As he stood on a chair overlooking the student section, long arms outstretched in a Gator chomp, SFlorida sophomore forward Joakim Noah let out a roar that echoed through the cavernous RCA Dome.
Forget tradition, this was about UF's transition
There was a lot of Gator dancing to finish off the Big Dance. Taurean Green's little two-step — a la Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves six years ago — as the clock ran down just before he nearly threw the ball out of the RCA Dome.
Joakim Noah raced down the hardwood floor of the RCA Dome, confetti streaming from his shoulders and hair. The 6-foot-11 Gator forward rose like a skyscraper, leaping onto a courtside table and celebrating before a group of Gator fans.
Billy D's mentor warned him away from Gators
If Billy Donovan had listened to advice given to him by Rick Pitino 10 years ago, he may have never become Florida's basketball coach.
Gators reach top of Hoops world
Game, set, match _ and a championship, too _ for Joakim Noah and the Florida Gators.
Gator plans: win and party
Nearly 10,000 Gator fans poured into the street surrounding the team's arena cheering and screaming to celebrate Florida's 73-57 victory over UCLA Monday in their first ever national basketball championship win.
For the first time in history, the Florida Gators are national champions of college basketball.
Gators bite through
First basketball title comes with solid offense, good defense that bests UCLA.
Ex-mayor a passionate Gator
It has been a long time since Hans Tanzler put on a Florida Gators uniform, but the 79-year-old former Jacksonville mayor felt the urge Monday.
There's no place like O-Dome
Brian Sninsky's list of things to accomplish in his lifetime is now one item shorter.
Donovan lights his own torch at Florida
This one was not about a torch being passed, though some people will assume it was handed off to Billy Donovan by Rick Pitino, just like they believe Pitino handed Donovan almost everything else.
Florida dominates lane on the way to its first championship
Lorenzo Mata missed the layup, but managed to get the ball back. The UCLA center went up again with a shot, only to have it swatted away from behind by Chris Richard.
Sharp-shooting guard gets Gators over Hump
Somehow, some way, UCLA's vaunted defense lost track of Florida guard Lee Humphrey.
One team played the other's D
UCLA looked in a mirror Monday night, and what the Bruins saw was Florida.
Moss' final game one to remember
Adrian Moss said Sunday that his teammates kept extending his career by advancing in the NCAA Tournament.
Even though his friends told him to avoid the job in 1996, Billy Donovan saw a glimmer of hope in the University of Florida basketball program.
Noah's Blocks Set Tourney Record
Florida sophomore C Joakim Noah set an NCAA Tournament record by blocking at least four shots in a sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament game.
Call Florida a basketball school after this triumph
UCLA's players looked into the crowd and saw Bill Walton. They looked into the crowd and saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
This is where it ended, this long magical road that began in obscurity and doubt but saw the Gators flourish through a season that will go down in UF lore.
A basketball powerhouse is born
The advent of spring usually means one thing in Gainesville, capital of Gator Nation. It means, after an empty two-month hiatus, that football is back.
Unsung hero plays big on grandest stage
Adrian Moss, the only senior on the Gators roster, came off the bench and provided a spark with nine points and five rebounds.
Good things open up
It was only fitting that Florida's Corey Brewer made his three-pointer from the left corner with 16 minutes, six seconds to play here Monday night in the national championship game.
Gators have a ball here, in Gainesville
The Pembroke Pines Ale House was packed with its usual fare of clientele Monday evening, except this time there was an electricity in the establishment.
Indianan backs 'Sarasota' Gators
Downtown Indianapolis looked like Gator Nation North on Monday, especially at Hoolihan's Restaurant. Hoolihan's was draped in blue and orange, and the servers wore Gators shirts. Not everyone did their homework, though. When asked where the University of Florida was located, a waitress -- dressed in an orange Gators shirt -- answered: ``Sarasota.''
Gators cruise to first title
As the confetti fell and the decibel level rose, Corey Brewer hugged his mother and didn't let go. To Brewer's right, Joakim Noah, 6-foot-11-inches of unbridled energy, led Florida fans in the Gator Chomp.
UCLA wilts in Florida sunshine
The Florida Gators evolved as a species Monday night for the first time in millions and millions of sudsy sports celebrations.
Gators' title run begins and ends with Noah
He is effervescence in a ponytail. And the Florida Gators, bubbling over on the way to their first college basketball national championship, followed his fearless lead.
Noah does it all for Gators
With his ponytail bobbin' and his famous father jammin' in the stands, Joakim Noah raced up and down the court, dunking on UCLA and turning away shots at the other end. He even blew kisses at Bruins cheerleaders.
