Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Donovan, UF Relish This Losing Streak

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Donovan, UF Relish This Losing Streak

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

GAINESVILLE -- It's eight days before National Signing Day and a sense of discontent has enveloped Gator nation. Fans want to get to the root of the problem. They're concerned about the state of the program.

Amazingly, none of this frustration and disappointment is being directed at Ron Zook or his football coaches on the recruiting trail, but at the Gator basketball team.

Coach Billy Donovan says he's heard the question about what's wrong with his squad so many times since Saturday's 94-92 overtime defeat at Arkansas, which was UF's second consecutive loss, that "people are walking around here like it's a train wreck."

And you know what? That's exactly what Donovan wants. Not losing two games in a row, but UF supporters genuinely feeling anguish over back-to-back Ls on the hardwood. It shows just how much the hoops monster that Donovan created in a pigskin environment has grown in just six years.

How intense is the agony over a 14-game winning streak being followed by losses to Georgia and Arkansas? So bad that athletic director Jeremy Foley actually received an e-mail from a longtime Gators basketball fan that said: "What's going on? You tell Billy Donovan to get his act together."

Gee, if Florida happens to lose tonight's nationally televised meeting at home against 10th-ranked Kentucky, does that mean Donovan will need a bodyguard escort out of the O'Connell Center? Might players have to start turning off their answering machines?

"Expectations are higher and when we do lose, it's bigger news than when we win," said junior guard Brett Nelson. "It's two losses and everybody thinks it's the end of the world."

If these consecutive Saturday setbacks happen in football, especially next season, expect UF fans to fill chat rooms with vents about Zook or the play-calling of offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher. …

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