Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jon Dowling having good spring at WKU

Word out of Western Kentucky spring football practice is that Jon Dowling is looking good in all aspects of the game catching kickoff and punt returns.

Unfortunately, the Southeast High product, who played for Florida last year, will likely have to sit out next season because of transfer rules.

Palmetto High defensive back Ty Scott, has moved to number two on the depth chart for the Hilltoppers at safety and his also having a good spring.

Braden River High product Tevin Bryant could earn himself a scholarship in the not too distant future. A walk-on who sat out last year, the 5-9 freshman has bulked up to 230 pounds and has looked good at fullback and running back.

In his senior year at Braden River, Bryant rushed for 1,650 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns going against defenses that knew he was going to get the ball nearly all the time.

Joe Hills gets workout invitation from Tennessee Titans

Palmetto High graduate Joe Hills turned in an impressive Pro Day, which got him an invitation to a private workout with the Tennessee Titans.

The Tennesee State University wide receiver wooed the crowd and caught the attention professional scouts who attended his workout at TSU's campus in Nashville.

Hills, looking chiseled at 6-5, 205 pounds turned in a 37 1/2 inch vertical jump, benched pressed 225 pounds 17 times and then ran a reported 4.61 second forty-yard dash time.

Hills, who caught 40 passes for 462 yards (11.6 avg) and four touchdowns last season, also displayed a nice set of soft hands and ability to catch anything thrown his way.

A.J. Love won't participate in USF's spring game

A.J. Love won’t be dressing out for USF’s spring game on Saturday and you won’t find his name on the depth chart, but Bulls head coach Skip Holtz said he remains a big part of team’s plans for next season.

The Southeast High graduate is coming off ACL surgery and the Bulls are being cautious with him. Love, who figured to be USF’s top receiver last season, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Holtz said he didn’t want to put Love on the depth chart because he didn’t think it was fair to the other players who have been participating in spring drills and took part in last week’s 170 play scrimmage.
Kickoff time for the spring game at Raymond James Stadium is 2 p.m. Gates open at 1 p.m.

Ranch's Reiter backup center heading into USF spring game

Former Lakewood Ranch standout Austin Reiter appears to be right on scheduled as he moves towards his redshirt freshman season at the University of South Florida.

The 6-4, 273-pound Reiter is second on the depth chart at center for USF’s spring game this Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Reiter is behind Kevin McCaskill, a six-foot, 315 pounder who will be a redshirt senior next season.

A former All-Area first team selection Reiter left Lakewood Ranch early and enrolled at USF last winter. He took part it last year’s spring practice, but sat out the season.

When Reiter signed with USF, Lakewood Ranch head coach Shawn Trent said he was told his former played would back up McCaskill as a freshman and be in position to take over the starting job at center when he becomes a redshirt sophomore.

When he was a senior at Lakewood Ranch, Reiter was used at right offensive tackle and spearheaded one of the best running games in Manatee-Sarasota County. He was offered scholarships to Wake Forest, UCF, FIU, Middle Tennessee State, Miami, West Virginia and Cincinnati.

Southeast High graduate Faron Hornes, who will be headed into his senior year at USF, is listed as a backup slot receiver for the Bulls.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Doubtful Gilchrist will go through with NBA draft plans

USF’s top returning player, Gus Gilchrist, is putting his name in for consideration for early entry to the NBA Draft.

Before USF fans get too anxious, they must realize the 6-10 (senior next season) hasn’t signed with an agent, which would allow him to return to school and play another season.

He is basically testing the waters to see what kind of response he will get. Unlike USF’s Dominque Jones last year, Gilchrist is not being touted as a first round draft pick or even a person who would be selected in the second round.

The 6-10, 245 pound Gilchrist was USF’s only double digit scorer averaging 13.4 points per game and was second with six rebounds per contest. What makes him intriguing to NBA scouts is that he has a good mid-range jumper and can shoot the 3-ball though he only took 28 attempts from beyond the arc last season (connected on seven).

