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Scottie Wilbekin's season of redemption ranks as one of the top individual moments for the Gators in 2013-14.

Thursday June 26, 2014Chris Harry: 10 Individual Performances to Remember for Gators in 2013-14

Scottie Wilbekin's season of redemption ranks as one of the top individual moments for the Gators in 2013-14.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- You read the choices for the feel-good memorable team moments Wednesday.

Well, you can’t have team moments without athletes making stirring plays or have unforgettable single-game performances and record-setting seasons.

These are 10 individual moments that were written about at the time (some by me), but will be talked about by Gators everywhere for years to come.

 

1) SOFTBALL SIREN


Last year, we at GatorZone.com honored the 40-year anniversary of Title IX by counting down the 40 greatest women’s athletes in UF history. A so-called “40 for 40,” if you will. 

When the time comes to do the “50 for 50,” pitcher Hannah Rogers will be wayyyyyy up near the top. 

Even before the calendar flipped to May 2014, Rogers had amassed a Hall-of-Fame career as one of the all-time best Gator softball players and entered her final postseason as the NCAA’s active leader in career victories. 

What she did in her last three weeks -- and the dominance with which she did it -- will stand as one of all-time great runs by a UF athlete. 

Any sport.

In eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, Rogers went 7-0 with a 0.64 ERA and got the save in Florida’s national-championship clinching defeat of Alabama. In the Women’s College World Series, Rogers went 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA, was named the event’s Most Valuable Player and captured the hearts of everything that breathed orange and blue.

 

2) A SEASON OF REDEMPTION

 

Scottie Wilbekin, his parents at his side, sat in Billy Donovan’s office last June. The Florida basketball coach was advising one of his players to transfer. 

Wilbekin, the senior point guard, had been suspended for a second time in seven months and Donovan thought it would be best for all parties to cut ties and part ways. Besides, what Wilbekin would have to do just for Donovan to consider letting him remain with the team was not going to be pleasant. 

But he chose to stay. 

After being kicked off campus, forbidden from taking part in team activities and workouts with teammates, making day-break private strength/conditioning sessions and attending extra study halls, Wilbekin was reinstated in October. 

In March he was named 2014 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. 

Wilbekin’s late-game shot-making, all-game defense and unquestioned leadership not only validated his commitment to the team -- and Donovan’s decision to bring him back -- it fueled the Gators’ historic run to a 21-0 record against SEC teams. Florida swept the league’s regular-season and tournament championships en route to a school-record 30 straight wins and berth in the Final Four. 

And Wilbekin was the heart and soul of the squad. 

 

3) IT’S “TREY GOOD” IN COLUMBIA 

The look in Michael Frazier’s eyes afterward bordered on bewilderment. UF’s sophomore shooting guard admittedly had found the proverbial "zone" on the road against South Carolina, but he also never felt any different running up and down the court. 

The shots just kept going in. And in. And in. [Watch]

Frazier’s career-high 37 points were the most by a UF player since Joakim Noah tallied the same number against Georgia eight years earlier. Only Frazier’s were long-range daggers. 

He went 11-for-18 from the 3-point line, breaking the record for 3s in an SEC game, a mark set eight times by the likes of LSU’s Chris Jackson, Kentucky’s Tony Delk and Tennessee’s Chris Lofton

It was a flat-out phenomenal shooting display by a player who hit 44.7 percent from distance for the season and went on to break Florida’s single-season record for 3-pointers with 118. 

 

4) DUELING 10s ON THE FLOOR 

How rare are Perfect 10s?

When the Gators started their meet against rival Georgia on Jan. 24, the gymnastics program had scored 10s only 15 times in the program’s 42-year history.

Hunter and Sloan

The Gators trailed Georgia after the first three rotations and needed a power-pack performance when their turn on the floor came about. Senior Mackenzie Caquatto started with a career-best 9.95, only to be bested by junior Rachel Spicer’s 9.975. 

Then came sophomore Bridget Sloan ... and a 10. 

Then came junior Kytra Hunter ... and a 10. 

The crowd of more than 10,000 at the O’Connell Center went berserk. [Watch]

When sophomore Bridgette Caquatto wrapped the event with a 9.95, the Gators had shattered their school mark for team score on floor with 49.875, including a pair of perfect scores. 

They also beat Georgia that night, and rode that momentum all the way to a share of the program’s second straight national championship.

