If you’re tired of hearing about how the Gators all about team, team, team, then stop reading because this is another commentary about teamwork being the key to Florida’s basketball success.
That was never more evident than in the Gators’ 79-68 Sweet 16 victory over UCLA in Memphis Thursday night.
Coach Billy Donovan’s guys scored 29 field goals and had 22 assists. That’s 29 and 22!
It’s the kind of statistic that basketball coaches would die for. It is remarkable, mind blowing, off-the-charts, yada, yada, yada.
The Gators’ offense looks like it came right out of a coaching manual: Move the ball quickly and find the player with the best shot. It sounds so simple, but clearly it is not. Of all of the American team sports, none is as geared to the individual as basketball, but only football rivals basketball as a true team game.
Convincing most of today’s athletes that team comes first and there is no second is a monumental task and one that defines Donovan’s coaching philosophy. It isn’t bulletproof, but it’s damn close.
The Gators use that team-first, team-only philosophy on defense as well and that explains how they have established themselves as perhaps the nation’s best defensive team. The normally quick striking Bruins were clearly frustrated throughout the game and seldom looked like the NCAA tournament’s highest scoring team.
Beating UCLA puts Florida in the Elite 8 for the fourth straight year, a remarkable feat made more remarkable because the Gators don’t appear to have a future NBA star on its roster. They probably only have two or three players talented enough to become NBA role players.
Now only 11th-seeded Dayton, the 2014 tournament’s version of Cinderella, stands in Florida’s way of getting to the Final Four. Here I offer a word of warning to Gator fans: Don’t take Saturday’s game for granted.
Dayton, in fact, plays a lot like the Gators. It’s a game every basketball coach and player in the world should watch to see how the game should be played.
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