Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/6/11
TUCSON Lute Olson had Roy Williams. Sean Miller has Billy Donovan. Sounds like good company for each and all. But when it came to competition and a good test of where you were at the time and where you know you needed to get Olson and Williams always called on one another. The benefits of playing a friend? You know you'll get a good test no matter what. "I've been friends with Roy for a long time and I've always respected him," Olson said in a telephone interview. "You know you're always going to get a good game and have to work hard when you played his teams. When you play, I'm a firm believer these types of games get you ready for a tough conference schedule and the NCAA tournament." Arizona's battles with Kansas were epic through the most recent years. The two carried over their friendly rivalry when Williams moved to North Carolina, a team that overwhelmed Arizona in the last two meetings. Now, with Olson now retired, it looks like Arizona has a new friendly rival in the Florida Gators. So, the two are a few thousand miles apart, but they are similar in styles and production. They go one speed fast and play a mostly guard-oriented lineup. And, oh yes, they are two solid programs with fairly young and respected coaches. If anything, it's a game and an eventual home-and-home series that has two friends competing against one another. Welcome Arizona vs. Florida. Round One is on Wednesday in Gainesville. Next season, the Gators come to Arizona. Miller said it's a series "that makes sense for our program." And, it makes sense two long-time friends, who are the toughest of competitors, get a series going. "I respect him as much as any coach in college basketball because of who he is as a person and the success he's had as a coach," Miller said. There is some history. When Donovan, 46, was a senior at Providence, Miller, 43, made a recruiting visit. Donovan was his host. More than 20 years later, Miller said, "I can say I'm a good friend." Donovan can say the same, explaining that Miller has worked for a number of coaches who coached him (Donovan) through the years. "That was a long time ago -- and obviously I wasn't a very good host because he decided to go somewhere else," Donovan joked with UF reporters this week. " he's done a wonderful job (at Arizona). He's done that wherever he's been. He's recruited very well for the Wildcats and they will be good there for a long time." He'll try to make sure it just doesn't happen Wednesday night. The two likely will exchange pleasantries on Wednesday, and then get at it. Florida is 5-2 and coming off a tough loss to No. 4 Syracuse, 82-78. But the game and the series is something Miller is exactly what looking for. On the road against a good, fast and athletic team. "We have a great challenge on our hands," Miller said. Donovan said the same thing in as much as saying Arizona plays four guards (he considered Solomon Hill a guard because he handles it so much) and likes to run. Though, freshman guard Josiah Turner was suspended on Tuesday for a violation of team rules, putting the Wildcats one guard down for Wednesday. That's been Arizona's best bet for a victory - play fast. But, Florida likes it too. And here's the stat that might shake Miller the most. Five Gator players average in double figures in scoring. And a sixth player is averaging just shy of 10 at 9.6. Kenny Boynton leads with a 19.0 per game average. Bradley Beal is second at 15.6 and Erving Walking is third at 14.1. All are guards as the Gators love to play small and shoot the 3-pointer. Sound familiar? Arizona loves to do the same. Statistically, Florida does it better. Florida is averaging 87.6 points per game. UA is averaging 68 points per game. "It's the most efficient offense in the country," Miller said. And just downright scary. Florida is taking an average of 27.7 3-pointers a game, hitting 11.5 per game. "We won't play against a better core group of guards on one team," said Miller. "They have a lot of firepower. Our defense will be tested." The friendship, however, won't be in what will eventually be a good, friendly rivalry between two solid coaches and two strong programs.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Eli Manning: I 'deserve some criticism' for some of Giants' woes

L.A. mayor: City would have been fine with one NFL team

MLB-wide home run record falls with 12 days to spare

Top storylines heading into college football Week 4

Dolphins suspend Lawrence Timmons indefinitely

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Greg Olsen placed on IR, will miss at least eight weeks

Report: NFL official under investigation for domestic violence

Alvarez vs. Golovkin result gives boxing another black eye

Jerry Jones defends Elliott amid criticism over lack of effort

NFL monitoring CFL’s decision to end contact practices

RG3 fires back at Santana Moss over Mike Shanahan comments

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

The 'Kevin Durant has mad (Twitter) handles' quiz

Baseball's most underwhelming teams of 2017

The 'Remember the tight ends' quiz

Ranking the best college football fan bases

Getaway Day: Time runs short as postseason nears

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House sticks it to sports

The 'Not so elementary, my dear Watson' quiz

September chill hits Astros, Dodgers at worst time

College football 2017 Week 3 predictions

Three Up, Three Down: Cleveland hits historic heights while Cubs struggle

The 'Will the Indians ever lose again?' quiz

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

Baseball's most underwhelming teams of 2017

The 'Kevin Durant has mad (Twitter) handles' quiz

Ranking the best college football fan bases

The 'Remember the tight ends' quiz

Getaway Day: Time runs short as postseason nears

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House sticks it to sports

The 'Not so elementary, my dear Watson' quiz

September chill hits Astros, Dodgers at worst time

Three Up, Three Down: Cleveland hits historic heights while Cubs struggle

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker