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November 16, 2012
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators basketballers combined for two exciting NBA finishes on Wednesday as Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah and Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons each scored buckets in the last minute of their games to lead their team to victories in overtime and regulation, respectively. Through Wednesday, Noah is averaging career-highs in points (16), rebounds (9.8), assists (3.5), blocks (2.4), steals (1.4) and minutes (39.8). He's registered 17 or more points in five games and has notched four double-doubles. Parsons is also averaging career-highs in points (12.4), boards (6.4), dimes (3.6) and minutes (38.3). It is early in the season, of course, but both appear to have taken major steps in improving their games over the summer.
Although some anonymous sources ripped New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow early in the week, coaches and teammates have spent the rest of the week coming to his defense and claiming that the criticism of him were "cowardly" and ridiculous. "It's stupidity," said Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, according to the New York Daily News. "I mean, he's on our team. He's been a great teammate. Guy's been doing everything we've asked him to do. You can't say too much about him because he's a guy that's been a team player."
Two five-star commitments officially signed with Florida men's basketball on Wednesday as point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) and power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) officially signed and submitted their National Letters of Intent. Each ranked in the top-10 nationally - No. 9 and 8, respectively by Rivals - the duo will have a tall task in replacing at least three important players set to depart after the season. Hill and Walker are not just two of the best prospects in the nation, they're friends who basically committed to the Gators together albeit seven months apart. The duo has also spent plenty of time playing AAU basketball together and has been a dynamic force on the court on those teams.
Only the men's basketball signees got publicity this week, but Florida actually brought in a ton of talent in a handful of sports. Women's basketball added the No. 1 overall player in the state and No. 13 player nationally in 6'2" forward Ronni Williams, who is the highest-rated woman to ever join the program. Softball got its 2013-14 signing class started with three players including pitcher/first baseman Delaine Gourley, who head coach Tim Walton called "a game-changer and program-changer." Women's tennis inked the No. 8 player nationally in Kourtney Keegan, an important signee for the Gators as the team looks to replace Lauren Embree and Caroline Hitimana at the end of the 2012-13 campaign. Men's tennis, which has had a rough go of it lately, added three top-35-ranked players including the former No. 1-ranked junior player in Maxx Lipman.
Reinstated to the basketball team on Friday, junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin will play on Sunday in (see below) but will not be reinserted into the starting lineup. Head coach Billy Donovan originally suspended Wilbekin indefinitely but promised early in the week to make a decision on the length of his suspension on Thursday. Wilbekin is expected to eventually start again for Florida once he regains form and earns the coaching staff's trust again in practice. It is the first suspension of his UF career and amounted to three games including the Navy-Marine Corps Classic, which was canceled at halftime.
Solid weekend action is ahead for the Gators as soccer looks to advance in the 2012 NCAA Tournament when they take on Central Florida on Friday at 7 p.m. Volleyball has a pair of matches over the weekend against LSU (Friday, 6 p.m.) and South Carolina (Sunday, 1:30 p.m.) in its last home stand of the season. Cross Country will compete in the NCAA Championship on Saturday beginning at noon. Finally, football celebrates Senior Day on Saturday against Jacksonville State (1 p.m.), and men's basketball looks to improve to 3-0 in a neutral site game in Tampa, FL against Middle Tennessee on Sunday (4 p.m.).