Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Officer Billy Inspires Gators; Florida Coach Donovan Dons a Police Uniform before the Auburn Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Officer Billy Inspires Gators; Florida Coach Donovan Dons a Police Uniform before the Auburn Game

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - If there seems to be extra police hanging around the Florida bench before the top-ranked Gators' game at Georgia on Wednesday, it's not for security reasons.

It's to get the Florida players riled up.

Having the extra cop on hand worked for the Gators' road game at Auburn on Jan. 27, and Florida coach Billy Donovan might be tempted to try it again - if he could only find where he put his handcuffs.

It was Donovan who showed up in the locker room dressed as a policeman just before tip-off against the Tigers, and he did it to motivate his players, to get them to understand how they must play when they're on the road in a hostile environment of feverish fans.

"We come with that mentality, like we're the cops just ruining the party, messing everything up," Joakim Noah said. "We feel like everywhere we go it's like a circus. We just like the mentality of being the bad cops, taking the kegs away, taking everything away and just messing up the party, messing up the good time.

"Everybody goes home with a sad face. We just go home like nothing happened."

Not exactly nothing. After Donovan changed back into his suit for tip-off, the Gators pounded the Tigers 91-66.

"When we play with that focus and that passion, we're the best team in the country," Noah said. "As soon as we lose that focus, we're no better than an average team."

Donovan's goal was to make sure the Gators (21-2, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) didn't lose their focus then, or in the final stretch of the season when Florida plays five of the last eight games on the road.

He did it in grand style.

When he walked into the locker room, he wasn't just wearing a blue shirt and a badge. He was decked out in a police uniform. Boots, handcuffs, baton, the works. And his players loved it.

"We weren't expecting it, and I think that definitely got us going," Al Horford said. "It really caught everybody by surprise."

Then Horford shook his head.

"Imagine coach with the full outfit on," he said. "Handcuffs and that baton you flip out."

Donovan is about 6 feet tall, and in a locker room in which nine players are 6-6 or taller, he didn't exactly look intimidating. …

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