MAYPORT, Fla. -- Any Florida basketball fan out there recall the last time the Gators faced the Georgetown Hoyas.
Let me put it another way: Are there any out there who don’t?
Hoyas coach John Thompson III certainly does.
“As you advance further and further you realize how hard it is to get to that point,” Thompson said during Thursday’s press opportunity for tonight’s the Naval/Marine Corps Classic on the USS Bataan. “And every year, the last game is the one that sticks with you the most.”
Georgetown’s last game of the 2005-06 season was in Minneapolis, where Corey Brewer threw in a turn-around baseline prayer, was fouled on the play, hit the free throw with 27.5 seconds to go and the Gators held on to defeat the Hoyas 57-53 in the NCAA Tournament round of 16.
UF, of course, went on to win the first national championship in school history, then chased it with a second crown in 2007 to secure a certain group of Gators a place in college basketball immortality.
Thompson was one of the 12 victims in that remarkable two-year run, but was quick to praise the job Coach Billy Donovan did with those title-winning teams, both of which began seasons with entirely different circumstances yet finished with the same end result.
“That first year, I believe they started off unranked and no one expected anything out of them,” Thompson said out of group that was rebuilding after the loss of big-time scorers David Lee, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh. “The following year, they came in ranked No. 1 in the country -- the totally opposite end of the spectrum -- and still had the intestinal fortitude to win another championship. So not just winning back to back, which we all know does not happen often, but the same group, totally different [scenarios]. That was special.”