Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Billy Donovan takes straightforward approach with Florida Gators

GAINESVILLE — Fresh off two big road wins last week, UF basketball coach Billy Donovan didn't have to say much to players in the first practice after Saturday's 98-68 win at Arkansas.

In fact, for the next couple of weeks, Donovan doesn't plan to do much talking about anything other than the next opponent. After 16 seasons, he has learned not to indulge in the ifs, ands and buts of the impending March Madness.

"I don't really talk to them about the seeding and all those kinds of things," Donovan said Monday. "I have always been a big believer of you kind of take care of everything in front of you, right here and now. … For our guys, they understand we need to continue to win, continue to play well and we'll get a better seed. If we don't play well, we don't finish out the year strong, we won't. It's pretty simple."

The Gators moved up to No. 12 in the AP poll released Monday. With four regular-season games remaining, Florida is No. 17 in the RPI rankings.

NO. 1 TIMES THREE: Monday the gymnastics team moved into the No. 1 ranking by GymInfo, giving Florida three No. 1-ranked teams: gymnastics, baseball and softball. Florida will host No. 3 Georgia on Friday night.

BACK IN STRIDE: The roller-coaster women's basketball season is nearing the regular season end, with Florida coach Amanda Butler having great optimism. The Gators (17-10, 7-7 SEC) picked up a huge win over No. 18 Georgia on Sunday and will finish with Mississippi State and at Tennessee. Butler believes the Gators are playing close to their best.

"Especially with (Sunday's) performance and looking at that game statistically,'' she said. "Because I think the value of our team so often this year, you've not been able to find it in the statistics, it's been more in our effort, our fight and some other things that don't show up in a box score."

GATORS OWN NEW STREAK: When the St. John's women's basketball team upset No. 2 Connecticut on Saturday, it snapped the Huskies' 99-game home winning streak, which had been the longest active home win streak of any Division I women's sport. The new mark belongs to the Gators, whose tennis team has a 98-match home winning streak. Their next home match is Saturday.

TITLE IS THE GOAL: Everything Mike Holloway and his track and field staff have done since the season began was geared toward this weekend. And when the men's and women's teams compete in the SEC indoor track and field championships, nothing short of a title will do. The Florida men are the defending SEC indoor champions, while the women will be looking for their second title in three years. The Gators also have seven reigning SEC champions on their current roster.

"This is a very exciting time of year for us," Holloway said. "We strive (for) and have a lot of pride in being prepared for what we call the championship season and that begins this weekend with the SEC Championships. We expect to go in and fight for championships. That's what we do here. It's going to be tough competition on both sides, but we expect to do well."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Grapefruit League 2018 day-by-day schedule

Grapefruit League 2018 day-by-day schedule

Here is the 2018 day-by-day Grapefruit League schedule. Check out the Tampa Bay Times’ 2018 Spring Training Guide for stadium locations, contact information, team-by-team schedules, ticket information and more.Thursday, Feb. 22U. of Tampa vs. Philade...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Calvary Christian baseball team opens title defense with heavy hearts

Calvary Christian baseball team opens title defense with heavy hearts

CLEARWATER — Braden Halladay admits there will be some emotions when he takes the mound Friday for his first start of the season. How can there not be?His father, Roy, won't be watching.Roy Halladay, one of the best Major League Baseball pitche...
Updated: 3 hours ago
U-S-A! U-S-A! Women’s hockey beats Canada for Olympic gold

U-S-A! U-S-A! Women’s hockey beats Canada for Olympic gold

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The Americans' gold medal drought in women's hockey is finally over. They needed the first shootout in an Olympic women's final to do it, too.Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored a dazzling, triple-deke goal in the sixth ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Girls basketball region finals preview

Girls basketball region finals preview

All games at 7 p.m. FridayClass 8ANaples Gulf Coast (25-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (25-3): The Titans are coming off a 62-44 win over Countryside. They are clearly playing some good basketball at the right time. Junior Jalyn Spurlin scored 12 poi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Supercross brings athletes — not just motorcycle riders — to Tampa

Supercross brings athletes — not just motorcycle riders — to Tampa

TAMPA — When breaking down the competitive skill in Saturday night’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship Series event at Raymond James Stadium, you won’t find an analysis of 40-yard dash times, bench-press weights or vertical-leap measurements...
Published: 02/22/18
What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

PORT CHARLOTTE — Going against popular opinion, here's an odd thought to ponder:What if the Rays actually know what they're doing?The deal agreed to Wednesday afternoon with veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez — one year for a hefty-for-them ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

This isn't the first time Brentson Buckner has wanted to get closer to the Bucs defensive line.As a defensive tackle for the Panthers, Buckner's team went 7-9 in 2002, the inaugural season for the NFC South.Tampa Bay won the division that year, and w...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Hey Rays, this is no way to build a ballpark

Hey Rays, this is no way to build a ballpark

PORT CHARLOTTE — It was another morning after at Charlotte Sports Park and Rays Bargain Clearance Barn.  This time it's Steven Souza Jr., man of a thousand faces. He gone.What else is new at the incredible shrinking baseball team?It's spri...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

PORT CHARLOTTE – Dick Vitale, the Rays' most visible and, as of late, vocal fan, took to Twitter and the 620-AM airwaves Wednesday morning and later in the day in a phone call to the Tampa Bay Times to blast his local baseball team.Vitale, ESPN...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Winter Olympics: Thursday’s viewing guide

Winter Olympics: Thursday’s viewing guide

TV today6:05 a.m.-5 a.m. Friday NBCSNCurling (M) — Semifinal, United States vs. Canada (LIVE)Short-track speed skating — Finals, men's 500m, women's 1,000m, men's 5,000m relayBiathlon (W) — 4x6k relay finalCurling (M) — Semifi...
Updated: 9 hours ago