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April 15, 2011

The Silver Lining: Orange & Blue News

Florida Football & Recruiting: Elite linebacker Davis gushes about the Gators | Spring Review: The Running backs | Spring Review: The Quarterbacks | Orange & Blue Debut ITG Hot 11 | Muschamp impresses as a coaches' coach

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.

Leaving a stamp on the program that will be felt for years to come, No. 6 Florida Gators lacrosse (13-1, 4-0 ALC) achieved a signature victory on Thursday, upsetting the No. 2 Northwestern Wildcats (12-1, 2-1 ALC) 13-11 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL. The victory propelled the second-year lacrosse program to its first ALC regular season title and the No. 1 overall seed in the 2011 ALC Tournament. Sophomore attacker Kitty Cullen, the nation's leading scorer, achieved hat tricks in both halves to finish with a game-high six goals. Head coach Amanda O'Leary, who took on the task of running this upstart team from its infancy, is proving that her No. 1-ranked 2010 recruiting class deserved their accolades. The best news for the Gators, in addition to being in the hunt for a national title, is that Florida has these shining stars for at least two more seasons.

In the process of preparing for the 2011 NBA Playoffs are seven former Gators who all hope to help their respective teams bring home the title. Four Florida alums - center Joakim Noah (No. 1-seed Chicago), guard Mike Miller (No. 2-seed Miami), forward/center Al Horford (No. 5-seed Atlanta) and center Marreese Speights (No. 7-seed Philadelphia) - will participate in Eastern Conference match-ups with Noah and Horford playing starting minutes. Three Gators reserves will play in Western Conference games including forward Matt Bonner (No. 1-seed San Antonio), guard/forward Corey Brewer (No. 3-seed Dallas) and point guard Jason Williams (No. 8-seed Memphis). [Power forward Udonis Haslem is also on Miami's roster, though he has missed the majority of the season with a foot injury.]

Not pleased with how their endorsement guidelines for on-air talent were perceived in the media, ESPN announced a new set of regulations on Wednesday. Reporter and former Florida dazzler Erin Andrews, who recently signed a promotional contract with Reebok for the company's ZigTech line, is a prominent personality who will be affected by the adjusted rules. The Oregonian reports that Andrews will be allowed to endorse Reebok through the end of the year but must terminate her agreement on or before Jan. 1.

In the last edition of Orange & Blue News, I used one word to describe the third-degree felony burglary arrests of Gators forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson: "dumb." Though the audio released of Murphy and team manager Josh Adel speaking to each other and Larson (over the phone) in the back of a police car does nothing to further incriminate any of the three, it does paint Murphy in an even more negative light while showing that Adel understood the gravity of the situation and appears not to have been involved with the decisions the two players made. Team success be damned, it may be getting more and more difficult for head coach Billy Donovan to give the players another opportunity.

Never one to crumble under pressure, Donovan had his hands full early in the week. Not only did he have to deal with the legal situation facing a pair of players, he was also forced to hire two brand new assistant coaches after learning over the weekend that the rest of his coaching staff had decided to move on. In addition to Larry Shyatt leaving for the Wyoming head coaching job, Rob Lanier and Richard Pitino informed Donovan they would be returning to Texas and Louisville, respectively, for what could be coach-in-waiting positions. Donovan was quick to act, hiring former head coaches John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts to the staff in seemingly no time at all. Throughout his tenure at Florida, Donovan has consistently shown an innate ability to not only bring in top-notch assistants but also turn them into highly-desired head coaching candidates. Coaches jump at the chance to work with him and are usually rewarded with fantastic opportunities in the long-run.

Grabbing at least a share of the 2011 Southeastern Conference regular season championship earlier in the week was No. 2 Gators women's tennis (21-1, 10-0 SEC), which thwarted the No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers (16-5, 8-1 SEC) 4-0 in Gainesville. The SEC title is the program's 25th in 32 years of existence and is the school's 199th all-time.


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