Donovan Knows Boeheim Well

Billy Donovan has coached the Gator Basketball team against Syracuse and Coach Jim Boeheim on two occasions. The first came in the championship game of the pre-season NIT in 2005. The Gators used that tournament as a springboard to a national title. Last season they played again, with the ‘Cuse posting an 89-83 win in Kansas City.

That number will become three Thursday night when the Gators face the Orange in Tampa as part of the SEC/Big East challenge. The event actually took three years to wrap up with four SEC and four Big East teams going head-to-head in each of the previous two seasons before a pair of doubleheaders finish up the series this week.

The coaching matchup is an interesting one with Donovan in his 14th season with the Gators while Boeheim has 30 20-win seasons with Syracuse. Boeheim has won 807 games in his coaching career and has guided Syracuse to 26 NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the Sweet 16 on 14 occasions and the Final Four in 1987, 1996 and 2003. His team lost the NCAA Championship Game to Indiana in ‘87 and Kentucky in '96 before winning it all in 2003.

Donovan shared his thoughts on the Syracuse boss and their long history.

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On going "way back" with Boeheim:

"It's really kind of amazing. I can remember going to a St. John's game when I was a young guy and he had Roosevelt Bouie and Louie Orr and all those guys. I was in the seventh or eighth grade and he was coaching them then. And then playing in the Big East and he's coaching them. Now I'm out of college 20 years and here I am coaching against him. I think this is the third time our teams have faced each other."

On Boeheim's enduring at one school:

"I think it's very, very rare in today's day and age to see someone stay at a place as long as he's stayed at Syracuse as both a player and a coach. The thing that I've enjoyed about him more than anything else is the relationship that he and I have had over the years and the type of person he is. He's really a great guy. He has a great sense of humor and I've really enjoyed being around him."

On his legacy as a coach:

"He's one of the guys in college basketball that I think is a legend, getting a chance to go with the Olympic team and be part of a gold medal. He's done a lot for college basketball and a lot for basketball in the state of New York. It's just hard to believe that he was on the sidelines when I was playing and he's still coaching. It's pretty impressive."

Coming up a preview of the game between Florida and Syracuse.


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