Gators Load Up On Lightweights
GAINESVILLE - With the exception of a rivalry game against Florida State on Nov. 23 and a national title game rematch at Ohio State on Dec. 22, the Florida basketball team will load up on lightweights as the Gators try to break in a team that returns only four scholarship players from last season. Florida's schedule, released Monday, includes a group of nonconference opponents who had an average RPI last season of 183.4.
At the O'Connell Center, Florida will face the likes of Stetson, Jacksonville and High Point; FSU is the only nonconference visitor to crack the top 100 in the RPI last season. The Gators will face Vermont in Tampa on Nov. 30. The Catamounts had the third-highest RPI (85) last season among the Gators' nonconference opponents.
The Gators have six games scheduled for national television, including the Ohio State game (CBS), both Kentucky games (Jan. 19 on ESPN and March 9 on CBS) and a game at Tennessee (ESPN) on Feb. 5.
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FOOTBALL: Florida A&M senior punter/kicker Wesley Taylor (Riverview) was one of five Rattlers - the most in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference - recently selected to the preseason first team All-MEAC team. Senior quarterback Albert Chester II, senior wide receiver Willie Hayward, senior offensive tackle Justin Delancy and junior middle linebacker Vernon Wilder also were selected to the first time. ... Michigan and Notre Dame agreed to a 20-year contract extension that will have them playing annually through 2031. The series was set to expire after the 2011 season.
VOLLEYBALL: Former Middleton volleyball player Sierra Bryan signed with Alabama A&M on Thursday, a Division I program out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
The 5-foot-9 Bryan, who was also being pursued by Weber International, Kentucky State and Indian River, was an outside and middle hitter for the Tigers last season. Bryan plans to major in nursing. To read more, keyword: Prep Report on TBO.com
Adu Agrees To Join Portugal's Benfica
Freddy Adu, who broke into Major League Soccer as a 14-year-old and was twice an All-Star pick in the U.S. circuit, will join Portugal's Benfica for $2 million.
Benfica, which won the last of its two European Cups in 1962, said in a securities filing that Adu, 18, would move from Real Salt Lake once he's agreed to personal terms and has completed a physical examination.
FOUR PLAYERS BANNED FOR ILLEGAL BETTING: Torino striker David Di Michele was banned for three months for illegal betting, and three other Italian players were also suspended.
Di Michele was also fined $27,000. Thomas Manfredini of Atalanta received a three-month ban, while Vincenzo Sommese of Mantova was hit with the harshest penalty of five months and 20 days, plus a $14,000 fine.
Massimo Margiotta of Frosinone was banned for four months with a fine of $14,000.
The players were accused of having placed bets 'directly or through a third party, on the results relative to official soccer matches organized by the Italian soccer federation.'
Dementieva Struggles But Advances
CARLSBAD, Calif. - Elena Dementieva survived a scare as she rebounded for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win against Catalina Castano in the first round of the Acura Classic.
The ninth-seeded Dementieva, the highest seed to play on the tournament's opening day, struggled against her wild-card opponent from Colombia. But the Russian blew through the final set in impressive fashion to advance.
LEGG MASON TENNIS CLASSIC: Thomas Johansson of Sweden advanced to the second round in Washington, beating Colombian teenager Santiago Giraldo 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4.
CYCLING: Spanish rider Iban Mayo tested positive for EPO during the final week of the Tour de France, his team Saunier Duval said in a statement. ... Star cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan was fired by his team Astana after he tested positive at the Tour de France.
The Kazakh rider was forced out of the Tour along with his teammates last week when he tested positive for a banned blood transfusion after winning the 13th stage.
HORSE RACING: Six months after breaking his back in a spill at Aqueduct, Jose Santos, the jockey who rode Funny Cide to victory in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, called it a career. The retirement comes a week before the popular 46-year-old rider is inducted into racing's Hall of Fame.
BOXING: Boxer Antwun Echols, a former super middleweight champion who twice lost to Bernard Hopkins, was shot in the leg while trying to break up a fight in the parking lot of a grocery store in Davenport, Iowa, and was later charged with possession of crack cocaine and outstanding warrants for child support issues.
A Tribune staff, wire report