Florida Gators men's basketball
|University||University of Florida|
|Head coach||Billy Donovan (17th year)|
|Student section||Rowdy Reptiles|
Blue and Orange
|NCAA Tournament champions|
|NCAA Tournament runner up|
|NCAA Tournament Final Four|
|1994, 2000, 2006, 2007|
|NCAA Tournament Elite Eight|
|1994, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013|
|NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen|
|1987, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013|
|NCAA Tournament Round of 32|
|1987, 1988, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013|
|NCAA Tournament appearances|
|1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013|
|Conference tournament champions|
|2005, 2006, 2007|
|Conference regular season champions|
|1989, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014|
The Florida Gators men's basketball team represents the University of Florida in the sport of basketball. The Gators compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They play their home games in the O'Connell Center on the university's Gainesville, Florida campus, and are currently led by head coach Billy Donovan.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Head coaches
- 4 Championships
- 5 Final Fours
- 6 Home courts
- 7 Notable alumni
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
The Florida Gators men's team annually plays an eighteen-game conference schedule that is preceded by an out-of-conference schedule that includes an annual game against in-state rival Florida State. Their conference schedule consists of a pair of home-and-home games against five SEC teams, plus a single game against each of the other eight SEC teams. Historically, the Gators did not have significant rivals in men's basketball. Since the late 1980s, however, Florida has built rivalries with Kentucky and Tennessee as the Gators have become consistent contenders for the Southeastern Conference championship.
The modern University of Florida was created in 1905, when the Florida Legislature passed the Buckman Act, consolidating four predecessor institutions to form the "University of the State of Florida." Ten years later, the university sponsored the first Florida Gators men's varsity basketball team that played its first season during the 1915–1916 school year under head coach C. J. McCoy, who was also the head coach of the Florida Gators football team. The first Gators basketball team compiled a 5–1 record, but the following three seasons were canceled during and immediately after World War I. The team was restarted for the 1919–20 season without a professional coach, though the Gators did have a new venue—the newly built University Gymnasium. Head coach William G. Kline, who also coached the Florida Gators football team, led the Gators basketball team from 1920 to 1922.
By the mid-1920s the team outgrew the University Gymnasium (now called the Women's Gymnasium), so the university built another gym to hold the crowds of the fast-growing student population. Dubbed the "New Gym," the Gators played there until 1949, when Florida Gymnasium was finished.
In December 1932, the University of Florida joined the Southeastern Conference as one of its thirteen charter members. The Gators spent most of the first half-century of SEC play in the bottom half of the standings. They only finished higher than fourth twice between 1932–33 and 1979–80. From the founding of the SEC until 1960, the head coach's slot was filled part-time by a coach from another Gator team, including head baseball coaches Brady Cowell, Ben Clemons and Sam McAllister, head football coach Josh Cody, and football assistants Spurgeon Cherry and John Maurer. Cody had previously coached the Clemson and Vanderbilt basketball teams; Maurer had previously coached the Kentucky and Tennessee basketball squads. None of them were able to build the Gators into consistent contenders in conference play.
In hopes of breathing life into the program, Florida hired Norm Sloan as its first full-time head coach for the 1960–61 season. He compiled a record of 85–63 in six seasons, including the Gators' first two wins over long-dominant Kentucky in SEC play. Sloan's Gators did not receive a postseason tournament invitation during his tenure, however; until 1975 only the conference champion was guaranteed an NCAA bid. Nonetheless, according to Florida historian Norm Carlson, Sloan elevated the Gators basketball program from "an intramural program and built the grass roots." Sloan left Florida for his alma mater, North Carolina State, after the 1965-66 season.
Tommy Bartlett succeeded Sloan as head coach in 1966–67. His Gators experienced initial success during his first three seasons, finishing second, fifth and third respectively in SEC play. His first team notched the school's first 20-win season; a season sweep by Tennessee left them one game short of their first SEC title. Led by center Neal Walk (the only Gator to have his number retired) and forward Andy Owens, the team received a bid to the 1969 National Invitation Tournament—the first postseason tournament invitation in team history. Bartlett could not sustain the level of talent in recruiting, and team performance declined thereafter. John Lotz, a respected assistant under North Carolina's Dean Smith, succeeded Bartlett in 1973–74. Lotz's Gators peaked with a 17–9 overall record and a fourth-place conference finish (10–8 SEC) in 1976–77.
