's staff has landed a job.

Brad Lawing, who was the Gators' assistant head coach/defensive line coach, has been hired by FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, Warchant.com is reporting, citing sources.

Lawing is expected to replace Salsunseri, who is leaving to take a position on Jack Del Rio‘s staff with the Oakland Raiders.

Lawing is a highly-respected, veteran coach who spent two seasons with the Gators after six seasons at South Carolina. His other stops include Michigan State and North Carolina.

Lawing was not retained by new Florida coach Jim McElwain.

He is the fourth member of the Gators' previous staff to find another job. Muschamp and Travaris Robinson are both at Auburn, and former defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is the new defensive coordinator at Michigan.

 

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Gator basketball trying to find answers to its struggles

Gators coach Billy Donovan talks to one of his players during the second half of Tuesday's game against LSU in Gainesville. LSU defeated Florida 79-61.

Associated Press

Gators coach Billy Donovan talks to one of his players during the second half of Tuesday's game against LSU in Gainesville. LSU defeated Florida 79-61.

After opening the conference season 3-0, the Florida men's basketball team has now lost two consecutive games.

But it's not just that the Gators lost, it's how they've lost: both by double digits and clearly outplayed in both games against Georgia and LSU.

Tuesday night's loss to the Tigers was Florida's worst at home since 2010, and the Tigers ended a six-game losing streak to Florida.

So what's wrong with the Gators?

Even they are struggling to figure that out.

"If I knew, I probably would help do something about it," junior G Michael Frazier said.

The Gators have used 10 different starting lineups this season. On Tuesday night, Florida coach Billy Donovan used 10 different players for at least 12 minutes.

“It’s like a revolving door,” Donovan said. “I was going to put (assistant coach John) Pelphrey in, but they said his eligibility was up.”

Donovan has been desperately trying to find a combination that is effective on a consistent basis. So far, no luck.

"We are not doing our job as a team," junior F Dorian Finney-Smith said. As soon as we correct that, there might be some change."

Donovan said the Gators remain a "selfish" team, but not in the way you might think. He said the players are so consumed with trying to play well as individuals - to help the team- that they are failing to accomplish what's necessary as a unit.

"These guys have always gotten along pretty well," Donovan said. "We don't have a problem at all in terms of internal chemistry problems or guys not getting along."

"I'm not surprised by any of this, Donovan said. "I saw this back coming out of last season, with the group of guys that were back. I didn't have a high expectation for Devin (Robinson) and Chris Chiozza because they were going to be freshman and I think when you start trying to rely on freshmen it becomes difficult. But the veteran guys coming back there was a lack of discipline in them and they struggle in that area. I'm not surprised by anything that's going on, that's been the challenge. I've tried a lot of different things with them, but they're going to have to go through that to figure it out." …

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Former Gators RB coach Kenny Carter hired as head coach at Delaware State

Kenny Carter, who served as running backs coach for the Gators in 2008 and 2009, was hired today as the new head coach at Delaware State.

“I am extremely excited about this new chapter in my football career” Carter said. “There are only 250 such opportunities in Division I football, so it is truly a blessing."

Carter was the passing game/co-special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach at Youngstown State University during the 2014 season. 

He left the Gators in 2010 to join Charlie Strong's staff at Louisville, where he was running backs coach until 2014. Carter also served as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt from 2004 to 2007.

Carter, a former four-year letterman at The Citadel, takes over a DSU program that was 2-10 overall and tied for ninth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 2-6 league record during the 2014 season.

“Kenneth Carter is an outstanding motivator with a proven record of success,” Delaware State athletic director Candy Young said. “He has the knowledge and energy to return our football program to its past success. The University is also impressed with his commitment to our student-athletes in the classroom and the community ”

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Former Gator Trenton Brown tries to set record straight at Senior Bowl

Former Florida OT Trenton Brown is at the Senior Bowl this week trying his best to clear up issues that are clouding his NFL Draft status.

