After coming out of the first weekend of the 2013 NCAA Tournament with two big wins, the three-seed Florida Gators chose to remain in Texas – travelling from Austin, TX to Arlington, TX on Monday – rather than fly home only to be forced to fly back out a few days later. Head coach Billy Donovan has participated in two media availabilities since then and the team has been doing plenty of work on and off the court as well. Here are a few odds and ends that would not fit into some of the other posts here on OGGOA.
» Former Florida center Joakim Noah will be in attendance on Friday. The Chicago Bulls happen to be playing against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday afternoon, so Noah will be in town and able to attend the Sweet 16 game.
» The Gators had a pair of celebrity visitors as guests in practice this week as Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle took in the team’s first workout on Tuesday and Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski wound up in Cowboys Stadium on Thursday to watch the team’s shootaround. Pierzynski is a life-long UF fan.
» Donovan and Carlisle were both members of the 1987-88 New York Knicks though both were just bench players on the team. Also on that squad? Sidney Green, the father of former Florida point guard Taurean Green. Donovan and Carlisle also played with Patrick Ewing, Kenny “Sky” Walker, Bill Cartwright, Gerald Henderson, Mark Jackson and Gerald Wilkins among others. Donovan and his Gators coaching staff actually went out for dinner with Carlisle and his assistants when Florida got into town on Monday. The Gators then went to the Mavericks game on on Tuesday and saw Dallas pull off an exciting 109-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
» According to Florida Today’s David Jones, junior forward Will Yeguete had been approached in the past to leave Florida early to play professional basketball in France. He declined. “Not happening. My parents want me to graduate,” he said.
» Students from Florida and Florida Gulf Coast will be featured on NBC’s The Today Show on Friday morning. There will be a live spirit competition between the students on a split screen. Gators fans should wear orange, blue and gear with the team logo and arrive at Gate 1 of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 6:30 a.m. sharp. The segment will air on NBC at approximately 7:15 a.m.
» Senior guard Kenny Boynton on trying to get to the Final Four after consecutive losses in the Elite Eight: “Basically you need to remember, but you don’t think about it. We remember the pain it caused for us last year. I think we used it to learn for the next few games. We’ve been close, and our goal is to get further this year.”
» Donovan on being forced to suspend junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin before the first game of the season: “I’ll never forget this. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever experienced as a coach when I told him in my office, ‘We’re not taking you on this trip. You’re not playing.’ And all of our team is on the bus and we’re driving to Jacksonville. And he’s got his book bag over his shoulder and our bus is leaving and he’s walking down past our facility to walk back to his dorm. He’s obviously very emotional and he’s crying. I think those kinds of events sometimes really change you. … I think there’s no question that situation with Scottie helped him.”