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UF trying not to be burdened by history
With a chance to be the first Gators team to start 11-0, players are just trying to focus on Miami.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published December 22, 2005
GAINESVILLE - The Florida team may be young, but the players aren't stupid.
The Gators know that a chance at making history is at stake tonight. They also know that history made in December means very little in March.
So when the No. 5 Gators play at Miami tonight, the focus will be on winning, period. Take care of that and history will take care of itself.
"We're trying to go in (tonight) and win the game just like any other game we've played so far," sophomore center Al Horford said. "We just want to get out there and win. We want to take it game by game, and we've just got to take care of business against Miami."
A victory tonight would make this team the first in Florida history to start 11-0. But the Gators insist this is just another game. Mostly.
"We want to come out and win every game, so of course it means a lot to us," junior guard Lee Humphrey said. "But we know it's a long season and 11 games isn't even half of it.
"We would like to set the school record. That would be neat for us to have that label for this team. We want to accomplish it, but we know there's a bigger picture."
The schedule reflects that the Gators haven't played the toughest of opponents in their route to this potentially historic moment. But in the games they have played, what has made coach Billy Donovan so happy is the balance (all five starters averaging double figures) and the unselfishness of the team. Florida is getting assists on 68.2 percent of its baskets and leads the nation in field-goal percentage (54.4 percent).
But the Gators will face a Miami team that is 4-0 at home, led by Guillermo Diaz, the junior guard who helped Miami to a win over Florida last season and is averaging 16.3 points. Miami's speed on the perimeter will be a challenge for the Gators, said Donovan, whose focus this week has been keeping the Gators from starting to believe the hype.
"I'm not really wrapped up in that and I'm not wrapped up in being 10-0 right now," Donovan said. "We've got a new challenge and a new test ahead of ourselves (tonight), and everything that has happened up to this point and time is over and done with. ...
"We've played away from Gainesville a handful of times, so we should be able to go in and understand how we need to play, how hard we've got to play and how hard we need to play. But in terms of us being 10-0, I don't think it has any factor. It may add more hype around the game, but in terms of it affecting me or the players, I just don't think it does."
The Gators are coming off a huge win over Jacksonville on Sunday, with Corey Brewer earning the first triple double in school history and two other players getting double doubles. Florida is playing an uptempo game reminiscent of the style Donovan brought when he arrived in Gainesville 10 years ago.
The players say it fits them well.
"All of us are playing the style of play we're used to playing," junior forward Chris Richard said. "A lot of us are used to pressing in high school and going up and down (the floor). It's fun, with the fastbreaks and stops and all that kind of stuff. We're just playing and people are going out and doing what they want to do and what they like to do."
As for history? Nobody's dwelling on it, but if it comes they'll gladly take it.
"I think that would be great," Donovan said. "One of the things you're always looking to do when you're a player is to have a level of significance in the program, to do something as a team that maybe hasn't been done before. ... To be the only team in the history of the school to go 11-0, that would be great for those guys."