Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:55 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 1:57 pm
That latenight game at FedExForum was fun, but the prize of this ongoing 24 hours of college basketball tips at 6 p.m. ET when No. 4 Ohio State visits No. 9 Florida. It should be great, if only because of the opportunity to see Florida's big and experienced frontline of Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus try to slow Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger.
By now, you know what I think of Sullinger.
Here's what Florida coach Billy Donovan thinks of Sullinger:
"I think he's a monster," Donovan told me this weekend. "I think he's great."
Sullinger got 19 points and 14 rebounds in OSU's season-opening win over North Carolina A&T. I'm not necessarily predicting similar numbers tonight, but if the 6-foot-9 forward produces them it would pretty much stop everybody from asking why I named him the CBSSports.com Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 11:04 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 11:11 pm
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- "How many college games have you seen already?" Billy Donovan asked moments after his Florida Gators started their season with a 77-60 win over UNC-Wilmington, and I knew where he was going.
Same place most coaches with ranked teams go after their first game.
He wanted to know how his team compared to others.
What I told Donovan is that I haven't seen enough to know (the season just began!), but that an uneven start is hardly unique, even for a team ranked ninth nationally. Yeah, Chandler Parsons committed four turnovers while Kenny Boynton missed all six of his 3-point attempts, and that wasn't ideal. But what I mostly saw Friday night here at the O'Connell Center is a Florida team that's big and talented and experienced in the frontcourt, and deep enough to wear opponents down. I watched six guys score at least nine points, eight guys play at least 16 minutes. Was I blown away? No. But there's not a single thing that happened that has me wanting to change my prediction that the Gators will win the SEC, and I actually found myself pleasantly surprised by one of the Florida freshmen.
McDonald's All-American Patric Young?
(He looked physically imposing, but completely lost.)
Top 75 recruit Casey Prather?
(He was fine, but forgettable.)
The freshman who made the biggest impact for Florida -- and looked the most comfortable on the court, by far -- was Scottie Wilbekin, an unheralded recruit from Gainesville who was listed as a 17-year-old high school junior as recently as May. Wilbekin is now a 17-year-old college freshman because he graduated early to enroll at Florida early. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished with five assists and four steals in 17 quality minutes against UNC-Wilmington, and he's going to be somebody Donovan can and will use in the rotation to relieve starting point guard Erving Walker.
"Scottie, I thought, played very, very well," Donovan said. "I felt after the first couple of weeks of practice that he was going to be a guy that's going to play for us and be able to be pretty helpful. It's impressive what he's done, really in a lot of respects, as a senior in high school. ... I think he's going to really help."
Posted on: August 23, 2010 7:22 am
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- I'm spending the next couple of days -- i.e., Monday and Tuesday -- here on the Florida campus, and not because I'm starting graduate school. Rather, I'm speaking at an annual coaching clinic organized by Florida associate head coach Larry Shyatt. It should be both fun and educational. I'm glad I'm involved.
Here's the rundown of Monday speakers:
9:15: Brad Stevens
10:30: Del Harris
1:45: Jeremy Foley
2:30: Jamie Dixon, Shaka Smart, Matthew Driscoll
4:00: Buzz Williams
5:15: Rick Turk
6:30: LuAnn Humphrey
7:45: Billy Donovan
Coaches scheduled to speak Tuesday include Matt Painter, Sean Miller, Travis Ford, Scott Duncan, Mike Hopkins, Brendan Suhr, and Kevin Eastman. I'll try my best to Tweet anything interesting. So make sure you're following me at this link.
Tags: Arizona, Billy Donovan, Brad Stevens, Butler, Buzz Williams, Florida, Jamie Dixon, Jeremy Foley, Larry Shyatt, LuAnn Humphrey, Marquette, Matt Painter, Matthew Driscoll, Mike Hopkins, North Florida, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Scott Duncan, Sean Miller, Shaka Smart, Syracuse, UCLA, Virginia Commonwealth
Posted on: April 21, 2010 10:10 am
Edited on: April 21, 2010 10:12 am
Billy Donovan received his third commitment in three days Tuesday and appears close to ensuring it'll be a while before Florida misses the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons again. If you've been out of touch, here's the recap:
Sunday: Mike Rosario
Monday: Will Yeguette
Tuesday: Cody Larson
Rosario is a McDonald's All-American transferring from Rutgers, Yeguette is a 6-7 forward from the Class of 2010 who also had offers from Indiana and Georgia Tech, and Larson is a 6-9 forward from the Class of 2010 who initially signed with Iowa but was granted a release when the school fired Todd Lickliter. Yeguette and Larson should be available next season, and Rosario and Class of 2011 star Brad Beal will join them the following year. Combine these developments with the recruiting success of John Calipari at Kentucky and Bruce Pearl at Tennessee, and it's not a stretch to suggest three of the nation's top 15 progams over the next few years will reside in the SEC's Eastern Division.
Posted on: November 27, 2009 11:40 pm
Billy Donovan was supposed to make the 2008 NCAA tournament.
But he didn't.
And he was supposed to make the 2009 NCAA tournament.
But he didn't.