His career shoot percentage above the arc is 35 percent, which is impressive for someone his size. In fact, as a sophomore he hit 13 of 27 (48%) from 3-point land.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Did Florida take ill advised shots down the stretch in Butler loss

People will be wondering for a long time what Florida coach Billy Donovan was thinking on the Gators last possessions of regulation and overtime in their 74-71 loss to Butler in the Southeast region final.

Florida got the ball with 30 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 60-60. Instead of trying to get the ball inside where they dominated all game. Donovan allowed Erving Walker to dribble the clock down and then he launched a long jumper from way beyond the arc with a man in his face and missed badly as time ran out. He had missed eight straight shots before that attempt.

A similar thing happened in overtime when Kenny Boynton shot a long ill advised jumper from way behind the arc with his team trailing 72-71 and 19 seconds left. The shot clock was off and he could’ve worked for a better shot. He missed, Butler knocked in two free throws and then Walker missed a trey.

“I think you want to put the ball in a guy's hands that you feel like can make that kind of shot. I thought in regulation we got Erving Walker a great look,” Donovan said. “I was blocked off. I think Chandler kind of ran in front of me so I couldn't see how clean it was, and he told me he had a great look, he was really wide open, and he was disappointed he missed that one…..He’s made big shots for us, and

"I would’ve probably have liked to seen Kenny drive the ball when we were down by one. But you know he’s another guy that’s made some big shots for us.”

Florida is now 4-1 all-time in Regional Final games. The Gators had advanced to the Final Four in each of their previous Regional Finals appearances - 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2007. The Gators won national championships in 2006 and 2007.

The overtime contest, paired with Florida’s overtime win over BYU on Thursday, marked the first time since the 1990-91 season that Florida reached overtime in consecutive games. During that season, Florida posted back-to-back road wins against Mississippi and Auburn in SEC play.

Florida is now 32-14 all-time in NCAA Tournament play (16 appearances), including a 25-9 mark under current head coach Billy Donovan.

Florida ends the season with wins in 16 of their last 20 games. Their only losses during that stretch are to Mississippi State, Kentucky (twice) and now Butler.

The game marked the first time in the 2011 tournament that Florida did not shoot at least 45 percent from the floor. The Gators finished 25-of-57 (43.9 percent) from the floor against Butler.

Florida finished the season as the only team in the nation not to have a player foul out during the course of the year.

The game marked the third time that Florida and Butler have met in basketball. All three match-ups have come in the NCAA Tournament with Florida winning the first two contests. The Gators claimed a 69-68 overtime win over Butler in the 2000 NCAA First Round and a 65-57 win over the Bulldogs in the 2007 Sweet 16.

Florida is now 14-14 in overtime contests under Donovan, including a 4-2 mark in overtime games this season.

Vernon Macklin led Florida with 25 points, bettering his career high of 23 scored earlier this season against Georgia. Alex Tyus added 14 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double and fifth of the season.
UF started game 12-of-12 from the FT line but hit just six of their last 10.

Florida expects physical battle with Butler

Florida head coach Billy Donovan expects a very physical game today in the Southeast region title matchup against Butler.

Well, we're playing against a team that is extremely, extremely physical, don't think there's any question about that, a team that has got a lot of players that know about success in this tournament from last year," Donovan said. "You know, really, really impressed with (Matt)Howard, again, how physical he is, how hard he plays, and just the different ways he impacts the game on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor.

"They're a hard team to guard offensively, and I think our guys understand that we're playing against a terrific team that is very talented, physical and gifted and playing terrific basketball right now."

Florida's Chandler Parsons, the SEC Player of The Year, expects a big battle with Howard calling him one of the most physical players in the country.

"He plays smart and just relentless and he doesn't stop. So a guy like him, he just battles for 40 minutes and you're not going to get anything easy with him just because his effort is off the charts," Chandler said.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How much will Loyd's absence hurt BYU against Florida?

Florida head coach Billy Donovan says he expects Kenny Boynton to be ready to take on Jimmer Fredette, the country’s number one scorer, in the Gators Sweet 16 Matchup with BYU on Thursday night.

Boynton injured his ankle in Florida’s Southeast Region victory over UCLA last Saturday and sat out practice on Monday, but Donovan feels he is ready to take on what could be the toughest defensive assignment for a guard in the country.

