Donovan Not Focused on Return to NCAA

No matter what anyone says or thinks about Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan, you have to admire his consistency. Donovan is in his 13th season on the Florida bench, and I have yet to hear him talk about how many wins his team needed to earn an NCAA bid.

Whether the Gators are ranked in the top 10 or clearly on the "bubble", Donovan always responds the same way, changing the focus from the long term to the next game on the schedule.

That scenario played as usual Monday when one of us media types – we are very slower learners – asked Donovan about his team getting geared up for a run at the "Big Dance".

"I'm not really worried about that," Donovan said. "We talk about this every year at this time and I understand the attention towards that. My main focus right now is Alabama. I think sometimes you can focus too far down the road. That (NCAA decision) will come here and whenever that day comes (March 15) we'll find out if we've performed and played well enough. I think the big thing for us is do we come out and play well enough to put ourselves in position to beat Alabama."

The Gators will take a 19-6 overall record and 6-4 SEC mark into the Wednesday game with the Crimson Tide. Those are the exact same records the Gators had after 25 games a year ago, but there is one key difference. Four of Florida's six losses have been by three points or less and each of those games was on the road and settled in the final seconds. Donovan talked about his team having a chance almost every night.

"Outside of maybe the Tennessee game we've been in every game and had a chance. We've just been unable to get over the hump and been a couple of plays short here and there. But for the most part I think our guys have really tried pretty hard. We're limited in some areas there's no question about that, but we're trying."

Donovan was asked if he thinks about those close finishes and realizes his team is maybe four baskets from being 23-2.

"You can look at it that, but I never really do because there's probably a team that is 23-2 that probably looks like they've been a few plays away from being 18-and-whatever. It's just of a game there. I think you want to try to put yourselves in a position to win at the end, and I think we have had an opportunity to do that. The things that come down (to winning and losing) during the course of the game always affect the end of the game. How well do you rebound the ball coming down the stretch or do you give up second shots? What kind of discipline do you have on defense to not break down? Then you have to take care of the basketball and make free throws. I think at certain points in time those things have come back and caught us a little bit in some different situations."

Florida has six games remaining in the regular season with four of those games in the O'Connell Center. The O'Dome hasn't seamed like the same home court advantage as in recent years, but the Gators are 13-0 in front of the Florida faithful. Alabama has never beaten Billy Donovan in the O'Dome in six tries.

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