Then Nick Calathes turned pro, Kentucky hired John Calipari and loaded up, Tennessee returned nearly everybody, South Carolina gained respect under Darrin Horn, Kevin Stallings put together a nice roster, and the SEC media processed all that information and picked Florida fifth in the Eastern Division. Me? I actually picked the Gators fourth. But either way, most were debating fourth or fifth in the East, and almost nobody projected Florida to make the 2010 NCAA tournament, meaning Donovan was supposed to make his third straight NIT.
But that's not happening.
Or at least it doesn't look like it now, not after Florida improved to 5-0 Friday night with a 77-74 victory over No. 2 Michigan State in the semifinals of the Legends Classic. Assuming the Gators can now get past Rutgers in Saturday's title game, they'll next appear in every relevant national rankings while folks wonder whether Florida can push Kentucky and Tennessee in the SEC.
And that's the beauty of these early season tournaments, isn't it?
There might be too many of them, and they aren't all well attended. But what they do is create opportunities for teams to prove what they are and what they are not. As I type, I'm sitting courtside at the Anaheim Convention Center watching Portland beat Minnesota and develop into the non-BCS story of November. Last Friday, Syracuse destroyed all skeptics by destroying North Carolina, and this Friday it was Florida forcing the country to view it differently with a huge win over Michigan State.
It's the Gators' biggest victory since they beat Ohio State to win the 2007 NCAA tournament, the type of victory that'll have everybody tearing up any and all preseason projections. Florida fifth in the SEC Eastern Division? It's still possible, I guess. But I wouldn't bet on it now, and I don't think anybody else would either.
Posted on: October 14, 2009 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2009 6:23 pm
Wooden Award Chairman Duke Llewellyn announced Wednesday that Florida's Billy Donovan will be honored with the 2010 Legends of Coaching Award. He'll be recognized at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in April 2010.
Donovan is one of just four active coaches to win two national titles. The others are Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, UConn's Jim Calhoun and UNC's Roy Williams, all of whom are previous Legends of Coaching honorees. Donovan is the youngest to ever win this award. He's recorded 11 consecutive 20-win seasons.
Posted on: June 1, 2009 4:22 pm
My column on Billy Donovan didn't really touch on it too much, but it's always important to remember that in addition to losing Marreese Speights and Nick Calathes early the past two years (and Jai Lucas to a transfer), Florida is still trying to recover from losing its top six scorers following the 2006-07 season.
And it's been difficult.
Only one player with a ring is still a Gator.
That's Dan Werner.
And though the 2007-08 team was always going to be about what it was because of the simultaneous departures, how much better would the 2008-09 team have been if Speights -- a project coming out of high school -- had lasted at least until his junior year? And though the 2009-2010 team will have an obvious void in the backcourt, how good could it be with Calathes -- who never projected as an obvious two-and-done prospect -- playing beside Kenny Boynton while Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus handle things up front?
These are the frustrating questions for Donovan.
"Marreese Speights was a project big guy, and I thought without question [when I signed him] that I'd get at least three years out of him," Donovan said. "And then I don't know if anybody looked at Nick -- a guy who can't dunk, who isn't the best athlete, who isn't a prototypical NBA point guard -- and said he's going to be a first-round draft pick after two years.
"Some guys have really improved [as prospects once they got to Florida]," Donovan added. "I don't know that you're able to prepare for that."
Or for defections on staff.
That's another issue that has undoubtedly hindered Florida's climb back to the top of the SEC, the fact that Larry Shyatt is the only assistant who was around for those national titles. Donovan lost Anthony Grant (to VCU) after the first championship and replaced him with Lewis Preston, who has since moved to Penn State. Meantime, Donnie Jones left (to be the head coach at Marshall) after the second title. He was replaced by Rob Lanier. And then Preston's replacement -- Shaka Smart -- left after this past season to replace Grant at VCU, meaning Donovan has lost and replaced four assistants the past four offseasons.
It breaks down like this:
2006: Lose Anthony Grant and replace him with Lewis Preston .
2007: Lose Donnie Jones and replace him with Rob Lanier .
2008: Lose Lewis Preston and replace him with Shaka Smart .
2009: Lose Shaka Smart and replace him with Richard Pitino .
"Players are always going to come and go, but I've really lost good quality [assistants], too," Donovan said. I've had really good quality people, and I've lost four assistant coaches in four years. The turnover on staff is tough."
Still, there's a good chance Donovan will be OK.
In fact, at least one former assistant expects him to capitalize in this role.
"Billy is a different kind of guy," Smart said. "More than anyone I've ever been around, he thrives in an underdog situation, in a back-against-the-wall situation. There's a big part of him that enjoys it. It goes all the way back to when he was a player [at Providence]; he just thrives in situations where people say, 'You're the underdog' or 'Your back is against the wall' or whatever. He's unbelievable at coming up big in those sorts of situations. And you'll see. He'll do it with this team. That's why he's the best."
Posted on: March 27, 2009 4:49 pm
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Billy Donovan is staying at Florida.
A source close to Florida told CBSSports.com that Donovan will not be a candidate for any college job that is open or might open later this offseason, Kentucky included. An official statement is expected later Friday.