Gator News and World Report (3/29/2006)

The Gator News and World Report for Wednesday, March 29, 2006. Contrastive and comparable; Temptation be darned, these Gators should stay; Spring practice begins; Jones withdraws name from Morehead State job; Hangin' with Gavin Dickey; Spring football; Anatomy of a star; Fun-loving Patriots doing it all together; Fun-loving Patriots doing it all together; Many Happy Returns; Gators pledge to maintain their focus; Basketball team taking spotlight and more...

Florida Gator Basketball

Contrastive and comparable
As he backed his way into the lane, Florida sophomore center Al Horford saw the three Villanova players collapse toward him.

Temptation be darned, these Gators should stay
Swimming in euphoria, no thought of drowning. Minneapolis heroes back in Gainesville for quick rehearsals. Repacking clothes, dreams and expertise. Bound for Indy, college basketball's Broadway.

Jones withdraws name from Morehead State job
Florida assistant coach Donnie Jones has withdrawn himself from consideration for the head coaching job at Morehead State.

Anatomy of a star
Joakim Noah is a basketball player. A very good one, too, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference and honorable-mention Associated Press All-American.

Fun-loving Patriots doing it all together
f you think the George Mason men's basketball team is quaking in its high-tops as the first double-digit seed in 20 years to reach the Final Four, you didn't witness Tuesday's open practice at the Patriot Center.

Brewer plans to return
It looks like Florida will have its entire starting lineup back next season. Sophomore forward Corey Brewer joined sophomore center Al Horford and sophomore forward Joakim Noah in pledging a return to Gainesville for their junior basketball seasons.

Many Happy Returns
Joakim Noah's words were just cryptic enough to require a more direct follow-up question.

Jones Won't Seek Morehead St. Job
Florida assistant coach Donnie Jones has removed his name from consideration for the head coaching job at Morehead State.

Gators pledge to maintain their focus
On the charter plane approaching the airport, a hair before 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, the Florida basketball players saw cameras flashing in the darkness.

George Mason from bubble team to Final Four
Two weeks ago, George Mason's starting five of Lamar Butler, Folarin Campbell, Jai Lewis, Tony Skinn and Will Thomas were about as well known as Kelly Clarkson before she won the first American Idol.

Basketball team taking spotlight
It is hard to imagine in Gainesville, but the football team is taking the back seat during NCAA run.

Noah: 'College is just so fun'
The last NBA game Joakim Noah saw in person could be his last one for some time. The Florida Gators 6-foot-11 sophomore star said Tuesday he plans to return to Gainesville next season, despite his rapid ascension up NBA Draft boards.

Noah's work ethic matches his pedigree
In terms that his father would have understood when he was Joakim Noah's age, the improvement Noah has made is the equivalent of a qualifier who got knocked out in the first round of the Dubuque Open then made the Wimbledon semifinals the next year.

'Gators, baby!'
George Mason coach Jim Larranaga had one request for Dick Vitale when the two talked this week: Please pick the Gators to win Saturday's NCAA Final Four semifinal game.

Help! There's no one in Final Four to hate!
College basketball fans are anticipating the first Final Four without a No. 1 seed since 1980, and I'm torn. There's nobody to root against.

George Mason's success stuns pundits
Call this the winter of discontent for the athletic establishment, particularly for big-time men's college basketball.

Gators a hot ticket
Gator basketball fans who can't watch the Final Four in person Saturday have learned a valuable lesson: You gotta think ahead. If you wanted a game ticket to the semifinal against George Mason, you should have started looking, oh, about a year ago. As for flights, you should have booked when the Gators made the Sweet 16.

Gators stocked with athletic bloodlines
Two years ago, Florida Coach Billy Donovan appeared to be laying the groundwork for yet another disastrous chemistry project. Donovan had signed yet another talented and highly acclaimed recruiting class, and this one featured additional potential for combustion.

More than hoops for Final Four
Since the Final Four involves institutions of higher learning, let's try some of that education stuff. George Mason was born in 1725 and helped found Alexandria, Va. He became a prominent and active citizen who contributed to the state constitution as well as the Declaration of Independence.

Great time to be George Mason
George Mason Mania sweeps the nation. Don't take our word for it. Ask George Mason. And George Mason. Or George Mason. Also, George Mason.

Gators would capture an all-SEC final game
The SEC is supposed to be a football conference. Right? And LSU, definitely, is supposed to be a football school. Right? Time out. Well, how do you explain what's happening?

Unselfishness key to Florida reaching Final Four
Billy Donovan's success was simple to explain seven years ago. Joakim Noah, left, and Corey Brewer are part of a Florida team has propelled Billy Donovan to his second Final Four with the Gators.

Critics don't faze Donovan
Bill Donovan stood near press row and watched his son celebrate Florida's 75-62 win against Villanova on Sunday, sending the Gators and head coach Billy Donovan to the Final Four for the second time in six years.

Florida's Green quietly owning free-throw line
First of all, this is something opponents would be wise to scribble down and circle when scouting Florida for this week's Final Four in Indianapolis.

Florida's Al Horford is in no hurry to join the NBA, and his father knows best
In today's college basketball, a player with Florida sophomore forward Al Horford's résumé might be thinking NBA.

Gators shirts gain popularity with UF in Final Four
Sophomore Robert Delgado left halfway through his psychology class Tuesday afternoon to buy a Final Four shirt at the Reitz Union Bookstore.

Donovan has Heat's respect
At the start of this season, it would have been easy to confuse the Heat locker room with Gator Nation.

Florida Gator Football

Spring practice begins
After staggering and stumbling through some critical junctures in coach Urban Meyer's first season, the Florida football team gained its balance late and sprinted to the finish.

Spring football
Spring scheduleAll practices are open to the public. Schedule is subject to change:

Meyer irate over tailbacks' failures
Florida coach Urban Meyer was annoyed at his running backs last spring. This spring he's downright angry. So angry that his voice rose, his face flushed, and he started gesturing wildly when he talked about the Gators' lack of production from the position.

Gators open the Tebow era
Already a Florida Gators star, freshman quarterback Tim Tebow now will handle his first snap. The Tebow era begins today with the opening of spring practice. Tebow is expected to give three-year starter Chris Leak his first legitimate competition since he took over in the fourth game of his freshman season in 2003.

Offensive line in need of overhaul
Now that Florida coach Urban Meyer has called his running backs trash, he can only hope his offensive line is stench-free. The Gators begin spring practice today, which means the focus will be on Florida's revamped line.

Florida players already feeling Meyer's wrath
Brian Crum will be a senior on the University of Florida football team this fall. He's never started a game, moved from linebacker to tight end and back to linebacker, and is about to begin his final season of eligibility.

Florida Gator Baseball

Hangin' with Gavin Dickey
The Basics...Gavin Dickey is a 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior outfielder for Florida's baseball team. The Tallahassee native is a three-year letterwinner in football. Dickey elected to concentrate solely on baseball after January's Outback Bowl.

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