The modern era of Florida basketball began in 1980, when Sloan returned to Gainesville after a successful 14-year tenure at North Carolina State. This was also the first year in the Gators' current home court, the O'Connell Center. The Gators made the NIT three years in a row from 1984 to 1986—only the second, third and fourth postseason appearances in school history. In 1987, Vernon Maxwell led the team to the school's first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing all the way to the Sweet 16. Sloan coached the team to the tournament again the following two years, winning the school's first-ever SEC regular season title in 1989. After a drug scandal involving Maxwell and an NCAA investigation for various rules violations, Sloan was forced to resign and the NCAA placed the program on two years' probation. Former Tennessee coach Don DeVoe led the team as interim coach during the 1989–90 season.
Lon Kruger era
Lon Kruger, former head coach at Kansas State, took over the program before the 1990–91 season. Despite the probation he inherited, Kruger slowly brought the team to increased success and reached the NIT semifinals in his second year as coach. In 1993–94, the pieces fell into place for Florida to have their best season ever at that time. Behind Andrew DeClercq and Dametri Hill, the Gators went to their first Final Four following a dramatic victory over UConn where Donyell Marshall missed two free throws with no time on the clock to force overtime, where the Gators eventually prevailed. They lost to Duke in the national semifinal, 70–65. The next year, they returned to the NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the first round. Kruger's final season in 1995–1996 resulted in a losing record, and he left to coach at Illinois.
Billy Donovan era
Florida's Athletic Director, Jeremy Foley, looking for a young coach with a proven track record, hired Billy Donovan, then at Marshall, as Kruger's replacement. His recruiting prowess was evident early, bringing future NBA star Jason Williams with him from Marshall and having early recruiting classes with future NBA players Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Matt Bonner, among others. The Gators made the NCAA Tournament every year from 1998 to 2007 season, a nine-year streak that is the school record, and the sixth-longest NCAA Tournament streak.
The early years
Donovan's first two seasons at Florida still stand as the two worst during his tenure at Florida. The Gators posted a two-year win-loss record of 27-32, missing postseason play entirely in his first season, and losing in the first round of the NIT in his second season. To date, these are the last losing records that the Gators have suffered.
In his third season, however, Donovan's Gators finished the season with an overall record of 22-9, and earned the No. 6 seed in the West Regional of the 1999 NCAA Tournament. The Gators defeated Penn and Weber State to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Phoenix, where they were upset by No. 10 seed Gonzaga.
Donovan took his Gators on a memorable run during his fourth season in Gainesville. The Gators finished the season 29-8, including winning a share of the SEC regular season championship. In the 2000 SEC Tournament, however, the Gators were upset in the second round by Auburn. Florida received the No. 5 seed in the East Regional of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, and swept through the region by beating Butler, Illinois, Duke, and Oklahoma State to reach the Final Four. In the national semifinals, Florida knocked off North Carolina to advance to their first NCAA national championship game, before losing to heavily favored and top seeded Michigan State.
Over the next five years the Gators went to the NCAA Tournament every year, but they found themselves upset victims five straight times in the first or second round. In the 2001 NCAA Tournament, Florida received the No. 3 seed in the South Region. They defeated No. 14 Western Kentucky in the first round, but they were then upset by the No. 11 seed, Temple.
The following year, in 2002, the Gators received the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. They were knocked off in the first round by No. 12 seed Creighton. The 2003 Florida Gators finished the season 24-7, and received the No. 2 seed in the South Region of the 2003 NCAA Tournament. The Gators easily defeated Sam Houston State in the first round, but were then upset by No. 7 seed Michigan State in the second round. In 2004, the Gators were the No. 5 seed in the East Rutherford Regional of the 2003–2004 NCAA Tournament, but were upset in the first round by the No. 12 seed, Manhattan.
The 2004–05 team had the distinction of being the first to garner an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, when it defeated Kentucky in the 2005 SEC Tournament Championship. The Gators subsequently received the No. 4 seed in the Syracuse Regional of the 2004–2005 NCAA Tournament. They knocked off the No. 13 seed, Ohio in the first round, but lost to No. 5 seed Villanova in the second round.
2005–06 NCAA national championship season
The 2005–06 team began the season unranked and went on a 17–0 winning streak for the best start in school history, surprising many with a young (four sophomores and one junior) but selfless squad following the graduation of David Lee and the departures of Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson to the NBA. The trio accounted for sixty percent of their offense in 2005. The team faded late in the regular season, losing its last 3 games in February and entering the postseason with a 24–6 record, yet still managed to win its second consecutive SEC Tournament Championship.
