|School Name:||University of Florida|
|Arena:||Stephen C. O'Connell Center|
|Head coach:||Mike White|
The Florida Gators men's basketball team represents the University of Florida located in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They play their home games in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center located on the university's campus. Mike White is the current head coach.
The Gators have won two national championships—the 2006 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament and 2007 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament back-to-back, the first team since the 1991–1992 Duke Blue Devils to accomplish this feat, and the first team to ever do it with the same starting line-up.
The Florida Gators men's team annually plays a sixteen-game conference schedule that is preceded by an out-of-conference schedule against few annual opponents except for Florida State. Florida also often plays Providence during their non-conference schedule because of Billy Donovan's ties to the university. Their conference schedule consists of a pair of home-and-home games against the other five SEC Eastern Division teams, plus one game against each of the six SEC Western Division teams, with home games alternating each season. The Gators have seldom had significant rivals in basketball until recently, when their success found them competing against Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Florida Gators men's varsity basketball team played its first season during the 1915–1916 school year under head coach C.J. McCoy. The team went 5–1 during its first season, but the following three seasons were canceled during and immediately after World War I. The team was re-started for the 1919–1920 season without a professional coach, though the Gators did have a new venue—the newly-built University Gymnasium. Head coach William G. Kline, who also coached the Gators football team, led the Gators basketball team from 1920 to 1922.
By the mid-1920s the team outgrew the University Gymnasium (now called the Women's Gymnasium), so the university built another gym to hold the crowds of the fast-growing student population. Dubbed the "New Gym," the Gators played there until 1949, when Florida Gymnasium was finished.
In December 1932, Florida joined the Southeastern Conference as one of its thirteen charter members.
The team moved from the Florida Gym to the Stephen C. O'Connell Center during the 1980–1981 season.
For most of the first half-century in the SEC, the Gators were not a factor. They only finished higher than fourth twice from 1932-33 to 1979-80. This was partly because the team didn't have a full-time head coach until 1951; for most of that time the post was filled by assistant football coaches or volunteers from the physical education department. Things didn't really turn around until Norm Sloan arrived in Gainesville after a successful 14-year tenure at North Carolina State. Sloan had previously coached the Gators from 1960 to 1966. Under Sloan, the Gators made the National Invitation Tournament three years in a row from 1984 to 1986—the first postseason appearances in school history. In 1987, Vernon Maxwell led the team to the school's first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing all the way to the Sweet 16. Sloan coached the team to the tournament again the following two years, winning the school's first-ever SEC regular season title in 1989. in the 1988–1989 season. After a drug scandal involving Maxwell and an NCAA investigation for various rules violations, Sloan resigned and the NCAA placed the program on two years' probation. Former Tennessee coach Don DeVoe led the team as interim coach during the 1989–1990 season.
Lon Kruger became the head coach before the 1990–1991 season. Despite the probation he inherited, Kruger slowly brought the team to increased success and reached the NIT final four in his second year as coach. In 1993–1994, the pieces fell into place for Florida to have their best season ever at that time. Behind Andrew DeClercq and Dametri Hill, the Gators went to their first Final Four following a dramatic victory over UConn where Donyell Marshall missed two free throws with no time on the clock to force overtime, where the Gators eventually prevailed. They lost to Duke in the national semifinal, 70–65. The next year, they returned to the NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the first round. Kruger's final season in 1995–1996 resulted in a losing record, and he left to coach at Illinois.
Florida's Athletic Director, Jeremy Foley, looking for a young coach with a proven track record, hired Billy Donovan, then at Marshall, as Kruger's replacement. His recruiting prowess was evident early, bringing future NBA star Jason Williams with him from Marshall and having early recruiting classes with future NBA players Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Matt Bonner, among others. The Gators made the NCAA Tournament every year from Donovan's third season with the team through the 2006–2007 season, a nine-year streak that is the school record, and the sixth-longest NCAA Tournament streak.
During the 1999–2000 NCAA Tournament, the upstart Gators beat such traditional powerhouses as Duke, Illinois (led by former coach Lon Kruger), and North Carolina to advance to their first National Championship Game, before losing to heavily-favored Michigan State.
During the next few years the Gators went to the NCAA Tournament every year, but each year they lost in the first or second round. The Gators however repeated as SEC Champions during the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons. The 2004–05 team had the distinction of being the first to win an SEC Tournament Championship, when they beat rival Kentucky in the title game.
2005–2006 National championship season
The 2005–2006 team began the season unranked and went on a 17–0 winning streak for the best start in school history, surprising many with a young (four sophomores and one junior) but selfless squad following the graduation of David Lee and the departures of Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson to the NBA. The trio accounted for sixty percent of their offense in 2005. The team faded late in the regular season, losing its last 3 games in February and entering the postseason with a 24–6 record, yet still managed to win its second consecutive SEC Tournament Championship.
The Gators entered the 2006 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as a number 3 seed with a 27–6 record and number 10 national ranking. They beat South Alabama and Milwaukee to advance to the Minneapolis regional. There, the Gators defeated the Georgetown Hoyas and upset the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats 75–62 to avenge their loss in the previous year's tournament and move on to their second Final Four under Donovan.
Florida defeated the upstart George Mason Patriots 73–58 in the national semifinals in Indianapolis. On April 3, 2006, the Gators defeated the UCLA Bruins 73–57 in the National Finals tojjm win the school's first men's basketball NCAA Championship. The University Athletic Association then purchased the floor used in Indianapolis for the Final Four, and installed it in the O'Connell Center.
