Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan says the NBA still holds ‘intrigue’ for him

Florida coach Billy Donovan admitted Friday that the notion of coaching in the NBA one day still has some “intrigue” for him. Coming as it did in Orlando, where Donovan took and quickly gave back the Magic coaching job in 2007, the comment got everybody’s antenna up during an NCAA South Region news conference.

“The NBA part of it for me is that it’s all basketball,” said Donovan, who is 48 and in his 18th season at Florida. “I got into coaching because of the basketball piece of it, and there is an intrigue as it relates to that. … It’s just the fact that it’s basketball 24 hours a day. That’s all you’re dealing with is basketball. That’s all you do is basketball.

“When you say a lifer, that means to me I’m never, ever going to go anywhere. Who knows? They may get sick of me at Florida and want me to move on. But I don’t like coming out making bold predictions or statements. I would say right now I’m extremely happy with my life right now at the University of Florida.”

That’s two “right now” references in the same sentence, if anybody’s counting.

Impressive senior class: If Florida falls anywhere short of a national championship, some of the accomplishments of the Gators' senior class will be too soon forgotten. Here are a few to chew on as the Gators prepare to take on No. 9 seed Pittsburgh at 12:15 p.m.

By defeating Albany in Orlando on Thursday, Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete and Casey Prather became the first Florida players to win at least one NCAA tournament game in each of their four seasons at the school.

Getting deep into the tournament is the next challenge and it brings an accumulation of individual honors. Young’s 80 rebounds, for instance, rank third in Florida’s NCAA Tournament history. He won’t get close to Al Horford (137) and Joakim Noah (116) by the end of this tournament, but those two NBA first-round draft picks are the only ones ahead of him.

Also, Florida’s senior class has been a part of 117 wins together. One more victory and they’ll break the record now shared with Walter Hodge, a member of the 2006 and 2007 national title teams and a Gator senior in 2009.

First season in ACC: Pittsburgh finished fifth in the ACC standings with an 11-7 record in the Panther's first season as a member of the conference. While he would have liked to finish higher, coach Jamie Dixon emphasizes how well his team played on the road in some of the toughest environments in America.

“We wish we had won some of those close games,” said Dixon, who previously coached Pitt to three Big East championships, two in the regular season and one in the conference tournament. “But we did some good things, going 7-2 on the road in the ACC, so I think that spoke volumes about what we were and what we could do once we got into neutral-court games in the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.”

Noteworthy: Florida is 22-12 against ACC teams under Donovan. The Gators haven't played Pitt, however, since a 77-74 win in the 1992 NIT, when Lon Kruger was coach. All-time, the Panthers are 2-4 against Florida, including an odd back-to-back matchup at Pitt on Dec. 28-29, 1948. Pitt won both games.