UF coach Billy Donovan: "We know what's at stake''
The plan remains the same for the Gator men's basketball team in the final three, critical games of the regular season: take each game one at a time. But that doens't mean they don't know what's on the line.
Florida needs some wins if the Gators are going to get an invite into the NCAA Tournament.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said Thursday morning that while the Gators won't look any further than Sunday's 2 p.m. home game against Tennessee, they are well aware of the situation they are in.
"I think our guys know that (what's at stake),'' Donovan said. "All the teams acorss the country know where they're at, and what they are playing for. I'm just excited that we're in the mix of it. There's a lot of teams out there that are not even in the mix of it.''
At 21-7 and 8-5 in the SEC, the Gators still have work to do to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume. Florida's RPI was 41 heading into Tuesday night's loss at SEC-leader LSU, but two of its next three opponents won't do much to help that rating. Kentucky and Mississippi State have an RPI of 61st and 84th respectively.
Fortunately, two of the three are at home, where the Gators are 15-0 this season. But those final two homes games are Tennessee and Kentucky.
Donovan refuses to even entertain any thoughts beyond Tennessee. Afterall, he said, it's the way he's always done it. He's not changing now.
"It's not really about the next three games,'' he said. "I remember when we had (Joakim) Noah, (Al) Horford and (Corey) Brewer and this time of year people wanted to talk about March and the NCAA Tournament and didn't even want to talk about right now. I think it's so easy for people to want to fast forward and speculate and talk about something that's a week or 10 days from now. What you want to be able to do, is when you get to that point and time of the season that everybody wants to talk about, is you say you know what? 'We didn't look past this time and we took advantage of this time.' And I think in order to do that, I know it's all coaching cliche, but you've got to go one game at a time.
"The biggest game of our season right now is against Tennessee on Sunday - because it's our next game up,'' he added. "We want to be able to play well and put ourselves in a position to win. I don't know if there's any other way to look at it. . . I think you worry about yourself and your own team. Whether that's right or wrong, I don't know, but since I've been coaching that's always been the way I've done it.''