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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Noah: No thoughts of NBA
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published March 29, 2006
GAINESVILLE - The better they play, the more the rumors grow that this could be the final season at Florida for sophomores Al Horford and Joakim Noah.
Noah said Tuesday it's just talk from people who don't know what they're talking about.
"I'm having the time of my life," he said. "Right now, I'm loving this. This is what it's all about. I know that people dream about going to the NBA, but it's a little different for me because I'm not one of those people who didn't have food on the table (growing up). The refrigerator was always full when I went home. I mean, I understand why people talk about it and that's my dream, but at the same time, is that what it's all about? I love my life right now and I love playing for Florida.
"Honestly, I went to NBA game last year and I left in the middle of the game, it was boring. It was the Knicks and the Nets and it was boring. It was a joke almost. College is just so fun. I'm not worried about it, I'm not thinking about it. I'm not going to let the people that say things about me being a lottery pick or who say he's done this year. ... Who are you to tell me what to do with my life? At the end of the day, I know myself better than anybody else."
However, Noah didn't completely rule out moving on. What if he were guaranteed a top lottery pick?
"It's definitely something you consider, that's a lot of hamburgers right there," he said, laughing. "But right now, if anybody on this team thought about the NBA at this point right now, that would be the most selfish and disappointing thing. I think it's something that I'll definitely talk about with my family and my coaches, but money doesn't buy happiness."
PERSPECTIVE WITH AGE: When Florida went to the Final Four in 2000, coach Billy Donovan was 34. Looking back, he realizes he didn't savor the moment the way he should have. Age, it seems, has made him wiser.
"I probably have a greater level of appreciation now in winning an SEC championship last year, this year, and having the chance to go to the Final Four, to see it make other people happy," Donovan said. "Looking back, I was just so focused on just doing my job and helping our team grow and develop, but I probably didn't take the time to see other people so happy. One of the great moments I will always remember is, after beating Villanova, our trainer came to me and said, "Thank you coach, you don't know what this means to go to a Final Four.' He grew up in Indiana and he just loves basketball. That is what I enjoy focusing on more now. I want everyone to feel good about playing a part in this and look forward to getting to that point where you cut down the net."
WOODEN ON MARAVICH: If Pete Maravich had played for John Wooden, he would have done so without the baggy socks, floppy hair and quick trigger.
The LSU star created a stir when he and the Tigers came to Los Angeles to face UCLA in December 1969 and the Bruins won 133-84. They went on to win their fifth national championship that season, one of 10 titles under Wooden.
The schools meet again Saturday in the Final Four in Indianapolis.
"LSU scored a lot more points against us than anyone else, even though we won by a huge margin," Wooden recalled Tuesday.
"When you score a lot, you're giving up the ball a lot. People say you're not playing good defense, but it means you're giving up the ball a lot."
Maravich's 42 field-goal attempts, including 22 in the first half, still stand as Pauley Pavilion records. He made 14 shots and committed 18 turnovers in an era when 3-pointers and the shot clock did not exist.
"I would never have a player come close to taking that many shots in a game," said Wooden, who acknowledged Maravich as a great individual player. "I don't ever recall seeing a player who could do so much with a basketball, but he never played on a championship team."
Maravich's appearance went against everything Wooden demanded of his clean-cut players.
"His style would not cut it with me," Wooden said. "I wanted the socks all pulled up neatly and I didn't permit long hair. He was different. It was a great attraction. He made fancy shots I wouldn't allow a player to take."