Donovan, Summitt receive NYAC Wing Foot Award Print
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Wednesday, 23 May 2007 12:05
NCAAB Headline News

 NEW YORK (AP) - Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan wants to sign a contract extension soon to end speculation about his future and help recruiting.
Donovan, who guided the Gators to a second consecutive NCAA title this year, said Wednesday he is waiting for the president and athletic director to finalize his deal. He recently talked with the Memphis Grizzlies' owner, who is looking for a coach, but Donovan called the discussion ``informal and not about the job.''
``I'd like to get it done,'' Donovan said before receiving the New York Athletic Club's Winged Foot award along with Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. ``It's not me. People think, 'He's trying to hold this up.' I would have liked to have done it a couple of days after (the championship game.)''
Donovan, who passed on a chance to coach at Kentucky, met with Grizzlies' owner Michael Heisley in Florida. ``He wanted to get to know me, and then from there, it never went anywhere,'' Donovan said.
Florida topped Ohio State for the NCAA crown, the first team since Duke in 1991-92 to repeat as champs. He's been at Florida for 11 seasons, and awaits word from president Bernard Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley.
``Really, it's in their hands right now,'' said Donovan, who has two years remaining on his current contract worth $1.7 million annually. ``I feel good about where I'm at and where they're at.''
Donovan looks to replace his top six scorers after the junior foursome of Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Taurean Green and Al Horford decided to enter the NBA draft.
``They're all top 10 picks in my opinion, just based on the way they've won,'' he said. ``A year ago there was no expectations. This year, having to manage the expectations was a little bit different. It was challenging but also rewarding.
``The fact that they waited a year, they all made themselves better players, are closer to graduating and prepared themselves to play at the next level. I'll certainly be back in New York for draft night.''
Donovan's incoming class includes guard Jai Lucas, the son of former NBA player and coach John Lucas.
``We're starting over,'' he said. ``This will be a very, very young team.''
Summitt earned the Winged Foot award, presented annually to the national championship coaches, after guiding Tennessee to its seventh title. It's her first championship since the NYAC began presenting the award to female coaches in 1999.
``I missed it by just one year,'' said Summitt, who three-peated from 1996-98. ``It only took nine years (to win another championship). We had a special team and a special run.''
She called sophomore All-American Candace Parker ``the best player'' in women's basketball. ``Having a go-to player like Candace made everyone on the floor better,'' Summitt said.
In the Final Four, the Lady Vols trailed North Carolina by 12 points in the final 8 minutes before a pep talk by Summitt got their attention. Tennessee finished on a 20-2 run.
``At that timeout, I just pleaded with my basketball team, 'We're not leaving here without a national championship,'' she said. ``They stepped up and had a run that was probably the best run we'd ever had in the postseason.''
The victory allowed Tennessee to advance and beat Rutgers for the national championship. The post-game comments by radio personality Don Imus came shortly after the accomplishment.
``There's something called accountability,'' Summitt said. ``For me, you have consequences when you make mistakes. For Imus, clearly, there's consequences.
``I thought the basketball team at Rutgers handled it with class and presented themselves very well. (Coach) Vivian Stringer obviously was tremendous during a time of adversity.''
Summitt, the all-time winningest college basketball coach - male or female - with a 945-180 record, shows no signs of letting up entering her 34th year at Tennessee.
She loses three seniors, including Sidney Spencer, who was drafted in the second round by the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, but nabbed the top recruiting class with four incoming freshman.
Summitt signed a contract extension last year, raising her salary to $1.1 million and keeping her at Tennessee through the 2011-12 season.
``It's great that two SEC schools could have won championships in men's and women's basketball,'' Donovan said. ``When you talk about legendary coaches like (John) Wooden or Dean Smith, you put Pat Summitt in there with that group of coaches.''
Tennessee president John Petersen, women's athletic director Joan Cronan and Summitt's mentor and 1976 Olympic basketball coach Billie Moore attended the awards press conference.
``I've always been asked what makes Pat special,'' Moore said. ``Everyone has the will to win. But the question is, who has the will to prepare to win. She's relentless in every detail.''
 

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