Billy Donovan wins gold with USA Basketball in 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship

For the third time in as many summers, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan led USA Basketball to a gold medal as his under-18 team defeated Canada 113-79 in the finals of the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Donovan, who is now 19-0 all-time in international competition following Tuesday’s victory, also directed the under-18 team to gold in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in his first stint as a national team coach. He then led the under-19 team to a first-place finish in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.

His team this year went 5-0 in the tournament, defeating America’s opponents by an average of 52.2 points per game. Donovan’s three United States national teams combined have won their 19 games by an average of 43.7 points.

“I’m just honored,” Donovan said after the gold medal win. “I think that as a coach in this kind of event, you’re only as good as your players. I’ve been very fortunate that in the past three years; I’ve coached some great guys, great kids, and have had some great coaches working with me. These guys were unbelievable to deal with. They bought in, they listened, and they’re the ones who really played well. I’m just happy I could be a part of it and be taken along for the ride.”

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Harvin, Donovan, Zunino

1 » Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey probably wishes he could get a do-over for the last year of his life. He has been cast in a negative light in the public eye for his support of former Florida Gators teammate Aaron Hernandez and participation in bullying incidents against Jonathan Martin, showed no remorse for either and also got subpoenad during the 2013 season because of some connections with Hernandez. Now, Pouncey will be sidelined for three months or longer after tearing the labrum in his hip during organized team activities. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Pouncey underwent surgery on Monday. He will miss the entire preseason and likely four 2014 regular-season contests as he is expected to be out of all of September. Luckily for Pouncey and the Dolphins, Miami has its bye week at the start of October, meaning he could return for the team’s fifth game on Oct. 12 after nearly four full months on the mend. Life without Pouncey will be tough for the Dolphins, just like it was last year for the Pittsburgh Steelers without his brother Maurkice Pouncey. In a way, Mike Pouncey’s injury could get Miami to realize how important it is to sign him to a long-term extension.

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TWO BITS: Young & NBA Draft, Donovan & USA

1 » In his first two-round mock ($) of the 2014 NBA Draft, ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford predicts that Florida Gators center Patric Young will go off the board with the last pick of the first round (No. 30 overall) to the San Antonio Spurs. Ford explains: “The Spurs love players that are ‘over themselves.’ That’s a perfect description for Young. He does all the little things, rebounds, defense and uses his toughness to get buckets. He won’t do anything spectacular, but is NBA ready right now.”

Young, whose favorite team is San Antonio, worked out for the Spurs on May 30 and wrote about his visit in his exclusive Path to the Draft blog on OnlyGators.com.

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Donovan returns as USA Basketball U18 coach

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has been retained to continue leading USA Basketball during the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which remains unscheduled without a hosting city as of press time.

Donovan, who is a combined 14-0 as a USA Basketball head coach with gold medals in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, also served as a court coach during the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp. It will be his fourth year working with the organization.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with USA Basketball again this summer,” Donovan said in a release. “I’ve said it before, but anytime you are chosen to represent your country, that is really something special. USA Basketball is an outstanding organization, and I’m looking forward to another challenge at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.”

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Gators Bradley Beal, David Lee make 28-man USA Basketball player pool for 2014-16

Two former Florida Gators have earned spots in USA Basketball’s 28-man player pool for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and 2016 Rio Olympics with Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee officially named to the team by the organization on Thursday morning.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reported all 28 players on Wednesday night, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul are on the team but will not participate in the World Cup. Also joining Beal and Lee will be Kevin Durant, Paul George, James Harden, Dwight Howard and Stephen Curry along with 20 other NBA stars.

Beal, Lee and their teammates could compete over each of the next three summers.

They will first report to Team USA shortly after the conclusion of the 2013-14 NBA season in order to begin practicing ahead of the World Cup, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14. Should the United States win the World Cup, it will not have to participate in an international event in the summer of 2015. Either way, the team will come together again ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

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Florida vs. South Carolina preview: Donovan named USA Coach of the Year; Vitale rips NCAA

(10) FLORIDA GATORS SO. CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Frank Martin
Record: 11-2 (0-0 SEC) Record: 7-6 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: Comcast Sports Southeast (Matt Stewart, Daymeon Fishback) [Channel Finder]
SiriusXM: 110/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Odds: Florida -16.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 40-22 all-time against South Carolina with a 24-11 record against the Gamecocks since Donovan has been coach of the Gators. UF is also 19-7 against USC at home (13-4 under Donovan) and has won four-straight in the O’Dome.
» One of the hottest teams in the country, Florida is on a five-game winning streak and has been victorious in 10 of its last 11 games.
» South Carolina has won four-straight games entering Wednesday night.
» The Gators are attempting to tie the school record for longest home winning streak. UF has won 23-straight games in the O’Dome, going undefeated at its home gym last season.
» Florida is 12-5 in SEC openers (8-0 in Gainesville) under Donoavn.
» The Gators are 64-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points.
» Florida is 5-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» UF will be putting out the same starting five for the seventh time in its last eight games. In the Gators’ first seven contests, Florida rolled out four different starting lineups.

