Obviously, we're not putting Billy Donovan in the same category as John Wooden, but the Florida Gators became the first team to go back-to-back since
Coach K's Duke squad did it in 1991-92.
The Dookies knocked off the Fab Five to hang their second straight banner.
The Gators did it by getting past the Thad Five.
Greg Oden not only stayed out of foul trouble, but had arguably his most
dominating offensive performance (25 points) in what was likely the final game
of his collegiate career. However, the Gators just had too many pieces for Ohio State in the 84-75 victory.
Not only did it give the Gators consecutive crowns, it also meant that the
football and basketball national champs still reside in Gainesville.
"It really is remarkable when you look at the last 18 months or
so," Donovan said. "Two basketball championships and a football title.
It's a pretty good run for Florida."
It was almost as if Billy's Boys were toying with the Buckeyes. Every time
that Ohio State would make a run, Florida would answer — whether it was Lee Humphrey with a 3-pointer, Taurean Green with a trifecta or even reserve Chris Richard using his brute strength in the paint.
Now after two seasons in which they won 68 games, the Gator Boys will go
their separate ways.
Senior gunner Lee Humphrey can't even come back if he wants. Juniors Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer — who could have all been first-round NBA
draft picks a year ago — aren't going to shock the world again.
Even Taurean Green could try and make the move since this year's point guard
class is weak.
Donovan will never have a chance to coach a team like this again, whether he
remains at Florida or bolts for Kentucky or the Miami Heat.
These guys didn't like playing together. They loved to play together.
There was no hint of jealousy. None of the five starters averaged less than
10.4 points and none averaged more than 13.4 points per game over the past two
seasons. Each managed to crack the 1,000-point barrier in his career.
The Gators played hard and played with emotion. Whether you love him or hate
him, it's hard to argue with the passion that Noah displays on the court — and
even on the bench in foul trouble late in Monday night's game while cheering for
Florida is not and never will be the UCLA dynasty that claimed titles from
1967-73. However, the Gators are just the second SEC team with back-to-back
crowns (Kentucky did it in 1948-49) and this group has turned football-crazed
Gainesville into a town that is also nuts about Billy Ball.
They did it with a bunch of kids who barely played as freshmen. Guys who came
in with a chip on their shoulder because they weren't considered elite players
coming out of high schools. Guys who were basically laughed at.
Donovan was nearly run out of town a few years back when he couldn't get into
the Sweet 16 for five straight years.
Now they are the ones who have gotten the last laugh.
"The feeling is just incredible," Donovan said. "It's
different because of the path we had to take. Last year it was unexpected. This
year everyone talked about the repeat and now we had a chance to do it."
They sure did. Two national titles and the most dominant college basketball
team of the last 30-plus years later.
It's just too bad they won't try and come back for one more run.