UCLA rejected, dejected in Florida loss
First came the rejection, then the dejection for UCLA. Florida outshot, outswatted and most notably outdefended the Bruins to win its first national basketball championship, 73-57 Monday night.
Noah shines as Florida claim coveted collegiate basketball crown
Joakim Noah of the Florida Gators celebrates in the final seconds of the game before defeating the UCLA Bruins 73-57 during the National Championship game of the NCAA Men's Final Four at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Gators Cap Run With First Title
Florida forward Joakim Noah bounded off the court, stood on a courtside table and offered the night's most enduring symbol.
Let's get technical: KO shows Donovan can coach
If you were one of those who looked at Monday's UCLA-Florida game and thought, "Man, this NCAA tournament can't end soon enough," well, the Florida Gators just became your new best friend.
Gator's title a slam dunk
They just started dunking, every time, one, two, three, four, five in a row. Joakim Noah. Al Horford. Noah again. Horford again. Horford times three.
Florida Wins Championship of Men's College Basketball
The Florida Gators have defeated the University of California at Los Angeles, 73-57, to win the school's first national title in men's college basketball.
NCAA championship: Football was not first in Florida on Monday
One trophy won't turn a state's culture upside down. So maybe football will always be first in Florida. But not Monday night.
Cracks found in Bruins defense
The same UCLA defense that cramps everyone like a Gemini capsule found itself lost in space here Monday night.
Afflalo has a rough night
Only the tears came easy Monday. Nothing else about this night, this nightmare flowed freely for Arron Afflalo, UCLA's leading scorer who scored nothing in the first 28 minutes of the biggest game of his life.
Amazon.com Proclaimed UCLA Champions Before Game Was Played
College basketball fans may have been surprised to turn on their computers Monday morning and find an e-mail from Amazon.com Inc. proclaiming, "UCLA Wins."
Yes, say it proudly -- UF: Ultimately First
Now the Florida Gators can think about the future. Will there be a parade? Will the state issue a commemorative license plate? Will President Bush invite them to the White House?
Defense powers UF's dominance
Everybody else was raving about the dominance of the Florida Gators. So why not their opponents?
So the road ends for UCLA. Six rounds deep into the NCAA Tournament. Five months after the season began.
Gators dominate for title
Here in one of the hallways at the RCA Dome, banners hang for each school that has won an NCAA Tournament championship in men's basketball.
Loss still revives basketball fever at Pauley
Sitting in Pauley Pavilion on Monday night, it hit me. UCLA basketball is back. I know this seems like an odd thing to say after a loss. But as I sat in college basketball's most hallowed arena, watching the clock wind down and Florida's Corey Brewer dance ridiculously with the ball, I was witnessing something that seemed unimaginable only a few years ago.
UCLA tradition fails to stop Gators
It was the championship game. UCLA was the program with the tradition. Bruin legends Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were in the stands.
Florida's Noah dominates tourney, debilitates Bruins
At one point during Monday's second half, Florida's Joakim Noah gave a little wink and a smile to the UCLA dance team and cheer squad.
At the bottom of their game
He's the Bruins' leading scorer. And their best defender. But for nearly 30 minutes of UCLA's 73-57 loss to Florida in the NCAA Championship, Arron Afflalo was virtually nonexistent.
Bruin fans dismayed no matter the locale
Almost 7,000 UCLA fans descended upon Pauley Pavilion in a surge of blue and gold last night, wearing their pride on their chests and faces for the NCAA Championship game, while many others watched from lounges and dorm rooms across the Hill.
Out in full force – or not
An air of melancholy hung over Westwood on Monday night following the defeat of the UCLA men's basketball team in the NCAA Championship game as droves of police officers tried to make sure that the postgame reaction did not turn violent.
Gators' team concept follows Wooden's way
This was going to be the Final Four that would be remembered for who wasn't in it.
Championship pride again for the Noahs
Joakim Noah is too young to remember the 1983 French Open. He wasn't even born, but he's heard plenty about that day at Roland Garros. After all, it was his father, Yannick Noah, who was crowned champion in the prestigious event.
Florida comes into its own
Florida is the best basketball team in the country, a crown collected with an impressive 73-57 victory over UCLA Monday night in the heart of a basketball-loving state. The Gators proved to be everything so many observers said they could be, the team many predicted they would become.
Gators swamp UCLA
First Cinderella, then tradition. Florida finished off its NCAA tournament run in strong fashion on Monday night, claiming its spot atop the college basketball world for 2006 and taking another big step toward entrenching itself as one of the country's top programs.
Whole lotta chompin' going on as Gator fans cheer team
Club enjoys NCAA win; local Bruin is otherwise occupied. Though he was one of the best 3-point shooters in UCLA history, Kevin Walker wasn't glued to his television during his alma mater's 73-57 loss to Florida in the NCAA Tournament championship game Monday night.
