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 footballers had a rough week overall. There were nearly as many players inactive/injured (14) as there were active (18) despite the fact that only three were on their Bye Week. After fumbling a kickoff a few weeks ago, wide receiver Deonte Thompson has yet to be reactivated by Baltimore. Tight end Aaron Hernandez returned for one game but has missed the last two weeks for New England as he is still ailing from his ankle injury. Tackle Marcus Gilbert remains out for Pittsburgh with an injured ankle, and cornerback Joe Haden, who finally returned from a four-game suspension, injured his oblique last week and had to sit this week for Cleveland. Finally, WR Andre Caldwell can barely get on the field for Denver, and Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson continues to miss action with a nagging hamstring.
Although the 30-point win was impressive, the best thing to come out of Florida's women's basketball game on Monday was a career performance by freshman guard Carlie Needles, who set a program record with nine three-pointers in a single game. Needles scored a career-high 27 points, taking all 17 of her shots from downtown. Her nine treys are also second in SEC history for most by a women's basketball player in a single game, and she is the fifth player in league history to hit at least that many triples in a contest. Needles is one of a handful of young players (and incoming recruits) who may very well be able to turn UF women's basketball into a true contender for the first time in years.
Taking down South Carolina in its third-to-last game of the regular season, the Gators volleyball team captured the 31st SEC title in program history on Sunday. Florida won its 20th SEC regular season championship on the back of a 3-0 sweep of USC. The regular season crown is UF's 20th in the last 22 years, all of which have come under head coach Mary Wise. The Gators are ranked just No. 15 nationally after dropping some non-conference games early in the season, but the SEC title is a huge accomplishment for a program that lost a bunch of seniors and is being built again with a young nucleus of players.
On fire in the second half of Sunday's game, senior guard Kenny Boynton once again displayed his streaky shooting nature, especially considering he could not find the bottom of the net in the first half. Asked Monday about Boynton's all-around game, Donovan explained that what he is able to do on the defensive end allows the team to ride through a handful of missed shots with him remaining on the court. "I don't know for Kenny, here at Florida, if he was just a high-volume shooter and didn't care about the other end of the floor, if that would be good. The thing I respect about him is he's a guy that can score in bunches like he did [Sunday]," Donovan said, "but he's giving it to you at the other end of the floor [on defense]. You can keep him on the floor. He has learned and understands that there are other ways he can impact the game, and one of the other ways he can impact the game is he's a very good defender."
Reeling week after week as the New York Jets struggle but refuse to put him in for more than a handful of plays, quarterback Tim Tebow was dealt another blow last week when teammates anonymously spoke to the media about their lack of belief in his ability to play football. Though Tebow may not have the support of his new teammates, an old one went out of his way to support him. "He was one of my all-time favorite teammates," Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey told the Denver Post. "One of the best teammates I've ever had - just because of the way he handled everything. It's not easy being him. Still not, obviously. He might not be able to stand back there and throw the ball like some, but he plays with a lot of heart. You can't knock a guy who tries that hard and puts that much into it." Also coming to Tebow's defense were wide receivers Erik Decker and Demaryius Thomas, both of whom saw first-hand what Tebow can do when he is given an opportunity on the field.
Savannah State is the next opponent up for Florida basketball, which will host the team on Tuesday at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The Gators will be looking to continue their impressive defensive performances this season by holding the visitors to another low scoring total. Through three games, Florida is No. 3 nationally in scoring defense (45.3 points) and opponent field goal percentage (.297). UF is also just one of three teams from a "BCS" conference to hold an opponent to 45 or fewer points in more than one game this season.