Donovan Goes for Career Win No. 400

Watching ex-players return to Gainesville has become habit for Billy Donovan. As he saw former point guard Jason Williams return to watch a Florida game two weeks ago, it hit Donovan. He's not the young coach he used to feel like. To cement that in his head even more, Donovan will go for his 400th career win as a head coach tonight at the Amway Center in Orlando.

It's those former players he'll be thinking about as No. 9 Florida tries to secure the milestone against Stetson at 7 p.m.

"It makes me feel very old," Billy Donovan said with a laugh. "Anytime you get to those milestones, they're always somewhat special, but more than anything else, I think back on the guys that I've been able to coach. I just feel older now. It's a different feeling, but I've been blessed to have a lot of really good players."

The feeling old part comes from finding out where those players are today. Donovan said he spoke with Jason Williams before Florida's November 17 win over North Florida about what the retired point guard now wants to do with his life.

Donovan scrolled through his memory while speaking to the media on Saturday, recalling the first time he met Williams as a sophomore in high school at Kentucky's basketball camp. Whether it's that or a phone call from Brent Wright on Thanksgiving when Donovan and the former Gator spoke about each other's kids, the times have quickly changed for the Florida head coach.

"You hear things about what guys are doing now and realize it has been 12-15 years since I coached these guys," Donovan said. "It's kind of amazing. There have been some players that I recruited 15 years ago that now have kids who are playing. It's a little strange."

Sitting at 399 wins before Monday's game, all but 35 of those wins have come at Florida. It's an important part of the milestone for Donovan, too. The ability to stay and build a successful program at one school has been important.

It has also brought stability for his family. When Donovan spoke to the media on Saturday, he shared a story he heard from another head coach he chose not to name, where the head coach's daughter was planning to get married. The only problem was that the family had moved so much because of the dad being a college head coach, she didn't know what city would be best to have the wedding.

That hit home with Donovan and made him appreciate the foundation his family has in Gainesville.

"The consistency here in this community for my family has been great," Donovan said. "There is a home and a sense of a neighborhood and a place where their roots are at. They'll always remember this place, even if they go on somewhere else."

The consistency for his family is important, but it hasn't stopped there. When Donovan took the job at Florida, it was clear that there had been success in the past. However, that success was inconsistent. There hadn't been a head coach that could piece together sustained success.

"That's the thing I said when I was hired is that I felt like there were pockets of success here at Florida, but could we maintain a level of consistency? Obviously, there have been some bumps in the road, but that's part of being at a place for a long period of time."

INJURY REPORT: Donovan wasn't certain but said that all indications are that junior forward Erik Murphy suffered a meniscus tear. Donovan said they should on Monday or Tuesday if Murphy needs surgery or not. That decision will decide how much time Murphy will miss. For now, Donovan just said that Murphy was out for his week's games and probably next week's, too.

Forward Casey Prather was limited but practiced on Saturday despite his strained groin. The injury flared up in the second half of Florida's win over Jacksonville on Friday, and trainers advised him not to return. Donovan said part of that decision was made because of how lopsided the score was.


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