VETTEL: Donovan's Dynamic Decade

The 1990's certainly was the decade of dominance for football at the University of Florida. The Gators won more championships and had more major bowl game appearances in that ten year span than in all the previous seasons combined.

Somewhat lost in all the ecstasy of the NCAA Championship is the fact that the win over UCLA ended a decade of coaching in Gainesville for the man formerly known as "Billy the Kid."

The off-season is a great time to think and put things into perspective, so let's take some time to look at the remarkable ten-year run that Donovan has had in taking Florida Basketball from a program that occasionally did something good to one of the finest programs in the country.

More Highlights Than All Previous Years Combined

Donovan's ten-year record with the Gators has produced an impressive record of 226-98. He's just nine wins from trying Norman Sloan for the most wins at UF. Sloan coached the Gators for 15 years and his average season was 16-13.

Sloan led the Gators to three NCAA bids and Lon Kruger guided UF to two more. Donovan's eight straight bids dwarf those accomplishments. UF had a total of five 20-win seasons before Billy Donovan arrived. He has eight in the last eight years.

Norman Sloan coached six NCAA Tournament games, winning three. Lon Kruger also coached six games in "The Big Dance" and won four. Billy Donovan has coached 23 tournament games and has a 16-7 record.

It shows in recruiting, too. Florida has signed twelve McDonald's All-American players in its history. Donovan has signed NINE of them.

It shows at the next level, too where the University of Florida has had six first round draft picks by the NBA. Four of the six played for Donovan.

And it shows in the classroom where Florida has had 33 SEC Academic Honorees under Donovan, more than any other conference school in that time.

Time For Some All-Donovan Teams

Sometime this fall we will tackle the challenge of picking the ultimate All-Donovan team for the past ten years. I've already given it some thought and it won't be easy. But for some, here are a few All-Billy squads in categories you might find amusing. Each team is selected with the idea that they would have to be able to play together effectively.

All "H" Team: No letter of the alphabet has meant more to Donovan's success than the eighth letter of the alphabet. The All "H" team features a powerful front court of Udonis Haslem, Donnell Harvey and Al Horford. OK, we don't have a true small forward, but this is an athletic bunch that could be effective. We also have one "H" of a backcourt with Justin Hamilton and Lee Humphrey.

All Excitement Team: Florida's style of play for most of the Donovan decade has been exhilarating, up-and-down the floor action. There have been incredible exciting players throughout the years, but this is a lineup of guys you just can't take your eyes off of. Up front we have Joakim Noah, Donnell Harvey and Corey Brewer. D-Harv is the most explosive jumper I've ever seen. Brewer aka "Spiderman" is a human highlight film and Joakim is simply the most unique, expressive and emotional player I can remember seeing in any sport at UF. But we can get your attention in the backcourt with Jason Williams and Anthony Roberson. J-Will was spectacular with the ball while "Peep" did some great stuff as well.

All Bombs Away Team: Florida has made an awful lot of long-range shots in the past ten years and Florida has excellent three-point shooters who can handle every position on the floor. This will be more of a three-guard look, but for the front court we have Matt Bonner and Greg Stolt. In his last three seasons Bonner knocked down 149 three-pointers, but also grabbed seven rebounds a game. Stolt had a career high 6.1 rebounds a game in his first year with Donovan, but also hit 243 "threes." Our three guard lineup has combined for over 700 from long range. Our small forward (because he has played there) is Lee Humphrey who set the single season record this past year with 113, shooting an outstanding 46 percent. Brett Nelson checks in with the UF career record of 274 and who knows how many he would have made had not had his eye socket fractured late in his junior year. The last spot goes to Kenyan Weaks for his career-best percentage (.427) among the Donovan sharpshooters. All three of these guys warrant the nod for staying all four years, but the backup trio (Dupay, Roberson, Walsh) would be pretty amazing.

I have several others in mind, and we'll share them at some future date.

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