"We fully expect him to play," Donovan said. "He definitely has some discomfort, but it's not discomfort that's going to prevent him from playing. I'll find out more (this week) as he starts moving and really playing. The biggest thing now is what kind of pain is he going to have. He's walking. He's not on crutches. He doesn't have a lot of discomfort.”

The 6-2 Boynton guarded Fredette last year in BYU’s 99-92 double overtime victory over the Gators in an NCAA Tournament first round game. Fredette scored 37 points, but struggled (for him) until Boynton fouled out in the final three minutes of overtime and then hit two big treys. He shot 13 for 26 overall and was 3 for 8 from beyond the arc.

The guy that really hurt Florida was Michael Loyd Jr. who scored a career high 26 points and was 7 for 10 from the field, 3 for 5 from 3-point land and 9 for 10 from the charity stripe.

Loyd, a 6-1 guard, transferred to Division II Midwestern State in Texas in a move that the now junior said had to do with his differences with the Mormon run school.

Loyd is the second leading scorer for Midwestern, which is the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, averaging 12.7 points per game and is shooting 40 percent on treys (67-169).

Palmetto's Raymond to be at USF Pro Day

Mistral Raymond is scheduled to be among the former USF players who will be participating in USF's Pro Day on Thursday.

The Palmetto High graduate has been mentioned as a possible late round draft choice this year. The thing that has endeared him to pro scouts is his versatility and ability to play either safety or cornerback.

Individual workouts are scheduled to begin around 2 p.m. at the USF Track & Field Stadium. Fans will be permitted to sit in the stands during the series of tests the players are put through. Other testing will be done inside the facility and is closed to the public.

In his last collegiate game, Raymond was selected MVP of his Mountain All-Star team in the inaugural Dixie Gridiron Classic in St. George, Utah.

He was credited with seven tackles, one interception and two forced fumbles in leading his team to a 17-13 victory over the Pacific All-Stars.
Raymond played cornerback and safety and was the gunner on the punt teams. Two of the turnovers forced by Raymond led to scores and his interception late in the game sealed the victory.

While serving on the punt team, Raymond popped the ball loose from a returner and the Mountain team recovered it and eventually scored a touchdown.

In the fourth quarter he intercepted a pass that on his own two yard line and returned it about 35 yards to end a potential game winning drive.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Florida gets ready for Jimmermania

Jimmermania has hit Gainesville.

As Florida prepares for its Sweet 16 game against BYU this Thursday in New Orleans the topic of conversation is Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette.

It would be impossible for the Gators to forget Fredette. Now, they just want to wipe him from their memory and defeating BYU is the only way to do it.

As a junior last year, the guard tallied 37 points in leading the Cougars to a 99-92 double overtime victory over Florida in a first round game.

It was a particularly tough night for Florida’s Chandler Parsons, this year’s SEC Player of The Year. He missed potential game winners at the end of regulation and the first overtime period.

This season the 6-2 Fredette leads the nation in scoring (28.8 ppg). He has 121 three-pointers and is shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Gators coach Billy Donovan might want to borrow the game plan from Kansas State’s Frank Martin, who got Jimmer next after the Florida game, “holding” him to 21 points in K-State’s 84-72 victory. The guard was 5 for 13 shooting and had five turnovers.

Last year Donovan put Kenny Boynton on Fredette and he held the sharpshooter to 1 for 6 from 3-point land. The Florida guard fouled out with 3:57 left in the second overtime and after he left Fredette nailed two treys.

Boynton hurt his ankle in Florida’s Southeast region victory over UCLA last Saturday, but it is said to be a mild sprain and he is expected to be ready to play at full speed.

The question is even at full speed can he stop this Jimmermania.

Taking care of ball priorty for Gators

Florida will be making its seventh Sweet 16 appearance this Thursday when the Gators take on BYU in New Orleans.

The Gators, in their 16th tournament appearance, will bring a record of 31-13 to New Orleans. They are hoping to take care of the ball the way they did in defeating UCLA 73-65 in their Southeast Region victory Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Florida turned the ball over only eight times in the game (same as UCLA), which marked the eighth time this season the Gators had 10 or less turnovers in a game.

