The last team to beat the Gators before their 30-game winning streak is alive and is now in the way of a national title. Remember that night in Storrs? How has this Gator transformation taken place since? Billy. Donovan.
Raise your hand if you truly thought, and believed, the Florida Gators would be going to the Final Four after the night of Dec. 2 at Gampel Pavilion when they lost to UConn because of a fluke rebound and subsequent putback by Shabazz Napier. Even Napier knew he was lucky. “I just felt I was fortunate enough to be in the right spot at the right time,” he admitted.
Fate owed one to the Gators and fate may have paved the way after the Huskies beat Michigan State, 60-55, for a trip to the semi finals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Napier’s buzzer beater against a banged up Florida squad that December night is a bitter memory for Gator fans:
In fairness, Napier is a stellar guard whose briliance shone again in UConn’s 60-55 win Sunday, as he scored 25 points.
When the Huskies and Gators meet in Texas, the matchup between Shabazz and the SEC Player of the Year, most valuable player in the SEC Tournament and MVP in the South Regional, Scottie Wilbiken, may the one for the ages. In the game at UConn, a banged up Wilbiken had to leave the court with three minutes to go. You think he might be just a little psyched about payback on a neutral court.
Beating the last team to defeat them would be sweet and seemingly prophetic, but winning against anybody would be all Billy Donovan’s team needs to wipe out the memory of The Lucky Bounce in Gampel Pavilion.
Did you see this Gator rejuvention coming after Dec. 2 ?
The odds of it happening were something less than a perfect bracket, but admittedly almost lottery-like.
Show of hands please?
I must admit I didn’t raise mine either.
We should all agree on this, however: No matter if Florida wins over UConn or wins or loses in the national championship game, Billy Donovan has done his best coaching job ever and now deserves a place among the elite in college hoops — maybe right behind his mentor Rick Pitino and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.