2006–2007 National Championship Season
The Gators returned all five starters from their championship team to begin the 2006–2007 basketball season ranked as the preseason number 1 in both major media polls, a first for the university. The Gators locked up the SEC regular season Championship relatively early in the 2006–2007 season and were in possession of a 24–2 record before going on a late-February13 skid that mirrored their 0–3 run a year earlier. For the second season in a row, the losses in February would be their last. Florida closed out Kentucky on Senior Night to end the regular season 26–5, and won their third straight SEC Tournament Championship with relative ease, beating Georgia, Ole Miss, and Arkansas 77–56.
Florida entered the 2007 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament as the number 1 overall seed in the tournament, and they advanced to the Final Four after wins in the regional against number 5 seed Butler and number 3 seed Oregon. In a rematch of the 2006 title game, the Gators again eliminated the UCLA Bruins in the national semifinal. Florida defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 84–75, in a rematch of a game they won 86-60 three months earlier, to become the first team since the 1991–1992 Duke Blue Devils to win back-to-back National Championships and the first college team ever to repeat as National Champions with the same starting line-up.
Billy Donovan is currently the head coach of the Gators. Having recently completed his 11th season as coach, agreed to coach for the NBA's Orlando Magic on May 31, 2007. It was revealed on June 3, however, that Donovan had done an about-face and asked to be freed from his contract with the Magic to return to Florida. He was soon thereafter released from his contract and reintroduced as the Gators coach on June 7.
The Gators failed to make the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, the Gators were eliminated by UMass in a semi-final game of the NIT. In 2009, the Gators were eliminated by Penn State in a quarter-final game of the NIT. In 2010, the Gators were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament by BYU in double overtime. In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Gators were ranked as a number 2 seed in the Southeast region. In the Second Round of the Tournament, Florida beat UC-Santa Barbera. In the third round, the Gators defeated the UCLA Bruins to be able to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. On March 24, 2011, the Florida Gators defeated the BYU 83-74 in overtime to be able to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007. In the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Gators made it all the way to the Elite Eight where they were defeated by the Michigan Wolverines 79-59. In the 2014 NCAA Tournament the Florida Gators were named #1 seed and advanced to the Final Four where they were defeated by the Connecticut Huskies.
Coming into the 2015-16 season with a new coach, Mike White...the Gators finished 21-15 and made it to the quarterfinals of the NIT.
|Basketball head coaches||Seasons|
|William G. Kline||1920–1922|
|Check Y. Byrd||1922–1923|
|James L. White||1923–1925|
|No team—World War II||1943–1944|
|Florida Gator men's basketball historical venues|
|University Gymnasium||Also known as The Gym||1920–1927|
|Building R||Also known as New Gym||1928–1949|
|Florida Gymnasium||Also known as Alligator Alley||1950–1980|
|Stephen C. O'Connell Center||Also known as The O-Dome||1980–present|
- 1968 – Neal Walk, center
- 1969 – Neal Walk, center
- 2001 – Udonis Haslem, center
- 2007 – Al Horford, forward
- 2007 – Joakim Noah, center
- 41 – Neal Walk, center (1967–1969)
2006–2007 Basketball Championship starting five
- Corey Brewer, small forward, Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Final Four; currently a member of the Houston Rockets
- Taurean Green, point guard and son of former NBA player Sidney Green; now playing in Spain with CB Gran Canaria
- Al Horford, center and son of former NBA player Tito Horford; now two-time all-star center with the Boston Celtics
- Lee Humphrey, shooting guard, all-time leader for three-point shots made in the NCAA Tournament and all-time leading three-point scorer at Florida; now playing professionally in Germany with Ratiopharm Ulm.
- Joakim Noah, power forward and son of former tennis player Yannick Noah, Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 Final Four; now with the New York Knicks.
The "04's" ("oh-fours", so nicknamed because they all arrived in Gainesville in 2004) won two consecutive NCAA championships in 2006 and 2007. In Gainesville, they were known for their camaraderie on and off the court, as Brewer, Green, Horford, and Noah were roommates during their entire time in college. All five starters plus 6th man Chris Richard went on to play professionally.
Gators currently in the NBA
- Matt Bonner (San Antonio Spurs)
- Corey Brewer (Houston Rockets)
- Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat)
- Al Horford (Boston Celtics)
- David Lee (Dallas Mavericks)
- Mike Miller (Denver Nuggets)
- Joakim Noah (New York Knicks)
- Marreese Speights (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
- Chandler Parsons (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Dorian Finney-Smith (Dallas Mavericks)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kevin Brockway, "Top 25 Gator teams: #25 1993–94 Men's basketball," Gainesville Sun (May 31, 2009). Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- ↑ Kevin Brockway, "Top 25 Gator teams: #18 1999–2000 Men's basketball," Gainesville Sun (June 7, 2009). Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- ↑ Kevin Brockway, "Top 25 Gator teams: #4 2005–06 Men's basketball," Gainesville Sun (June 21, 2009). Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- ↑ Pat Dooley, "Top 25 Gator teams: #1 2006–07 Men's basketball," Gainesville Sun (June 25, 2009). Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- ↑ Kevin Brockway, "Donovan staying; juniors to enter draft," Gainesville Sun (April 5, 2007). Retrieved March 1, 2010.