Found March 31, 2013 on Fox Sports Florida:
ARLINGTON, Texas -- With 1:04 left on the clock and Michigan ahead by 25, Florida seniors Erik Murphy, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario walked to the bench for the final time in their Gator uniforms. Gators coach Billy Donovan waited with a hug as the trio checked out of Florida's 79-59 loss to the Wolverines in the South Region championship Sunday. Two hours earlier at tipoff Florida's three seniors longed for more than a hug. They hoped to climb a ladder here at Cowboys Stadium and cut down the nets for winning a regional title and reaching the Final Four. They wanted to avoid another trip to the Elite Eight ending with a loss. More than anything, they wanted to keep playing and have a shot at the national championship they coveted from the first practice of their final season. In the end, a magical ending to March Madness wasn't meant to be for the senior trio. That was evident from the start as the Wolverines opened the game on a 13-0 run and never looked back on the way to reaching their first Final Four in 20 years. In a somber Gators locker room afterward, the reality of Sunday's loss struck harshly. Murphy sat on a bench next to Boynton, taking questions with his head titled toward the floor and his eyes filled with tears. "This is the toughest one,'' Murphy said. "It's the last one." In the final game of his college career, Murphy had perhaps his worst game. He finished 0-for-11 shooting and failed to score a point for the only time this season. In two games in Arlington, Murphy made only 2 of 18 shots and scored four points. As Murphy tried the best he could to remain composed, teammate Patric Young offered support. "I just feel bad for the guy,'' Young said. "I mean, in your last game to go 0-for- 11, I just feel terrible for him because I know he's trying. He is always giving his best effort out there. I don't know what it was today." Freshman Michael Frazier shared the same sentiment as Young as he glanced over toward a dejected Murphy. "Great leader, great player," Frazier said. "He really helped me throughout the season. This loss is not on him. He's had a great season, a great career. We're nowhere close to being here without him." Murphy refused to blame the flu-like symptoms he battled earlier in the week or the cavernous backdrop at Cowboys Stadium on his shooting woes in Arlington. He had several good looks at the basket Sunday but couldn't get anything to drop through the net. "We just came out and they were way better than us today,'' he said. Meanwhile, Boynton and junior forward Will Yeguete led the Gators with 13 points apiece Sunday. Boynton concluded his UF career with 2,033 career points, second on the school's all-time list behind Ronnie Williams (2,090). A four-year starter, Boynton played in the NCAA Tournament all four seasons and led the team in scoring his freshman and junior seasons. He and Murphy arrived together in the summer of 2009 and finished their careers with a 105-40 record, including a 9-4 mark in the NCAA Tournament, three Elite Eight appearances and two SEC regular-season titles. Not one to show much emotion, Boynton stayed true to form as he tried to put his career in perspective shortly after the game. "I feel the loss. Im just not showing it. It flies by. I dont regret anything in staying these four years,'' Boynton said. "I'm honored to play for Coach Donovan. I think he's the best coach in the country, what he's accomplished. "And I've played with great players, I've met some great people. I'm proud of my team to come this far. It is disappointing to not make it to the Final Four my senior season. But to make it to the Elite Eight is an honor. Some players don't even make it to the NCAA Tournament." Rosario joined Boynton and Murphy at UF after starting his career at Rutgers. He sat out the 2010-11 season due to NCAA transfer rules and spent last season coming off the bench. As a senior Rosario started 36 games and led the Gators in scoring a team-high 16 times, including his best scoring game since transferring when he scored 25 points in Florida's win over Minnesota to advance to the Sweet 16. Rosario finished with nine points on Sunday. "This has been a wonderful season for me, Kenny and Murph,'' Rosario said. "This team was special this year. For me to have an opportunity to play in the Elite Eight again, and just to get this far, all the ups and downs I've been through personally, it was a special season for me. I'm just thankful for these guys and Billy believing in me. I'm lost for words." The mark this season's senior class left on the program is what Donovan will remember. The seniors helped a program that had appeared in back-to-back NITs -- following back-to-back national championship seasons of 2006 and 2007 -- climb back to relevancy during March Madness. Three consecutive trips to the Elite Eight had never happened at Florida before they came along. "There's a lot of really, really good things that these kids have done,'' Donovan said. "It's not about me. I've been fortunate enough to be in the Final Four as a player and several times as a coach. I feel more upset for Boynton, Rosario and Murphy, who didn't get a chance and have come so close. "I'll always be thankful and appreciative because they've always handled themselves with class. They've worked hard and given me everything they had." They had careers worth a hug at the end.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Reload or Rebuild? Gators' outlook for 2013-14

The Gators had a solid, but unspectacular season. Six of the fifteen presason top 25s I tracked in the Vitale Cup included the Gators in their preseason top 10, and it's likely that fewer prognosticators will be that bullish this year. UF graduates Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Erik Murphy, and there's a solid chance that junior Patric Young departs early for the draft...