The Gators entered the 2006 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as a No. 3 seed with a 27–6 record, and ranked No. 10 by the AP. They beat No. 14 seed South Alabama and No. 11 seed Milwaukee to advance to the Minneapolis regional. There, the Gators defeated the No. 7 seed Georgetown Hoyas and upset the No. 1 seed Villanova Wildcats 75–62 to avenge their loss in the previous year's tournament and move on to their second Final Four under Donovan.
Florida defeated the upstart George Mason Patriots, the No. 11 seed from the Washington, D.C. regional, by a score of 73–58 in the national semifinals in Indianapolis. On April 3, 2006, the Gators defeated the UCLA Bruins 73–57 in the national final to win the school's first men's basketball NCAA Championship. The University of Florida Athletic Association then purchased the floor used in Indianapolis for the Final Four, and installed it in the O'Connell Center.
2006–07 NCAA national championship season
The Gators returned all five starters from their 2006 championship team to begin the 2006–07 basketball season ranked as the preseason No. 1 in both major media polls, a first for the Gators. The Gators locked up the SEC regular season Championship relatively early in the 2006–07 season and were in possession of a 24–2 record before going on a late-February 1–3 skid that mirrored their 0–3 run a year earlier. For the second season in a row, the losses in February would be their last. Florida closed out Kentucky on Senior Night to end the regular season 26–5, and won their third straight SEC Tournament Championship with relative ease, beating Georgia, Ole Miss, and Arkansas 77–56.
Florida entered the 2007 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, and they advanced to the Final Four after wins in the regional against No. 5 seed Butler and No. 3 seed Oregon. In a rematch of the 2006 title game, the Gators again eliminated the UCLA Bruins in the national semifinal. Florida defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 84–75, in a rematch of a game they won 86–60 three months earlier, to become the first team since the 1991–92 Duke Blue Devils to win back-to-back national championships and the first college team ever to repeat as national champions with the same starting line-up.
Following the 2006–07 season, three of the Gators' starting five were drafted among the first ten picks in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft: Al Horford (third), Corey Brewer (seventh) and Joakim Noah (ninth). Taurean Green and Chris Richard were both selected in the second round. Also during this season, Donovan passed Sloan as the winningest coach in school history.
In the aftermath of the Gators second NCAA championship, Donovan accepted the head coaching positions for the NBA's Orlando Magic on May 31, 2007. On June 3, however, it was disclosed that Donovan asked to be released from his contract with the Magic, which was announced when he was reintroduced as the Gators head coach on June 7.
The Gators failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and 2009. The Gators were eliminated by UMass in the semi-finals of the 2008 National Invitation Tournament. The following season, the Gators were eliminated by Penn State in a quarter-final game of the 2009 National Invitation Tournament. In 2010, the Gators received an invitations to the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as a No. 10 seed, but they were eliminated in the first round by No. 7 seed BYU in double overtime.
2011–2013: Three consecutive Elite Eights
In the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, the Gators were the No. 2 seed in the Southeast region after winning the regular season SEC Championship, after being defeated in the 2011 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament Championship Game to Kentucky, and finishing with a 26-7 record. They played their two first games in Tampa, FL. In the Second Round of the Tournament, Florida beat No. 15 seed, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. In the third round, the Gators defeated the No. 7 seed, the UCLA Bruins to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in New Orleans. On March 24, 2011, the Gators got some revenge by defeating the No. 3 seed, BYU, who had knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament the year before, by a score of 83–74 in overtime to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007. Their tournament run ended there as they were stunned in the Regional Final against No. 8 seed Butler in overtime.
In the 2012 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, the Gators were the No. 7 seed in the West Region after losing in the 2012 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament semifinals to Kentucky, finishing with an overall record of 23-10. Florida defeated the No. 10 seed, Virginia, and the No. 15 seed, Norfolk State, to advance to the Sweet 16 in Phoenix. They defeated No. 3 seed Marquette in an upset to advance to the Elite Eight, but their run ended when they were defeated by the No. 4 seed, Louisville, 72–68, after blowing a 65–54 lead with 8:14 remaining in the game.
The 2012–13 Gators finished the regular season with an overall record of 24–6, and won the SEC regular season championship with a conference record of 14–4. During the regular season, Billy Donovan notched his 400th career win as the head coach of the Gators over Missouri. After losing in the final of the 2013 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament to Mississippi, they entered the 2013 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the South Region. Florida defeated the No. 14 seed Northwestern State 79–47 in the first round, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after soundly beating the No. 11 seed, Minnesota, 78–64. The Gators then defeated Florida Gulf Coast, No. 15 seed, in the Sweet Sixteen 62–50. But once again, their run ended in the Elite Eight, this time against fourth seeded Michigan, who handily defeated the Gators, 79–59. The Gators became the first team since the expansion of the tournament in 1951 to lose in the Elite Eight in three consecutive seasons.
