Florida falls brief for Final Four, though finds wish in White

NEW YORK (AP) The initial NCAA Tournament in that Florida’s Mike White has ever coached supposing copiousness of wish for a destiny of Gators basketball in a post-Billy Donovan era.

After entrance adult a feat brief of a Final Four, though, it was formidable for White to demeanour toward a destiny when a benefaction was so painful.

”Obviously very, really heartbreaking,” he said. Not a journey. Just a finish.

The fourth-seeded Gators went mill cold from 3-point operation in a second half, blank all 14 of their attempts, and South Carolina rallied to win a East Regional 77-70 on Sunday and acquire a school’s initial outing to a Final Four.

”We really done a matter that a Gators are no fun and they’re really entrance behind and they’re building their module behind to where it used to be,” brazen Devin Robinson said. ”To be THE Florida Gators.”

White left Louisiana Tech and took over Florida in 2015 when Donovan, who led a Gators to dual inhabitant championships and 4 Final Fours, left for a NBA. The Gators missed a NCAA Tournament in Donovan’s final deteriorate and White’s initial and it was easy to start wondering if a excellence days of Florida basketball were gone.

Even this season, a Gators were no tighten to get behind to a NCAAs until they ripped off 9 loyal victories, starting in late January. In a center of their streak, 6-foot-11 John Egbunu was mislaid to a ripped knee ligament. This group though a loyal star always seemed to perform larger than a sum of a parts.

”These guys, there’s only been no play this year,” White said. ”And I’ve never been a partial of that. In 17 years not to get one call during midnight that your guys did something crazy or not to have to mangle adult a quarrel in a locker room or understanding with man, I’m going to send if we don’t play more. You know, we just, a enlightenment is behind to where it needs to be to only to give us a chance.”

The Gators built a 7-point halftime lead opposite South Carolina on a strength of 7 for 12 3-point shooting. Senior Justin Leon led a way, going 3 for 5 from prolonged operation and scoring 13 points. It didn’t last.

Leon, a youth college transfer, was a initial actor White recruited to Florida when he got a job.

”He’s shown signs of a lot of toughness, that’s one of a things Coach White preaches,” Leon said. ”And we theory with him recruiting me, it shows that he likes tough players and he only wants a module to be famous as a good hard-nosed program.”

White, who played ensure during Ole Miss, spent 11 seasons as an partner and 4 as conduct manager of Louisiana Tech, though never done a NCAA Tournament. That had during slightest a few Florida fans doubtful when he was hired by former jaunty executive Jeremy Foley.

”I remember when he played in this league,” Foley pronounced Sunday. ”He hadn’t been in a NCAA Tournament, though he had been a conduct manager for 4 years and won over a hundred games, Been manager of a year (in Conference USA) 3 times.

”I know what form of impression he has. Obviously, Billy Donovan, we know what form of male Billy was. We wanted to reinstate that in a building.”

White also got Donovan’s endorsement.

”I talked to Coach D and Coach D was like we can trust this man,” Robinson said. ”I’m not going to put we in a positon that we won’t be successful and he didn’t lie.”

White has a prolonged approach to go to even come tighten to relating Donovan’s record during Florida, though 48 victories in his initial dual seasons is a best for any Gators coach.

Next competence be even some-more challenging. Florida will have to reinstate seniors Leon, Kasey Hill and Canyon Barry. Robinson pronounced he has to speak with his relatives and coaches before determining either to lapse for his comparison deteriorate or go pro. Egbunu competence leave early, too.

White will reconstruct around a energetic backcourt of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza, whose OT 3-pointer during a buzzer kick Wisconsin and put a Gators in a Elite Eight during a deteriorate where only removing behind to a NCAA Tournament was a large step.

”It was fun to be a partial of,” White said. ”’I’ll feel improved about it in a integrate days.”

Follow Ralph D. Russo during www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

More college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

Play Now!

Do you have an unusual story to tell? E-mail stories@tutuz.com