They'd just beaten the Crimson Tide by a dozen in front of yet another sellout crowd of roaring, raucous Rowdy Reptiles.
They'd just clinched a share of only the sixth Southeastern Conference title in school history.
And Billy Donovan wasn't happy. In fact, you'd have thought Florida's coach had just watched his team lose by 30 to FIU.
"I was really, really, really disappointed in our team," Billy Badmouth said after Saturday's 64-52 victory over Alabama. "… We were distracted, we were easily frustrated … we were dead-legged, we were slow, we looked like we were in quicksand and nobody was home mentally."
Ah, it must be March — that time of year when Billy the Legend must tell his players how bad they are so they can prepare properly for their run at greatness. With key players Will Yeguete and Michael Frazier both returning from injuries Saturday, Donovan now has his team physically healthy heading into March Madness. Now he has to get them psychologically ready, too.
Donovan, more than anyone, knows the Gators must play a certain way or they can easily be ousted early from the NCAA Tournament. If this team is going to make a run at Donovan's third national title, it must continue to take on the pugnacious personality of its coach, who led Providence College to the Final Four as a college senior not because he was super-talented but because he was ultracompetitive.
Donovan has coached two national championship teams at Florida and put another team in the Final Four. He just surpassed 400 career victories at UF. He's not even 50 yet, and he's already a Hall-of-Famer. But this team has a chance to become his proudest accomplishment.
How do they do it?
How have the Gators managed to beat their conference opponents by an average of nearly 20 points per game this season?
How has this team been able to win the fifth SEC title of the Donovan era?
The Gators have had key players out of the lineup with injuries all season. And, frankly, even when they are at full strength, they don't beat you down with their amazing talent or wear you down with their incredible depth. But what they will do is shut you down with their angry defense.
Last year's SEC and national champion, Kentucky, had six players drafted, including the first two picks and four in the first round. This year's Florida team, if it's lucky, might have one player drafted in the first round (center Patric Young) and two overall.
"If you take the other top 10 teams in the country, there are probably two or three first-round picks on those teams," Donovan says. "We're not built like that. We're not talented enough to win anything if we don't play the right way."
That's why Donovan benched guard Mike Rosario with 12 minutes to go after he attempted a one-handed cross-court pass that ended up in the stands. Donovan was beside himself when it happened and let Rosario know that such selfish hot-dogging would not be tolerated.
"You're going to try to be cute with the SEC Championship on the line," Donovan said in an incredulous tone. "If you do that, you need to sit down."
Donovan said afterward that Rosario must have thought he was "Tom Seaver" to attempt to throw the ball where he did. Seaver, the legendary pitcher of the New York Mets, was one of Donovan's idols as a kid growing up on Long Island.
It's no wonder. Donovan, in many ways, is like Seaver, who was considered a perfectionist in his day and a man who would not tolerate mediocrity.
"There are only two places in this game: first place and no place," Seaver once said.
This attitude is why they called Seaver "Tom Terrific."
This attitude is also why Donovan has become Billy Prolific.
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