Florida is the only program in the nation to have advanced as far as the Elite Eight in each of those seasons from 2011–2013.
|Basketball head coaches||Seasons|
|C. J. McCoy||1915–1916|
|William G. Kline||1920–1922|
|Calhoun Y. "Check" Byrd||1922–1923|
|James L. White||1923–1925|
|Sam J. McAllister||1937–1942|
|No team—World War II||1943–1944|
|Sam J. McAllister||1946–1951|
NCAA national championships
The Florida Gators have won two NCAA national championships, which is tied for 9th all-time among Division I schools. The Gators won back to back championships in 2005–06 and 2006–07 under Billy Donovan. That was the first time any team had won back to back national championships since Duke did it in 1991-92, and it's the last time this has happened since. In addition, the Gators became the first school to ever win a national championship in football and basketball in both the same calendar year and the same academic year (the Gators' football team defeated Ohio State in the 2007 BCS Championship Game).
|Round of 64||Jacksonville, FL||(14) South Alabama||76-50|
|Round of 32||Jacksonville, FL||(11) Milwaukee||82-60|
|Sweet 16||Minneapolis, MN||(7) Georgetown||57-53|
|Elite 8||Minneapolis, MN||(3) Villanova||75-62|
|Final 4||Indianapolis, IN||(11) George Mason||73-58|
|Championship||Indianapolis, IN||(2) UCLA||73-58|
|Round of 64||New Orleans, LA||(16) Jackson State||112-69|
|Round of 32||New Orleans, LA||(9) Purdue||74-67|
|Sweet 16||St. Louis, MO||(5) Butler||65-57|
|Elite 8||St. Louis, MO||(3) Oregon||85-77|
|Final 4||Atlanta, GA||(2) UCLA||76-66|
|Championship||Atlanta, GA||(1) Ohio State||84-75|
SEC Tournament championships
The Gators have won three SEC Tournament championships under Billy Donovan.
SEC regular season championships
Though the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament is given to the conference tournament winner, the SEC declares the team with the best record in the regular season the "official" conference champion. The Gators have won a total of seven official (regular season) SEC championships. Norm Sloan won the first one during the 1988–89 season, and Billy Donovan has won the other six, including the 2006–07 season in which the Gators also won the SEC Tournament championship and NCAA national championship, and three in a four year span from 2011-2014.
The Florida Gators have been to four Final Fours, which is tied for 9th all time among Division I schools.
Lon Kruger took the Gators to their first one in 1994. Florida received the #3 seed in the East Region (played in Miami, FL). The Gators swept through the region with victories over 14th seeded James Madison, 11th seeded Pennsylvania, 2nd seeded Connecticut and punched their ticket to their first ever Final Four by knocking off the upstart, 9th seeded Boston College. But the Gators then lost to Duke in the national semifinals.
Billy Donovan took them back six years later in 2000, winning the East Region (played in Syracuse, NY) as the #5 seed. To get to the Final Four, Florida first had to survive a tough test from 12th seeded Butler in the first round in Winston-Salem, NC. Trailing 68-67 with time running out, the Gators won on a last second shot by Mike Miller. After that initial test, Florida ran through the rest of the region, easily defeating 4th seeded Illinois, top seeded Duke, and 3rd seeded Oklahoma State to reach the Final Four, where they defeated North Carolina in the semifinals, but lost to Michigan State in the national championship game.
Donovan would get Florida back to the Final Four in 2006, winning the Minneapolis Regional as the #3 seed with victories over 14th seeded South Alabama, 11th seeded UW-Milwaukee, 7th seeded Georgetown and top seeded Villanova in the Regional Final. The Gators proceeded to knock off upstart George Mason (who won the Washington, D.C. Regional as the #11 seed) in the semifinals and then handily defeated UCLA in the championship game for their first ever national championship.
The next year, Donovan's Gators would make it not only back to back Final Fours, but back to back championships as well. They received the top seed in the St. Louis Regional, and defeated 16th seeded Jackson State, 9th seeded Purdue, 5th seeded Butler and 3rd seeded Oregon in the Regional Final to earn a trip to their 4th Final Four. There, they dispatched UCLA in the semifinals and then Ohio State in the title game.
