Nostalgia has overtaken me. I can't help it. I've been thinking quite a bit about the 1994 Florida Final Four run as of late, sparked by seeing UNLV head coach Lon Kruger taking his Runnin' Rebels to the Sweet Sixteen in this year's tournament.
Kruger, of course, took a scrappy Florida team to the Final Four in the 1994 tournament, grabbing his second SEC Coach of the Year honor at the finale of that season (he also won one in 1992). The Gators were 29-8 that season, with their final game coming in a Final Four loss to the Duke Blue Devils.
That team was led by the likes of Junior Andrew DeClercq, Junior Dan Cross and Senior Craig Brown. Cross was the leading scorer on that team with a 15.7 scoring average for the season, but the nucleus may have been Brown, who was the captain and eventual All-SEC selection. He also was named the East Regional MVP during the '94 tourney run.
Brown, which is the central theme of this blurb, is currently an assistant coach for the UCF Golden Knights in Orlando, leading me to believe that he may have a future as an assistant to either Kruger or perhaps in Gainesville someday.
After earning a bachelor's of science in exercise and sport science in 1995, he served as Florida's video coordinator and administrative assistant during the 1995-96 campaign, working under Kruger.
He's been an assistant in Orlando since the 2001 season, and assists with scouting and coaching players on the perimeter game. As one of the most prolific shooters in Florida history his experience in coaching could lead him to a more high-profile position in the future.
Good luck to him. It's very nice to see former Gators doing well.
** A big question heading into the Sweet Sixteen should be asking how many Florida fans will be heading to St. Louis to attend the Gators' contest against Butler.
It's simple to say that we should flock to away locations to watch this team, a #1 seed and defending National Champion, but this is not an easy task. For starters we didn't know whether or not the Gators would even be making it to the Sweet Sixteen and making plans on such short-notice is never easy. Second, St. Louis is quite the trip from Gainesville (probably somewhere around 14 hours or so), so this is not an easy game to attend for students and others who couldn't ask off for work.
I'm not trying to make excuses for our basketball fans. Gator fans are known for traveling well during football season, especially around the Southeast. Unfortunately we may be getting a bad reputation in this tournament, though, as we may not be showing up in the same large numbers. Andy Staples even noted in his blog that we did not travel well to New Orleans, which is a closer location and should have Gator fans in the proximity because it's in the Southeast.
We'll just have to wait and see. It would be very beneficial for our team to not have to play in hostile environments on a neutral floor, but I'm still confident in them if that's what they're asked to do.