McIntyre takes stage for Gators
Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 12:09 a.m.
When 6-foot-7 Oklahoma State transfer Vicky McIntyre showed up for her official visit at Florida, there to meet her was her host, UF guard Carlie Needles – all 5-foot-6 inches of her.
“Vicky is very bubbly and just has a great personality,” Needles said. “At our initial meeting, she gave me this big hug and I basically disappeared right into her stomach.
“It wasn't awkward at all; it was kind of like we were already friends. We clicked really early in the process.”
That meeting began a series of clicks that ultimately unlocked the door to a new home for McIntyre, a junior who is the tallest player in UF program history and the first from the state of Nebraska (Omaha).
“I'm really excited to be here,” McIntyre said. “This is really like my new family, and we're really close. I've bonded with this team unlike any other team that I've been with. We enjoy hanging out with each other even when we're not required to, so we're together the majority of our day and just love it.
“School is great. I love my classes and my professors, and I've just acclimated to the campus. It just seems to be a really good fit here.”
McIntyre, who blocked 110 shots in two seasons at Oklahoma State, brought more than just height to UF. She also brought a big smile, a big heart and a really big car.
“It's a 2002 Buick Park Avenue,” she said. “We call it ‘The Yacht' because it's so big. We could basically fit the whole team in that thing if we wanted to.
“I've had it since high school. I drove it from home in Nebraska to college in Oklahoma and back for two years, and then I drove it from Nebraska down here.”
Head coach Amanda Butler sees McIntyre developing into a driving force for UF.
“She is such a worker; so conscientious and a really smart kid, and I think she's really starting to find her groove now,” Butler said. “She's one in particular who really wants to be challenged every day and really wants to face her weaknesses and, you know, ‘Tell me what I need to pay attention to, tell me how I can be better tomorrow.'
“I think when you have that type of attitude, regardless of the system or how new you are or how veteran you are, you're going to contribute in a positive way, and Mac really gets that and understands that. At her core, that's who she is; she wants to contribute, she wants you to be honest with her and treat her like a woman, tell her how she can be better, and then she's going to do her darndest to fix it.”
McIntyre and her teammates take center stage tonight at 7 in the O'Connell Center when UF (8-3) takes on Savannah State (5-6) in the nightcap of the opening day of the 22nd Annual Gator Holiday Classic.
The two-day tournament starts with Central Michigan (4-4) taking on St. Joseph's (5-3) at 4:30 p.m.
“This is a tournament that we always get excited about,” Butler said. “It's got a lot of great tradition and there's been a lot of great basketball over many, many years in this tournament, so it's always fun for us. It's a great way to go into the Christmas break, hopefully with two wins.”
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