Donovan welcomes GameDay coverage; fans encouraged to attend
Doors will open at 9:45 a.m. for the general public, who will be allowed to enter the O'Connell Center through Gate 1. ESPN will broadcast its first live portion at the top of the 10 a.m. edition of Sportscenter, then will broadcast College Basketball GameDay from 11 a.m. until noon. Florida will host activities, contests, live performances from the pep band and Dazzlers between the broadcast.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said he welcomes the GameDay coverage and thinks what ESPN is trying to do for college basketball is admirable.
"I respect what ESPN is trying to do with basketball, that they are trying to create a whole day of college basketball and maybe a little bit of a takeoff of the college GameDay with football where they go through all the games and the matchups and things like that,'' Donovan said. "I think anytime there’s attention drawn to college basketball and what we’re doing, I think that’s always a good thing for the game and it gets people excited. It’s a chance for us to expose the University of Florida on a national stage.''
ESPN College Basketball Gameday will broadcast from 11 a.m. until noon. In between will be a host of
fan-friendly activities, contests and live performances from the pep
band and Dazzlers.
Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis will provide analysis of the Gators’ showdown with Kentucky, as well as the college basketball landscape for ESPN.
Bilas said the GameDay experience, which began three years ago, has been exciting for all involved.
"I think it’s been great,'' he said. "I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve been to all these places to do games, but it’s awfully nice to be able to go and interact with people there and spend an entire day there. It’s been kind of a, for lack of a better way of describing it, GameDay has been kind of a clearing house for college basketball, kind of a one-stop shop to be able to find out everything that’s going on in the game. Who’s playing, who’s playing well, features and a spotlight on the game. So it’s kind of a clearinghouse for the week and that’s a nice thing. The football GameDay is the gold standard. And it’s been nice to sort of follow in their pretty large footsteps and do the best we can with it.''
At the conclusion of the day, Florida will play Kentucky at 9 p.m. on ESPN. And although the Gators still carry that perception of a football school for many nationwide, Bilas said Gator fans hold their own when the ESPN basketball crew is in town.
"Florida, over the years, has been one of our favorite places to go,'' he said. "It may be a football school in some ways, but it competes with any basketball school that I know of. There are some places that have maybe longer traditions, but in the time Billy’s been there, I don’t think anywhere has won any more and it’s been up among the truly elite programs in the last 10 or 12 years.''