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NCAA Championships: March to Indianapolis

April 4, 2000

Donovan honors team with award
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. [4/12]

Championship game
Later, Gator
Florida plays its game, right into the hands of a mature Michigan State team in a national title game loss.
  • Hubert Mizell
    Cleaves embodies Spartans' fortitude
    Mateen Cleaves, noted as a bad shooter, took on Michael Jordan splendor with three quick 20-foot treys. Finding a higher Monday night gear. Seizing the national championship moment.
  • Gary Shelton
    Final Fall
    For the losers, the journey never takes you all the way to the end of the line. The final, painful moments, you travel on your own.
  • Spartans turn to their legends
    Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is a believer in looking back to get ahead.
  • Dispirited fans find consolation as No. 2
    GAINESVILLE -- They danced in the streets. They sang their school cheers. They mugged for all the TV cameras that descended upon this town to record their every move.
  • All blended well for CBS
    Michigan State never struggled against Florida's press, but CBS' combination press of facts, graphics and commentary was nearly relentless during Monday's telecast of the national championship.

The MSU perspective: Here are links to coverage of the game from the Lansing State Journal in Michigan.

Title tale a shorts story
The Gators systematically have worn down NCAA Tournament foes. If the Spartans are bent over gasping for air, and pulling on their pants, watch out. [4/3]

Click for story
[AP photo]
Donnell Harvey reaches out to block Jason Capel's shot during the first half of the semifinal.
Key matchup: Mike Miller vs. Morris Peterson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Normally, Florida's Mike Miller and Michigan State's Morris Peterson create all sorts of matchup problems for their opponents. But that won't work in the national championship game.

Bell ready to step in and help
INDIANAPOLIS -- If Michigan State handles Florida's pressing defense, much of the credit might belong to junior Charlie Bell and not All-America point guard Mateen Cleaves.

Final frontier
The Gators, whose 10-man attack wears down UNC, are boldly going where no UF basketball team has gone before: the championship game. Their mission is to seek out and capture their first national title. [4/2]

Peterson ignites MSU in grand style
MICHIGAN ST. 53, WISCONSIN 41: With his recently deceased grandmother in mind, Morris Peterson's inspirational 2nd half sends the Spartans to 1st final since '79. [4/2]

Heels see 'much better' UF team
INDIANAPOLIS -- North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge said Florida is a much different team from the one his staff scouted early in the season, when both schools were in the Maui Invitational. [4/2]

UF-UNC Quotebook [4/2]

Izzo can relate to his players
INDIANAPOLIS -- Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett, who has hinted this might be his final season, dropped perhaps another clue about his future immediately after Saturday's loss to Michigan State. [4/2]

The brackets
West East Midwest South

Gary Shelton
Baby Face Nelson is this good

INDIANAPOLIS -- He is a man very much like his team. At times, that is the worst possible thing you can say about Brett Nelson.[4/2]

Setting the sport back a few centuries
INDIANAPOLIS -- If you think Bucs football offense is high in sluggishness, low in creativity, high in plodding and low in scoring, well, how about the stoplight-red Final Four thud of Wisconsin basketball? [4/2]

Gators-Tar Heels: fast vs. past
Upstart Florida seeks up-tempo game against storied UNC's more traditional approach. [4/1]

UF vs. UNC: Who has the edge
THREE-POINT SHOOTING: Both teams shoot with equal efficiency -- Florida 37 percent, North Carolina 35 percent -- but the Gators are more effective with three-point shooting. [4/1]

Hubert Mizell
Unlike '94, UF not a surprise

INDIANAPOLIS -- Whiffing the air, which is pure basketball oxygen, the difference must be intoxicating for the Florida Gators, compared with 1994, the other time the football school made the Final Four. [4/1]

Gary Shelton
Badgers keep old-schooling opponents

INDIANAPOLIS -- You bring the ball up the court. You pass it. You cut around the screen. You pick, you roll. You rotate. You flash to the wing. You run a back door. You wheel around. You set up. You dribble. You cut to the basket. [4/1]

Not so much attention
Florida's big men -- Udonis Haslem and Donnell Harvey -- don't mind not being in the spotlight. [3/31]

To a Man, he's the Spartans' spark
Morris Peterson's rise as one of Michigan State's best players takes a roundabout path.

Krzyzewski beats drum for more scholarship benefits
INDIANAPOLIS -- Duke's Mike Krzyzewski said the benefits of a full-ride scholarship are about the same as when he became coach at Army in 1975. And to him, changing times demand some changes in that area.

