20 x 13 = Greatness

The Florida Gators have a great basketball program with a great coach. That's a given. The Gators and Billy Donovan posted win No. 20 for the 2010-11 campaign Saturday afternoon, making it the 13th consecutive year that Florida has won at least 20 games.

That consistency, coupled with a pair of NCAA Titles and an additional appearance in the National Championship game marks Florida as one of the elite programs in the nation.

Oh, there will be those quick to downplay the accomplishment by pointing out that Florida played some poor non-conference schedules and took advantage of down years in the SEC to reach that number.

To them, I say stuff it.

If winning 20 or more games every year for 13 seasons is an easy task, why hasn't North Carolina done it? What about Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State and UCLA? They haven't done it either. Neither has Texas, Utah, Connecticut, Maryland or Kentucky. In fact no other SEC school can make the claim.

Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, Gonzaga and Florida are the only five programs to reach the 20-win mark for each of the last 13 seasons. Only Duke on that list can match Florida's multiple NCAA Titles in that time.

I asked Donovan about the milestone after the Gators' win over Tennessee.

"The first thing I would say is that I had really good players," Donovan said. "That helps. I had a lot of NBA guys."

But it's much more than that, and Donovan quickly acknowledged consistent success was something he hoped and planned to bring to Florida basketball.

"When I first came here (I was) trying to build a tradition," Donovan added. "Jeremy Foley asked me how many 20-win seasons I thought Florida has had in school history, and I don't know, I said maybe 20? And he said five and I was like shocked."

But Florida has 18 of them now and there's every reason to believe that Donovan will get the program to that 20th 20-win season in the very near future. He said he's particularly proud of this team getting to 20 wins this quickly because they really had to earn it.

"This is a great 20-win for our team this year because of our strength of schedule," Donovan pointed out. "We didn't have 11 wins in the non-conference over teams we were supposed (to beat); we really played some people all the way through. Plus the Eastern Division in the SEC is so hard."

And Donovan was equally quick to share the accomplishment with others.

"I give more credit to the players, to Jeremy Foley and to the coaching staff because you have to have good people for that to happen."

Billy Donovan has won 351 games at Florida and 324 of them came during this 13-year run, which is almost 25 wins a year. He now has 386 overall in his coaching career putting the 46-year-old on pace to approach 500 wins before he turns 50.

Donovan has this Gator team three wins from at least a share of the SEC East Title and five wins (or four wins and an Alabama loss) from Florida's fifth SEC Championship.

That's just great.

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