Hungry Gators chow down on best of offenses
Defense? That's UCLA's gig, right? Florida is the school that brought you Steve Spurrier's Fun 'N Gun, where the best defense is a good offense. Well, the Gators can get in your face on the basketball court, too.
SU's Orange played the best
We'd known all along, of course, that the Orange was destined this season to play the eventual national champion. Connecticut . . . Villanova. Villanova . . . Connecticut. One of those outfits, for sure, was ultimately going to bask on this Indiana stage.
Gators revel in the hoop-la
Even while preparing for his second national-championship game in seven years, Billy Donovan wouldn't admit that Florida was a football school
Young Gators snap up title
Unranked at the start of the season, Florida completed a stunning rise to the NCAA championship by defeating college basketball's most storied program, UCLA, 73-57, last night at the RCA Dome.
Florida's 'D' leaves the Bruins in ruins
Here's the thing. In all the shock and awe and fawning over UCLA's clamp job on Louisiana State Saturday night, everybody forgot what the Gators did to George Mason. Everybody.
Noah's arc hits a high point
There was Joakim Noah flying down the middle of the floor, ponytail bobbing, defense clearing, and the ball rising higher and higher, above the rim, above college basketball and slamming the ball on the UCLA dynasty. There was Noah's bony, windmill arms swinging down, blocking Bruins shots and starting the fast break with his dribble. There was Noah doing it all.
Howland putting in long days, nights
As you might guess, UCLA coach Ben Howland didn't get much rest the first night he knew his team would be playing for a national championship.
Clouds part and Noah stands tall
Indianapolis- Joakim Noah, the reluctant celebrity of the Final Four, walked to midcourt during the introductions for the national championship game and told UCLA exactly what he was itching to do.
Florida's, UCLA's approach to game is easy to defend
There was, going into Monday night's championship game, the real fear that this memorable NCAA Tournament, the best one ever, would be soiled.
A tradition unlike many others?
Billy Donovan is no John Wooden. For one thing, the 5-11 Florida coach is an inch taller than the UCLA legend.
Bruins are exposed in title game
Hours before tip-off in UCLA's most critical game in a decade, the Bruins' magical mojo was struck a blow when word circulated its revered former coach, the legendary John Wooden, was hospitalized.
Green wins tale of two guards
When Jordan Farmar committed to UCLA two Mays ago, it opened the door for Taurean Green to go to Florida.
Confetti and tears fell as the Florida players rose to celebrate reaching the pinnacle of college basketball.
Gators make it look very, very easy
Sitting in the RCA Dome, I looked up at the clock with somewhere around 12 minutes left and noticed that Florida already had 45 points -- the same total that Memphis and LSU had mustered in complete games against UCLA. Indeed, Florida was a different animal.
Guard's 2 shots trigger blowout
Somehow, some way, UCLA's vaunted defense lost track of Florida guard Lee Humphrey.
Noah gives UCLA's cheerleaders a wink and a lesson
Sons starting for the Gators, watched from near courtside and Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, who coached Florida coach Billy Donovan, wore a tie with Gators colors .
NCAA Notebook: Defense has Gators cruising
Florida's 73-57 win over UCLA on Monday night solidified a defensive performance of allowing 56.6 points a game for the NCAA Tournament. Florida held the Bruins to 36 percent shooting from the field.
For 1 night, Billy, hoops rule Florida
Rick Pitino, who transformed Billy Donovan into an All-Big East guard at Providence and then gave him his first big break in coaching when he hired Donovan as an assistant at Kentucky, made a promise to his prize pupil two days before the NCAA Final Four.
Noah will make tough choice in his own style
Joakim Noah needs to get to know former USC quarterback Matt Leinart. Noah has a decision to make. If he returns for his junior season, then he comes back as the preseason national player of the year.
Gators' dominance was a group effort
For five straight years, Florida's marches through March were short and not terribly sweet. The Gators were always in the NCAA Tournament -- and always back out after the first weekend.
Florida son bright spot
INDIANAPOLIS - There was a moment with about 15 minutes to go in the final, a timeout ending, UCLA fading fast. Yannick Noah, an old tennis champion who once had more flair and fun in him than the whole rest of the field, caught his son Joakim's eye. By now Joakim had already been everywhere in this game between Florida and UCLA, done a little bit of everything, played college basketball the way his father had played tennis, as if there were music inside the father's head, a beat, only he could hear.
Need a reason why UCLA lost? Here's 20
The nation's longest losing streak continues, still firmly ahead of the Houston Texans, Martha Stewart's legal team, and William Hung's quest for a Grammy.