Bonus coverage in NOLA


One thing that is great about the NCAA Tournament is the access we get. You end up getting more than you can possibly use. But here are a couple of stories from Billy Donovan I wanted to share that we couldn’t get into the paper.

First, on Erving Walker’s first trip to Gainesville:

“He was probably 5’4″. Yeah, his high school coach I’ve known for a long, long time. I was playing CYO basketball in elementary school when he was coaching, and obviously Bob Oliva was at Christ the King for a while. He told me about this kid and he was going to come down for camp for a couple days and he was going to come with his assistant coach, and ended up coming down there. I called him on the phone, I was like you’ve got to be kidding me. I mean, like how about sending me like Derrick Phelps and Khalid Reeves and guys like that. I mean, call me when you’ve got one of those guys. But I know we’re buddies here and you’re trying to have me take a 5’4″ guard. I think he may have been a sophomore at that time. He’s like, Billy, I’m telling you this kid is tough, he makes big shots, he’s a great competitor, you’re going to love him. So I kind of followed him because I knew Erving had a strong interest, and then all of a sudden I started to watch the guy and he’s playing against Rice, Kemba Walker, playing against a lot of really good players in New York City and saw him on the AAU circuit and there was something about him that he learned to overcome his size, and then he obviously had a huge growth spurt and he went from about 5’4″ to about 5’8″.”

The second story came when he was asked how long he would continue to coach:

“Oh, I have no idea. You know, as long as I continue to love it and enjoy it, you know — I talked to Urban Meyer about this. When you have a chance to be a part of two national championships, you realize that the trophy brings no value to you, and what I mean by that is there’s a perception publicly that all of a sudden your life is going to change, okay, and maybe there’s more attention, maybe you can go on more talk shows or TV shows, but really it doesn’t necessarily bring this value to your life. It’s an illusion. And what you find out is where the joy is is in coaching, is going through the process with a group of guys where you’re trying to accomplish something bigger than yourself that you cannot accomplish by yourself. I couldn’t accomplish a national championship by myself. It took an administration, it took players, it took assistant coaches. That is the fun part, when everybody gets together on a similar cause and focus, and all of a sudden now you make that ascent to doing something special and you realize you’re a part of something special because you realize I can’t do this by myself. So how long? As long as I feel like that, I would love to do it.”


