The game plan of Billy Donovan was brilliant and superbly executed by the Gators on April 2: Put different bodies on Oden but no double team; the result: a tired Oden, and a spent force toward the end. Play zone defense and restrict the Buckeyes to outside shooting; the result: 2 of 23 from long range. And both Donovan and the Gators believe in their perimeter shooting, grudgingly but wisely acknowledging the prowess of territorial Oden, but only in the paint.
As is often said, the lack of raw talent is more than made up by the team chemistry, putting the team before self. Most importantly, the players believe the basketball sense of the coach who sees the whole court and dissects the opponents’ weaknesses while leveraging on the strength of the Gators to exploit these exposed foibles.
Basketball is a team sport. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone that a well-balanced team would always trump one with one or even two star players.
Now both the coach and the “Oh Four” group have a decision to make: the former whether to go for a three-peat, but in all likelihood with a different Gator team makeup or to try to duplicate the same success over at Kentucky while the latter whether to turn pro, having reached the pinnacle, twice, in their collegiate career and having understood the truism that there is no I in TEAM.
We have been riding high on the shoulders of this special unselfish group of Gators for the past two years and I say let’s leave them alone to make their next moves. Whatever it is, their contribution in putting the stamp of the Gator Nation in the American sport scene is the tallest order one can expect and certainly the highest honor, academically or otherwise, that one can garner as well. Thanks Billy and company for the excitement and for the memory.