NCAA honors Noah, Gators

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Florida’s back-to-back national championship legacy hasn’t been forgotten.

The 06-07 Gators were named one of the top 25 teams in NCAA Tournament by the NCAA, and Joakim Noah was named as one of the top 75 players in NCAA Tournament history.

The NCAA announced its list on Tuesday in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the NCAA Tournament. CBS basketball analysts will complete a bracket of the top 25 teams in early March and unveil its best team in NCAA Tournament history.

Noah was a defensive force inside during Florida’s back-to-back national title seasons. He had 41 blocked shots in 13 NCAA Tournament games, including 29 blocks during Florida’s first NCAA title run in 2006.

The 2006-07 Gators finished 35-5 overall to win their second straight national championship. Florida won both the SEC regular season crown (13-3) and SEC Tournament. Four players from the roster are still playing in the NBA, led by Noah, Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks), Corey Brewer (Denver Nuggets) and Marreese Speights (Memphis Grizzlies).

Several of those players stuck around following the 2006 season for a chance to repeat as national champions and cement their legacy in college basketball.

On my Gator Hoops podcast, I recently asked ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale where the back-to-back national champion Gators rank in terms of the teams he’s witnessed in 32 years of broadcasting.

“They rank very high to me in terms of their loyalty factor,” Vitale said. “In today’s day and age, everyone runs for the quick buck, have visions of grandeur and the dollar. Those kids have to be commended, Noah and Horford and Brewer could have taken a lot of cash. But it’s a tribute to the school, tribute to the coaches and it certainly was an outstanding team defensively.

“I don’t know about ranking top five and all that but bottom line is they’ve done something very few schools have done. They have hung up banners back-to-back years, and that is special.”

Other notes:

— Florida is projected as a No. 1 seed in the South in ESPN’s latest bracketology. According to the projections, the Gators would play NCAA second and third round games in Lexington, Ky., before moving on to Arlington, Texas for the Sweet 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 COMMENTS

  1. The 2006-2007 run was a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, that may never happen again for U.F. Basketball. The win over Ohio State and U.C.L.A. for ‘hardware’ was a dream come true… 2 of the Nations most storied programs getting taken down by the Rowdy Reptiles & Noah, Brewer, and Company is stuff of dreams! Go GATORS… and ‘Thanks’, AGAIN, Coach ‘D’ and U.F, and those PLAYERS for the most memorable run in my lifetime for Gator Basketball! “IT’S GREAT TO BE A FLORIDA GATOR!” Even ‘ROLL TIDE’, and NOLE FANS, and U.G.A. fans envy what that U.F. Team did! CHOMP-CHOMP!!!

  2. Gators79 I agree completely.
    Isn’t it amazing that hype trumps results. The Fab Five did have an impact on the game moving forward but they accomplished nothing other than to promote themselves and in the case of Webber, get rich while in school and in the NBA.

  3. That 2006-2007 Gator’s team did not have a “go-to” guy..But, what they did have was something better..They had FIVE “go-to” guys!
    In addition to playing great defense that team could score from anywhere on the floor. I still can’t believe Billy D. did not win coach of the year for at least one of those two NCAA championship years.

  4. I loved those Gator teams! I used to love it when my man Lee Humphrey would camp out in the corner & drain 3’s all day! I saw them when they came here to Baton Rouge to play LSU during their final season together. They lost that game; the crowd here was going crazy as it was part of the 3 game losing streak that they had but it helped fuel them to the title. Just wish Lee Hump would’ve at least gotten a shot in the league. I still follow all of them in the NBA. Go Gators!!

  5. I went to every home game except one during the two championship years. It was amazing watching those young men play as a team and have fun doing it. I feel blessed to have been able to watch them play live. Billy Donovan is an awesome coach and father figure to the kids he recruits. It’s great to be a Florida Gator!!

  6. I will agree that the back to back, especially the exact same starting 5 will probably never happen again. However, as for just the 2006 or 2007 run individually, I think we will see it again. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about this and how view people were acknowledging it. However, now everyone but Vitale is jumping on the Bandwagon. This is a very good team and like 2007, it is a mature team. Barring injury, I am expecting a run into April.

  7. I and my recently deceased father are both UF grads and are both so very proud of the 2006 – 2007 Gator basketball team. What they accomplished is a monumental testiment to their dedication, discipline and loyalty to the University of Florida. Coach Donivan deserves our utmost appreciation and respect for building this very special basketball team, and coaching them to higher heights. The Gator Nation is humbled by this accomplishment, which may never be matched, but will forever be remembered. In memory of my father, Robert L Kemp, class of 58 (PalmBayGator, class of 85).