Gator News and World Report (3/17/2006)

The Gator News and World Report for Friday, March 17, 2006. Team motivation comes with NFL twist; Gators get message; Gators break blocks record; On fire in postseason; On fire in postseason; LaPorta may be back to help UF vs. Razorbacks; Florida defeats S. Alabama 76-50; Humphrey is a can't-miss star; Belichick speaks to Gators; Tickets sell quickly to pumped-up fans; UF Finds Its Better Half;Gators storm past South Alabama; The upper hand and more...

Florida Gator Basketball

Team motivation comes with NFL twist
It is a friendship that came about because of a mutual acquaintance, Billy Donovan's best man in his wedding who designed the Super Bowl champion rings for the New England Patriots

Gators get message
It started with ill-advised shots, poor ball movement and some barking between Florida coach Billy Donovan and point guard Taurean Green.

Gators break blocks record
Florida picked an opportune time to break its school record for blocked shots in a season. With seven blocks Thursday against South Alabama, Florida improved to 170 blocks on the season, surpassing the previous mark of 168 blocks set in the 1987-88 season.

On fire in postseason
Lee Humphrey has found a new favorite place to shoot - the breezy arenas of the postseason. In four games at the Gaylord Entertainment Center and Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, a pair of venues that are strikingly similar, Humphrey has made 14-of-26 3-point shots.

Florida defeats S. Alabama 76-50
Florida's latest attempt to survive the first weekend of the NCAA tournament got off to a shaky start Thursday.

hey all knew it was coming. They were up by only six points, and they knew it should be more. A lot more.

Humphrey is a can't-miss star
Lee Humphrey spent much of his childhood shooting a basketball inside a deserted Maryville, Tenn., gym with only his father looking on.

Belichick speaks to Gators
The Florida men's basketball team received some words from one of sports' master motivators, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, on Tuesday.

Tickets sell quickly to pumped-up fans
As soon as Ryan Weeks heard that there were tickets available for the Florida Gators' first-round game against South Alabama the North Florida student grabbed his sleeping bag and headed for the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

UF Finds Its Better Half
Chris Richard assessed the emotional state of the inhabitants of Locker Room No. 1 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, circa halftime Thursday.

Pelphrey: UF Could Go Deep
Take it from a man who was on the bench for the University of Florida's Final Four run in 2000: The 2006 Gators are a vastly different group from their recent ancestors.

Gators storm past South Alabama
Florida's latest attempt to survive the first weekend of the NCAA tournament got off to a shaky start today.

The upper hand
Florida, which had lost in the first round twice in the past five years, got an earful from coach Billy Donovan after a sluggish first half and responded in style.

Horford steps up his game
Al Horford isn't making excuses for his recent lack of productivity. But after leading the Gators to a 76-50 victory against South Alabama in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Horford assured that Florida's success inside doesn't lie solely on the shoulders of Joakim Noah.

Gators clear first hurdle
The Sweet 16 hump is back — right in front of the Florida Gators' faces. Some of his teammates chose to ignore the increasing reminders of past early-round NCAA Tournament failures, but sophomore Corey Brewer confronted it.

WPEC makes wrong call during NCAA Tournament
CBS' West Palm Beach affiliate made a maddeningly bad call to cut out of March Madness Thursday. WPEC-12 abruptly switched to local news at 5:15 p.m. with the outcome still in doubt in several close games immediately after Florida's first-round victory over South Alabama.

One year later, Gators are less '-ish' and more '-less'
Maybe the difference in the years lies in Joakim Noah's long-ago tears. Not that these Gators have done anything those Gators didn't do — a Southeastern Conference tournament title earned and, now, a first-round NCAA Tournament victory gained — but the basic description of this Florida basketball team is so much better than that of the other one.

No fear for these Gators
Taurean Green, Joakim Noah and Al Horford started it. Brett Swanson, Jack Berry and David Huertas finished it. Gator stars, giving way to Gator scrubs. Probably just as head coach Billy Donovan imagined.

Do young Gators have the chops to run deep?
Keep those orange and blue fright wigs out, Florida hoops fans. One way or another, you're going to need them.

Seeds matter little in NCAA tourney
At the time of this writing, we're about to get into the night time session of the first day of the NCAA Tournament. Already we've seen the results of what college basketball has become.

Noah refuses to slow down, let Florida lose
Joakim Noah was not around for Florida's last five years of NCAA tournament futility. But the sophomore was on the team last year, relegated to the bench late in the season as the games became more and more important. A ball of energy, the 6-foot-11 string bean was a bomb ready to explode.

A sigh of relief for UF
he gap in the seeding says this was supposed to happen. The Florida Gators, seeded No. 3 in the Minneapolis region, were supposed to dominate No. 14 South Alabama in Thursday's NCAA first-round matchup. A double-digit victory wasn't a cause for celebration as much as it was for a sigh of relief.

Nice start, but Gators need wins
Florida's Lee Humphrey, the only junior in the starting lineup, made 7-of-9 field goals to score a game-high 20 points Friday in the Gators' 76-50 win against

Humphrey steps it up
These are the kind of games when veterans are supposed to step up.

Off and running
On Tuesday, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the Florida basketball team.

Florida Gator Baseball

LaPorta may be back to help UF vs. Razorbacks
Florida didn't need Matt LaPorta to get its offense cranked up after all. But the Gators will gladly welcome him back into the lineup this weekend if he's ready.

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