It helped because Florida struggled on the boards and committed 18 personal fouls, which was above the 14.4 fouls per game they averaged coming into the tournament.

They also shot 50 percent (27-54) from the field, going over that mark for the 10th time this season and second time in as many games in the tournament.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan is now 3-0 against UCLA’s storied program. He beat them and head coach Ben Howland in the 2006 championship game and 2007 Final Four semifinal.

Gators draw high praise from UCLA players

Reeves Nelson, one of the key players on the UCLA basketball team that lost to Florida in Saturday’s Southeast Region game at the St. Pete Times Forum, believes the Gators can go far in the tournament.

“I can definitely see them in the Elite Eight and possibly the Final Four, whoever comes from the top of the bracket. So they're a good team, they can beat you a lot of different ways, and they definitely earned our respect today,” said Reeves who had 16 points and a team high 11 rebounds in the Bruins 73-65 loss to the Gators.

UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt, who had 13 points and four assists, believes Florida has something very special in their diminutive junior guard Erving Walker, who scored 10 points in the final four minutes to carry the Gators to their victory.

“You don't see too many point guards who are 5'8" these days,” Honeycutt said. “Point guards are usually bigger. He can shoot from almost 30 feet. It's hard to get out there on him because he's so quick and so able to get to the basket.

Zack Larson: Man on Fire For Lakewood Ranch

Zack Larson was a man on fire in last week’s Sarasota Baseball Classic leading the Mustangs to the semifinal round of their bracket, the program’s best finish ever in the event.

In his four tournament games, Larson was 9 for 15 with 10 RBIs, smacking a homer, triple and a double, in leading the Mustangs to three victories.

Lakewood Ranch also got a good effort from Seth McGarry, who was 6 for 14 and turned in several good pitching efforts.

Lakewood Ranch (11-3) gets back on track this week when it plays host to arch rival Braden River in a key Class 4A-District 10 game on Tuesday night. The Mustangs are 3-1 in district play while the Pirates come in at 4-2 (7-9 overall).

Braden River is led by Dakota Wilson, who tops the Pirates with a .524 batting average. Right behind him is Garrett Russini, who is hitting at a .409 clip. Dalton Busby (.316 BA) leads the team in RBIs with 10 and has scored a team high 13 runs.

Good day for second basemen in Sar Classic

Chase Sandberg might have stayed in the background during Manatee’s football season, but on the baseball diamond he is in the spotlight.
In last week’s Sarasota Baseball Classic, the junior second baseman went 10 for 15 with seven ribbies and scored three times while leading the Hurricanes with four doubles.

Another second baseman, Palmetto High’s Nick Nolting, had a big tournament. He went 9 for 15 in the tournament with four doubles and scored a team high five runs.

Tigers shortstop Grandon Goetzman also gave Palmetto some punch at the plate going 7 for 13 in Palmetto’s four games with three triples, three doubles and four RBIs.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Princeton coach Johnson has quite a resume

Princeton head basketball coach Sydney Johnson broke down in tears following his team’s 59-57 loss to Kentucky that was decided on a shot with two seconds left Thursday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Noting that nobody in the country outside of his own family of players at Princeton gave his team a chance against the highly touted Wildcats, Johnson said his team belonged before breaking down into tears.

“You know Kentucky has a great tradition and they have a fantastic coach and players and fun support. Ours is no less,” Johnson said. “I hope I am not offending anybody.

We have a proud and rich tradition. And I really liked this matchup. I really thought that was a special one for the tournament.

"Princeton and Kentucky from my vantage point are two of the best programs that we’ve seen in college basketball. so I was very excited and I wanted to demand from our players that we live up to that, and I think we did.”

Johnson is no stranger to Princeton basketball. He played for Princeton and in 1997 was the Ivy League Player of The Year.

Johnson holds the Ivy League record for consecutive 3-point field goals made with 11 and the most 3-pointers made without a miss in a game (6 for 6). He also graduated Princeton as the school’s all time leader in steals with 156 which ranked 11th all time in the NCAA at the end of last year.