 

5) A JORDAN-ESQUE DEBUT 

That freshman forward Savannah Jordan would inject some youthful energy into a soccer program on the rebuild was a given. That’s what Coach Becky Burleigh recruited the Georgian for. 

But it happened so fast. 

Jordan had a pair of unassisted second-half goals in UF’s season-opening win over Florida Gulf Coast, then two days later pounded three three more into the net against Oregon State -- a Hat Trick in just her second career game -- for a five-goal collegiate debut weekend. 

Jordan went on to lead the Gators with 22 goals (third nationally), become the first freshman in league history named SEC Offensive Player of the Year and garner second-team All-America honors. [Watch]

Quite a start. 

And she also did this ... to me (see below). 

 

6) DENDY WAS DANDY 

He didn’t exactly pull a Babe Ruth and call his shot, but junior jumper Marquis Dendy made his intentions clear to his track and field teammates as the Gators entered the NCAA Championships two weeks ago in Eugene, Ore. 

Dendy’s stated goal was to score 20 points. 

Considering he was in two events, that meant two first-place finishes (10 points each). 

First, Dendy captured the NCAA title in the long jump when he popped a mark of 26 feet, 3 inches, becoming UF”s first outdoor title winner in the event. Dendy won the NCAA indoor crown as a junior. [Watch]

Two days later, Dendy captured the triple jump at 55-11 /1/4, becoming the first athlete to win both the long and triple events in the same NCAA meet in 12 years. 

In the end, the Gators finished an overall second place as a team with 70 points. 

Dendy had 20 of them. 

Good call. 

 

7) SIDEWAYS SELLOUT


The day before Florida played a huge midseason game at Kentucky, Wildcats coach John Calipari showed his team video of a play UF senior center Patric Young made in the waning moments of a game three nights earlier at Tennessee. 

It wasn’t a shot or a dunk or a defensive gem. It was effort; pure and simple -- and inspiring. All it did was help the Gators keep a possession they sorely needed to ice a victory at Knoxville. 

Calipari used it as an example of what the Gators were willing to do win. 

In Young’s case, he was willing to hurdle his 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame between two UT players to grab a loose ball, then pivot enough to throw it back to a teammate as he slid out of bounds. 

The play bought the Gators 35 more seconds of shot clock that led to a couple free throws in mega-win at a hostile venue. 

A play of pure desire, want-to and determination. The kind that helps wins championships. 


8) ROUND OF HER GATOR LIFE 

The UF career of Elcin Ulu had been fairly nondescript.

Elcin Ulu

Then came the final round of her final day in a Gators uniform. 

Ulu, the senior from Istanbul, Turkey, shot a career-low round of 66 on the last day of the 2014 NCAA Championships at Tulsa Country Club. Ulu carded six birdies in her round -- and a total of 18 for her tournament -- to finish in a tie for 23rd in the individual standings. 

Not a bad way to go out. 

With Ulu’s help, the Gators shot their best team round of the tournament and finished in a tie for 18th. 

 

9) FAREWELL TO A BUDDY ... AND GATOR GREAT


After 27 seasons leading UF’s men’s golf team, Buddy Alexander stepped down as coach on April 22, taking a couple NCAA championships (1993 and 2001), another 11 top-10 finishes and the memories all those future touring pros -- Chris DiMarco, Dudley Hart, Brian Gay, Billy Horschel, Matt Every and Camilo Villegas, to name a few -- with him.

Alexander, 61, came to UF by way of LSU in 1988 and his run became the second-longest for a Gators coach in any sport. Eight times he was named SEC Coach of the Year on his way to leading one of the most successful eras for a Gators team of any era. 

 

10) GOING ‘SOLO’ 

Injuries and lopsided losses defined Florida football last fall. The Gators went 4-8 and posted the program’s first losing season in 34 years. There weren’t a lot of bright spots, but diminutive wide receiver Solomon Patton did his best to shine. 

After catching eight passes in his first three seasons combined, the 5-9, 177-pound Patton carded 44 receptions for 554 yards and six touchdowns his senior year, plus a 100-yard kickoff return for a score, and did all he could to aid an offense that ranked last in the SEC. [Watch]

Patton had six catches for 124 yards and two TDs -- all career highs -- in a win over Arkansas on Oct. 5 to push UF’s record to 4-1. The Gators did not win another game the rest of the season.

 

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