12x20 = Excellence, Consistency

Florida's win over Tennessee Tuesday night did a number of things for the Florida program including reviving the atmosphere at the O'Dome and edging this team closer to a return to the NCAA Tournament. But it did something else. It extended Florida's streak of 20-win seasons to 12, which is a tremendous accomplishment.

For all the hand wringing over the last two seasons you would think the Gators had a sub-.500 record, finished at the bottom of the SEC and were abusing puppies in their spare time. Truth is while the Gators have had a couple of down seasons, they did win 49 games the last two years and their worst SEC record in the past dozen campaigns is 8-8.

After the Tennessee game I asked Billy Donovan about the significance of and pride that he takes in the streak.

"Clearly our team, in the last four years has lost more players to professional (basketball) than any other program in the country. And I don't know if there's been enough credit to our guys that we have not had the type of dip where we've gone 9-20 when in essence we probably should have. We lost three lottery picks, Chris Richard who was a second round pick, Taurean Green who was a second round pick and Lee Humphrey who's the all-time 3-point field goal maker in NCAA Tournament history. (After that) all those freshmen came in, and they won 24 games."

Donovan was quick to point out that 20 wins is not the same thing as making an annual appearance in the field of 65 for the NCAA.

"Those kids want to get to the tournament, there's no question about it. So does every team across the country. But give those kids some credit that in two years coming into this season they won 49 games. You look at some other programs that have some 'phenomenal tradition' and are great programs (that have had bad years) and our guys have been able to overcome the departures and played really hard and stayed very competitive."

By staying competitive the Gators have entered every March in the "bubble" discussion with regards to the "Big Dance". Donovan said while that's not the ultimate goal, it is something to be respected.

""I think it's a tribute to our guys, because I know the programs that have lost the number of players that we've lost (have found) it's really hard to sustain and overcome some of those things. But that's the nature of college basketball. (Still) I'm proud of our guys and what they've done in the last two years, the way they've grown and the position they're in right now."

So the Gators have their 12th straight 20-win season, but Donovan admitted they still have work to do in order to accomplish the main goal for the program.

"Our goal here is to compete for league championships and get to the (NCAA) Tournament. I've always said the NCAA Tournament is like the lottery, you've got to be in it to win it. If you don't buy a ticket; you're not going to win. Once you get in it you have chance."


Only four other schools have won at least 20 games each of the last dozen seasons. Kansas (21) has the longest streak followed by Duke (14). Gonzaga and Syracuse made it 13 straight years earlier this season. Creighton has won 20-plus for 11 seasons, but their 15-14 record this season puts the streak in serious jeopardy.

During this 12-year run three of the five teams – Kansas, Duke and Syracuse have won an NCAA Title while Florida, of course has two trophies.

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