Brandon Knight no stranger to big shots

Brandon Knight showed why he is a cool customer on the basketball court, who doesn’t get rattled in big moments or if he is having a bad game.

The Kentucky freshman guard had missed all seven of his shots in the Wildcats NCAA East region tournament game Thursday against Princeton.

But with the scored tied at 57 and the last seconds of the game ticking down, Knight didn’t hesitate. He drove into the lane, lifted himself and banked in a shot from a couple of feet out with two seconds left to give the Wildcats their 59-57 victory.

"I just wanted to be aggressive and not settle for a jump shot. I was able to get into the lane and finish," Knight said. "I felt confident. No matter what the situation is, even if i had missed all my shots up to that point.

"It was just a pick and roll and we wanted to see what we could get out of it. Darius (Miller) had been hot and I thought they shaded to him, so i just took it.

Knight is no stranger to hitting big shots in big games. The two time Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of The Year hit the game winning 3-point basket his West team a 107-104 victory in the 2010 McDonald’s All American Game.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fan lockout in Gainesville

The University of Florida begins its spring football practice on Wednesday, but unfortunately there is a lockout and information is going to be hard to find.
click here to read full story

Love has a long way to go to catch Wilt

This is no way to break a record!!

Seems like many people, particularly folks in Minnesota, keep talking about how Kevin Love broke the NBA record for most consecutive double-doubles last Wednesday when he recorded his 52nd.

Well it’s not true. He may hold the record for the most consecutive double-doubles since the NBA and the ABA merged in 1976. But he will have to wait a long time for “real” record.

Remember a guy they used to call “Wilt The Stilt?’

Well the 7-1 Wilt Chamberlain has a record that seems safer than Joe D’s 56-game consecutive hit streak.

The Elias Sports Bureau points out that the real record for NBA consecutive double-double games is 227 set by Chamberlain. He also had a streak of 220 and another of 133 during his career.

Ignoring Chamberlain’s record is like not counting Babe Ruth’s home runs and no one would dare do that.

Chamberlain averaged a double-double for all 14 of his seasons; Bill Russell did it in 12 of his 13 seasons, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 12 seasons and Elgin Baylor nine seasons.

So those folks in Minnesota may love Love, but you can’t erase history. You have a nice player up there, but let’s be real.

Former USF QB makes successful Arena League debut

Former USF backup quarterback Grant Gregory was always known as a tough guy who would do anything to get on the field and play anywhere.

Gregory proved that Saturday night in his Arena Football League debut when he switched to fullback after an injury to the Tampa Storm starter and scored two touchdowns, a two-yard bulldozer and another from one yard out.

Gregory is the backup quarterback to Mike Potts. His bone crushing runs enabled the team to defeat the New Orleans VooDoo 46-40 Saturday night in the season opener for both teams in the Bayou City.

Grant was a three year backup at USF and transferred to Kansas State in his senior year where he won the starting job.

In a pass happy league, the Storm took a different approach under new coach Dave Ewart. They did not have a touchdown pass and scored their touchdown via the ground, including a kickoff return by Mike Lindsey, who had three touchdowns.

Clark leads country in 3-point field goal percentage

The Manatee-Sarasota County area has not been exactly known for turning out top level basketball players in recent years, but Gary Clark might dispel that notion for at least the time being.

The 6-5 Clark finished this career at Wake Forest with the best 3-point shooting percentage in the country. The former Booker High star, who helped spark the Tornadoes to a state championship in 2006, leads the country with a 55.3 three-point field goal percentage.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough to keep post season hopes alive for the Deacons, who finished with a dismal 8-24 record. Clark converted 52 of 94 attempts from beyond the arc and averaged 10.9 points per game for the season. He shot 83.3 percent from the free throw line and 51.5 percent overall from the field.

He plans to remain at Wake Forest and work as a graduate assistant with the basketball team as he pursues a Masters degree.

Price has second straight good outing for Rays

David Price turned in his longest stint of the Grapefruit League season Saturday and his performance added to the optimism Tampa Rays manager Joe Maddon always seems to carry with him.
The lefty went five innings and threw 73 pitches against the Phillies. He allowed only two hits, struck out six and walked two. The only disappointing moments of his time on the mound were two walks he issued to start off the second inning.

