Tuesday , Apr , 03 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Florida stars return and it pays off

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – 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.

FLORIDA