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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Gators get set for Saturday scrimmage

The Florida football team completed its 10th of 15 spring practices Friday morning, and Florida coach Will Muschamp said overall he was pleased with the Gators' effort.

Listen to Muschamp break down the session and some of what he'll be looking for in Saturday's scrimmage here:

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Former Gator Azania Stewart named to Great Britain women's basketball preliminary squad

Florida center Azania Stewart, who just completed her collegiate career with the Gators, has been named to the Great Britain women's basketball preliminary squad announced for the London 2012 Olympics.

The list also includes Bonnie Samuelson, a freshman at Stanford, which is in the NCAA Women's Final Four. Samuelson and Stewart will try to survive the first round of cuts before a training camp for 18 players opens on May 5. The final squad of 12 will be named on June 5.

Stewart averaged 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Gators in her final season.


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Gainesville State Attorney files battery charge against A.C. Leonard

GAINESVILLE - The Gainesville State Attorney's Office has filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Florida sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard, one day after Gators' head coach Will Muschamp announced that Leonard has been allowed to return to practice. …

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Do the Gators the best dual-sport program in the nation?

In an article published today, Sporting News national college writer Matt Hayes breaks down the top 10 schools with successful football and
men's basketball programs.

And according to the Sporting News, Florida has the nation's best dual-sport program. The football and basketball programs have won a
combined four national championships since 2006, and Florida coach Billy Donovan has taken his teams to the Elite Eight four times in the
past seven years.

For more on Florida and the other schools click here.

-- ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times Staff Writer

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Gators' Allie Will ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles this week

Florida junior All-American Allie Will retained her No. 1 national singles ranking for the fourth straight listing period - and took the top spot in the doubles rankings with UF sophomore Sofie Oyen for the first time this year- while the Gator women’s tennis team has held onto their No. 2 ranking for a fourth consecutive week.

Will is one of six Gators who earned a national singles ranking, which is updated every other week. She joins junior All-American Lauren Embree (11), senior Joanna Mather (19), Oyen (42), sophomore Alexandra Cercone 64), and junior Caroline Hitimana 123). 

Oyen and Will, who earned the No. 1 doubles ranking three times last year, are 12-0 in dual match doubles action this season, as is the Gator pair of Embree and Mather, who are ranked No. 13 in the latest chart. Cercone and Olivia Janowicz are ranked No. 57. …

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Gators' tight end A.C. Leonard allowed to return to practice

Florida coach Will Muschamp has allowed sophomore A.C. Leonard to return to practice. Leonard was suspended indefinitely following his arrest for simple battery in February.

"After a six-week suspension from team activities, A.C. Leonard has been cleared to return to practice only,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said late Wednesday night. "He still has a lot of things to work throuhg before his status for the fall is addressed.''

Leonard was arrested after he and his live-in girlfriend got into an argument which University Police said resulted in her being shoved by Leonard  in the chest and neck area, causing her to fall to the ground and hit her head on a nearby dog cage. After Leonard reportedly told the woman to leave, he allegedly followed her into a bedroom as she gathered her belongings. He then grabbed by her hair and attempted to drag her out of the apartment, the police report at the time stated. According to the report, when she resisted, he grabbed her by both feet, dragged her from the apartment and locked her out. The two have been dating for about 17 months. …

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Second spring under Dan Quinn proving to be more efficient for Gators

Now that the Florida football team is in the midst of its second spring practice under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, spring drills are more efficient and players have a much better understanding of what's expected, the second-year defensive coordinator said today.

Listen to Quinn talk about the improvement of LB Ronald Powell and how the second spring is drastically different from last season:

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Florida men's basketball season tickets available with $25 deposit

With the Florida men's basketball team coming off its second consecutive NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance – the program’s fourth in seven years -- expectations are high heading into the 2012-13 season.

So Florida is offering fans an opportunity to get 2012-13 season tickets now - with just a $25 deposit. 

Anyone who places a deposit by Tuesday, May 1, will receive an exclusive invitation for a behind-the-scenes-tour of the Florida Basketball Practice Complex, as well as the opportunity to hear remarks from head coach Billy Donovan, on a date to be announced before next season.

The 2012-2013 home schedule will include several premier games including Kentucky (plus 8 other SEC games) and Wisconsin. A still to be determined Big East opponent in the SEC/Big East Challenge, Richmond and UCF are also on the schedule. 

A $355 value season ticket is being offered for $315 (plus a per seat contribution if applicable). To place your $25 deposit for 2012-2013 men’s basketball season tickets, go to For more information, contact the Gator Ticket Office at 352-375-4683, ext. 6800 or toll-free at 800-34-GATOR (42867 …

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12:30: Chat live with Tom Jones

Want to talk about the Final Four, Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Frozen Four, sports on TV/radio? Whatever's on your mind, join Times sports personality Tom Jones for a live chat today, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Can't make it? Leave a question in the "Comments'' area below, then check back afterward to replay the chat.

