Gators coach Billy Donovan renews argument against short turnarounds
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Billy Donovan renewed his long-standing argument Monday that teams playing in conference title games on "Selection Sunday" should not have to return to the court in the NCAA tournament until Friday.
The top-ranked Gators are a lock to open NCAA play Thursday, March 20, in Orlando.
So if Donovan’s team advances to the SEC tournament final this week, which would mean playing three games in three days, Florida would follow with a relatively short week considering it would have to travel back to Gainesville and then to Orlando a few days later.
"One thing the NCAA has to look at is any conference that’s playing their conference tournament and it goes into Sunday," Donovan said Monday. "Those teams, in my opinion, should not play in the NCAA tournament until Friday because you have to go up there and you have to have a mandatory opening practice on a Wednesday if you’re playing Thursday.
"That’s not right for those teams, where you’ve got a team that all of sudden does a heck of a job, they get all the way to Sunday, they win a championship, maybe they miss `Selection Sunday,’ they’ve got to travel back, they get back on campus on Sunday, they’ve got to try to recuperate after playing three straight games and they’re on a plane Tuesday night going into a place, Wednesday practice, Thursday playing. That’s a lot in my opinion."
It’s nothing new for Donovan to complain about, either. Donovan has mentioned the short turnarounds just about every year, even when his team isn’t the favorite to win the SEC tournament.
The Gators (29-2) have won a school-record 23 consecutive games and became the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in the regular season.
Florida will play either eighth-seeded Missouri or ninth-seeded Texas A&M on Friday in the SEC tournament. The Gators haven’t won the league tourney since 2007, the year they won the second of back-to-back national titles.
Donovan said knowing his team will open NCAA play next Thursday has no bearing on whether they want to win the SEC tournament.
"Of course we do," he said. "None of that stuff is obviously ideal. We’ll have to go out there and play regardless. That was just something I would say we need to look at. But I think our guys will be excited about playing. Regardless where it is, we’ll have time to get prepared and ready to play. So if we’re playing in Orlando, that’s great. But our goal right now would be to try to put three games together and play in a championship game on Sunday.
"There’s not going to be anything from our perspective where you sit there and say, `OK, because it’s Sunday, let’s bail on this tournament early.’ We’re not going to do that. We’re going to try to do the very, very best we can if we’re fortunate enough to play three days."