Gator News and World Report (4/2/2006)

The Gator News and World Report for Sunday, April 2, 2006. Humphrey's jumpers have been a process; Dominant Gators will play for championship; Dream comes true for Gators' dads, too; Patriots players still a proud bunch; From Middle East to the Final Four; Florida's famous fathers enjoying their sons' show; Gators headed to championship; Balls fall Gators way; Gators are villains in this fairy tale, but they don't care; Humpty puts it all together for Gators and more...

Florida Gator Basketball

Humphrey's jumpers have been a process
Lee Humphrey revealed a little secret about his game following Florida's 73-58 win against George Mason on Saturday night.

Dominant Gators will play for championship
It wasn't a clock striking midnight that finally ended George Mason's Cinderella season on Saturday, it was Humpty.

Dream comes true for Gators' dads, too
Sidney Green spent the 2000 Final Four watching Florida with son Taurean. It was then, Green said, his son decided he would play for the Gators.

Patriots players still a proud bunch
George Mason changed from Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament semifinal.

From Middle East to the Final Four
Sitting in the RCA Dome stands Friday, Kurt Gies couldn't have been happier.

Florida 73, George Mason 58
Lee Humphrey lingered outside the arc, determined to keep on shooting. Swish. Swish. And make it three.

Gators dominate inside with Noah, Horford
Joakim Noah watched the pass go inside, then calmly waited for Jai Lewis to leave his feet.

Florida's famous fathers enjoying their sons' show
Sidney Green spent the 2000 Final Four watching Florida with son Taurean.

On Destiny's Doorstep
Now we know what happens when Cinderella stories reach their saturation point. The evil stepmother begins to feel like the underdog.

Final: East (UF) Meets West (UCLA)
On Monday night, it will be East vs. West. Football school against college basketball's greatest dynasty.

Gators headed to championship
The clocks got turned ahead in Indiana for the first time in more than 30 years Saturday night, which could mean only one thing:

Balls fall Gators way
On the court, Florida wouldn't give up the ball. Chris Richard grabbed the first offensive rebound, then Al Horford snagged two more, kicking the ball out each time, draining much of the game's final three minutes.

Gators are villains in this fairy tale, but they don't care
Oh, the humanity. How could these big, burly bullies stomp on loveable, little George Mason like this? How could they snuff out all the hopes and aspirations of underdogs everywhere? How could they ruin the American Dream? How could they ravage America's team?

In Gainesville, fans' reaction is raucous
Thunderous roars and backyard fireworks erupted Saturday, a mere foreshadowing of Gator fans' party plans.

Humphrey finally gets hot, hits 6 3s
One came from the left corner, the next from the right wing. The third, the one that drew the amazed roar from the RCA Dome crowd and stamped the smile on his face, came from the top of the key and flew over defending George Mason guard Lamar Butler's outstretched hand.

Gators end Patriots' run, reach championship game
Led by Lee Humphrey's second-half barrage, UF reached its second title game in six years and ousted upstart George Mason. 'It feels good being the bad guy,' Joakim Noah said.

UF sends Cinderella home
The giant-slayers were slain by the giants in the first game of the Final Four on Saturday night. The Florida Gators snatched the slingshot and swallowed it whole.

Little man plays huge
Lee Humphrey met his idol, took over his stadium and in the process might have bested a legend.

Second-half surge seals Gators' win
Florida sophomore Joakim Noah was on the bench for the end of the biggest game of his career — and he was happy to be there. With a wide smile, Noah looked toward the crowd, pounded his chest with his right fist and bellowed two words:

Stunning George Mason run comes to an end
Out went Michigan State. Out went North Carolina. Out went Wichita State, which, by that time, wasn't so monumental.

Gators end George Mason's Cinderella run
The Florida Gators fractured the sweetest fairy tale in NCAA Tournament history Saturday night, slashing right through George Mason's glittering page in the souvenir Final Four program.

Three Final Four teams unranked before season
This Final Four wasn't supposed to happen. Not since the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee began assigning seeds in 1979 have three teams opened the season outside The Associated Press poll and made the Final Four.

Humpty puts it all together for Gators
You want a college basketball fairy tale? OK, here's one, and it's Florida's and it has nothing to do with George Mason as Cinderella except for the part about kicking her out of the NCAA Tournament.

Florida ends Patriots' run
There were just too many Florida playmakers. And once they all started excelling, George Mason could do no better than try to keep the score close.

Title game could be a defensive battle through and through
It's either an even dozen for UCLA or the elusive first for Florida. The Bruins and the Gators cruised into Monday night's national championship game with strong defensive efforts. Saturday's games weren't the most exciting, but they did set up a bicoastal title game.

UCLA gunning for more championship glory
The most successful program in NCAA men's basketball history will face a bannerless school in the national championship game tomorrow night.

Patriots can go out with their heads held high
It finally looked like a team that snuck in the service entrance of the RCA Dome, but that would be the wrong way to remember what this George Mason basketball team did in the NCAA Tournament.

The UCLA Bruins are the Yankees of college basketball. So said Steve Lavin, the former UCLA head coach who worked his way up from graduate assistant to head coach and posted six 20-win seasons. The UCLA players today may not be able to name all of the former UCLA greats, he said, but they know they are part of something special.

Back to the future
UCLA, the defensive maven ready to set basketball back decades with its ugly but winning style, suddenly found an offense worthy of Hollywood.

Gators' rain of 3s sends Cinderella home INDIANAPOLIS - The players who have given us the most heart-warming story in college basketball history had to file past the rowdy Florida student section as they made their way from their dressing room to the RCA Dome court.

