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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Florida shows no mercy on coach Billy Donovan’s son’s team

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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One of the loudest ovations Florida fans delivered during Thursday night's season-opening exhibition game went to a member of the visiting team.

That honor belonged to Billy Donovan, son of  Gators coach Billy Donovan and a sophomore guard on the team at Division III Catholic University. The 7,870 fans at the O'Connell Center stood and applauded for the younger Donovan after he exited in the final minute of  Florida's 114-57 victory.

"That was really special," said the younger Donovan, who scored a team-high 13 points. "I pretty much grew up here. That's all I remember. It's some of the greatest fans I've seen, so hearing that was really special."

Whereas the younger Donovan spent much of his childhood in Florida colors sitting behind the Gators bench and supporting his dad's team, his view was very different on Thursday night. It was his responsibility to stay in front of Bradley Beal, to contest Kenny Boynton's shot or to endure Erving Walker's defensive pressure.

The younger Donovan has witnessed his dad's teams dismantle overmatched opponents numerous times before, but he came away especially impressed with how this Gators team performed. A Florida team that has shot poorly the past two seasons showed what its guard-heavy attack can do on Thursday night, sinking 20 of 40 three-pointers, storming to a 70-29 halftime lead and coasting the rest of the game.

"This is probably the best I've ever seen one of my dad's teams shoot," the younger Donovan told reporters after the game. "They were hitting everything." {YSP:MORE}

Florida warmed to the idea of facing Catholic in an exhibition game after Cardinals coach Steve Howes approached the elder Donovan about the idea during the summer. The younger Donovan's mother wore a Catholic shirt in the stands and his father hugged him after the game and told him he was proud of the way he played in spite of the loss.

There probably was a spot for the younger Donovan at Florida as a walk-on if he wanted it, but he told reporters after the game that was never his plan.

"I kind of wanted to get out on my own, get out of Gainesville and experience the world for myself," he said. Then with a smile he added, "And not be around dad. Even though I love him."

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