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Donovan honors team with award

By JOANNE KORTH

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2000


One week after playing in the national championship, Florida put the finishing touches on its most successful basketball season at an awards banquet Monday night.

Coach Billy Donovan presented the Gator Award to the entire team for its dedication and unselfish desire to put team goals ahead of individual glory.

"These guys put their footprints into this program," Donovan said. "Each one of these guys will never be forgotten."

In reaching the NCAA title game for the first time, the Gators finished 29-8, tying the school mark for most wins in a season set in 1994 by the only other UF team to reach the Final Four. Florida also won a share of the Southeastern Conference championship and broke 34 school records, including 17 team marks.

Freshman point guard Brett Nelson, who went from a November benching to the NCAA's East Region All-Tournament team in March, was named Most Improved Player. Nelson set three UF freshman records with 60 steals, a .434 three-point field goal percentage and an .852 free throw percentage.

Sophomore guard Teddy Dupay and freshman forward Matt Bonner shared the Academic Excellence Award. Juniors Major Parker and Brent Wright were named captains by Donovan for next season.

GYMNASTICS: Senior Chrissy Van Fleet will compete in the NCAA championships Thursday through Saturday in Boise, Idaho. Van Fleet qualified by winning the all-around title at the Region V meet with a score of 39.375. All-around winners from six regional meets advanced. The Gators' streak of 18 consecutive championship meet appearances ended when the team failed to qualify. Two teams advanced from each region, and UF was third by .500 of a point. Only Florida and Utah had advanced to every national championship since the NCAA began sponsoring women's championship events in 1982.

SWIMMING AND DIVING: Two divers will compete next week in the U.S. Nationals, and a member of the women's swim team will represent her country in the 2000 Olympics. Divers Robyn Grimes and Hank Richardson earned qualifying scores at the Senior Zone A meet last weekend in New York. Grimes, a junior All-American, will compete in 1-meter springboard, 3-meter springboard and platform. Richardson, a sophomore All-American, will compete in 3-meter springboard and platform. Nationals began Monday in Seattle. In swimming, junior All-American Bryan Kim qualified to represent Korea in Sydney in the 400-meter individual medley and as a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay team.

TRACK AND FIELD: The women's team, ranked No. 13 by Trackwire magazine, will compete Friday through Sunday in the 42nd Mount San Antonio College Relays in Walnut, Calif., traditionally one of the largest meets of the season. Among the high-profile athletes expected to compete are sprinter Marion Jones, defending shot put champion C.J. Hunter and pole vault world-record holder Stacy Dragila.

Last week, the women won the Southeastern Conference Tri-Meet in Gainesville. Junior Emily Carlsten was the standout, winning her third javelin title of the season and claiming the shot put (50 feet) and discus (167-6) with personal-best marks.

The men's team, ranked No. 3 by Trackwire, will compete in the Sea Ray Relays today through Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Tonya Washington says she will forego a fourth year of eligibility and enter the WNBA draft. Washington, a 6-foot guard/forward, had 1,448 points and 639 rebounds during her three seasons. She made a record 36 percent (73-for-203) three-pointers. Washington and teammate Tiffany Travis were invited to the WNBA pre-draft camp that begins Thursday in Chicago. The 2000 draft consists of four rounds, with all 16 teams receiving selections on April 25.

-Contact Gators beat writer Joanne Korth at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 7306, or by e-mail at Korth@sptimes.com.

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