VETTEL: Urban Meyer Praises Gator Hoopsters

Gator Football coach Urban Meyer is not generally effusive with his praise. The demanding Gator mentor is understandably difficult to impress. That's what makes him and his teams successful. Still, Florida's second year coach is not the least bit shy about praise when it comes to Billy Donovan's basketball team. During his pre-spring practice media gathering early Tuesday, Meyer was asked about how pumped up he was about the NCAA Basketball tournament and the Gators' SEC Tournament Title.

"Really fired up," is how Meyer responded to a question about the Gators upcoming NCAA appearance. "I think there are some great programs, great teams, teams with good players and just a bunch of other people that show up and play the game to get a scholarship," Meyer continued. "I think our basketball team is a great team. I don't know how good they are, because they're a lot of sophomores and one junior but I love watching them play. I love the interviews afterwards and I think they're unselfish. I love the way they play. I'm a big fan of those guys."

Meyer said he had already congratulated Donovan on his success and it's obvious he has an extremely high opinion of Florida's basketball coach. "Billy's a very close friend and a great coach."

On NCAA Tournament Shortcomings

Meyer volunteered his thoughts on criticism he's seen about Florida's failure to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament the last five years. "I read somewhere that they've lost a couple of games and I read where he can't win the big games and all that," Meyer said. "He's won two SEC titles out of two years in the tournament. That's a heckuva deal. Before that I don't think they ever won one."

Meyer also loves the personal chemistry among the players, which he thinks is what really makes a group of players a "team". "What a great team to watch," Meyer added. "The comment after they beat Kentucky, I don't know if you (media) guys picked up on that, but I think it was Taurean (Green) and (Joakim) Noah were talking and I don't want to get too corny, but they got up the next morning and said ‘I love you man, that was a great effort.'

"We're not there yet," Meyer continued, referring to his own squad. "We're a young team that's a little more worried about things that aren't as important. That'll be brought up to them quite often."

Meyer was asked about having the basketball players talk to their school mates of the gridiron. "That's gonna happen," Meyer said. "It will happen. That's a great team, and that's what we're all in it for. Not teams with great players, but great teams, unselfish teams that go as hard as they can."

The idea of a Gator football coach holding another UF team up as an example to his own squad is not unprecedented. Steve Spurrier used the success and consistency of both the women's tennis and volleyball squads to help drive home the point that every season should be about winning a championship.

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