OT: Noah very proud of his 'Gator boys'

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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BOSTON -- Joakim Noah beamed like a proud parent as the topic of his beloved Florida Gators came up Sunday morning. That's because his team was back where he always believed it belonged: The Final Four.

After knocking off Dayton on Saturday night, the Gators qualified for their first Final Four since Noah left Gainesville in 2007 after winning back-to-back national titles.

"I'm very happy," Noah said. "I'm very proud to be a Gator boy. And to see how much those kids went through, losing in the Elite 8 three years in a row and finally getting to the Final Four, it's a testament to them and their coaches."

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Like most players in the league, Noah has kept close ties to his alma mater. Noah has taken a special interest in Florida's program after leaving and makes it a point to work out in Gainesville when he can. He's hopeful his team can make it all the way to the top next Monday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the site of this year's Final Four.

"There's one more weekend," he said. "Just got to stay hungry and stay in the moment, not get caught up in all the [hoopla]. We didn't win it, yet, so we're excited to be there. But there's more work to be done."

What's next for the Bulls: Chicago plays the Boston Celtics again on Monday night at the United Center.

Stat of the day: According to Bulls radio statistician Jeff Mangurten, the Bulls are now 15-1 in their past 16 games following a defeat, dating back to Christmas.

The last word: Noah, on whether University of Florida coach Billy Donovan is the best coach in college basketball.

"By far. To me. I've only had one. But to this day I still live my life by a lot of the lessons that he taught me. He's always told me to live in the moment, and I still try to live my life by that code every day."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5