Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Billy Donovan takes straightforward approach with Florida Gators

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GAINESVILLE — Fresh off two big road wins last week, UF basketball coach Billy Donovan didn't have to say much to players in the first practice after Saturday's 98-68 win at Arkansas.

In fact, for the next couple of weeks, Donovan doesn't plan to do much talking about anything other than the next opponent. After 16 seasons, he has learned not to indulge in the ifs, ands and buts of the impending March Madness.

"I don't really talk to them about the seeding and all those kinds of things," Donovan said Monday. "I have always been a big believer of you kind of take care of everything in front of you, right here and now. … For our guys, they understand we need to continue to win, continue to play well and we'll get a better seed. If we don't play well, we don't finish out the year strong, we won't. It's pretty simple."

The Gators moved up to No. 12 in the AP poll released Monday. With four regular-season games remaining, Florida is No. 17 in the RPI rankings.

NO. 1 TIMES THREE: Monday the gymnastics team moved into the No. 1 ranking by GymInfo, giving Florida three No. 1-ranked teams: gymnastics, baseball and softball. Florida will host No. 3 Georgia on Friday night.

BACK IN STRIDE: The roller-coaster women's basketball season is nearing the regular season end, with Florida coach Amanda Butler having great optimism. The Gators (17-10, 7-7 SEC) picked up a huge win over No. 18 Georgia on Sunday and will finish with Mississippi State and at Tennessee. Butler believes the Gators are playing close to their best.

"Especially with (Sunday's) performance and looking at that game statistically,'' she said. "Because I think the value of our team so often this year, you've not been able to find it in the statistics, it's been more in our effort, our fight and some other things that don't show up in a box score."

GATORS OWN NEW STREAK: When the St. John's women's basketball team upset No. 2 Connecticut on Saturday, it snapped the Huskies' 99-game home winning streak, which had been the longest active home win streak of any Division I women's sport. The new mark belongs to the Gators, whose tennis team has a 98-match home winning streak. Their next home match is Saturday.

TITLE IS THE GOAL: Everything Mike Holloway and his track and field staff have done since the season began was geared toward this weekend. And when the men's and women's teams compete in the SEC indoor track and field championships, nothing short of a title will do. The Florida men are the defending SEC indoor champions, while the women will be looking for their second title in three years. The Gators also have seven reigning SEC champions on their current roster.

"This is a very exciting time of year for us," Holloway said. "We strive (for) and have a lot of pride in being prepared for what we call the championship season and that begins this weekend with the SEC Championships. We expect to go in and fight for championships. That's what we do here. It's going to be tough competition on both sides, but we expect to do well."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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