Billy Donovan returns to New York filled with fond memories
VIDEO BELOW: Billy Donovan on the challenges the Gators face in Memphis
No. 16 Florida will play No. 15 Memphis tonight in a place that holds fond memories for Gators coach Billy Donovan: Madison Square Garden.
Donovan, a native of New York, said this week he gets a special feeling every time he walks into the arena.
“For me it is (special), yeah, because I was a kid that being in elementary school, high school, would jump on the Long Island Railroad and go into Penn Station and go buy a $5 ticket (to sit) in the rafters," Donovan said. "It’s definitely special. There’s just something special about it to me, it really is. And I think for some of our guys, they really don’t understand that part of it. A guy like Casey Prather has never been to New York. There’s guys on our team that have never been to New York City.”
The Gators and Tigers will play the nightcap in tonight's Jimmy V Classic. The game will be televised on ESPN at 9 p.m.
The New York Knicks - and the Garden - remind Donovan of his youth and his brief NBA playing career with the Knicks. The return tonight conjured up one of his favorite childhood stories about MSG.
"When I was like in 5th or 6th grade they used to have this sportings goods store," he said. "They had these shirts that had a picture of an NBA player. It was a mug shot and like an action shot. And growing up, I loved the Knicks and I loved Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe. I loved those backcourt guys. My mother took me down to get one of these shirts, a big thing back then. And I think I got a picture, the shirt of Walt Frazier. I said to my mother 'Do you still think Walt Frazier will be playing when I make it to the Knicks?'. You know, so you think about how crazy it is to just say that, and actually have the opportunity to do that."
Hear Donovan's take on what type of challenge Memphis will be: