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Billy Donovan

Play it back: rematches to decide last two spots in Final Four

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The most entertaining college basketball game of the regular season came in December. Malik Monk set a record for a Kentucky freshman with 47 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer taken against his coach’s wishes, to lift the Wildcats to a 103-100 win over North Carolina. Are these two ready for an encore? Of course they are – though it’s a valid argument to say this rematch might be better suited for next weekend in the Final Four than Sunday in…

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Billy Donovan copes with Kevin Durant’s exit

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Billy Donovan knew it might come to this. After a remarkable rookie season as an NBA coach, he was unable to persuade Kevin Durant to stay in Oklahoma City. Call it the Kexit, as coined by the Orlando Sentinel’s David Whitley. While there is no real comparison between Durant’s departure from OKC and a nation leaving the European Union, both events produced shock waves in their own way. When Donovan left Gainesville for Muskogee, his job description was condensed to…

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St. Pete native could help Warriors survive

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To force a seventh game in the NBA Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors need unanimous NBA MVP Stephen Curry to play and shoot like Stephen Curry. To beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, they need Curry’s fellow Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, to make his share from beyond the three-point line. Odds are if the Warriors live to force a Game 7, another name will have some responsibility for that. St. Petersburg native Marreese “Mo” Speights has…

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Rookie Billy Donovan already a great NBA coach

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Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder are doing the impossible. The former Gator and current rookie NBA coach and his players are dominating the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in all phases of the game, but especially coaching. The Thunder can advance to the NBA Finals if they can win Game 5 in Oakland on Thursday night. If not, they will have two more chances. Oklahoma City leads the Western Conference Finals three games to one after two…

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Final Four coaches learned under some of the greats

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The Final Four often brings at least one young head coach to the big stage for the first time. Some recent examples include Brad Stevens, who brought Butler to a surprising appearance in the title game in 2010 at the age of 33. Shaka Smart, also 33, led Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) to the Final Four in 2011. In 2000, Billy Donovan, then only 34, took the Florida Gators to the championship game. This year, all four coaches are seasoned veterans.…

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Florida Gulf Coast’s present sees its past

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For the first time since 2013, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles qualified for the NCAA Tournament. For the first time since 2011 the Southern California Trojans will take part in the Big Dance. What do those two programs have in common? The Eagles were coached that year by Andy Enfield and the Trojans of 2016 are led by the same guy. At 47, Enfield is no youngster and has gained some good experience as an assistant in the NBA and…

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Former Gator Coach Billy Donovan thriving in NBA

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When Billy Donovan was lured away from the University of Florida to take over the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, some of the experts feared for his long term security. Donovan was entrenched in Gainesville, having won two national championships and eight Southeastern Conference titles in his 19 seasons there. He endured only three losing seasons; his first two and his last. Still, despite last season’s 16-17 record, few expected him to bolt for the NBA. Or perhaps he might change…

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