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Gators guard Mike Rosario looks to get more playing time on Sunday.

Sunday March 24, 2013Gators Notebook: Donovan and Smith Renew Rivalry, Rosario Seeks Rebound, More Tidbits

Gators guard Mike Rosario looks to get more playing time on Sunday.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

AUSTIN, Texas -- Billy Donovan and Tubby Smith go back. Way back.

The two coaches have known one another for nearly 25 years, and when Donovan's Gators face Smith's Gophers on Sunday for a berth in the Sweet 16, it will be their 25th head-to-head meeting.

The first one came on Jan. 22, 1997, when Smith was in his second season at Georgia and Donovan his first year at UF. Georgia won 77-70 in overtime in Athens.

The following season Smith went to Kentucky and for the next decade, they squared off regularly as leaders of the SEC's two premiere programs. Smith owns a 14-10 advantage in the rivalry but Donovan has won the last six.

They first got to know each other when Smith was an assistant at Kentucky under Rick Pitino, Donovan's coach at Providence, and Donovan began his coaching career there as a graduate assistant.

"We have had our battles when I was at Kentucky and at Georgia,'' Smith said Saturday. "I'm happy to be here facing him again in this type of a venue versus any other. I think we try to coach and try to teach and play a style similar."

Smith pointed out that they have been around so long that Donovan, in his 17th season, is now the dean of SEC coaches. Smith is in his sixth season at Minnesota and has the Gophers in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.

While they maintain a good relationship and are familiar with each other's styles, Donovan said he doesn't expect that to play a major role in Sunday's game.

"Even though it's Tubby at the other end of the sideline, I'm not watching him,'' Donovan said.

Still, if it's a Smith team you're playing, there are some qualities Donovan knows you can expect to see.

"Tubby's always going to put an emphasis on defense,'' Donovan said. "His teams have always been very good defensively. He always utilizes and takes advantage of the personnel he has on offense. They're always a tough and disciplined team.

"Those are the things that you are always going to get prepared for when you are playing against one of his teams."

ROSARIO'S RIDE ON BENCH

Donovan was not happy with senior guard Mike Rosario at the start of the second half of Florida's win over Northwestern State on Friday night.

Up by eight points at halftime, Donovan stressed to the team at the break to come out focused and avoid a second-half letdown such as the one five days earlier against Ole Miss.

When Rosario missed an assignment and allowed an offensive rebound early in the second half, he was benched for a long stretch.

"I wasn't mad at him to the point to the point I was going to bench him the whole game,'' Donovan said. "But the game was going well while he was on the bench, that was probably part of it."

Rosario got the message and Donovan said there are no lingering issues.

"I've got to move past that game and onto the next game,'' he said. "I'm just trying to prepare myself and get ready. What happened is over and you move on."

Rosario played 15 minutes, half his season average of 29.7 minutes, and finished with eight points, two rebounds and an assist.

PARENTAL SUPPORT

Gators senior Erik Murphy is playing in his final NCAA Tournament, his younger brother Alex his first.

Alex Murphy is a freshman at Duke and is in Philadelphia where the Blue Devils face Creighton on Sunday night. Meanwhile, Florida faces Minnesota here in Austin a couple of hours earlier.

The Murphy boys' parents, mother Paivi and father Jay, are starting the tournament out in orange and blue.

"They're here,'' Erik said Saturday. "I guess I have a little seniority."

THE NAME GAME

Minnesota guards Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins share the same last name and same backcourt, but they didn't share the same home growing up.

While they have been teammates for the past two years, people still confuse them for brothers.

"We're used to it by now,'' said Austin, whose father is former NBA player and coach Lionel Hollins. "We're like brothers because this is like a brotherhood with the team and basketball and everything."

Andre Hollins scored 28 points in Minnesota's win over UCLA on Friday. He has fun with the name game.

"He [Austin] was one of the deciding factors for me coming here,'' Andre said. "He was my host when I came. We're real tight to this day."

NORWOOD ON THE LINE

Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague and Donovan don't go as far back as Donovan and Smith, but they know each other well.

Teague, the former AD at Virginia Commonwealth, called Donovan not once, but twice to ask about one of his assistants.

Teague hired them both at VCU, Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart.

"Because of those two guys, Norwood and I have been able to develop a relationship over the years,'' Donovan said.

QUOTE OF NOTE I

"He's got a little bit of Aaron Craft in him, from Ohio State. He really takes a lot of pride in his defense." -- Smith on Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin

QUOTE OF NOTE II

"It didn't really bother me at all or bother coach. He was like ... 'If you get bit, I'll pay for your medical bills.'' Gators center Patric Young on a bat flying around at Florida's practice

QUOTE OF NOTE III

"Our guys understand that in the playing field of college basketball, anything can happen in a one-game deal." -- Donovan when asked about Florida Gulf Coast's upset of Georgetown

 

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