Gator News and World Report (2/9/2007)

Gator News and World Report for Friday, February 9, 2007. Batter up!; Bids hard to come by; Gators plan to embrace atmosphere in Rupp; Donovan has own coaching tree; Regal or not, UK's an underdog, and some students say they'd storm; Florida, UCLA hit the road for tough tests; Gators have stolen some of Wildcats' glory and more...

Florida Gator Basketball

Roles have reversed in series
Senior center Chris Richard has been around long enough to remember the rough patches in the Florida-Kentucky rivalry

Bids hard to come by
With two teams coming off Final Four appearances and a slew of talented underclassmen back, the Southeastern Conference expected as many as seven teams to contend for NCAA Tournament bids this season.

Gators know every team aiming to beat them
As top-ranked Florida prepared for another road test, a man with handcuffs, a baton and a badge walked into its locker room. That man was Gators coach Billy Donovan - Officer Donovan - decked out in full policeman's garb.

Fans flood Noah with road 'hate'
Florida forward Joakim Noah walked around campus early this week with a stack of fan mail.

Gators plan to embrace atmosphere in Rupp
Kentucky figures to throw everything into its game against No. 1 Florida on Saturday. The question is this: Can the Rupp Arena Cat-mosphere set at full blast unnerve the Gators?

Donovan has own coaching tree
It doesn't seem all that long ago that Billy Donovan arrived at Kentucky as a fresh-faced novice hoping to learn how to be a college coach. His mentor was another assistant on Rick Pitino's UK staff, Tubby Smith.

Regal or not, UK's an underdog, and some students say they'd storm

Florida, UCLA hit the road for tough tests
1. Gator crossing: The top-ranked Florida Gators are looking the part of defending national champions and No. 1 regional seed as they continue to devour Southeastern Conference competition, no easy feat. Several road contests still loom on the Gators' dance card, but Saturday's prime-time tilt at No. 18 Kentucky might be Florida's toughest remaining hurdle to an SEC sweep. Thanks to the veteran front line of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer, the Gators outrebound opponents by 9.3 a game, good for second in the country. Kentucky big man Randolph Morris must stay out of foul trouble, and Wildcats perimeter scorers Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley must find their shooting touch quickly.

Gators have stolen some of Wildcats' glory
Florida at Kentucky, 9 p.m. Saturday, ESPN Defending national champion and top-ranked Florida hits the road to face the SEC's most storied program, 18th-ranked Kentucky, at 9 p.m. Saturday on ESPN (cable channel 26, high-definition channel 950).

Florida Gator Baseball

Batter up!
When it was all over, Matt LaPorta sat in Florida's dugout and cried. He cried to release the emotion of a nightmare season. He also cried because of another numbing thought: LaPorta was certain he had just played his final game as a Gator.

Gators seeing better baseball days ahead
The last thing Matt LaPorta did to end the 2006 baseball season was sit in the Florida dugout and cry. It was the only way he could purge one of the most frustrating, disappointing campaigns he has ever endured.

SEC baseball preview
1. South Carolina 2006 record and finish: 41-25 (15-15, fourth in Eastern Division); lost to Georgia in Super Regional. Key returnees: 1B Justin Smoak (.303, 17 HR, 63 RBI), DH Robbie Grinestaff (.297, 17 HR, 58 RBI), RHP Harris Honeycutt (7-0, 3.33 ERA). Outlook: Gamecocks add No. 1 recruiting class to a team that returns six position starters.

LaPorta gets his last chance with Gators
After a disappointing injury-filled junior season, first baseman Matt LaPorta has a final opportunity to return to elite status.

Florida Gator Softball

Staceys to carry bulk of pitching load
When highly touted freshman Lindsay Littlejohn went down with a career-ending injury late last season, Florida's softball team was left with just two pitchers: The Staceys.

Florida Lady Gator Basketball

Lady Tiger offense shows up for Gators
For the LSU women's basketball offense, it's better late than never.

Lady Tigers have no trouble cruising past Gators
The Lady Tigers led nearly wire to wire and cruised to victory Thursday night over Florida, 79-66. Now comes Connecticut.

Fightin Gators Top Stories