GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida center Al Horford raised the
NCAA trophy high above his head and greeted appreciative fans after
the men's basketball team returned on a charter flight from Atlanta
on Tuesday with their second championship trophy in a row.
Several hundred fans and fellow students, many wearing Florida
orange and blue, waited nearly three hours in the heat at
Gainesville Regional Airport, hoping to catch a glimpse of the team
or get a high five or an autograph.
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you," Horford shouted as dozens
of fans crowded around him.
Florida defeated Ohio State 84-75 in the men's basketball
championship game in Atlanta on Monday night, setting off
celebrations on the streets of Gainesville. It's the school's third
national title in the past year, along with the football team's win
in January, also over Ohio State. Florida remains the only program
in history to hold both championships at the same time.
On Tuesday the crowd at the airport chanted "One more year!"
as players Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer signed basketballs, shirts
and posters. Head coach Billy Donovan traded high-fives with fans
and posed for a few pictures. Guards Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green
and several other members of the team also greeted fans at the
Florida senior Aisha Ayoub arrived at the airport wearing a blue
wig, her fingernails painted blue and orange. She carried with her
a Florida jersey with the autographs of four of the team's starters
and scrambled across police tape to get Brewer's autograph, the
missing fifth starter.
"I almost got myself arrested, but I got my signature," Ayoub
said later, after an officer directed her to return to the fan
The team will convene again Friday evening in the O'Connell
Center, the school's basketball arena, for another celebration.
Gov. Charlie Crist, who watched the game in Atlanta, said
Tuesday at a press conference in Tallahassee that he was ready to
collect on a wager with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.
"I'm looking forward to more of those chocolate buckeyes with
peanut butter in them and glad we didn't have to give up our
coconuts to the governor of Ohio, or citrus or key lime pie," he
The two governors also made a wager in January when Florida
defeated Ohio State in the football championship. Along with
sending Crist chocolate buckeyes, Strickland flew the Gators flag
over his residence for a day.