Gators gobble up Cinderella
Taurean Green can tell by the release. When Lee Humphrey gets it going, all Green observes is his form. Making three-point shots can be that simple for Humphrey.

Experience isn't everything in NCAA tourney Great seats, bro
Talent increasingly can overcome inexperience. The three major-conference schools in this Final Four – Florida, Louisiana State and UCLA – started a combined four freshmen, seven sophomores, one junior and three seniors Saturday.

Disciplined Noah, Gators play it tough
The hottest underwear model in Paris just borrowed my pen. This is what happens when you step inside Florida's locker room, an unlikely haven for high-profile fathers, counterculture thinking and the most unselfish players in the NCAA Tournament.

Thanks, Cinderella, for a helluva dance INDIANAPOLIS - There were tears across America last night wherever Florida Gators do not live. George Mason isn't going to win a national championship, and what a crying shame for dreamers and romantics everywhere.

These aren't your daddy's Bruins
UCLA never has had a team fly quite this far below the radar playing in a national championship. From Gail Goodrich to Tyus Edney ...From Lew Alcindor and Lucius Allen to Bill Walton and Henry Bibby ...

Bye, George, Gators put bite on GMU
Nobody likes you, Gator Boys. But you probably already know that by now. Beloved George Mason has been bounced from the NCAA Tournament after a storybook run. By you.

Florida writes The End for GMU fairy tale
Five minutes before the game, George Mason's pep band and its green-and-gold-clad fans sang the school's new fight song -- Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer.

Don't put pressure on other teams
George Mason coach Jim Larranaga expressed concern that his team's run to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed from the Colonial Athletic Association might now heap pressure upon similar schools to achieve the same results.

Humphrey leads Gators to finals
Maybe it's time for Peyton Manning to make Lee Humphrey his idol. At a Final Four banquet Thursday night, Humphrey was introduced to his boyhood idol Manning, whose autographed Indianapolis Colts jersey has been a prized possession since the fifth grade. On Saturday, Humphrey knocked down three 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half in the RCA Dome, where Manning and the Colts play their home games, to help lift Florida to a 73-58 victory over George Mason in the semifinals of the Final Four.

Lee Humphrey's childhood hero has had some outstanding performances in the RCA Dome. On Saturday, Humphrey experienced what it's like to be Peyton Manning in this venue.

'Big Baby' spanked by tough UCLA defense
Apparently, the best way to shut up the loquacious, ever-quotable Glen "Big Baby'' Davis is to defensively shut him down.

On April Fool's Day, the joke is on George Mason
George Mason awoke Saturday night and became George Mason again. The carriage was a pumpkin. The horses were mice. Here was the team that had lost to Wake Forest, UNC Wilmington and Hofstra - twice.

It's Florida's time against Cinderella
Just out of their locker room, huddled up, about to hit the RCA Dome court after halftime, Florida Gators players had one spoken thought: "Our time.

Midnight for Mason
All George Mason initially wanted was an opportunity, a chance to keep playing basketball and represent the other mid-major programs across the country that never got one.

Don't expect this title game to be lame
It would be easy to do after two wretched Final Four games, but don't tune out when it comes to Monday's NCAA title game. Trust me. You may have wanted UConn vs. Duke when this all started, but Florida vs. UCLA will be great.

Gators, Bruins owe their trips to title game to defensive play
A great shooter could come in handy Monday with two defensive teams playing for the national championship.

This story turns into a fractured fairy tale
Who wrote the ending to this fairy tale, and how can we have him removed from the premises? What kind of twisted, tormented mind sends Cinderella to the ball, then throws this confusing daylight-saving time deal at her, leaving her to turn into a pumpkin at 11 p.m. instead?

Glass slipper no longer fits
You won't find the Florida Gators in any fairy tales, but you will find them in tomorrow's NCAA championship game.

Gators' nemesis is one Gator's inspiration
Florida Gators, here's what you can do now that you've made the NCAA championship game: call Peyton Manning and thank him profusely.

Finalists diverse, unique
With Florida against UCLA in Monday night's championship game, this Final Four comprises one of the more unique fields in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

Billy's club beats down Cinderella
We've been telling the wrong story. As much as we've tried to make this NCAA Tournament about LSU's "Big Baby" and George Mason's Cinderella story and UCLA's return to Glory Road and Florida's lineup of athletic legacies, the 2006 tournament might be remembered for 40-year-old Billy the Kid.

There were tears here Saturday, but only a few. With his team's 73-58 national semifinal loss to Florida all but complete, George Mason guard Lamar Butler trudged off the court and collapsed into a chair at the end of the Patriots' bench.

Florida Suffers No Fools
Billy Donovan's Gators may have won the game because of the dramatic 12-2 disparity in made 3s, but their ability to throw the ball into the low post was the reason the 3-ball became that deadly weapon.

Gators, fans a perfect marriage
With Florida and George Mason locked in a 25-24 first-half slugfest, Gators fan Tim Breeden delivered a bold, if not rash, prediction:

'Tark' happy with Green's play
Other than the actual games, one of the hottest attractions downtown Saturday at the NCAA Final Four was former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, who had a signing for his book, "Runnin' Rebel," outside of Champs restaurant.

Gators reach NCAA title game
Each game, Florida coach Billy Donovan gathers his team one final time before going on the floor and repeats the same motto:

Double-teams don't faze UF
Prior to the Final Four, Florida sophomore center Al Horford had warned that somebody should learn how to double-team the Gators' low-post players, or he and Joakim Noah might run away with the national championship trophy.

Donovan has been here before
The marathon called the NCAA Tournament is almost over. Florida's 73-58 win against George Mason in the national semifinals on Saturday left the Gators one game away from a national title.

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