Among them: his weight and the label of being lazy.

Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports caught up with Brown as he talked about clearing up the misconceptions about himself.

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Gators to build new $15 million indoor football practice facility

Florida's new indoor facility will include a full 120-yard, synthetic turf football field, additional space for drill work on the north end of the field, three camera platforms, satellite training room facilities, equipment storage and restrooms. The project will also feature a newly redesigned entrance to the baseball stadium and football practice facility.

Photo renderings: Davis Architects

Florida's new indoor facility will include a full 120-yard, synthetic turf football field, additional space for drill work on the north end of the field, three camera platforms, satellite training room facilities, equipment storage and restrooms. The project will also feature a newly redesigned entrance to the baseball stadium and football practice facility.

Having lost ground to comparable SEC rivals in some of its football facilities, Florida announced today it will build a $15 million indoor football practice facility on campus - located on the site of the current Sanders Football Practice Fields.

The facility will be completed in early September.

The announcement comes just two weeks before National Signing Day, and during a period when the Gators are struggling on the recruiting trail.

Rival Florida State has an indoor facility as does Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Auburn among SEC schools. Georgia is preparing to build one. …

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Dorian Finney-Smith battled back from knee injury to play vs. LSU

Florida junior F Dorian Finney-Smith played in Tuesday night's game against LSU after suffering a hyperextended knee in this past Saturday's game against Georgia.

Finney-Smith, who missed several games this season with a broken hand, did not practice on Sunday or Monday, but did participate in Tuesday's shoot around  and was cleared to play.

LSU defeated the Gators 79-61, but Finney-Smith finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

"I hyperextended my knee, but I played tonight so no excuses," Finney-Smith said. "I felt good (before the game). I ran on it. I knew I was going to play."

LSU's victory ended a six game losing streak to the Gators.

The loss was Florida's worst at home since a 93-75 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 16, 2010.

LSU shot 61.5 percent from 3-point range and 51.9 from the field.

“We fought at the end, but their offense was better than our defense,” Finney-Smith said. “It’s (lack of) discipline. We came out with no energy. We didn’t fight. We didn’t protect our home court.”

 

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Gators Jake McGee confirms NCAA has granted sixth year

Florida TE Jake McGee confirmed on his Twitter account tonight that he has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

McGee, a transfer from Virgina, suffered a broken leg in the first game of the season - the first game of his Gator career. He missed the remainder of the season.

McGee appealed to the NCAA for a sixth year and has been awaiting word on whether it would be granted.

Tonight, he Tweeted: "Lets try this college thing one more time! thanks see you in the fall!"

McGee led the Cavaliers with 43 receptions and 395 receiving yards in his final season there.

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Former Gator Eddie Shannon named to SEC Legends 2015 Class

Former Florida guard Eddie Shannon, a team captain on Billy Donovan's first NCAA Sweet 16 team, has been named to the 2015 class of SEC Basketball Legends.

Shannon, a four-year starter who scored 1,168 points for the Gators, will be honored at the Gators’ first game at this year’s SEC Tournament, held March 11-15 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Shannon averaged 10.1 points per game throughout his Florida career and was named the 1999 Frontier Most Courageous Player for demonstrating extraordinary courage beyond the playing floor.

The West Palm Beach native is now an assistant head coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

“I am extremely honored and humbled by such a distinct accomplishment,” Shannon said. “The SEC has fielded many great players that have gone on to make major contributions to the game of basketball. To be selected into the 2015 SEC Men's Basketball Legends class is truly gratifying. Congratulations to all of the other recipients."

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Gators CB Vernon Hargreaves and his dad now both in the SEC

Vernon Hagreaves, father of Florida CB Vernon Hagreaves III, has been hired as the new linebackers coach at Arkansas, the school announced today.

Hargreaves joins the staff after spending the past two seasons at Houston. He has 30 years coaching experience, including the past 17 at Division I schools.

