UF notebook: Women’s team on roll
Published: Monday, January 6, 2014 at 4:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 at 4:59 p.m.
Fresh off one of the biggest victories in head coach Amanda Butler's seven-year tenure with Sunday's 83-73 road win over No. 6 Kentucky, the Florida women's basketball team returns home with a chance to start the SEC slate with a 3-0 mark for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
UF (12-3, 2-0), winner of eight straight games, faces Arkansas (12-1, 1-1) Thursday night at 7 in the O'Connell Center.
“One of the things that we saw Sunday and has been the case for the last eight games was great team chemistry and great leadership, especially by Jaterra Bonds and Cassie Peoples,” said assistant coach David Lowery, who addressed the media Monday with Butler out on the recruiting trail.
“When we went into the ballgame, Amanda said 'Your only limitation is your expectation,' and our expectation was to go there and win that game Sunday. That's all our kids talked about.”
Bonds, a senior and former P. K. Yonge standout, led the way with 23 points in the win, which gave UF its first 2-0 SEC start since the 2009-10 campaign.
In wins over Mississippi State and Kentucky, Bonds averaged 20.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists a game, hitting 52.2 percent (12-23) from the floor and 83.3 percent (15-18) from the free throw line.
She was rewarded by being named SEC Player of the Week for the second week in a row and also earned National Player of the Week kudos from www.CollegeSportsMadness.com.
SWIMMING & DIVING
The UF men and women returned to competition after a tough six-week training period by posting wins over FSU this past weekend.
The No. 3 Florida men (5-0, 3-0) won their 20th consecutive dual meet with a 180-118 win over the No. 16 Seminoles (3-1) while the fifth-ranked UF women (3-2, 2-1) edged No. 23 FSU (6-2), 153-147.
“We competed well,” head coach Gregg Troy said. “It was a tremendous opportunity for us to compete at home and come back to a big crowd. We had 1,200-1,500 people there because it was right before the basketball game, so it was a great opportunity for the athletes to have a little more enthusiasm maybe than we usually see in January.
“The men competed very well and were solid all the way through the meet. We had some technical issues and looked like we hadn't raced in six weeks. The women were a little bit more that way, maybe a little rough around the edges. We had some spots where we thought we could have been better than we were, but I was really proud of the women's team.”
TRACK & FIELD
The 2014 indoor season begins for the UF men and women when both Gator squads travel to Birmingham, Ala., for the UAB Blazer Invitational Friday and Saturday.
Not only are the Gator men, who won three straight NCAA indoor titles from 2010-2012 and have won back-to-back NCAA Outdoor titles, a legitimate threat to capture SEC and NCAA titles this year, but coach Mike Holloway appears to have the Gator women ready to make serious runs at conference and national crowns as well.
“I'm very, very excited about this year's team on both the men's and women's sides,” Holloway said. “We had an incredible fall. This is my 19th year, and I think it's the best fall we've ever had.
“We've put a lot of time and effort into getting the women's program in the same position that the men are, and at this time we feel really good about the women and their ability to challenge for the championship.”
The defending NCAA champion UF gymnastics team opens its 2014 season Saturday night when the Gators face UCLA.
The meet will take place in Pauley Pavilion where Florida won its first NCAA title in April, with the Bruins, who have won six NCAA titles, finishing fourth.
The Gators begin the season ranked No. 1 in the nation in the GymInfo Preseason Poll for the first time in program history, while UCLA is ranked No. 4.
“We're really excited to get this season underway,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “It seems like it's been a long fall training period as it is every year, and I know our athletes and our staff are just really looking forward to competing this weekend.
“It's going to be a great opportunity and experience for our team to start out with a very strong competition.”