DONOVAN NAMED USA COACH OF THE YEAR

Donovan on Wednesday was named the 2013 USA Basketball Co-National Coach of the Year after leading the Americans to a 9-0 record and gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships last summer.

“This was such a special event, and I’m very thankful to USA Basketball for the opportunity to coach this team and appreciative of this honor,” Donovan said in a statement. “I thought the people in the Czech Republic did a great job hosting the World Championship. Prague was a great city… I thought the USA did a really great job of fielding a good team and providing a lot of options to put together a great team.”

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Top 13 for 2013: Florida’s best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2013 (see the Not Top 13 for 2013), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to earning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2013. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 13 for 2013.

13 » A NEW TRADITION
Florida’s football program did not get much right in 2013, but instituting a new pre-game tradition – a “celebrity” serving as Mr. Two Bits in honor of the original, George Edmondson – was absolutely a bright spot. The Gators also picked the perfect person to kick off the new tradition with former running back Errict Rhett performing as if he was made for the role. Others had trouble stepping up to the high benchmark set by Rhett, but the honorary Mr. Two Bits was nevertheless a great sight for fans all season long…even if the team was not. OnlyGators.com sat down with Rhett after his appearance for an extensive interview about the experience and his career.

12 » 15-INNING MARATHON
In the fourth-longest game ever played at the Women’s College Series (longest since 1992), Florida softball prevailed 9-8 over Nebraska in a night game that lasted 15 innings and more than five hours, spanning into the early morning of the next day. The Gators lost two separate leads in the contest before rallying to score two runs in the top of the 15th; UF conceded a run in the latter half of the inning but held on for the victory. Unfortunately for Florida, it had to suit up just hours later for an elimination game against Texas at 1 p.m., one it lost 3-0. The Gators were ranked No. 2 entering the 2013 NCAA Tournament but fell short of a title.

11 » ALL HE WANTED WAS A CHANCE


Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy waited patiently as he got overlooked time and time again, most recently by head coach Will Muschamp and his offensive coordinators in favor of younger players with higher ratings coming out of high school. When junior QB Jeff Driskel went down with a fractured fibula against Tennessee, Murphy finally got his shot and made the most of it. Over a three-game stretch including games on Sept. 21, Sept. 28 (at Kentucky) and Oct. 5 (vs. Arkansas), Murphy completed 39-of-54 passes (72.2 percent) for 530 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. (He also gained 135 yards and picked up two more scores with his legs.) Unfortunately for him, Murphy injured his shoulder on Oct. 12 against LSU and was simply not the same player as he took the field in more pain than he or the coaching staff decided to admit publicly. Murphy missed the final three games of the season due to that injury and ultimately transferred, feeling Muschamp would not give him a fair chance to win the starting job in 2014.

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7/10: Donovan on USA Basketball, 2013-14 season

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Wednesday after returning to the United States coming off of a gold medal victory with USA Basketball in the 2013 FIBA World Championships. He discussed his experience overseas in Prague, Czech Republic, and the upcoming 2013-14 season.

GOLDEN, AGAIN

Leading the American under-19 team to a perfect 9-0 record at the world championship, Donovan captured his second gold medal in as many summers and looks primed to be involved in USA Basketball going forward. He called the last three weeks “an incredible experience” and noted that the relentless energy and constant selflessness of the team is why it was so successful in the tournament.

“It felt like we had a good group of guys. The hardest thing in that situation is these teams you’re playing against have been practicing, in some cases, over a year, and in some cases 4-5-6 months. We probably had about 10-12 days of practice after the tryouts to get ready to play,” he explained.

“We had a bunch of guys, all of them 1-12, that had really good motors, really good energy. The winning to them was really important. … Every single one of those guys was a high-profile, really good player. They all knew going in that there was going to be some form of sacrifice that was going to have to take place for us to win.”

Donovan said the gold medal was “pretty special” but could not rank it among his career accomplishments because it was a “totally different” feeling than he got winning two national championships at Florida. He also said he would be up for continuing to work with USA Basketball in the future.

“I’d like to help. I really enjoy it. I find it very refreshing and rejuvenating,” he said. “When they asked me to do this, there’s probably a lot of other coaches they could’ve asked to do this. If they want me to do something in the future, I would be more than happy to help any way I can.”

Read some of Donovan’s thoughts on Florida basketball..after the break!
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