UF sports notebook: Women's hoops thinking NCAAs


Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 12:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 12:02 p.m.

It's been two years since the Florida women's basketball team has even considered thinking about the NCAA Tournament.

It's entirely possible no one even bothered to check on Florida's RPI during its dreadful 9-22 season a year ago.

But new coach Amanda Butler is steering Florida back toward being a legitimate NCAA Tournament team. And it's happening fast. Like, right this season.

The Gators enter Thursday's game against No. 17 Georgia in the O-Dome with a decent NCAA resume. Sure, it needs a little work. But there's plenty of time for that.

Florida is 13-5 and 2-1 in the SEC. The Gators have won nine of their last 10. Most importantly, however, is the Gators' RPI of 41 (by comparison, the men's team owns an RPI of 70).

It makes Thursday's game crucial for Florida even in spite of how early it is in the conference season. Even Butler, who stresses a day-by-day, game-by-game philosophy, knows what's out there.

"We've talked about championship expectations since the beginning of the season," Butler said Tuesday. "That's part of championship expectations is being part of the NCAA Tournament. We don't talk about that daily, but they know that's the goal. Postseason is the goal."

Considering where the Gators were a year ago, it's impressive to think that goal is right there in front of them.

Prank callers interrupt SEC teleconference

The SEC's women's basketball teleconference quickly grew uncomfortable Tuesday morning. Persons posing as reporters began asking inappropriate questions to several coaches.

One of the callers used vulgar language to ask Arkansas coach Tom Collen if he went to the bathroom in his pants during games. Another question involved the natural cycles of a woman's body.

Moderators eventually cut off all calls and asked coaches prepared questions. Gators coach Amanda Butler came on the teleconference after moderators stopped taking questions from the supposed reporters.

"I guess I missed out on all the fun," Butler said later Tuesday.

The SEC routinely holds similar teleconferences with men's basketball and football coaches by distributing a phone number to media and the sports information directors of the league's schools.

Gators hope to perform well in coach's honor

Florida's track and field program will honor its former women's coach this weekend when it hosts the Tom Jones Memorial Classic on Saturday in the O'Connell Center.

Jones died at the age of 62 last March following a courageous battle with cancer. Men's coach Mike Holloway took over the coaching duties of both programs in June.

Holloway said his athletes are hoping to perform in a way that would make Coach Jones proud.

"It isn't so much that it's about Coach Jones, but it's a competition in coaches' memory," Holloway said. "We're not making predictions about conference nor nationals. We want to make sure we walk away from the meet with our heads held high and that the Gator Nation is proud of us."

This and that ....

Florida will hold its first baseball practice of the year Feb. 1, three weeks before its season opener. ... The Gator gymnastics team remained No. 1 in this week's GymInfo top 25 in spite of losing to No. 2 Georgia last Friday. The poll ranks teams based on their highest score of the season. ... The women's tennis team opens its spring season today when it hosts Stetson at 3:30 p.m. The Gators also host UCF on Thursday at 5 p.m. and South Alabama Saturday at 1 p.m. ... It's an even bigger week for Florida's swimming and diving teams. Florida's No. 5 men host Auburn's No. 8 men while Florida's No. 7 women host Auburn's No. 2 women Saturday at the O'Connell Center. "There is no love lost between these teams," Gators coach Gregg Troy said.

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