  1. Thank you Billy!!!
    Now, FOR ALL BASKETBALL PROSPECTS’ CONSIDERATION (as well as GatorNation’s edification) —
    HEAD BASKETBALL COACH COMPARISON: (UF Coach vs. Best Coach: Last Quarter-Century) — [updated and completed stats]:
    >> BILLY DONOVAN (BD) — [“Dean of the SEC;” aka: “Billy The Kid”], age 45.
    >> MIKE KRZYZEWSKI (MK) — [“Dean of the ACC;” aka: “Coach-K,” “KrazyZooski”], age 64.
    >> BD’s completed 15-season Overall W-L record: 360-147 (71.01%);
    seasonal avg. W-L record: 24-10 (rounded to nearest whole number).
    >> MK’s FIRST 15-season (“block”) W-L record: 362-142 (71.83%);
    seasonal avg. W-L record: 24-9 (rounded…).
    >> BD had Thirteen 20+ win seasons (all consecutive).
    >> MK had Eleven 20+ win seasons (all consecutive).
    >> BD had two 30+ win seasons (four 29+ win seasons).
    >> MK had three 30+ win seasons (four 29+ win seasons).
    >> BD had 2 losing seasons (WORST losing season: 13-17 {1st season}).
    >> MK had 3 losing seasons (BEST losing season: 13-18 {15th season}) — [BD’s “worst” losing season {1st yr.} was BETTER than MK’s “best” losing season {15th yr.}].
    >> BD had 6 double-digit loss seasons.
    >> MK had 5 double-digit loss seasons.
    >> BD’s post-seasons: NCAA: 11 (nine consecutive); NIT: 3; Missed: 1 (1st season).
    >> MK’s post-seasons: NCAA: 11 (all consecutive); NIT: 1; Missed: 3 (incl. 15th season).
    >> BD’s first trip to the NCAA Tourney was in his 3rd season (Sweet Sixteen).
    >> MK’s first trip to the NCAA Tourney was in his 4th season (Second Round).
    >> BD’s first trip to the Final Four was in his 4th season (Runner-Up).
    >> MK’s first trip to the Final Four was in his 6th season (Runner-Up).
    >> BD won his first NCAA Championship in his 10th season.
    >> MK won his first NCAA Championship in his 11th season.
    >> BD won 2 NCAA Championships (consecutive).
    >> MK won 2 NCAA Championships (consecutive).
    >> BD, in his latest season (2011), took his lower ranked Gators to the Elite Eight.
    >> MK, in his latest season (2011), took his higher ranked Blue Devils to the Sweet Sixteen.
    >> BD coaches in a real college basketball arena (albeit, multipurpose): O’Connell Center (1980; 12,700 cap.).
    >> MK coaches in a glorified high school gymnasium: Cameron “Stadium” (1940; 9,400 cap.).
    We all stand on the shoulders of those who’ve gone before, building and hopefully improving upon what they’ve wrought. Who’s shoulders do these two Coaches stand upon??
    Coach-K (MK) stepped into an established, tradition-rich basketball program with a consistent history of success; one capable of boasting an impressive composite winning-percentage (WP) of 66.6% (apropos for a team named Blue DEVILS) dating all the way back to the beginning of the tenure of their coach during WWII (1942-43), and which only had three losing seasons since that time (39 yrs.) – an average of one losing season every 13 years.
    [Note: I chose a point during WWII as a common marker for comparison sake, because UF’s basketball stats prior to WWII (the hoops program began in 1915) were incomplete and not readily available].
    Even before then (WWII), Duke’s hoops composite winning percentage from that time all the way back to the program’s inception in 1905 averaged 63.6%. Their overall composite WP prior to the Coach-K era (“pre-K”) was 65.5% (from seasons 1905-06 thru 1979-80). Obviously, a very consistent program historically committed to winning. Their winning tradition started early, but didn’t stop there.
    Their seasonal avg. W-L record (“pre-K”) was 15-8 (rounded up from 14.6 – 7.7 {65.5%}).
    [Needless to say, fewer games/season were played back then].
    Billy D. (BD) stepped into an ill-established UF program that, in stark contrast, had precious little to boast of and even less tradition, save one of being historically inconsistent and, with few exceptions, largely mediocre. UF’s pre-Donovan (“pre-D”) years had a composite WP of ~52.3% (dating back to ~1946) and 19 losing seasons (since 1953) – an average of 1 losing season every two to three (2.32) years! The “winning” seasons were rarely inspiring, though. Their seasonal avg. W-L record was a meager, if not dismal, 13-12 (rounded down from 13.4 – 12.2 {~52.3%}). Billy D. commenced and has consistently maintained UF’s relatively new-found winning “tradition,” and because of his knack for spawning successful Head Coaches (coupled with our awesome Athletic Director Jeremy Foley’s long-standing commitment to excellence), it will likely not end with him!
    MK’s first 15-season “block” W-L record (362-142) only raised Duke’s “pre-K” overall (composite) winning percentage (WP) by a paltry 1.4% (from 65.5% to 66.9%), barely bumping up the Blue Devils’ seasonal avg. W-L record from 15-8 to 16-8 (rounded down from 16.2 – 8.0 {66.9%}).
    BD’s 15-season W-L record – thru Feb.12th, 2011 (351-144) – however, has raised UF’s overall WP by a whopping ~5.1% (from ~52.3% to ~57.4%), jumping the Gators’ seasonal avg. W-L record from 13-12 to almost 16-12 (rounded up from 15.6 – 11.6 {~57.4%}).
    [Since then (Feb.12th), BD’s Gators improved even more, going 9-3 thru their final game on Mar.26th (improving BD’s completed 15-season record to 360-147)]!
    “Billy The Kid’s” (BD’s) 15-season record (thru 2/12/11), though ever-so-slightly behind “KrazyZooski’s” (MK’s) record, nonetheless has had roughly a 250% greater impact on the UF basketball program’s “pre-D” seasonal avg. W-L record than “Krzy’s” (MK’s) virtually identical 15-season record had on Duke’s “pre-K” seasonal avg. W-L record!
    It’s not surprising that BD’s performance had a greater impact on the Gators’ Hoops program than MK’s comparable performance had on Duke’s, considering their programs’ respective histories, BUT for BD to get virtually identical results from his fledgling, upstart Gators as MK got from his “vaunted” Blue Devils – and in most categories, slightly better or sooner – is, quite frankly, astonishing!!!!!!!
    Considering what these two coaches had (or not) at their respective disposal, it’s evident that Billy Donovan didn’t merely outperform Mike Krzyzewski in his respective “first” 15 seasons (and by far, comparatively),… the man has been performing virtual miracles in Gatortown!!!
    IF Billy Donovan tarries, and his performance continues to closely mimic Coach-K’s pattern, whose subsequent 15 seasons were even better (winning percentage-wise: 82.45%) than his first 15-season “block” (though his comparative number of Final Four appearances decreased and he only added two more NC’s – the same as in his first 15 seasons), then it’s gonna be a wild, exhilarating ride [again!] in G’ville this next decade or so! Gatortown will gradually increase, yet more, it’s basketball magnetism!!
    DEAR PROSPECT-RECRUIT: I hope the above facts (statistical comparisons), coupled with US News & World Report’s (US 2011 academic ranking of UF at #53 (Duke, #9; Georgetown, #21; UCLA, #25; UNC, #30; Texas, #45; {UF, #53}; Syracuse, #55; Ohio State, #56; Pitt., #64; UConn., #69; Mich.St., #79; Kansas, #104; Ariz., #120; Kentucky, #129; Louisville, #176), help to put things into perspective and contribute to your making an informed decision (there are more so-called “basketball schools” ranked below {inferior to} UF – academically – than above us!).
    Lastly, do not overlook the WEATHER factor!
    We are the University of Florida!!…
    … FLORIDA, I said!!!
    Need I say more?!?
    The state’s flagship university, UF is also far enough north in The Sunshine State to have mildly cool Autumns (Fall) and chilly, short-lived “Winters” (the two football “seasons”).
    Unlike the above-mentioned schools, we…
    … are completely unaffected by the Noreaster blizzards of the NE & upper midwest,
    … don’t suffer from the daily temperature extremes that plague the desert SW (incl. TX),
    … are not prone to the severe flooding common to the mountainous northern-tiered Southern States,
    … are far from the stormy plains of tornado alley,
    … never worry about the ground under our feet shifting or roof over our heads crumbling from earthquakes, and…
    … realize that the weather steering-currents, historically, have made the Carolinas (and the Northern Gulf and Texas coasts) statistically more susceptible to hurricanes than Florida (hence the NHL hockey team name: Carolina Hurricanes).
    As for Florida’s summer heat and humidity, I can attest as a former north-easterner that they actually get HOTTER than Florida and ALMOST as humid. Temps. here only occasionally reach the MID-90’s, whereas the NE commonly soars into the UPPER-90’s!
    In the inimitable words of Mick Hubert – voice of the Gators: “BOOK IT!”
    ‘Nuff said!
    IGTBAG! (It’s Great To Be A Gator!)
    PS: If John Wooden was the “Wizard of Westwood,” then Billy Donovan is (still) the “Guru of Gainesville!
    PPS: Again, THANKS BILLY!!! [please stay in Gatortown!].

