The two biggest wins of his career are obvious. The Gators won back-to-back national titles during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.
“I would say the magnitude of winning national championships those two years was just right there,” Billy Donovan said.
Besides the two title games, two of the other top five wins came during the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Donovan pointed to the first round win over Butler as one of them, which provided a game-winner from Mike Miller at the buzzer to keep the Gators alive. Two games later in that same tournament, Florida beat Duke 87-78 to advance to the Elite Eight.
Donovan put both of those games in his top five because of what they meant to the program reaching the national championship game before falling 89-76 to Michigan State.
The Florida coach’s fifth biggest win in his career came recently. After three straight Elite Eights, the Gators had another shot to make it to the Final Four last season. Florida broke through with a 62-52 win over Dayton to reach the Final Four after seniors Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete and Patric Young suffered defeat in that same game during the previous three years.
“I think for Patric Young, Will Yeguete and Casey Prather and Scottie being seniors and getting so close for three straight years and having a chance to stand there on the court and see those guys get to a Final Four,” Donovan said.
Florida’s best chance to get Donovan his 500th win looked to be on Tuesday night at Missouri, a team riding a 13-game losing streak. Instead, the Gators blew a second-half lead and now have three games against Tennessee, Texas A&M and Kentucky to get No. 500 for Donovan during the regular season.
When asked about it earlier this week, Donovan went to the same answer he has used for a majority of the questions about his career accomplishments. He complimented the people that have been around him.
“I think all that stuff, to me, is just a reflection on the players that have been around me, the coaches that have been around me, the administration and that kind of commitment,” Donovan said. “I really look at, it necessarily goes on my record so to speak, but there’s a lot of other people that have contributed in a big-time way to all of those things. I’m just a part of it. And I think you’re only as good as the people around you. And I really believe that to be true.”
The Florida players understand it, too. Freshman Devin Robinson came to Gainesville because of Donovan’s track record for development, and even if this season hasn’t gone how anyone expected, he’s still thankful to be on a team that hopefully will get No. 500 for Donovan.
“It’s always going to be special to help coach get to 500 wins,” Robinson said. “I’m honored to be apart of this team and get him to his 500th win. And I’m just happy to be a part of this program and help them reach history.”