Price has looked sharp in his last two outings and so far this spring in 12 innings has struck out 10 while holding opponents to a .209 batting average.

In his previous outing, last Monday against Pittsburgh, Price threw 60 pitches in four innings. He shutout the Pirates over the first three innings before giving up a two-run homer in the fourth, finishing the day allowing four hits with two strikeouts and a walk.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gators spring practice off limits to fans and media

Steve Spurrier never did it and neither did Urban Meyer.

New Florida head football coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday that Florida's spring football practice will be off limits and closed to the fans and media.

It is believed Muschamp's decision marks the first time in the history of Florida's storied football program that the entire spring practice is off limits.

Muschamp made the announcement Wednesday, saying he wanted to minimize distractions with a new staff.

The new staff includes offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, whose offense doesn't figure to be any different than the one he ran at Notre Dame before he was fired following the 2009 season.

But Muschamp said closed practices were in the best interest of helping the Gators football program be successful on Saturdays this fall.

Muschamp believes closed practices could give the Gators the element of surprise with new offensive and defensive schemes.

The Gators will continue to open their spring game to the public. It will be played April 9 at Florida Field.

USF hoops season ends in loss to Cincinnati

There was no magic this time for the USF basketball team.

After its stunning upset in first round play Tuesday night, the Bulls suffered an 87-61 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday at the BIG EAST Tournament in Madison Square Garden.

The defeat ends the Bulls season with a 10-23 overall record and a 4-16 mark against Big East teams.

USF was successful Tuesday night in its 70-69 victory over Villanova thanks to the playmaking of point guard Anthony Crater and shooting of Shaun Noriega.

Noriega continued his sharp shooting Wednesday, but Crater was sidelined just before halftime with a shoulder injury and had to sit out the rest of the game.

Noriega scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point land, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a Cincinnati team led by Yancy Gates, who scored 25 points dropping in 10 of 11 shots.

Augustus Gilchrist led the Bulls with 16 points and pulled in five rebounds in the while Jarrid Famous, the team's only senior, added 10 points.

The Bulls couldn’t muster another second-half comeback without Crater, who was replaced by LaVonte Dority at the point. The Bearcats opened the second half on a 10-5 run to make the score 42-29, and USF never pulled back within single digits.

The Bulls trailed the entire first half and went to the locker room down eight at 32-24. After climbing within 24-22 with just over four minutes to go in the half, USF was outscored 8-2 over the duration of the period.

Noriega finished the tournament with 34 points primarily on 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) shooting from three. USF is now 2-3 all-time in the BIG EAST tournament and 18-30 in conference tournament play.

Game Notes
- The USF starters were Anthony Crater, Shaun Noriega, Jawanza Poland, Jarrid Famous and Augustus Gilchrist. It was the second game in a row that USF head coach Stan Heath used the lineup. Hugh Robertson had been the only Bull to start every game this season, but he came off the bench in both BIG EAST tournament contests. He notched a career-high four steals off the bench vs. Cincinnati.

- Since joining the league for the 2005-06 season, USF is 2-3 in the BIG EAST Championship. USF is 18-30 all-time in four different conference tournaments.

- Noriega hit four threes in the game and has hit multiple threes in 12 games this season. He shot 10-of-19 from three (52.6 percent) during the BIG EAST tournament.

- Crater had four rebounds, three assists and two steals when he left the game at halftime with a shoulder injury.

- Gilchrist scored 16 points, and has scored at least 10 points in all but seven games this season, including seven straight.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Southeast's Hanna finishes on high note

Bianca Hanna’s first season of college basketball ended in a loss, but she proved to be a winner with a very bright future.

The Paris Junior College freshman scored 11 points, dished out four assists and pulled in five rebounds in her team’s 74-68 loss to nationally third ranked Trinity Valley Sunday in the National Junior College Region XIV Tournament.

Hanna, the Bradenton Herald Player of The Year last season for Southeast, did everything she could to help her team pull off a win, which would’ve been one of the season’s biggest upsets.

