Florida coach Billy Donovan will be returning to the city where he could have been an NBA coach when the Gators face UCF on Wednesday night in downtown Orlando.
There’s no guarantee that Donovan would still be coaching the Magic in the shiny, new $380-million Amway Center this season. Yet Donovan seems at peace with the decision he made to return to Florida in June of 2007 after a six-day stint coaching the Magic.
“The speed and pace at which you had to make decisions, I probably should have taken more time for myself,” Donovan said.
“But as I’ve said many times before the way the whole thing happened, I felt really, really bad about, because I think the Magic organization, them as people, are tremendous people and good people. But I’ve got a lot of strong feelings toward Florida, being here. I think Stan (Van Gundy) has done a great job and it’s worked out well for them. I’m very happy here. So I think in the end it’s all worked out in the best for everybody.”
Would Donovan have the itch to take another NBA coaching job if offered? He didn’t leave the door completely shut, but sounded focused and determined on the task at hand of rebuilding UF to a championship level.
“I think one of the hardest parts in coaching is sometimes you don’t know where you are going to be or what’s going to happen,” Donovan said. “I’ve always tried to look at it this way — I’m happy with where I’m at and if I was fortunate enough to stay here another 15 years I would really, really be happy with that.
“I’m in a unique situation that the guy that hired me (athletic director Jeremy Foley) is still there, and there’s still a great relationship. So I feel really, really good about that. I think what happens sometimes is when a coach says he’s never going to leave and he leaves, all of the sudden it’s ‘Liar!’ Or if he says ‘I want to keep my options open’ the response is ‘He’s not committed there.’ All I can say is I’m really happy here, happy with the team, happy with administration, happy with the people I work with. I am. I’m excited.
“To say that’s the way it’s going to be the rest of my life at Florida? Things change. God forbid something happens with Jeremy Foley or there’s a new president or a change in administration, they don’t like the way we play. Things can all change in a very quick period of time in this kind of business.”
* Senior forward Chandler Parsons said he expects about “50 or 60” family and friends to attend Wednesday night’s homecoming game against UCF. Parsons grew up outside of Orlando in nearby Casselberry and remains huge Magic fan. He attended a Magic preseason game at the new Amway Center last month. “It’s unreal,” Parsons said. “It’s so big and it’s really nice. It’s one of the nicest arenas I’ve ever been in. I’m really excited to play there.”
* Parsons worked out with several UCF players over the summer, including sophomore guard Marcus Jordan, the son of NBA icon Michael Jordan. “He’s a tough player,” Parsons said. “He’s strong and he’s really athletic. It’s like playing against a linebacker out there.”
* Redshirt junior guard Adam Allen did not travel with the team to FSU and will not travel again tonight. Allen is still recovering from three knee surgeries that have sidelined him the last two years. “It’s been tough,” Allen said. “I’ve had good days and bad days.”