While expectations keep rising for the Florida Atlantic University football team under Howard Schnellenberger, it's the FAU basketball team that actually seems to be on the upswing. There to anchor the Owls' resurgence has been Greg Gantt, a sophomore guard who knows how to drop buckets. The six-foot-two-inch Gantt is a sharpshooter with the versatility to score in all kinds of ways. Gantt is the team's rock, the shoulders that often carry it. But this could have just as easily gone to fellow sophomore Ray Taylor, a lightning-quick point guard who makes the team go. Add to that combo a surprisingly notable coach in Mike Jarvis, a former Boston University, George Washington, and St. Johns coach who has a lot of NCAA tournament experience. The way things are coming together, it's a good bet they'll get to the Big Dance next March together.

Jonathan Dickson State Park

At Jonathan Dickinson State Park, it's $16 for a single kayak, $21.30 for a double, and that gets you two hours of paddling on a river wider than I-95. It'll likely take you a couple of hours to reach Trapper Nelson's, an old camp available only by water. A clearing in the jungle reveals a wood cabin that was the former residence of a trapper who lived off the land. Wander past his old bunk, animal cages, and the building where he dried fur pelts to sell. "Tarzan of the Loxahatchee River," they called him. But, as signs dotting the property explain, his reputation wasn't enough to save him from death by shotgun in 1968. They say it was suicide, even though suspicions pointed to land developers eager for Nelson's land. Before heading back downriver, have a picnic, take in the shade under the slash pines, and just try to resist the urge to search the camp for clues.

Dania Beach Jai-Alai

If the tobacco-stained walls of the Dania Beach jai-alai stadium could talk, they would likely tell of the sport's glory days in the '60s and '70s, when celebrities and local movers and shakers would pack into the cavernous stadium to watch the "game of a thousand thrills." The seats are now well worn and have that overly broken-in feeling of an ancient movie theater; row upon row of them sit mostly vacant. The halls are studded with art deco posters advertising long-past games and hinting at the elegance and glamour of the jai alai of yesterday. One good thing about all this throwback: The price of a plastic cup of domestic beer seems to have frozen somewhere around the Clinton administration (Wednesday nights, a 12-ounce beer costs 99 cents). The players, meanwhile, remain youthful and spry, wielding their cestas with vigor and passion, particularly when considering the humble size of the crowd typically gathered to watch their live games. Only a handful of frontons continue to host professional jai alai in the United States, making Dania's stadium a requirement for a truly inclusive tour of South Florida's singular attractions.

Precision Paddleboards

Let's assume that you haven't tried paddleboarding before, because you probably haven't. You saw someone off the beach the other day looking like they were walking on water, and now you want one. This is the right place then, because here they'll set you up with a demo day. Try out a few of them. Rent one later if you want. Then figure out the board for you — a big floaty one for cruising the canals or a short surf style for cutting through the waves. They'll size you for them, figuring out the board for your weight and height and cutting a paddle based on the length of your arms. And then there's appearance, of course, because these things ought to be works of art. They are here, where you'll find the bamboo Suplove, the badass-looking Rogue, or the ocean-blue Roberto Ricci. You can even have it custom-painted. And soon, with a board that's just right, you'll be walking on water too.

The Florida Marlins' position players ain't got nothin' on the Marlins' 2011 opening-day starting pitcher, Josh Johnson. Sure, Dan Uggla had a great 2010. Thanks, Dan. But did you lead the league in any statistical categories? Nope. Johnson's 2.30 ERA was the lowest in the National League last year, and no one in baseball gave up fewer home runs per nine innings. Now, it's a little early to call Johnson the Whitey Ford of the Marlins, but the righty's .672 career winning percentage is pretty unfuckwithable. Also, he's signed through 2013, so he's a safer bet than most to still be a Marlin after the trade deadline.

Whoever designed this sidewalk had the right idea. Why the hell should cars get the nice stretches of even pavement? Here, the sidewalk is made of more cushy and even road pavement instead of harder concrete pieces like most sidewalks. It largely cuts through a section of grass off to the side of the road, meaning cars aren't text-message-swerve close like many sections of A1A. A golf course clubhouse is positioned almost exactly halfway through the trip, with a water fountain for the public. And if you get too hot, the beach is just a few steps to the east.

The Hillsboro Inlet exists as a slice of ocean intersecting Broward County's barrier islands, a swath of green waters between mansions. It seems like nothing more than a place to pass through from ocean to Intracoastal, not as a destination for divers and snorkelers. But if you enter the inlet from the ocean side and turn sharply south, you'll see a spot where the water swirls, where the tides get held up in a pool, spinning slightly like a drain has opened below. Here is where the fish get stuck. Colorful and striped numbers fill this spot and congregate in what for fish must be the Bermuda Triangle. There's a small beach here accessible only by boat or a long walk up the beach. Start from there, wading into waters thick with tropical fish. Drop a bucket and you'll be sure to catch a dozen. Reach out to them as you snorkel and dive — they seem so discombobulated in this dead end that they barely move. It's your own personal fish tank, right here in this passage to somewhere else.

All Miami football fans have watched Cameron Wake find a way to get to quarterbacks, but most don't know how the sudden Pro-Bowler got into the NFL. It was a long road. For starters, he sat through the entire draft after graduating from Penn State as a linebacker in 2005 and never heard his name called. The New York Giants picked him up as an undrafted free agent but soon released him. Then, inconceivable as it may sound considering his enormous talent, Wake spent nearly two years out of football. What did he do? Well, he was a stockbroker, of course. He got a chance in the Canadian Football League in 2007, and it was immediately apparent he was meant to be not on the trading floor but the football field. Wake was 25 when he played in his first-ever professional game in British Columbia — and he quickly began to make up for lost time, getting 16 sacks and becoming the first player in CFL history to be named both Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He repeated the latter award in 2008, ringing up another league-leading 23 sacks. Coaches in America, slow as they apparently were, began to catch on that this guy was special, and in 2009, he signed with the Dolphins. The rest is now part of the history of another place he clearly belongs — the NFL.

Manor Lanes Bowling Center

Manor Lanes is not just the happiest bowling alley ever, with its giant bowling-pins-floating-over-an-ocean-at-sunset mural, entire sports bar attached for convenient lounging and liquoring, and jukebox that pumps out throwback Europop ("I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie worlllld..."). It is also the perfect place to be while shitcanned, made even better with glow-in-the-dark bowling nights, Friday-night karaoke, and plenty of cheap drinks, dispensed liberally. Whether you're blitzed or about to be blitzed, all you have to do is fling a ball down a greased lane. How hard can that be? And even if you suck ass at bowling, you'll probably make some new friends: The crowd is hip, hot, and just as drunk as you are.

Kevro's Art Bar

Although not the most traditional of choices for the wiff-waff enthusiast, one must weigh the totality of the Ping-Pong experience at Delray Beach's offbeat bohemian hangout Kevro's Art Bar before accepting its greatness. Granted, its tattered paddles have seen better days (we figure table tennis aficionados will have the foresight to bring their own paddles anyway), but rest assured that its table is playable and its net perfectly taut. Where else can you catch glimpses of art from many of the area's rising artists or guzzle down a few ales in between sets? If you're lucky enough, you might witness a performance from an up-and-coming band or have the chance to grill some food on Kevro's popular "Sunday Funday" night cookouts. Kevro's simply exudes an ambiance and character that you'll find nowhere else when seeking out a Ping-Pong match. Don't be surprised if Kevro's amicable proprietor, Kevin Rouse, challenges you to a match.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

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