Sunday, May 20, 2018
Colleges

Variety of Florida Gators teams chase rankings, titles

GAINESVILLE — The Florida men's basketball team may be getting all the attention this week for being ranked No. 1, but Billy Donovan's squad isn't the only one to hold that distinction in Gainesville. And it's far from the only success story for the Gators this spring.

The undefeated softball team is also ranked No. 1 in the espn.com/USA Softball and NFCA/USA Today national polls.

Among the Gators' 14 sports currently in season, eight are ranked in the top 5: men's basketball and softball (both No. 1); gymnastics (No. 3); lacrosse (No. 5); men's swimming and diving (No. 4); women's swimming and diving (No. 5); women's tennis (No. 5); and men's track and field (No. 2).

The men's swimming and diving team won the SEC championship last weekend, its second straight title.

Gators track and field coach Mike Holloway isn't surprised by the success of the school's other programs because "that's what's expected." But the demand to be the best, he said, goes far beyond the regular season. That's what he's reminding his squads as they prepare for the SEC Championships this weekend in College Station, Texas.

"I think that anybody that works at the University of Florida, look at what's going on here now; whether it be basketball or softball, gymnastics, I think that's what we do," Holloway said.

"We prepare for these situations, and when you're hired you're not hired to be just good in the regular season, but you're hired to be good in championship season. That's our mantra and that's what we strive for every year.

"This team knows our job is to be ready for what we call the championship season."

Softball coach Tim Walton said that before the season, he guessed his team would be 15-1 at this juncture. The Gators (16-0) will play five games this weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, including a top-10 game against Oregon. Like Donovan, Walton doesn't want his team focused on the ranking.

"We don't look at our number in front of us, we've got to look at finding a way of how we're going to get better every day," Walton said. "Not even using coach cliche, but I think that's the mind-set of our team — not to really worry about where we're at right now, but to understand where we're going and how we're going to get there."

AT THE WIRE: The unranked women's basketball team has two regular-season games remaining, at Vanderbilt on Thursday, then hosting Texas A&M on Sunday. The Gators (17-10) need to boost their tournament resume. Florida, LSU and Vanderbilt sit in the middle of the SEC pack at 7-7. Assistant coach David Lowery said it's crunch time.

"It's very important (to finish strong),'' Lowery said. "Every game in the SEC counts. If you look at the standings, it's crazy right now. We've talked our kids about you've got to take one game at a time. … These last two games are very important. Right now you're playing for seeding in the SEC tournament, and hopefully life beyond the SEC and hopefully get in the NCAA Tournament. They're very important and our kids know that."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @TBTimes_Gators.

Comments
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18
Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

One of the Florida Gators' top incoming recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after police allege he kicked a female's car and broke her phone after an argument.Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and ...
Published: 05/10/18
Why Gators’ Dan Mullen still name-drops his second grade teacher

Why Gators’ Dan Mullen still name-drops his second grade teacher

When first-year Gators coach Dan Mullen spoke to a packed crowd at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club this winter, he told stories about the stars Florida fans recognize instantly.Tim Tebow. Steve Spurrier. Percy Harvin.Then he name-dropped someone els...
Published: 05/10/18
Florida Gators coordinator Todd Grantham to earn $1.39 million. Here are the other salaries

Florida Gators coordinator Todd Grantham to earn $1.39 million. Here are the other salaries

New Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be one of the highest paid assistants in the country, earning $1.39 million in base pay this year.The Gators released the contracts for Grantham and the rest of Dan Mullen's staff on Tuesday aftern...
Published: 05/08/18
Why Dan Mullen wants his Gators to hit every school in Florida

Why Dan Mullen wants his Gators to hit every school in Florida

As the Florida Gators hit the road for the spring evaluation period, coach Dan Mullen has a goal."It's really important for me that we try to get into every school in the state of Florida," Mullen said Monday before a speech to the Polk County Gator ...
Published: 05/08/18