Paris trailed 63-58 with 3:24 left in regulation time when Hanna dropped in two free throws to cut her team’s deficit to three points. With the game tied at 63, she assisted on a basket that enabled teammate Destiny Smith to score on a layup with 2:12 left.

The teams were tied at 65 after regulation. In the five minute overtime session, Hanna led Paris with three rebounds and assisted on a basket that allowed her team to tie the game at 68 with 1:57 left. Unfortunately, Trinity (30-2) scored the last six points for a 74-68 victory.

Paris finished its season at 19-13. In the first 27 games, Hanna averaged 9.4 points per game, was third on her team with 121 rebounds, second in steals (48) and blocks (13).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

USF opens Big East Tournament against Villanova

The University of South Florida begins Big East Conference Tournament play Tuesday night at 7 p.m. when the 15th seeded Bulls face 10th seed Villanova at Madison Square Garden in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.

The USF-Villanova contest will be followed by 11th seed Marquette facing 14th seed Providence to cap off the last of four opening round games.

The tournament kickoffs at Noon Tuesday with 9th seed Connecticut taking on 16th seed DePaul followed by 12th seed Seton Hall facing 13th seed Rutgers at 2 p.m. to complete the afternoon session.

Pittsburgh wrapped up its sixth BIG EAST regular-season title Saturday with a 60-50 win against Villanova, giving the Panthers a one-game edge on second-place Notre Dame in the final standings. The Panthers will enter The BIG EAST Championship as the No. 1 overall seed for the third time and look to win their third BIG EAST tournament title.

Pittsburgh joins Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse as the top four seeds. Those four schools receive byes through two rounds of the tournament and won’t play until Thursday’s quarterfinals.

No. 8-seed Georgetown will await the Connecticut/DePaul winner Wednesday at noon in the first of four second-round games. No. 5 St. John’s has the Seton Hall/Rutgers winner at 2 p.m., while No. 7 Cincinnati takes on the Villanova /USF winner at 7 p.m. No. 6 West Virginia – the 2010 BIG EAST champion – closes Wednesday’s action against the Marquette/Providence winner.

Friday’s semifinals are scheduled for 7 and 9 p.m., while the championship game tips at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Wednesday’s second-round games, Thursday’s quarterfinals, Friday’s semifinals and the championship game Saturday will be televised on ESPN.

Georgetown has won a conference-record seven BIG EAST Championships. Connecticut has won six tournament titles, while Syracuse has won five.

Tuesday, March 8 – First Round (ESPN2/ESPN 3D)
No. 9 Connecticut (21-9) vs. No. 16 DePaul (7-23)................................................ Noon

No. 12 Seton Hall (13-17) vs. No. 13 Rutgers (14-16)............................................ 2 p.m.

Tuesday, March 8 – First Round (ESPNU/ESPN 3D)
No. 10 Villanova (21-10) vs. No. 15 USF (9-22)..................................................... 7 p.m.

No. 11 Marquette (18-13) vs. No. 14 Providence (15-16)..................................... 9 p.m.

Wednesday, March 9 – Second Round (ESPN/ESPN 3D)

No. 8 Georgetown (21-9) vs. Connecticut/DePaul winner..................................... Noon

No. 5 St. John’s (20-10) vs. Seton Hall/Rutgers winner........................................... 2 p.m.

No. 7 Cincinnati (24-7) vs. Villanova/USF winner.................................................. 7 p.m.

No. 6 West Virginia (20-10) vs. Marquette/Providence winner............................ 9 p.m.

Thursday, March 10 – Quarterfinals (ESPN/ESPN 3D)

No. 1 Pittsburgh (27-4) vs. 8/9/16 winner................................................................ Noon

No. 4 Syracuse (25-6) vs. 5/12/13 winner............................................................... 2 p.m.

No. 2 Notre Dame (25-5) vs. 7/10/15 winner......................................................... 7 p.m.

No. 3 Louisville (23-8) vs. 6/11/14 winner.............................................................. 9 p.m.

Friday, March 11 – Semifinals (ESPN/ESPN 3D)

Thursday afternoon winners..................................................................................... 7 p.m.

