National media sleeping on (1) Florida no longer

Ranked No. 1 overall in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the Florida Gators began receiving long-awaited but much-deserved press when event started two weeks ago but has understandably seen its national media coverage double over the last few days while ramping up to play in its first Final Four since 2007.

Below are a few must-read and must-view national articles, videos and pictures relating to the Gators from the last few days.

CBS Sports: Billy Donovan redefining Gators, evolving as a coach

Florida has gone from looking like a future NBA team to looking like a mid-major deluxe, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. The one-and-done thing works for John Calipari at Kentucky. The mid-major thing works for Gregg Marshall at Wichita State. Donovan is somewhere in the middle, getting the occasional superstar recruit like Young or Bradley Beal but surrounding those guys with pieces that are brimming with character and growth.

And in doing so, Billy Donovan hasn’t redefined just the Florida basketball program. He has redefined the Florida basketball coach.

SportsCenter conversation with Billy Donovan

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Pictures, tweets, videos: Florida Gators former and current celebrate advancing to Final Four

Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-2) has been strong throughout the season and especially the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

It continued on Saturday after the team advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and first time since 2007 with a 62-52 Elite Eight win over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN.

Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game. OnlyGators.com has also added a few other choice contributions that fit in with the overall theme.

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Ex-Gators praise (1) Florida after Pittsburgh win

Support for the (1) Florida Gators (34-2) has been strong from former members of the program all season long, and it continued on Saturday after the team advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive season with a 61-45 victory over the (9) Pittsburgh Panthers (26-10) in the Round of 32 in the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the Amyway Center in Orlando, FL. Check out what nearly a dozen former Florida basketball players had to say about their team’s victory.


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FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah played the second-most minutes of any reserve in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, his second-straight appearance in the midseason contest, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with five rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes. Noah saw extensive time down the stretch for the Eastern Conference, which outscored the Western Conference 87-66 in the second half to pull out a 163-155 victory in the highest-scoring All-Star game ever. After the win, Miami guard Dwyane Wade referred to Noah as “one of the best competitors I’ve ever played against,” noting that his defense played a major part in the East’s success. “In the locker room,” he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “we talked about having fun and enjoying it, but [Noah] was serious. He wanted to win. You could see it in his face. … I’m glad he was on our side.”

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Calathes, Parsons

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah on Tuesday registered the fourth triple-double of his career, scoring 19 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and dishing 11 assists in 41 minutes to lead his team to a 100-85 win over Atlanta. Noah, who also registered three blocks and made a highlight behind-the-back pass on the evening, recently received his second-straight NBA All-Star nod. He has posted double-doubles (or better) in three of his last four games and is currently averaging 11.8 points along with career-highs of 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

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Donovan on injuries, senior leaders, Walker

No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (21-2, 10-0 SEC) is already in Knoxville, TN getting prepared to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (15-8, 6-4 SEC) on Tuesday evening. Before the team left, Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss the upcoming contest and difficult road ahead.

INJURY UPDATE

Senior forward Casey Prather continues to rehabilitate from an ankle injury he suffered a few weeks ago, but it has not stopped him from playing or participating in practice (though he has missed a couple over the last few weeks).

Donovan said Monday that Prather did not practice on Sunday because the “trainer wanted to give him an extra day of rest.” However, the expectation was that Prather would return to the court before Florida left for Tennessee later in the evening.

After scoring in double digits for the first 18 games he played this season, Prather failed to do so in consecutive contests to star the month of February (he was on the court for 21 minutes in each game). That was not the case on Saturday when Prather appeared to be back to his normal self, seeing 33 minutes of action and posting 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting with six boards and three assists.

LEADERSHIP WILL PROVE KEY

With four of Florida’s next five games on the road and each of thoses contest posing a threat to the Gators’ strong Southeastern Conference record, Donovan said he has done what he could to prepare his squad for the difficult sledding ahead.

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Joakim Noah gets ejected, curses out referees

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, a beloved member of the team who just last week received his second-straight NBA All-Star nod as a reserve for the Eastern Conference, was ejected from Monday night’s game against Sacramento after being assessed his second technical foul of the game. In response to his ejection, Noah went on a tirade, repeating a very popular two-word phrase while singling out each referee on the court.

NBA players and coaches this season have received fines of $15,000 and $25,000 for either failing to leave the court in a timely manner following an ejection or directing profanity at referees. Noah will likely incur a similar fine unless new NBA commissioner Adam Silver chooses to make an example out of him for this incident and hit him with a harsher penalty. A decision should be handed down from the league office expeditiously.

Noah’s streak of 18-straight double-digit rebounding games was snapped.

Then again, maybe Noah was just reenacting the 1998 comedy classic Half Baked.

Video embedded below contains profanity.

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Joakim Noah earns 2014 NBA All-Star Game nod

Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls on Thursday was named a reserve for the Eastern Conference in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.

“I’m just happy. I’m honored to be selected to play in the All-Star Game and play against the best players in the world,” he told ESPNChicago.com. “It’s very humbling. I’m happy my hard work is paying off. Even though it’s not my priority, it’s still a pretty good achievement. I’m proud of it.”

Noah received the second-straight All-Star nomination of his career after averaging career-highs of 11.4 points and 4.2 assists through the first half of the 2013-14 season. His 11.7 points per game is just 0.2 away from his career-best mark.

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