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After 14 seasons Billy Donovan still has passion for the game and Gators

Florida coach Billy Donovan turned 45 on May 30,and is preparing to enter the 2010 basketball season as the most tenured coach in the SEC.

Donovan is entering his 15th season at UF, ranks fifth in SEC history in wins (331, needs just 10 wins to move into third) and has the sixth-longest tenure of any coach in the country.

And these days, he's quite content with where he is.

"I feel really fortunate and blessed from this standpoint: I’ve had conversations with coaches whose kids are now out of college and they are out of the house, and the coaches told me their kids really don’t know where to call home,'' Donovan said during the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin. "There really was nowhere they really grew up, it was every two or three years or four years they would leave and go somewhere else. And I think if you talk to kids whose parents were in the military it’s a similar situation. I’ve been fortunate, my oldest son (Billy) when we came to Gainesville he was four years old, he’s 18 now and going off to college. He’s grown up in one area his whole entire life and he’s developed friends and has a sense of home and a place. That’s been really, really important to me that my kids have been able to grow up in one place. And then for me, Jeremy Foley has been the same athletic director since I’ve gotten there, we’ve had a couple of turnovers with presidents but they’ve all been terrific. But the relationship started with Jeremy so I think I’m in a unique situation. Florida has been great to me, I still have a passion for it.''

After leading the Gators to their first NCAA Tournament since 2007 this past season, Donovan said he's excited about the possibilities for the upcoming season."There’s a different level of expectations,'' he said. "I don’t think this team has had any expectations on it the last two years. With what we lost the last two years and a bunch of young guys coming in, I think people really felt like getting to the Tournament was going to be a tough feat two years ago, and we didn’t go back -to -back years. I think anytime you have an NCAA Tournament team and you have five starters returning from that team there rightfully so is going to be a level of expectation. These guys have not performed or played under any expectation at all, now there’s going to be a different level of expectation and I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.''

Donovan is among an elite group of coaches who have won at least one national title by the age of 45:

Coach Number of titles
Billy Donovan  2
Bobby Knight  2
Mike Krzyzewski 2 (won at ages 44 and 45, won title #3 at age
Rick Pitino  1
Tom Izzo 1

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:11pm]


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