Louisville's Rick Pitino likes Florida Gators as an NCAA sleeper
Forget the fact that Florida coach Billy Donovan is a close, personal friend and former player of his, and his son is an assistant coach on Florida's team, Louisville coach Rick Pitino told Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio he believes the Gators could be a legitimate contender in this year's NCAA Tournament.
“Well, I’m a little biased, but everybody overlooks Florida,'' Pitino said. "Obviously Billy Donovan played for me, but I think Florida’s the type of team with three seniors in the front court with a very quick backcourt. . . They’re a team that could beat anyone on a given night. I look at Florida. Although they are ranked 14th in the nation, nobody talks about them as a potential national champion. But they have the experience in their head coach, they have the experience in the frontcourt, the returning backcourt. . . Outside of [Ohio State] you could flip a coin.”
Meanwhile Donovan on Monday cautioned Florida fans to remember that this group of Gators are in "unchartered territory" by winning the SEC regular season title, gaining a first-round bye in the upcoming SEC tournament and entering Selection Sunday as something other than a serious bubble team.
You can like them, Donovan jokingly said, but don't get too serious in the relationship just yet.
"Don't fall in love,'' Donovan said. "What I mean by that is I love coaching these guys. They're great. But the ebbs and flows of big win, tough loss, playing great, we still have not conquered that and that's still a challenge. We've gotten better, we've made some steps there but we're not quite where we need to be. So I'm not willing to get over to that side. I do love them, I love coaching them. But I'm just saying, how can they play here(at a high level) one game and then down here (struggle) another game. They haven't been (underachieving recently) but we can't embrace that. They need to understand when you win like these guys have won it becomes more difficult, it doesn't become easier. And the thing that they can't do is, 'We're OK,' because they're not. . . If these guys figure they've got it all figured out, they don't. And believe me, I remind them they don't.''