Caption This Photo: FGCU Player and Florida Gator Cheerleader Together Pregame

Florida Gulf Coast University tried its best to weather the storm of the Florida Gators, but when the clock stroked 12 Cinderella didn’t have a chance as the Florida Gators went on to win earning themselves an Elite Eight spot. Although the game was grand, it’s what happened before the game that has some loyal fans puzzled. FGCU guard Sherwood Brown and a Gators cheerleader can...

Gators QB Jeff Driskel Needs to Watch his Tweets

A lot of college teams have banned their players from Twitter and with good reason. Too many kids tend to tweet without thinking (or while drinking) and fail to realize that there are thousands of people watching their every tweet. Any and every misstep is caught, retweeted, and used as fodder for late night jokes and bloggers everywhere. So it is easy to see why coaches...

Postgame: Billy Donovan

ARLINGTON, Texas-- Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan reflects on the 79-59 Elite Eight loss to Michigan, and what he will remember most about perhaps one of his most talented squads.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL

Rosario goes off the back for crafty play

It turns out that FGCU isn’t the only school in Florida capable of highlight-reel plays. In fact, against Florida Gulf Coast, the Florida Gators reclaimed their dominance of the Sunshine State, and did so in style. In the last few minutes of the game, point guard Mike Rosario had a streetball-ish inbound pass off the back of an Eagles defender which he then turned into a vicious...

Gators getting boat raced in North Texas

Michigan is scoring at will agains what is arguably a top-3 defense in the Florida Gators.  

Donovan and Starting FiveTalk Michigan

The Florida Gators are in familiar territory having been in the Elite-9 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament for the previous two years. The Gators are hoping to break a string of losses at this point and punch their ticket to the Final Four. Now the foe is Big-10 stalwart Michigan. The Gators have their hands fulll and they talk about it here.

Florida shuts out Ole Miss to clinch series

Metal clinked behind coach Kevin O’Sullivan as spoke with frustration and hope during Thursday’s batting practice. “It will turn at some point,” he said. At some point, it’ll all fall together: at-bats, solid starts on the mound, the elimination of small mistakes. Well this weekend, it turned. The Gators posted back-to-back shutouts against the Rebels for their first SEC...

Murphy encouraging Driskel

He’s waited his time, and junior quarterback Tyler Murphy is willing to wait some more. More important to him than playing right now is winning football games and the staff at Florida has designated junior Jeff Driskel as the starter again. Now, he finds himself in a battle for back up duty and the guy that has to be ready in case Driskel goes down. Murphy seems prepared for whatever happens.

Florida powers past Cinderella FGCU

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mike Rosario had 15 points and Florida is going to an NCAA regional final for the third year in a row after a 62-50 victory over Florida Gulf Coast, the No. 15 seed whose improbable tournament journey ended just before midnight Friday. Florida Gulf Coast, the high-flying team from "Dunk City" few people knew before this NCAA tourney, jumped out to an...

Erin Andrews loses Florida vs Michigan bet with Rich Eisen

The Florida Gators went down at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight. Erin Andrews had to make good on a wager with Rich Eisen.

Safety battle building depth

Jabari Gorman and Cody Riggs were on top of the depth chart at safety to start spring practice, but the goal was to build depth and add bodies capable of playing safety during the fall. An injury to Riggs gave extra reps to younger players, and while the Gators wait for three freshmen safeties to get to campus in the summer, this spring gave an opportunity for the returning players to win the job.

Florida loses to Michigan, misses Final Four again

Erik Murphy never took his eyes off the floor in the locker room, his droopy shoulders weighed down by three straight losses just one step shy of the Final Four. This one might have been the worst. Florida's senior scoring leader missed 11 shots in his first scoreless game since his sophomore year, and Michigan - led by Big Ten player of the year Trey Burke and sharp-shooting...
Gators 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!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.