“Bret (Bielema, Arkansas caoch) and I have known each other for a long time and I am honored to join such an outstanding coaching staff,” Hargreaves said. “I’m very passionate about recruiting South Florida, and cannot wait to start bringing more Florida Hogs to Fayetteville. (Defensive coordinator) Robb Smith and the defensive staff have done an excellent job and I look forward to helping the Razorbacks take the next step towards an SEC championship.”

Hargreaves has strong Florida ties having served as special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach at USF. He was also the linebackers coach at Miami from 1998-2005, helping to lead the Hurricanes to a national title in 2002. …

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The struggle is real for Gators this recruiting season

When he was hired in December, Florida coach Jim McElwain knew he was in for an uphill battle in recruiting.

The former Colorado State coach joined the staff one week before the NCAA dead period began and the Gators had just seven recruits at the time.

Now, with coaches back on the road and in players' homes, it's clear the struggle remains.

According to the team rankings for 247Sports, the Gators are ranked dead-last in the SEC. Yep, that's even behind Vanderbilt.

Florida has just eight oral commitments - and seven of those are 3-star players.

The Gators are making some late in-roads with several touted players, indluding Nature Coast OL Christian Pellage.

McElwain said recruiting is obviously the Gator staff's top priority right now, and he believes the coaches he's assembled will help the Gators close the gap before the Feb. 4 National Signing Day. He's also intent on making sure Florida gets what it needs because he realizes he can't afford to make too many mistakes in the players he signs. …

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SEC to be represented by 24 players in Super Bowl XLIX

The SEC will be represented by 24 players when the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks meet in Super Bowl XLIX.

The only Gator player on a roster is former DL Dominique Easley, who is on injured reserve for the Patriots.

Of those, 14 are on the Seahawks and 10 on the Patriots.

Alabama leads all SEC teams with four players on Super Bowl rosters, and Mississippi State and Texas A&M both have three. Auburn is the only SEC team not represented.

Here if the full roster of SEC representatives in the Super Bowl from ESPN.

 

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Gators, LSU both hope to rebound tonight at O'Dome

"By far the greatest growth I’ve seen is in Dorian (Finney-Smith, left), from the standpoint that he’s been relatively consistent this season,'' Billy Donovan said. "... I think Kasey Hill (right) in some ways has been more consistent than he was last year, but there’s still some inconsistencies. But he’s gotten better.

AP photo

"By far the greatest growth I’ve seen is in Dorian (Finney-Smith, left), from the standpoint that he’s been relatively consistent this season,'' Billy Donovan said. "... I think Kasey Hill (right) in some ways has been more consistent than he was last year, but there’s still some inconsistencies. But he’s gotten better.

Sometimes the best thing about college basketball is how quickly you're forced to move on.

Florida (10-7, 3-1 SEC) and LSU (13-4, 2-2) will meet tonight in the O'Connell Center with both coming off tough losses and eager to forge ahead.

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

The Gators are coming off their worst performance of the season in a loss to Georgia, while LSU suffered a 67-64 loss to Texas A&M this past Saturday.

Florida had been undefeated in conference play heading into the Georgia game, and was playing with growing confidence. The loss, players said, hasn't completely shaken their belief that they are getting better as a team.

“I think the confidence is still there," sophomore guard Chris Walker said. "We've just gotta move on to the next game. That was a tough environment in Georgia. I really think we weren’t as connected as usual, but (tonight) is an unbelievable opportunity.”

Florida coach Billy Donovan and LSU coach Johnny Jones each find themselves in similar positions. Both are looking for some type of consistency from their respective young teams. …

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Billy Donovan says coaches, players both a problem in Georgia loss

There were all sorts of problems for the Gators in their 73-61 loss to Georgia this past Saturday.

But Florida coach Billy Donovan said after further review the Gators lacked the passion and energy necessary to compete the way they needed to. And that, he said, is also a reflection on him and the rest of the coaching staff.

Hear Donovan talk about how the loss could be attributed to both coaching and the players, and what he learned from that game:

 

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