Sense of deja vu for UF seniors in tonight's match
By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 23, 2003
TAMPA -- It's all come full circle for Florida's seniors.
On April 3, 2000, Matt Bonner, Justin Hamilton and Brett Nelson played in Florida's 89-76 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament championship.
Then they were freshmen bit players. Tonight, they face Michigan State as key figures, trying to prolong their college careers.
"It's really tough to put in words how emotional this is," Nelson said. "We've seen both ends of the spectrum. We've made the national championship game, and we've been knocked out in the first round.
"We know now that every possession, every minute counts because it could be our last."
Popular among younger teammates, the seniors have passed on the sense of urgency.
"We're feeding off their emotion and their energy, and they let us know every day if we don't come to play this could be their last game," reserve freshman forward Adrian Moss said. "And we don't want this to be their last game."
NO HYPE: Though the seniors were part of the 2000 title game, it would be a considerable stretch to call this a rematch.
Only Hamilton started that game, scoring zero in 14 minutes. Nelson had a good game off the bench with 11 points, but Bonner had zero points in seven minutes.
For Michigan State, only Aloysius Anagonye and Adam Ballinger remain from the 2000 title team. Both played off the bench, with Ballinger scoring two. FOOTREST: Nothing like a 30-point blowout to help the healing process.
The Gators' 85-55 win Friday over Sam Houston State allowed Bonner to sit out the final seven minutes and rest a right foot that has bothered him more than two weeks.
Bonner has had plantar fasciitis and a muscle injury in the foot since March 5 and did not practice until Monday.
"There have been times when he can't get out of bed and walk," coach Billy Donovan said. "I think Matt's hurting."
Bonner said the pain won't keep him out now, and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sees him as a key.
"He's the glue to this team. He's so smart," Izzo said. "He seems to always be in the right position, he knows what to do on the press, he knows what to do on ball screens."
TWINS: The vital statistics on Bonner (redheaded senior, 6-10, 240 pounds) and Michigan State forward Ballinger (redheaded senior, 6-9, 250) have not gone unnoticed by UF.
"I do get ragged on a little bit about that," Bonner said. "We look alike and have a similar game. Us redheads have to stick together and represent."
Back to Sports
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
John Romano: Gators counter with speed, skill
Gary Shelton: Spartans are bruisers, and proud of it
Hubert Mizell: Hall of Fame for Rose? Yes. In the dugout? No way
From the Times sports desk
Eek, eek, eke for Arizona
Hokies avoid upset in final second
Hot-shooting Irish take care of Illini
Force with young Eagle
Big two take over for Huskies
Newcomers take stage for Sooners
UF's small center comes up big
Prosser provides higher education
Versatility is this Spartan's game
Affection only, not acrimony
Sense of deja vu for UF seniors in tonight's match
State ties, rivalry bind two guards
Deacons seeing double as they watch Daniels
Post players come up big for Auburn
Strengths balance out in this tossup
Florida: 5 keys to victory
Michigan State: 5 keys to victory
Another win would prove Tigers' point
Wake Forest: 5 keys to victory
Auburn: 5 keys to victory
Mix of royals, dancers, lawyers
Vitale gets the last word on Auburn coach
Seasons change for Florida's fans
What's a wager between family members?
UF's playmakers vs. MSU's physicality
Wake Forest-Auburn: This game will be won on the boards
Kickin' back with Marquis Daniels
Daniels is down with T-Mac, but not Marines
Mano-a-mano third round falls short
Sorenstam breaks out of logjam
Eagle moves Huston up leaderboard
Changes to OT likely to be nixed
Myers solidifies spot in rotation
Neagle has pain-free workout
Jumping for a World Cup chance
Wings cement Central hold
31st wrestling title for Oklahoma State
Lane's End Stakes to New York Hero
Lucas makes tough decision pay
Indirect insights offered
Two like Spartans' chances
Hawks' Ratliff blocks Indiana's shot at win
Harvick puts trouble behind him with win
Bristol supplies moving action
Panthers' four-run rally sends Lions to 6-5 loss
Saladino at Gaither
Dragons ride ace against Indians
Jesuit gets help in wins
Falcons get back on track
Warhawks' leadership right on time
Impressive loss for Knights
RaysCurtain closes on Rays' Hit Show
Release clears up lineup questions
Rays sing a familiar refrain: low payroll
LightningJust one more point
Team ending Springfield affiliation
From the wire
From the state sports wire Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
Brown anxious to face old team for first time
Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts