Originally created 04/08/06

Florida keeping championship team intact



GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida celebrated its first national basketball championship with a stunning announcement Friday night.

Everyone, aside from senior Adrian Moss, is coming back for another title run.

Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer - three sophomores who had been projected as first-round NBA draft picks this summer - disclosed in a choreographed skit that they will return for another season.

"We're back baby," Noah screamed into a microphone during the team's hourlong celebration at a packed O'Connell Center.

Coach Billy Donovan confirmed the news, saying he met with the three players Friday afternoon and they told him they wanted to try to repeat.

No team has won consecutive championships since Duke in 1991 and 1992.

The Gators want to give it a shot.

Horford started the production by saying the three had pretty much done everything they could in two years, winning two Southeastern Conference tournament titles and then beating UCLA 73-57 in the championship game Monday night.

But Noah grabbed the microphone in mid-sentence and asked the crowd, "You want us to play here next year?"

The fans responded with chants of "two more years, two more years."

The Gators didn't commit to anything more than one more season. But for Donovan and Florida's faithful, that was more than anyone was expecting.

"I had a chance to talk to those guys, and that's what they want to do," Donovan said. "I think they're having a lot of fun here. They're a different type of kids. I think it's all about them getting themselves prepared to make the next step, and I think right now they're not prepared to do that. They want to be here. They want to play.

"They want to stay together as a group and they want to play together as a team."