VIDEO: Space Coast Daily Sports Talk Weekend Rewind, What’s Ahead This Week In Sports
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // March 28, 2017
Chopper Dropper, Gators, Titans, NASCAR And UCF
ABOVE VIDEO: Space Coast Daily was live from Florida Tech’s 2017 Sporting Affair XXV at Suntree Country Club
The weekend in sports
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Who says the NFL is a needed commodity in the world of sports to make the weekend complete.
OK—OK, while I wouldn’t go as far as saying the NFL isn’t needed, the weekend in sports was truly exceptional– both on a local and national level.
Let’s start locally.
Friday, Florida Tech held their annual Sporting Affair XXV at the Suntree Country Club in Melbourne which culminated with the 14th annual, Chopper Dropper.
If you didn’t catch it live on SCD TV, then you missed quite a scene, as the Brevard County Sheriff’s Dept. dropped 2,000 numbered golf balls from their helicopter.
I can still hear FIT Athletic Director Bill Jurgens calling out “1532”, the number on the ball that fell closest to the designated pin. It did not belong to me nor did the other 16 the officials picked up that were prize eligible.
All 1532 was worth was $50,000 dollars, Space Coast Daily will keep you posted on the winners.
The evening was fantastic, as yours truly, along with Space Coast Sports Hall of Famers Orville Susong and Steve Wilson broadcast live from the event.
ABOVE VIDEO: Space Coast Daily was live from FIT’s 2017 Sporting Affair XXV, featuring the “Chopper Dropper” at Suntree Country Club.
Great guests included Jim Mitchell, voice of the Panthers Basketball program since 1979.
Panthers Swimming coach and Sunshine State Conference Men’s coach of the year Justin Andrade joined the broadcast, as did former FIT Cocoa Tiger great, Julius Reid,.
Graduating members of this year’s basketball team, Robert Booth and Max Fischer sat in as did Alyssa Carney, the young lady that keeps the athletic offices at the Clemente Center running smoothly.
The guest list also included Viera Football head coach Kevin Mays and concluded with a couple of current Panther coaches, Assistant basketball coach Terry Parks and head coach Billy Mims.
The night was then capped off with a little ball and “Cheez”.
The Florida Gators men’s basketball team took their seven game Sweet 16 winning streak into the third round of the NCAA Tournament against Wisconsin and the outcome, despite the Gators loss to South Carolina on Sunday, will live in UF and NCAA Tourney lure.
The first 39 minutes and 44 seconds of the game was just a microcosm of what occurred in the final 5:16 of the contest. The game produced 10 lead changes, seven ties and double digit blown leads by both teams, Florida twice in the second half alone, including being up 68-58 with 3:24 to play.
The game also featured both teams owning and blowing five point leads in the final minute of play, the Gators at the end of regulation and the Badgers at the end of overtime.
ABOVE VIDEO: 8th-seeded Wisconsin rallied back in the second half to force OT, but 4th-seeded Florida flipped the script in the extra period to defeat the Badgers on a game-winning three-point shot.
But what occurred after the clock struck midnight was something you really only find in fairy tales.
With 16 seconds to go and his team up by three points, Florida center Kevarrius Hayes lost the ball. With time running down Wisconsin guard Zak Showalter got just enough of a step on the Gators Chris Chiozza and let fly a running, circus 3-pointer that swished through net with 2.5 seconds left to tie the game at 72 and send it to overtime.
The discount double check mock championship belt celebration by Zowalter paid homage to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who as he has been seen in recent years, was court-side cheering on the Badgers.
2016-17 has been the year of the comeback in sports and most teams, like the Atlanta Falcons, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Indians and Paris St. Germain showed us that blowing big leads or series’, like the Gators did twice in the final 20 minutes, means your likely not going to survive and win.
But this young UF squad, whom some say arrived a year earlier than expected, proved they weren’t most teams.
A senior would need to step up and take charge after the Gators blew their late lead and SEC sixth man of the year Canyon Barry, who wasn’t having a great tournament, did just that.
For all but four seconds of the final 42 in overtime, Barry, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick, led his young teammates.
Trailing by five with with 1:30 to play Barry drove the baseline and closed the gap to three, 78-75. Less than a minute later with his dad’s underhanded style free throws, Barry barely knocked down two of them to pull UF to within 81-79.
It’s what he did next that proved to be the play of the game, maybe even bigger than Chiozza’s shot. With the Gators in their full court press, the Badgers Nigel Hayes threw over everyone to a wide-open Khalil Iverson sprinting for the goal.
Iverson caught the ball and appeared to be going in for an easy two points, but Barry chased him down, blocked the shot cleanly and in the open floor hit Chiozza, who drove through the Badgers for an uncontested layup that tied the score 81-81 with 24 seconds left to play.
The Badgers hit two free throws to go up 83-81 and with no timeouts UF’s bench came through again as Barry inbounded to Chiozza and in the blink of an eye, four seconds to be exact, the junior from Memphis, Tennessee darted up the court and answered the earlier circus three point shot by Wisconsin with one of his own.
The only difference, Chiozza’s won the game, 84-83 for the Gators.
The players poured onto the court and UF moved onto the Elite 8 where they simply ran into a better defensive, more opportunistic team in South Carolina, losing on Sunday, 77-70.
The future at the O-Dome is bright in Gainesville.
Aside from the fact head coach Mike White has Chiozza and leading scorer KeVaughn Allen returning, Devin Andersen is just scratching the surface of his potential. Down low, former South Florida transfer John Egbunu was an excellent defensive presence until he got injured in February. He is expected back healthy next season.
