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Gator Basketball pregame introductions.

Basketball at the University of Florida has made giant leaps over the past eighty-eight years. It has grown from a program that nobody ever heard of to a national powerhouse. Under Head Coach Billy Donovan, Gator men’s basketball has become a dominant team in the South Eastern Conference and this year’s squad is ranked second in the nation as of December 7, 2003 in the A.P. Poll.

Florida has advanced to the NCAA tournament five consecutive seasons and won at least 20 games as well over that span. Donovan's Gators played for the National championship in 2000, losing to Michigan State. This years team looks prime to make it back to March Madness and make a run at another shot at winning Florida’s first National Title.

Fan support has exploded since Donovan arrived in 1997. Atendence is up over 4,400 and is averaging 162,069 fans per game. The Stephen C. O'Connell Center has become one of the toughest places to play in the country. The Rowdy Reptiles, Florida's crazy student section, is one of the most feared fan groups in college basketball. ESPN Magazine called the O'Dome "the scariest place to play in the country" in 1999.

Florida basketball began in 1915 just before World War I under Head Coach R. K. Van Camp, but did not begin SEC play until the 1932-33 season under Brennan Brown. Norm Sloan took the Gators to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1986 and brought them back the next two years as well.

Florida Basketball was first truly put on the map by the 1993-94 team, which made it all the way to the Final Four in Charlotte, NC. Coach Lon Kruger led that team on a Cinderella run that nobody expected. He left for a job at the University of Illinois in 1996 saying that Florida could never remain competitive in basketball because it was a football school.

Billy Donovan took the helm that year and proved to all the doubters that UF basketball is a force to be reckoned with. It has become a recruiting magnet and a dominant basketball force.

Donovan's Gators have sent five players to the NBA during his tenure: Jason WIlliams, Mike Miller, Donnell Harvey, Udonis Haslem and Matt Bonner.

 



This site created by Ronnie Boxx boxx420@ufl.edu

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