Gator News and World Report (3/16/2006)

The Gator News and World Report for Thursday, March 16, 2006. Friendship + basketball; A decade of Donovan; Heartache part of player's journey; Cousin's death haunts McGriff; Last tickets now available; Florida coach squares off against longtime friend in NCAA tourney; UF must be on guard; Rivals Just For Today; Meyer Is Big Fan Of Donovan's Team; March Madness About Money Too; Gators hope they won't go up in flames; Staying power a must and more...

Florida Gator Basketball

Friendship + basketball
In the tunnel underneath Veterans Memorial Arena, Florida coach Billy Donovan and South Alabama coach John Pelphrey greeted each other with handshakes and hugs, smiles and small talk.

Don't overanalyze your tournament bracket, just hand it to a child
It's all about the energy. After a weekend of conference tournaments, the quick turnaround can be dehydrating. Do you have enough in the tank? Can you bounce back from Sunday?

Florida tipoff
Point guard # Florida: Taurean Green (6-0, 170, so., 13.8 ppg., 4.9 apg) # South Alabama: Carlos Smith (6-0, 180, jr., 7.2 ppg, 3.0 apg)

A decade of Donovan
For the last 10 years, Billy Donovan has been prowling the sideline for Florida basketball games. He has introduced us to his family and turned Florida basketball into a second one.

Heartache part of player's journey
Being at the NCAA Tournament - whether it be in Dayton or San Diego or chilly Jacksonville - is special for every player, every coach, every fan.

Cousin's death haunts McGriff
South Alabama player still emotional about UF RB signee, who died in '98.

Last tickets now available
Because some schools returned tickets, about 300 are available for today's first session (Wisconsin-Milwaukee vs. Oklahoma, Florida vs. South Alabama) and 370 for the second (LSU vs. Iona, Syracuse vs. Texas A&M).

Florida coach squares off against longtime friend in NCAA tourney
John Pelphrey remembers sitting behind his new desk at Marshall, staring at a phone, a legal pad and a pen.

UF must be on guard
Gators' recent NCAA Tournament history hurt by erratic guard play.

Rivals Just For Today
Ann-Marie Grace Donovan Pelphrey didn't understand. Hadn't she just watched daddy's old team win a game on TV? Hadn't she just cheered when Billy Donovan, daddy's old boss, stood smiling next to the men with microphones?

March Madness About Money Too
If you're reading this, odds are you're interested in the NCAA basketball tournament. If you're starting to sweat while doing so, odds are you have a few dollars on the games.

Gators hope they won't go up in flames
Start with fifth-year senior center Adrian Moss, a part-time participant in most of Florida's recent March missteps. Say the magic words "Manhattan" and "Creighton" and even "Michigan State," and watch Moss change. His head drops. His biceps tighten.

Staying power a must
Florida, which hasn't advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2000, hopes to change its recent tournament shortcomings.

Jags will rely on speed vs. bigger Gators
Florida coach Billy Donovan felt like he'd just looked in the mirror and had seen fewer lines and gray hairs. NCAA Tournament first-round opponent South Alabama takes Donovan back to his early days in Gainesville. The Jaguars, coached by former Donovan assistant John Pelphrey, play like Donovan's first few Gators teams.

Threes the great equalizer
Bryce Drew can't imagine a life without the three-point shot. If not for the three-pointer, the most dramatic moment of his playing career at Valparaiso — and one of the most vivid in NCAA Tournament history — would have faded from memory.

Sweet 16 run would earn the respect Gators want
They're trying to wrap themselves in a cloak of anonymity. That won't work.

'Madness' dunks productivity
C'mon, college hoops fans, admit it. At some point today, you'll spend a few more minutes than what probably is appropriate at work to watch some of the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Searching for Cinderella
What sets apart the NCAA Tournament from any other major sporting event throughout the year?

UF assistant faces former Tiger player
Picture this: South Alabama guard Chey Christie goes up for a last-second shot in today's game and nails it to eliminate Florida from the NCAA Tournament.

Gators will be counting on Green
Is Taurean Green tired? The questions started when the Florida sophomore point guard's scoring started to tail off a bit in a late-season slide. Over a stretch of seven games, he scored in double figures just twice, turned the ball over a total of 27 times and made just 19-of-66 shots from 3-point range.

Coaches meet again
Jason McGriff was among the South Alabama players huddled together on Sunday for the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket.

Moss not yet ready for finale
Adrian Moss is the only senior on Florida's team. So his outlook on the start of the Gators' NCAA Tournament run today against South Alabama is a little different from the rest of his teammates.

Donovan's revamped Gators answer the question: They're good
Three of his top players went to the NBA -- two as underclassmen whose decisions didn't exactly make people associated with the team cry -- but they all had talent, which is why Billy Donovan wasn't sure what to expect from this year's Florida basketball team.

Florida Gator Football

Meyer Is Big Fan Of Donovan's Team
University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday that he believes his team can learn something from the Gators basketball team, which opens the NCAA Tournament today against South Alabama at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

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