UF freshman Nelson masters transition game
Once he plays under control, guard goes from prep star to college star. [3/30]

Donovan happy to coexist with football
GAINESVILLE -- They said it couldn't be done, and Florida coach Billy Donovan doesn't think it has. Florida, he said, has not been turned into a basketball school. [3/30]

UF basketball: behind the scenes
Ronnie King is a rarity in the Florida program -- a second-year walk-on. [3/30]

Gary Shelton
A brother, a mentor, and a hero
A boy follows a man down a sidewalk, bouncing a basketball along the way. The smaller figure attempts to match stride with the larger one, and failing that, scurries to make up the difference. The afternoon is filled with chatter and laughter on a day that seemed like nothing special at the time, a day precious only in its memory. [3/30]

UF's youth in the spotlight
Talent was not the question; how fast the talent could bond and mature was. [3/29]

The center of the Tar Heels' offense
Brendan Haywood shoots, passes and draws fouls well -- and good things keep happening for UNC. [3/29]

Motivation can make the difference
GAINESVILLE -- Coach Billy Donovan has used all sorts of tricks to motivate his team before big games, including showing tapes of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Gen. George S. Patton. [3/29]

The ultimate consolation prize: a trophy
Spurned by the NCAA, Florida is one victory from claiming the other post-season championship. [3/29]

Campus buzz just heating up
Basketball is taking over at UF, and things figure to intensify as the weekend draws near. [3/28]

Hubert Mizell
UF has come a long way on the court

In times of conquest, you reflect. Basketball has been played since 1915 at the University of Florida, but the Gators didn't make the Final Four until 1994.

Gators get to go 4 it all
Florida advances to the Final Four for the second time in school history.

UNC's Forte is Final Four
The freshman leads the Tar Heels to an improbable South Region title over Tulsa.

UF fans take to the streets
Gators find March is a good month to celebrate, too, just like that other fall sport.

Weaks puts mark on win with mom slam
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Florida's Kenyan Weaks couldn't resist the opportunity to celebrate early. Oklahoma State players were walking off the court Sunday when he went in for a dunk with one second left.

Tulsa looks back with no regrets
AUSTIN, Texas -- Tulsa star senior forward Eric Coley couldn't believe the finest season in school history and his collegiate career ended Sunday afternoon, but he was remarkably poised in looking back.

Final four capsules
The final teams, at a glance

Gary Shelton
For UF, it's all on tape

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Maybe the memories start with the old man in the stands, silently looking skyward and asking for help. On a day when the goal is to grab onto all the feelings one can carry, that seems as good a place as any to begin.

Battle of ages? Young Gators ready for test
Oklahoma State sends seven seniors to battle UF for a spot in the Final Four. [3/26]

OSU looks familiar to Florida assistant
Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey was busy Saturday planning for the future in the form of an Oklahoma State scouting report, but it felt like a trip to the past. [3/26]

For Heels, a return to normalcy
Written off even by ardent fans, North Carolina has come back to be within one game of the Final Four. [3/26]

Gary Shelton
UF needs Donovan to stay put in Gainesville

SYRACUSE,N.Y. -- Billy Donovan was on the move, which, of course, was nothing new. At Florida, Billy D is always on the move, bouncing from the midcourt line to the basket, his voice bouncing off the seats of an empty coliseum.

Hubert Mizell
Peterson elevates Spartans

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- He looks like Will Smith, the actor. Only a lot taller. Michigan State basketball buds call him MoPete. Saturday night, his Spartans scratching for something extraordinary, something definitive, something to hoist them to the Final Four, the Fresh Prince of Flint came flying. [3/26]

UF beats elite to be Elite
After a seesaw battle for most of the contest, Florida pulls away late to upset top-seeded Duke 87-78 and earn a spot in the round of eight. [3/25]

UF's Nelson maturing at right time
Duke freshman point guard Jason Williams occupied the pregame spotlight, but Florida freshman backup Brett Nelson stole it in the opening minutes of the East Region semifinal in Syracuse, N.Y. [3/25]

UM comes back, then falls short
'Canes recover from faltering start, but lose to Tulsa 80-71. [3/25]

Gary Shelton
Young and reckless, Gators won't go away
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Oh, those wacky kids. Not old enough to be up this late, too young to know it. Too busy to read the exit signs, too stubborn to leave the court on their own. [3/25]

Hubert Mizell
Cyclones come together via Eustachy's molding
Coach's recruiting success from around the nation is a testament to Iowa State's attraction. [3/25]

UF's strategy: Press on
The Gators and star Mike Miller are willing to go against conventional wisdom tonight against Duke. [3/24]

Florida fearful, fearless about Duke matchup
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan says the Gators must be fearful and fearless to have a chance of beating Duke in today's East Region semifinal.

