Friday, November 17, 2017
Sports

Gators' Billy Donovan wants longer break before NCAA Tournament

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GAINESVILLE

Billy Donovan is not going to ask his Gators to tank in the SEC tournament that begins Wednesday, and if Florida can win it all he most certainly wants that. But his longstanding concerns about the timing of conference tournaments and the start of NCAA play resurfaced this week.

Florida is expected to start the NCAA Tournament next week in Orlando, which begins on a Thursday. If the Gators advance to the SEC tournament final on Sunday, that means a very short turnaround.

"I think the one thing the NCAA has to look at is any conference that's playing their conference tournament and it goes into Sunday, those teams, in my opinion, should not play in the NCAA Tournament until Friday," he said. "Because you have to go up there and you have to have a mandatory opening practice on a Wednesday if you're playing Thursday; that's not right for those kind of teams, where you've got a team that all of sudden does a heck of a job, they get all the way to Sunday, they win a championship, maybe they miss Selection Sunday, they've got to travel back, they get back on campus on Sunday, they've got to try to recuperate after playing three straight games and they're on a plane Tuesday night going into a place, Wednesday practice, Thursday playing, that's a lot in my opinion.

"Now, it doesn't always work out that way; sometimes it does. That's the only thing I think the NCAA … sometimes they can't do anything about it. But that would be one thing I would really take a hard look at. And I think our league should look at it, too. Are we better off backing up our conference tournament and ending it on Saturday?"

Donovan has made this argument in the past, and though he has taking some criticism from the national media, he insisted it's not about backing away from the potential challenge the Gators may face.

"If we play Sunday and we've got to come back and play in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, that's the way it is," he said. "We're going to go out and whatever is in front of us, we're going to have to handle. We're not going to make excuses for anything. We're going to basically focus on what is in front of us, and what is in front of us right now is playing on Friday. That's the only thing that matters. Everything else kind of goes by the wayside.

"And after this weekend is over with, wherever we get sent to or whoever we're playing, we'll have to get ready to line up and play on that day whenever it is."

FRAZIER'S BIG WEEK: Florida G Michael Frazier turned 20 Saturday, then capped off the best week of his career by being named the co-SEC player of the week for the final week of the regular season, sharing the honor with Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes. The sophomore from Tampa made 11 3-pointers against South Carolina, an SEC and overall UF record. He scored 37 in that game, tied for the most by a Gator since Eugene "the Dunking Machine'' McDowell scored 40 on Dec. 21, 1982.

STILL THE 1: Florida remained No. 1 in the AP and USA Today Coaches poll — the final regular season polls of the season —marking the first time the Gators have ended the regular season ranked No. 1.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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