ARLINGTON, Texas — Billy Donovan not only has more national titles than any other coach in the Final Four, has the biggest biceps, too.
Donovan is a renowned workout warrior who hits the gym six days a week — three days with Florida strength coach Preston Greene.
Donovan, a college star at Providence, loves when Greene challenges him: “You’re not going to be able to complete the workout today. It’s way too hard for you.”
“It gets competitive,” Donovan says, “and I like that part of it.”
Donovan believes that being in tip-top shape is critical to his success.
“I feel better when I do it,” he says. “I think I’m a better coach, better person and better all the way around. ... As demanding as the job is, traveling and coaching and recruiting and all this stuff, I don’t know if you can do it well if you don’t really take care of yourself.”
Daniels steps up: While point guard Shabazz Napier has drawn the spotlight, UConn wing DeAndre Daniels has stepped out of the shadows.
The 6-foot-9 Daniels has raised his averages from 13 points and 5.9 rebounds during the regular season to 17 points and 6.8 boards during his team’s Final Four run.
Daniels’ rise does not surprise Donovan, who recruited Daniels during his one season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.
“I was always impressed with his length, his offensive ability,” Donovan said. “He’s really become extremely versatile. He posts up, he shoots 3s, he’s putting it on the floor, he can start the break, he passes, he rebounds.”
Daniels, a native of Los Angeles, originally committed to Texas, but after a year at IMG signed with former UConn Jim Calhoun.
“I was a kid coming in with nobody guaranteeing me anything,” Daniels said. “I had to earn it.”
Daniels tallied his first two double-doubles during the final four games of last season. This season he has continued to blossom, culminating with a 27-point, 10-rebound performance against Iowa State in the Sweet 16.
UF frenzy: Gators’ fans will have a nice show of support on Saturday night in AT&T Stadium.
UF’s Mike Hill said the school sold its allotment of 3,250 tickets as well as 600 tickets to students.
Montverde connection: If UF beats UConn and Kentucky beats Wisconsin, Montverde Academy coach Kevin Boyle can see it now.
Monday’s title game could feature three of his former players — Gators’ shooting guard Michael Frazier and back-up point guard Kasey Hill and Kentucky center Dakari Johnson.
“I don’t know how many schools have three guys in Final Four,” Boyle said.
If it happens, Boyle hopes his two Gators have figured out something after three meetings with Johnson.
“I want to see if one of them is smart enough to call for the outlet from Dakari,” Boyle joked.