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UF basketball: behind the scenes

By Joanne Korth and Bruce Lowitt

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 30, 2000

Ronnie King is a rarity in the Florida program -- a second-year walk-on. A 5-foot-11 guard from Armwood High in Brandon, King is good enough to play at a smaller school, but toughs out the Gators' grueling practices to be part of something bigger. "I'm trying to keep the dream alive," King said. "If I played at a Division II school, I'd be settling, almost. Plus, it's not bad going to the Final Four." King helped. In the second-round victory against Illinois, he played the final 22 seconds of the first half because freshmen guards Brett Nelson and Justin Hamilton had two fouls. "I was in the huddle for the timeout and (coach Billy Donovan) said, "Ronnie, go get Brett.' I said, "Whoa,' and before I knew it I was in there playing. It was definitely exciting." The Gators admire King's resolve. "He doesn't get enough credit for how good he is," sophomore guard Teddy Dupay said. "He could have played anywhere; it just so happens we've got some pretty good guards here."


NAME: Craig Brown.

HT./WT.: 6-3; 188.

POS.: Guard.

HOMETOWN: Steelton, Pa.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Captain and MVP of the 1993-94 team, winningest in UF history. ... SEC all-tournament team and most outstanding player in NCAA East Region. ... Finished career first all-time in UF three-pointers, third in steals and fifth in assists. ... Hit the three-pointer in overtime that put away UConn in the East semifinal, and three consecutive threes in the region final to rally the Gators past Boston College and into the Final Four.

FINAL FOUR HIGHLIGHT: Coming into UF's first practice at the Charlotte Coliseum and being greeted by thousands of fans at the shootaround.

NOW: Operations assistant with the UF Athletic Association.

QUOTE: "This team is deep. They come at you from all angles. They can beat Michigan State. The bench players have been getting their minutes all season; that will help them in the next two games. They are focused and Coach Donovan will have them prepared to win."

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: "They said Billy Donovan could never build Florida into a basketball power. The team had no talent, the program had no history. And weren't the Gators a football school, anyway? It couldn't be done. But the players knew better." -- BRIAN LEWIS, New York Post

By the numbers

13 Florida's ranking in the final Associated Press poll.

19 games Florida has played in seven NCAA Tournament appearances.

113 games North Carolina has played in 34 NCAA Tournament appearances.

159 minutes of a possible 160 senior guard Ed Cota played in UNC's four South Region games.

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