  2. Looking back on what was one of the more succesful seasons in Gator Men’s Basketball History a question keeps coming to mind. It is a question that has no right or wrong answer. Dah Question:

    Would the 2010-11 Gator Basketball team gone as far or maybe further if Chandler Parsons side kick in High School, Rick Calathis (Spelling?) had stayed at Florida for his Junior and Senior seasons instead of heading for Greece?

    If I were a betting man, and I am not, I would bet Rick got the same talking to Chandler did after their sophmore seasons by Billy and Chandler stayed and Rick headed out of town. Also if Rick had stayed, it would be interesting to know who on the current team might not be a Gator today.

    So there it is! Now have fun with it.

    Bob, Gator Fan in Jacksonville – in the good times and in the not so good times. Congratulations to this year’s Basketball team they provided a lot of great memories for us all and all wiish there were a few more!!

  3. @Jax Gator —
    His name was Nick Calathes.
    It’s too bad Billy didn’t bring in his other H.S. teammate, Joey Rodriguez, who’s now the point guard for VCU in the Final Four!
    PS: I was never very impressed with Nick Calathes.

  4. I would not call his exit particularly graceful, but Nick played hard for us. He was a tremendous talent, and there were plenty of times when he carried his team. His passing was outstanding, and he could score. If he had devoted himself to team play and developing his game, he could have done great things here. He made a choice that was best for him.

  5. 5’8″ Walker inexplicably lost Gator’s chance for the Final Four. Watch the
    replay.Walker had no intention of giving up the ball. Teammates recognized
    his MO right off & knew it was no use maneuvering for position–“it’s everybody-watch-Walker-time!!” Butler also recognized Walker’s selfish tactics.
    They knew to collapse on him to cancel Florida’s chance= Florida cancelled!!

    Sure Walker won 3-4 season games with his last second shots. But we would
    have had a 6-8 point cushion had 5’8″ Walker not driven in 3-4 times for a hopeless throw-up easily blocked without fouling.

  6. Calathes would have been an excellent PG if he had stayed. We might have won three straight if the 04’s, sans humphrey, had stayed but that would have been a miracle signalling the second coming. I read in the NBA Hoopsworld that Calipari is considering returning to the NBA. Could he be feeling the hot breath of the NCAA that the personal assistant he brought in from Memphis was making illicit phone calls to prospects. I know I’m old and cynical but it would be interesting why T. Jones committed to Washington and then flip flopped to UK. Once the NCAA gets its investigators into the program they look at everything. Put your final four banner up with velchro, UK. P.S. Billy is a pearl without price.

  7. Kentucky’s John Calipari (also) has an excellent overall winning percentage (77%), but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. He’s trouble!
    You’ve been warned, High School prospects.