VETTEL: Successful by Any Measure

“Success” is one of those things that is hard to define because it’s such a personal thing. One man’s success may be another’s disappointment. For a kid who has never had a family go to college, earning an A.A. degree is a big deal. But to a kid whose parents hold advanced degree that would be viewed in many cases as complete failure.

Sports teams are much the same way. Andy Kennedy had a hugely successful season as the coach of Ole Miss this season, but could you imagine the reaction if Billy Donovan’s squad had a similar campaign?

Given that, this Florida Basketball season has been a resounding success by any definition. The Gators who had the burden of great expectations all year long continued to add to a list of “firsts” at UF. This is the first team to ever win the SEC Regular Season and Tournament titles in the same year. This is the first team to win 18 home games. It’s the first group of Gators to win six straight games over the stories Kentucky Wildcats. And the list goes on and on.

Monday Billy Donovan chatted with the media folks and offered up his thoughts on whether a win at the Final Four was essential to this season being viewed as a success.

Billy Donovan: “When you’re coaching guys and you start with your first practice in August there are things you go through with your team that, for me won’t always be defined by wins and losses. To me this has been a great success for me as a coach with a guy like Joakim Noah who a couple of weeks ago told me if he hadn’t come back he never would have learned what he learned about life, about the game of basketball about having expectations. I think sometimes people say success is defined by 20 wins or success is defined by winning a conference championship or a tournament championship or getting to the NCAA Tournament and winning a National Championship. To see what happened last year when there were no expectations at all, we weren’t even ranked and for these guys to understand what could happen when you play together as a team and not individuals just reinforced the whole team concept.

‘Now you come into this year and people are talking about a national championship and talking about those things. They’ve been able to get to this point and time of the season doing it two different ways; with absolutely no expectations and then with a lot. So I think as a coach rewarding or success a lot of it has to be about how your guys handle it. This to me has been an incredible experience to see these kids grow and develop with all they’ve been through.”

Coming into the season I felt that this team needed to accomplish something new for them to really feel like it was a successful year. I think that was important because of what three of them gave up to return for their junior seasons. The main targets for the Gators were a perfect home season, an SEC regular season title and a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

They went three-for-three.

There were other measures to consider such as getting through the season healthy – so far so good – and maintaining their personal chemistry. They have done that as well. The Gator Basketball Team has been a success on and off the floor in every way that matters. It is a group to be cherished for the most special two year run UF has ever experienced.

And nothing can happen in Atlanta to change any of that.