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Coach unbothered by team's critics
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published March 25, 2005
GAINESVILLE - Four days after the Florida basketball season ended with an NCAA Tournament second-round loss to Villanova, coach Billy Donovan said his overall opinion hasn't changed.
It was a great season.
"I was really very proud of our guys and the year they had. ... I think this team will go down as one of the best teams to ever play here at the University of Florida because they did something no other team has done," Donovan said Thursday, referring to the school's first SEC tournament title. "I'm proud to be a part of that and proud that I had a chance to coach this team this year. It was a special group. Night in and night out, they gave their heart and soul to myself, our staff and this school."
Florida (24-8), which won eight of its last nine games, could be without its leading scorer next season. Junior guard Anthony Roberson may opt to attend an NBA predraft camp in Chicago and participate in individual workouts after the NBA season ends. In the meantime, Donovan plans to talk to NBA general managers.
"I want to help him make the best decision and if that takes three months, it takes three months," Donovan said. "I think I owe it to him just to be patient and be along his side to do this."
Donovan spent Tuesday on the recruiting trail and said he's actively pursuing players who can add athleticism to the perimeter game.
As for those who continue to knock the Gators for not advancing past the first weekend of the tournament the past five years, Donovan said: "We can't get knocked out of the first or second round unless we get there. It's hard to get in every year."
TITLE SEARCH: The No. 6 gymnastics team will attempt to win its first SEC title since 1989 at the SEC championships in Duluth, Ga., Saturday night. All seven SEC teams competing are ranked in the GymInfo Top 25: No. 2 LSU, No. 5 Alabama, No. 8 Georgia, No. 15 Arkansas, No. 19 Kentucky and No. 21 Auburn.
Florida won the last of its five titles in 1989, and Alabama or Georgia have won every championship since.
SWIMMING HONORS: For the third consecutive season, the women's swimming and diving team finished in the top five at the NCAA championships. The Gators scored 355 points last weekend for fourth place, the 22nd time Florida has finished in the top 5 in its 32 appearances since 1973. The Gators won an NCAA title in 1982.
"We are really pleased, we had a great season, coach Gregg Troy said. "There were a few spots where we could have been a little better, but if we combine the conference meet with this one, you can see all the energy that went into it."
Florida broke two school records at the meet: Maureen Farrell, Vipa Bernhardt, Candace Weiman and Caroline Burckle were second in the 400-medley relay in 3:34.87, bettering their record of 3:35.22 at the SEC championships. Weiman was third in the 100-yard butterfly in 52.75, breaking the record of 52.95 set by Dara Torres in 1988. Eleven earned 23 All-America honors. Troy and men's swimmer Ryan Lochte were named SEC men's coach and swimmer of the year Monday. The men's team, which went 12-1 this season, began competition in the NCAA championships Thursday at Minnesota.
SCHOLAR ATHLETES: Soccer standout Ashley Kellgren and swimmer Justin Zumsteg are the Florida nominees for the H. Boyd McWhorter $10,000 postgraduate scholarship, which is presented by the SEC to the league's top male and female scholar-athletes. A member of the dean's List, Kellgren has a 3.73 GPA in a double major of criminology and psychology. Last season, she led the SEC in assists (11) and was second for UF in goals (six). Zumsteg carries a 3.97 GPA in astrophysics and astronomy. He is a four-year letterwinner and qualified for the World Championship trials. Winners will be selected April 6.
WEEKEND EVENTS: The baseball team hosts South Carolina at 6:30 tonight, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. ... The Florida Relays continue today and Saturday at Percy-Beard track. ... The football team has scheduled its first scrimmage for 10:10 a.m. Saturday at Florida Field. Tickets for the April 9 Orange and Blue game can be purchased at the baseball game, track meet and the scrimmage. ... The volleyball team opens its spring season against FAMU and Barry, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the O'Connell Center practice court.
Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at 813 226-3389 or firstname.lastname@example.org