Team chemistry is a trademark for Lon Kruger teams. Giving him a head start produced the most memorable season of his distinguished career.
Months before Florida made an unexpected run to the 1994 Final Four, the Gators played summer exhibition games for two weeks in Australia.
“That's when it all started,” said Craig Brown, a senior guard on the '94 team. “We really rolled into preseason with some momentum.”
Coming off a 16-12 season that ended with a first-round NIT loss, national analysts didn't forecast big things for the Gators.
Bolstered by momentum gained during the summer, Florida started the season 14-2.
The Gators finally cracked the national polls in late January. They tied for the SEC East regular-season title and finished as the runner-up in the SEC Tournament.
“We didn't have any superstars or McDonald's All-Americans,” Brown said. “We were just a bunch of guys committed to playing tough, hard defense. We believed in the coaching staff. After we got back (from Australia), we knew we had a chance to have a special season.”
Orlando Magic media relations director Joel Glass was the basketball sports information director when Kruger was at Florida.