Since then, Florida has come close several times, but have never made it back. From 2011-2013, the Gators made three consecutive trips to the Elite Eight, and held late leads in two of them, but could never finish the game and lost all three times to (in order) Butler, Louisville and Michigan.
|Florida Gator men's basketball historical venues|
|University Gymnasium||Also known as The Gym||1920–1927|
|Building R||Also known as New Gym||1928–1949|
|Florida Gymnasium||Also known as Alligator Alley||1950–1980|
|O'Connell Center||Also known as The O-Dome||1980–present|
- 1968 – Neal Walk, center (AP – Second Team, NABC – Third Team, UPI – Third Team)
- 1969 – Neal Walk, center (AP – Third Team, NABC – Third Team, UPI – Third Team)
- 2001 – Udonis Haslem, center (AP – Third Team)
- 2007 – Al Horford, forward-center (AP – Third Team, NABC – Second Team)
- 2007 – Joakim Noah, forward-center (Consensus, AP – Second Team, NABC – Second Team, USBWA – Second Team)
- 2011 – Chandler Parsons, small forward
- 41 – Neal Walk, center (1967–1969)
2006–07 NCAA championship starting five
- Corey Brewer, small forward, Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Final Four; now playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
- Taurean Green, point guard; now playing with CB Gran Canaria in Spain.
- Al Horford, center; now two-time NBA All-Star center with the Atlanta Hawks.
- Lee Humphrey, shooting guard, all-time leader for three-point shots made in the NCAA Tournament and all-time leading three-point scorer at Florida; now playing with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA D-League.
- Joakim Noah, power forward, Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 Final Four; now an NBA All-Star center playing with the Chicago Bulls.
Donovan's 2004 recruiting class won two consecutive NCAA championships in 2006 and 2007. The group nicknamed themselves "the 04s" (pronounced "oh-fours") since they enrolled at Florida in 2004. They were known for their camaraderie on and off the court, as Brewer, Green, Horford and Noah were roommates during their entire time in college. All five starters and sixth man Chris Richard later played professionally. All of them, except Humphrey, were selected in the 2007 NBA Draft. Brewer, Horford and Noah were selected in the top 10, while Richard and Green were selected in the second-round.
Gators currently in the NBA
- Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
- Matt Bonner (San Antonio Spurs)
- Corey Brewer (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Nick Calathes (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat)
- Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)
- David Lee (Golden State Warriors)
- Mike Miller (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Erik Murphy (Chicago Bulls)
- Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)
- Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets)
- Marreese Speights (Golden State Warriors)
Gators currently in the Italian League
- Alex Tyus (Pallacanestro Cantù), American-Israeli professional basketball player, also plays for the Israeli national basketball team
- Florida Gators
- Florida Gators Dazzlers
- Florida Gators women's basketball
- History of the University of Florida
- List of Florida Gators basketball players
- List of University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame members
- University Athletic Association
- Associated Press, "Ex-N.C. State coach Norm Sloan dead at 77," Sports Illustrated (December 9, 2003). Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- Kevin Brockway, "Top 25 Gator teams: #25 1993–94 Men's basketball," The Gainesville Sun (May 31, 2009). Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Kevin Brockway, "Top 25 Gator teams: #18 1999–2000 Men's basketball," The Gainesville Sun (June 7, 2009). Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Kevin Brockway, "Top 25 Gator teams: #4 2005–06 Men's basketball," The Gainesville Sun (June 21, 2009). Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Pat Dooley, "Top 25 Gator teams: #1 2006–07 Men's basketball," The Gainesville Sun (June 25, 2009). Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Gators place three in top 10 - Sun Sentinel
- Kevin Brockway, "Donovan staying; juniors to enter draft," The Gainesville Sun (April 5, 2007). Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- DuPree, David (June 28, 2007). "Florida trio tapped in top 10; Celts land Ray Allen". USA Today (Gannett Co. Inc). Retrieved May 3, 2009.
- Livnat, Arie (July 24, 2012). "Playing with the converted". Haaretz. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- "Gator Men's Basketball Roster/Bios". GatorZone.com. June 6, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- Dortch, Chris, String Music: Inside the Rise of SEC Basketball, Brassey's, Inc., Dulles, Virginia (2002). ISBN 1-57488-439-5.
- Koss, Bill, Pond Birds: Gator Basketball, The Whole Story From The Inside, Fast Break Press, Gainesville, Florida (1996). ISBN 978-0-8130-1523-1.
- GatorSports.com – Florida Gators men's basketball news from The Gainesville Sun.
- GatorZone.com – Official webpage of the Florida Gators men's basketball team.