Former player proud to share


Florida coach Billy Donovan takes a breath as the last minutes tick off the clock in his team's victory Tuesday.

MICHAEL E. PALMER/N.Y. Times Regional Newspaper Gr
Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 1:31 a.m.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Randall Leath didn't expect his record to stand a lifetime.
Still, the former Florida center wasn't about to completely concede it. At least not yet.
Leath, a high school teacher and basketball coach in Tuscaloosa, made it to Florida's shootaround Tuesday afternoon and found time to shake hands with Florida forward David Lee, the player who broke his 22-year-old field goal percentage mark.
"As far as the attempts, he's got me, but we're both still 1.000," Leath said. "And don't forget, I made 8-of-8 free throws."
Lee, a Wooden Award finalist, made 12-of-12 shots earlier this season against Northeastern. Leath held the previous record by hitting on 10-of-10 shots against Biscayne College in November of 1981.
Lee's 12-of-12 night was part of a four-game stretch in which he sank 19 consecutive shots.
"He's a great talent, a great kid," Leath said. "I'm just so proud of the situation and what Billy (Donovan) has done. To take it from a middle-of-the-road basketball program to one that is in the hunt nationally every year, it's something all Florida players can now take a lot of pride in."
Leath, who coached P.K. Yonge to a state basketball title in 1991, moved from Clearwater to Tuscaloosa last summer when his wife changed jobs. He found a teaching and coaching job at Tuscaloosa Northridge High just before the school year began.
Northridge, a first-year school, came into Tuesday night 3-16.
"We've got some growing to do," Leath said. "We just had a big win against a team from across town, so I can't really complain too much about it. I'm seeing some progress."
  • BACK TO COLEMAN: Florida didn't need to be reminded about its last trip to Alabama's home floor.
    Alabama won 65-64 in February of 2002 in Coleman Coliseum on a layup at the buzzer by current senior guard Antoine Pettway. The dramatic shot is still replayed in highlights before every Alabama home game.
    "That was probably the low point in my basketball career," said Lee, a freshman at the time. "Because we had a couple of close games already not go our way, and it was a very, very crucial game."
    Pettway drove the baseline and put up the shot over former Florida forward Udonis Haslem as time expired. Lee recalled that Pettway was trapped on the baseline but somehow found a way to break free and get to the basket.
    Alabama finished the season 27-8 and took the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship.
    "We felt like we had accomplished so much by hanging with them at their arena," Lee said. "To have it all crashing down like that, that was a tough loss."
  • HOLDING THEIR GUARD: Florida coach Billy Donovan (Providence) and Alabama coach Mark Gottfried (Alabama) played against each other in the 1987 NCAA Tournament. Donovan started at point guard and Gottfried started at shooting guard.
  • BACK IN BLACK: Florida wore its alternate black uniforms for the second time this season and the first time on the road. Florida last wore its black uniforms in an 87-73 win at the O'Connell Center against Florida State.
    You can reach Kevin Brockway at brockwk@gvillesun.com or 374-5054.
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