best counter

Your Ad Here
Just The Sports: Florida's '04 Class

Just The Sports

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Florida's '04 Class

Whatever combination of variables led the University of Florida men's basketball coach Billy Donovan to choosing and convincing Taurean Green, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, and Al Horford to play basketball for him, Donovan will credit the '04 Florida recruiting class for saving his job. Saying so is in no way hyperbole. With the way the Florida men's basketball program was headed before these four players started their college basketball careers, there was no reason to expect Donovan would last long in Gainesville.

The impact the now junior players have had on the college basketball landscape is already widely known, including both a national championship and allowing Donovan to change his reputation from being only a top recruiter to being an excellent head coach, but there is more than just those two things to the legacy they will leave behind them whenever they choose to leave.

As for the 2001-02, 2002-03, and 2003-04 seasons, the kindest description of the state of Florida basketball for those three years would be to call the program stagnant. This is not to say that the teams were necessarily bad because they were not, but there was no improvement in any area. Because the program was just good at the time of their stagnation, Florida basketball was kept from joining the elite programs in the country.

That has all changed with the emergence of the '04 class from role players in their freshmen years to bona fide college stars over the last two seasons. Each year with them on the roster, Florida has gotten progressively better, both offensively and defensively, to the point that if the team continues to score and defend at the rate it is at right now, this year will be the best of the three seasons Noah, Green, Horford, and Brewer have played for Florida.

Now that Florida has joined the ranks of the college basketball elite, the true test of Billy Donovan's coaching acumen will be if he can maintain the level of play displayed in this 2006-07 season after these four players end their collegiate careers. If not, we will know for sure whether Florida's recent run of success was due to the '04 recruiting class only or an actual improvement in Donovan's coaching ability.



Post a Comment

<< Home