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Billy Donovan says he'll remember 2011-12 team for how it matured through the course of the season

When the pain of watching an 11-point lead dwindle into a loss to Louisiville one game away from the NCAA Tournament Final Four finally subsides, Florida coach Billy Donovan said he'll have great memories of this team - and this season.

Asked what his lasting memory of this team will be, Donovan said: "A team that was really young and immature in a lot of ways and in front of my eyes I got a chance to watch them grow up and mature competitively. To see where Patric Young was at the start of the year, in January, to see where they finished. To see before Brad (Beal) was in November and December, see where he finished. Same with Erik Murphy. Our guys grew up.''

The Gators lost four of their last five games, then went on a strong run to advance to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Donovan said even during the late losses, he saw a team that was growing and developing, which gave led him to believe they could make a strong run in the tournament. …

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Gators suffer devastating season end with 72-68 loss to Louisville

Florida's basketball season came to a stunning end Saturday after the Gators lost a double-digit lead down the stretch in a 72-68 loss to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament West Region Final.

The Gators (26-11) fell one game short of the Final Four for the second consecutive season.

It feels terrible,’’ Florida senior guard Erving Walker said. “I mean, we had a lead, we gave it up late. We just didn't make shots and didn't defend them. And they were able to get down the lane and make big plays.''

Florida sophomore C Patric Young talked more about the Gators' loss after the game:


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Louisville focused on stopping Bradley Beal, Gators' 3-point shooting

When Florida and Louisiville meet this afternoon in the NCAA Tournament West Region final, the Cardinals' focus will be on stopping Gator freshman guard Bradley Beal and the Gators' 3-point shooters.

Florida has not shot the ball well from 3-point range in this tournament, but Louisville insists that could turn around at any moment. The Gators still lead the nation in 3-point attempts made (9.7 per game). Louisville's defense had held opponents to 60 points or fewer in 23 games.

"Our ball pressure is like tremendous,'' Louisville's Chris Smith said. "We trace the ball wherever it goes.  And we just really try to keep it out of reaching the three‑point line.  And with this team we have to step out even deeper with NBA range, because those guys can really shoot it.''

Added Kyle Kuric: "We put pressure on the pass, so they can't get a clean pass, they can't get shot off as quick.  And we extend our
defense to the point where they have to shoot the ball really deep or under duress.''

As for Beal, who had 21 points and six rebounds against Marquette, Louisville plans to put extra emphasis on limiting him. …

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Gators say experience a key factor in Elite Eight game against Louisville

One year after advancing to the NCAA Tournament regional finals, the Gators believe that having been in this position so recently is beneficial this year.

“I think it’s huge, even for myself,’’ senior G Erving Walker said. “I feel a lot more relaxed. Still focused, but just being there last year, you pretty much know what to expect. Last year we lost and we know what beat us – loose balls, rebounds and stuff like that. And I think that’s one of the things coach just kept on us about and I think we’ve done a good job so far.’’

Florida is 4-1 in Elite Eight appearances, with the lone loss last season against Butler.

Florida junior G Kenny Boynton talks more about the Gators' Elite Eight game against Louisville on Saturday:

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Florida's Casey Prather recovered and ready to help Gators in any way possible

Sophomore forward Casey Prather has recovered from the flu-like illness that hampered him in last weekend's third round game against Norfolk State, and said he's ready to help the Gators in any way he can.

Prather, who had a breakout 14-point game in the second round against Virginia, fell ill prior to the NSU game, and played sparingly.

"I'm much better now,'' Prather said, adding he took lots of over the counter medicine to help battled the flu-like symptoms. "I'm ready to goa.''

The Gators all week have said they expect a very physical game against Marquette tonight, perhaps the toughest of the season.

"We have played a lot of physical teams, but I feel like Marquette is one of the most physical teams in the country,'' Prather said. "As far as rebounding, they send four guys to the glass, and they do a great job pushing under the basket and coming up with loose balls.''

That's the kind of game that plays to Prather's strengths, which are crashing the boards and pulling down key rebounds.

"I'm looking forward to it,'' he said. "I'm looking forward to helping the team out any way I can.''

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Marquette expecting "potent" offensive attack from Gators

Throughout the course of the Big East season, Marquette has faced some of the nation's toughest teams. But head coach Buzz Williams said Wednesday Florida may be the most potent an offensive team he's studied this year.

No. 7 seed Florida and No. 3 seed Marquette will play tonight at 10:17 p.m. in the NCAA West Regional semifinals. Williams said one of his biggest concerns is the Gators' ability to shoot the 3 and their transition defense. …

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