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We Are the Champions!
The UF men’s basketball team made history on April 3 when it captured the school’s first-ever national championship in basketball. The team won a decisive 73–57 victory over the UCLA Bruins in the final game of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis.
More than 10,000 Gator fans packed the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Friday, April 7 to celebrate. During the rally, the floor that the Gators defeated UCLA on in Indiana was revealed as the new basketball floor for the O’Connell Center. UF purchased the floor for $70,000. All team members eligible to return for the 2006–2007 season revealed they would be staying at UF to defend the title next year, despite offers from the NBA.
Two of the current players are CLAS majors, including Joakim Noah, an anthropology sophomore from New York, and Chris Richard, a junior sociology major from Lakeland, Florida. Noah was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and in the final game, he had a 16-point, nine-rebound and six-block show. He set records for blocks in the championship game and the tournament overall with a total of 29.
Head Basketball Coach Billy Donovan says Noah is a people person and has an enthusiasm for life.
“He’s very much opinionated. Wait, that isn’t the right word. He’s very, very well versed,” says Donovan. “Let’s say politics or things that are going on in the country and the world, he likes debating these things. I remember seeing him and Associate Head Coach Anthony Grant, and they were having a healthy discussion about politics. That’s not something you always see.”