Also back will be players White got great minutes from like sophomore Kevarrius Hayes while Egbunu was sidelined and Redshirt freshman Keith Stone, who also played well late in the season.
And for good measure, the Gators have the No. 10 recruiting class in the country, filled with four four-star prospects.
On Saturday, we stay with basketball but a little closer to home.
The Eastern Florida State College Titans were defeated in the championship game of the NJCAA DI (junior college) National Tournament by Hutchinson, Kansas in Hutchinson, Kansas.
No, that’s not a misprint, the hometown team on their home floor controlled the championship game from start to finish.
Despite the off night in the final game, EFSC had its most successful year in the 70 year history of the basketball program.
They won their fifth straight conference title, set a new school record for wins with 31 and dominated the regions post season awards, including winning player of the year in Kareem Brewton and Coach of the year in Shulman.
They knocked off two teams that combined spent 23 weeks as the No.1 overall teams in the country and advanced to the conference and national tournament finals, a school first in the national final.
Like the Gators, the Titans future is strong.
They graduate just three sophomores and return nine players that all played a key part in this year’s success, including Mr. 103, Ahmed Ali, who won the NJCAA DI Tournament Bud Ross award as the best small player.
Sunday gave us our first local college football action of the year
The Florida Tech Panthers held their first scrimmage of the spring practice season and the event was covered by myself and Steve Wilson on Space Coast Daily TV.
Although there is a long way to go until the Panthers kick off the 2017 season much was learned on Sunday.
New defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s unit will be flying around the football.
ABOVE VIDEO: The Florida Tech Panthers held their first scrimmage of the spring practice season and the event was covered by myself and Steve Wilson on Space Coast Daily TV.
The defense produced four takeaways, one that would have been returned for a score and put relentless pressure on both Florida Tech quarterbacks in the 90 play scrimmage.
It wasn’t all about the defense as the Panthers offense flexed a little muscle and showed their big playmaking capabilities scoring three touchdowns and kicking a field goal during a five drive stretch.
Head coach and a 2017 inductee into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, Steve Englehart was pleased with his team’s effort and has them back on the field for seven more sessions before the big Crimson and Grey Spring Game on April 7 at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.
This could be the year of Kyle Larson, it most certainly was his weekend.
The Sacramento native and driver of the No.42 Chip Ganassi Owned Target Chevrolet stayed patient through four late restarts on Sunday to win the Auto Club 400 at his home track in Fontana, California.
Larson claimed the second pole of his career Friday and won the Xfinity race Saturday.
The 24-year-old prodigy became just the fourth driver to sweep a race weekend at Fontana.
ABOVE VIDEO: After a string of runner-up finishes Kyle Larson breaks through in Fontana
The win comes after Larson has had a chance to win the previous four races of the young NASCAR Monster Energy Series season. Larson has finished second so far in every race but the Daytona 500 and earned his second Cup Series win on Sunday.
Larson is the fifth different winner in 5 races this season, joining Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr and Matt Kenseth. He became the first driver to win a Cup Series race at California after leading first lap.
He now leads the points NASCAR Monster Energy Series point standings with 243, 39 more than second place Chase Elliott. So far this season six drivers have claimed stage wins with Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick tied for the most stage wins with three each.
The three-race Western swing is over and NASCAR heads home to Martinsville Speedway, moving from Fontana’s wide 2-mile oval to a half-mile bullring.
In high school baseball, Five Brevard County teams remain in the Spectrum Sports Top 15 with Melbourne Central Catholic leading the way ranked fourth in Central Florida.
In fact, five, six and seven belong to teams from the Space Coast as Rockledge, Merritt Island and Viera follow the Hustlers. Eau Gallie is 15th.
And finally, Central Florida isn’t done with basketball and tournaments just yet.
The UCF Knights will take on TCU tonight in the Final Four of the National Invitational Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
To earn its spot in the NIT semifinals, UCF (24-11), who had their best season in over a decade, defeated Colorado, Illinois State and Illinois in the first three rounds.
ABOVE VIDEO: UCF Men’s Basketball head coach Johnny Dawkins, Tacko Fall, B.J. Taylor and Matt Williams met with the media on Monday prior to Tuesday’s NIT Semifinal matchup with TCU.
First year Knight’s head coach and former Duke star Johnny Dawkins has his team playing great defense.
Led by Defensive Conference Player of the Year, Tacko Fall, UCF’s ball stoppers held opponents to a nation’s best 36.3 field goal percentage this past season and are fourth nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 61 points per game.
UCF will face the TCU Horned Frogs but are 0-2 vs. teams currently in the Big 12.
The game will televised nationally on ESPN at 9:00 p.m.
The winner will advance to the championship to take on the winner of Tuesday’s 7 p.m. contest between CSU Bakersfield and Georgia Tech.
ABOVE VIDEO: UCF men’s basketball players Tacko Fall, A.J. Davis and B.J. Taylor walk Times Square in search of Tacko’s billboard.
SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
- The Billy Mims Show / Final Four Preview / Tuesday 6:15 to 7:15 SCD TV / Old School Pizza
- Space Coast Daily Sports Talk Special Guest Bryan Yates, WWE Correspondent, Tuesday 9:30 p.m.
- Space Coast Daily Sports Talk with special guest, FIT Asst. Basketball Coach, Terry Parks
- Space Coast Daily Sports Talk
- High School Baseball Friday Night Locker Room / Space Coast Daily
- Alan Zlotorzynski and Steve Wilson, Eau Gallie @ Rockledge
- FIT Spring Football Scrimmage No.2, live from Viera High School, 3:00 p.m.
- Wrestlemania 33 Orlando, Florida WWE Network Pay Per View
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