Hamilton's heavy hand helps Hemsley, 'Canes
Lessons learned from the coach's "tough love" philosophy land Miami and its best player in the Sweet 16 for the first time. UM plays Tulsa tonight.

Gators back to Sweet 16
Florida and its outside shooters light up Illinois for 93 points on the way to earning an invitation to the Sweet 16. [3/20]

Technical foul call fires Gators up at right time
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan didn't think he said anything bad enough to deserve a technical foul, but the timing sure was good.

Gary Shelton
Billy the Recruiter

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- For a while there, the choice of the Florida Gators appeared to be twofold. They could be beaten up, or they could be beaten down.

Kruger's present collides with past against Florida
But Illinois coach tries to treat it as just another game. [3/19]

Hart points way for Syracuse
CLEVELAND -- At the risk of sounding cliched, most coaches insist a senior point guard is the most vital component to a team's NCAA Tournament run. [3/19]

Gators preparing for a quick turnaround
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Florida's overtime victory against Butler on Friday was physically and emotionally draining, but the Gators say they will be recharged for today's game against Illinois. [3/19]

Gary Shelton: Miller's moment comes at right time
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- This is where stardom begins. This is when legend takes hold.

Gators get the bounce
The last-second shot goes UF's way, for a change, as Mike Miller's layup stuns Butler in the opener.

Call off the search party, UF's Miller says
The Gators' best player, prone to disappear at key times in games, declares he's here to stay. [3/17]

UK lives through
Clutch shooting helps Wildcats recover from a late collapse and overcome pesky St. Bonaventure.

Gator goal: keep game from turning on foul play
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Florida's strategy in today's first-round game against Butler is to make the Bulldogs' tongues wag. Fatigue is the Gators' best friend.

Waiting for Cinderella
Since 1985, 34 teams seeded 13-15 have pulled first-round stunners in the NCAA Tournament. Who will grab us by our heartstrings this year? [3/16]

UF-Butler: It's pace against patience
Center Udonis Haslem says half-court offense and maturity are crucial if the Gators are to win.

Round One capsules
Nashville, Tenn.

Friday, Sunday

Birmingham, Ala.
Friday, Sunday

Thursday, Saturday

Winston-Salem, N.C.
Friday, Sunday

Buffalo, N.Y.
Friday, Sunday

Salt Lake City, Utah
Thursday, Saturday

Tucson, Ariz.
Thursday, Sunday

Thursday, Saturday

This time, UF won't be sneaking up

[AP photo]
Florida and Billy Donovan don't have to go nearly as far from home to play in the NCAA Tournament this time, but the Gators will pack something they didn't take last season. Story

The big dance
Excitement abounds as madness begins

Right now, in my bugged basketball eyes, Michigan State is America's best college team. By flattening Big Ten neighbors, the Spartans earned NCAA Tournament geographical coziness.

A Duke, but no royalty
The Blue Devils are one of four No. 1 seeds, but that doesn't make them big favorites as in years past at the NCAA Tournament.

Arkansas going to NCAAs
The surprising Razorbacks stop Auburn to guarantee their 12th tournament bid in 13 years.

Duke on top again, ahead of schedule
Young Blue Devils pull away from Maryland to win the automatic berth.

Women's basketball
UF women forced to settle for NIT

GAINESVILLE -- For the first time since 1993, the Florida women's basketball team is not among the 64 that will vie for a national championship over the next three weeks.

Parity in bracket, but familiar teams stay at top
Some big conferences don't have their usual representation, but the No. 1 seeds represent business as usual.

NIT cushions Bulls' late-season fall

South Florida is chosen for a national TV game at New Mexico.

Conference tournaments
Florida bounced from SEC tourney
Auburn outscores Florida 32-12 at the free-throw line to advance in the SEC despite the absence of star Chris Porter.

FSU goes flat in ACC loss
An exhausted FSU team falls behind early and never challenges Maryland in an 82-61 loss that ends its season.

Gators come alive late to bury Ole Miss
Kenyan Weaks' timely baskets help UF break open a close game and advance. [3/10]

Hale's recovery puts FSU in quarterfinals
Ex-Largo High star scores 21 in Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins' final game.

Area may host ACC tournament
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Atlantic Coast Conference's men's basketball tournament could be coming to Tampa Bay before the end of the decade.

South Florida: one and done
Memphis rallies from a 10-point deficit to knock the Bulls out of the C-USA tournament. NIT, anyone?

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