Thursday evening winners........................................................................................ 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 12 – Championship (ESPN/ESPN 3D)

Semifinal winners....................................................................................................... 9 p.m.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bianca Hanna helps team to upset in JUCO Tourney

Former Southeast High star Bianca Hanna played a key role in leading Paris Junior College to an 80-75 overtime upset over Angelina Friday in a quarterfinal round NJCAA Region tournament contest.

Hanna, the Bradenton Herald’s Player of The Year last season, scored seven points and hauled in seven rebounds with two steals and dished out a team high four assists.

The victory earns Paris (19-12) a spot in Sunday’s semifinal against top seed Trinity Valley College (29-2), which is ranked third nationally.

The tournament is being held at the University of Texas at Tyler. Hanna was two for six from the field and drained one of three attempts from 3-point land.

Dallas coaches optimistic Mike Jenkins can return to his All-Pro form

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and secondary coach Dave Campo believe cornerback Mike Jenkins will show his 2009 form and comeback from a very disappointing 2010 season.

The former Southeast High standout and USF All-American was a Pro Bowler in 2009, which was his first season as a starter.

However, last season he became the favorite target of alot of quarterback and allowed 54 receptions for 935 yards and five touchdowns, the second-most yards in the NFL and tied for 14th-most catches allowed.

“Well, I’ve seen him play at a very high level…I’ve seen him do it. He’s a talented guy,” Garrett told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. “I think he wants to be good, and we as coaches are going to try to get him back where he plays with the right frame of mind and plays with the discipline necessary to allow his talents to come out.”

The Cowboys are reportedly taking a hard look at Nebraska’s cornerback Prince Amukamara with their ninth overall pick to provide aid for Jenkins and Terrence Newman, both former first-round selections themselves

Southeast's A.J. Love looking to resume career for USF

The USF football team began spring practice this week with a lot of questions needing to be answered.

Near the top of the list is receiver A.J. Love, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after tearing his ACL in last year’s spring game.

The former Southeast High pass catcher figured to be one of USF’s top receivers last year and had people calling him a possible Big East first team selection.

It never happened but Love is back and coach Skip Holtz is hoping for big things from the 6-2, 205 pounder, particularly in the leadership department.

Love, who is a cousin of Southeast great Peter Warrick, will turn 24 before next season ends and Holtz is hoping that maturity will bring the kind of leadership he got last season from Mistral Raymond, the defensive back from Palmetto.

In 2009, Love tied for the team lead with four touchdown receptions and came on strong at the end of season the season. A big play receiver in high school his 18.8 yards per catch average in his junior year is the third highest in school history.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sarasota opening crowd sounded pro Tampa Rays

The Tampa Rays answered Baltimore’s home run barrage with a mini splurge of their own in Tuesday’s spring training home opener for the Orioles, though none got a bigger yell from the crowd than Manny Ramirez blasting his first homer of the spring over the left center field wall.

B.J. Upton followed Ramirez a long ball shot with one of his own, also his first round-tripper of the season. Catcher Kelly Shoppach got the Rays first homer of the game in the fourth inning with another solo blast. Ramirez and Upton hit their homers in the sixth.

It was evident that the announced crowd of 7,497 had more Rays fans though it was a big day for baseball in Sarasota and the Orioles, who emerged a 12-6 winner.

The Rays also had to feel good about the one inning three strikeout performance by righthander Chris Archer. The 6-3, 185 pounder was the major piece for Tampa in the Matt Garza deal and manager Joe Maddon said after the game it won’t be long before he is in the big leagues.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Orioles celebrate new look stadium with five homers in first two innings

The Baltimore Orioles celebrated their spring debut at the renovated Ed Smith Stadium in the best way they know how by blasting three first inning home runs of Tampa Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine.

Nick Markakis stared it off with a two-run shot. After an out, Vladimir Guerrero smacked his first homer of the spring and one out later Adam Jones slammed his first spring homer over the left center field wall.

Things didn’t improve much for Sonnanstine in the second when Jake Fox added a solo shot over the left centerfield fence and then Markakis slugged his second homer, this one over the right field wall to give the Birds a 6-0 lead after two innings.