Time to pay attention UF hoops

Jan 22, 2013 -- 3:37pm


Psssst, I wanna talk to you Gator fans.

You know who you are. You’re the folks who say you bleed orange and blue, but it’s really all about football, football and more football. This isn’t really basketball season for you. It’s football recruiting season,

Basketball doesn’t matter until mid-to-late February, and only then if the Gators are really, really good. Well, I’m hear to tell you to get a leg up on your like-minded Gator friends and start paying attention to Billy’s Boys now. That’s Billy Donovan, your basketball coach. Sure, there are still a lot of games to play, but this Gator basketball team could be special. I’m not saying this team could play with those back-to-back national championship teams in 2004-05 and 2005-06, but I’m not saying it couldn’t either.

 Quietly, the Gators are 14-2 and they’re blowing respectable teams off the court. Few, if any, teams have been more impressive than your Gators. Get on the bandwagon early. You’ll really impress your Gator friends at your upcoming football recruiting parties when you can rattle off Florida’s starting lineup and even throw the names of top reserves. (Not to mention ordering your SEC basketball tournament tickets early and the best seats.)

While I’m on the subject of Gator basketball I feel compelled to remind you just how talented your coach is. My buddy Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel thinks Donovan is the greatest college coach regardless of the sport in our state’s history. I’m not quite ready to go that far. It’s hard for me not to have FSU’s Bobby Bowden at the top of the list, and then there are a couple of former Gator football coaches who deserve consideration in Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

But I digress. I’ll say this about Donovan, who recently won his 400th game: He ranks among the best college basketball coaches of all time and right now I’d pick over any active coach. Yes, I know Coach K is still piling up victories at Duke and Jim Boeheim is still winning game at Syracuse. I’m a big fan of Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo. Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Kentucky’s John Calipari deserve mention.

Donovan doesn’t really have a weakness that I can see. He can recruit. He can teach. He can game plan. He can motivate. He can X and O with anybody during games.

Last month I said I didn’t think the Gators had that special go-to guy at crunch time needed to win a national championship. I’m still a little concerned about that.

But these Gators have plenty of talent and they play their butts off. They can shoot and rebound and defend. They’re loaded with experience, their top seven players being juniors and seniors.

Like I said, I’m just trying to make you the smartest Gator fan in your group.

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