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Wednesday March 26, 2014 Muschamp on Billy D: 'I think he's the best college coach, period'

Billy Donovan

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan during Saturday's NCAA win over Pittsburgh.

MEMPHIS -- Will Muschamp has his own team to focus on in March.

The Gators are in the middle of spring practice and Muschamp is getting acclimated to nine early enrollees and three new assistant coaches -- including first-year-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper -- as he seeks to turn around the program.

Still, Muschamp will keep a close eye on Florida's No. 1-ranked basketball team. This is Muschamp's fourth spring practice as Florida's head football coach, and for the fourth consecutive year, Billy Donovan's team is in the Sweet 16.

The Gators face UCLA on Thursday night here at the FedExForum in quest of a fourth consecutive trip to the Elite Eight.

Will Muschamp

"I love March Madness,'' Muschamp said. "It's a fun time of the year. Other than the college football season, it's certainly one of my favorite times of year. Our team is fabulous. Billy does a great job. We've got a heck of a basketball team. The word 'team' is what comes to mind and that's what those guys are."

Muschamp had never met Donovan before he arrived at UF in December 2010. He quickly learned about Donovan as a coach and person.

"Control what you can control'' is perhaps the biggest takeaway Muschamp has learned from Donovan, he said.

The Gators are 34-2 entering Thursday's game against UCLA and have won a school-record 28 consecutive games. Donovan was named SEC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year -- the first back-to-back winner in more than 30 years -- and signed a contract extension last month that runs through the 2018-19 season.

The accolades and praise Donovan has received is well-deserved in Muschamp's eyes.

"As far as putting Florida basketball on the map, a lot of what Coach Spurrier did here in football, I would say is very similar,'' Muschamp said. "I've said it before: I think he's the best college coach, period, in the country. I'm not just talking about basketball. I'm talking overall for what he's done here."

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