Men's College Basketball News
Florida stars return and it pays off
Apr 3, 2007, 5:15 GMT
Atlanta, GA - They might not be the most talented team, but they sure are confident and now they are the two-time defending national champions.
The Florida Gators beat the Ohio State Buckeyes on Monday night 84-75 to become the first team since Duke in 1991 and 1992 to repeat as national champions.
'I'm so proud of my guys,' said Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who is rumored to be offered the job Kentucky any day now. 'I think this team should go down as on the best teams in college basketball history. Not as the most talented, and not on style points. But because they encompassed what the word 'team' means. They did it the first year with no expectations, then they did it again with all the expectations.'
The Gators used a couple of late-season losses as motivation this year. After suffering setbacks to LSU and Tennessee in late February, the Gators ran off 10 straight wins and along the way captured their third straight SEC Tournament title and second NCAA Tournament crown.
'From the beginning we knew we had the opportunity to do something special,' said Lee Humphrey. 'We knew no one could ever take away the first championship, but we also knew we had a great chance at getting another one.'
The reason why the Gators had such a great chance was because of the commitment the players showed Donovan. Nearly every starter could have left school after the first title, but they decided to stay and some of them forfeited millions of dollars to do so.
Joakim Noah, who could've been a top three pick in the NBA Draft last year, had a subpar year statistically and his draft position might suffer. However, he has a second title as a possible consolation prize.
'I'm so proud of this team,' said an always fiery Noah. 'I love them so much. This has been so much fun. We've been through so much, so much adversity together. I feel like we've accomplished something special. So many people doubted us, but we're in the books now. people can say whatever they want about this team, but at end of the (day), they have to say we won back-to-back titles.'
Now, the focus of this team turns to Donovan. If the reports are true, he is set to bolt the Sunshine State for the Bluegrass State and a big time pay day. But if he decides to stay, he could be on the verge of creating something Gator Nation has never seen before -- a program that will compete with the football program for space in the trophy case.
© 2007 The Sports Network