Florida completes rare repeat; Gator Nation jubilant
The Florida Gators accomplished what no other NCAA Championship team had ever done: winning back-to-back championships with the same starting five. With their 84-75 win over Ohio State on Monday night, the Gators became the first repeat basketball champions since the Duke Blue Devils accomplished the feat in 1991-92.
The starters from Florida, most notably Joakim Noah, were outspoken about their desire to return to school and repeat after winning the title last season, and they proved true to their word.
The Gators stopped Ohio State's 22-game win streak in its tracks with timely outside shooting from Cory Brewer (3-8 on 3-pointers and named Most Oustanding Player of the Final Four), Lee Humphrey (4-7 3s) or Taurean Green (3-3).
The long-range scoring of the Gators was the story as Florida hit 10-18 (56%) from beyond the arc. Inside, Ohio State's Greg Oden had his career game, hitting 10 of 15 shots for 25 points while collecting 12 rebounds. Oden battled four Gators inside all night and wracked up a total of 15 fouls on his opposition.
But he alone could not overcome the tremendous team effort by Florida. Of the starters, only Noah failed to score in double figures. Al Horford had 18; Green, 16; Humphrey 14 and Green, 13. Noah, who spent much of the second half on the bench due to foul problems, finished with 8 points.
The Gators have now captured the last three major college championships. In between the basketball titles, the football team won a national championship, beating the Buckeyes' football counterparts earlier this year.
It has been an amazing 2 years in Gainesville, but all indications are that the good times may be coming to an end. All of the Florida starters will leave for the NBA and coach Billy Donovan has been rumored to be headed to another coaching post, either at Kentucky or in the pros.
That leaves it to Urban Meyer and the football team to carry on. The basketball Gators of 2005-2007 are going into the history books. In the two years the starters have been together, they've gone 68-11 (33-6 in 2005-06, 35-5 in 06-07), won both SEC tournaments and national championships, ending this season with a 9-game win streak. We may have just seen one of the great teams of all time.
You certainly won't get any arguments in the Sunshine State.