JMU men's basketball coach Lefty Driesell has finally attained the seemingly unattainable — an NCAA Tournament berth. Now his task is to make sure the Dukes aren't just happy to be there.
"I hope they wouldn't do that," Driesell said. "I'm hoping to go in here and go the Final Four or win a championship or something. It's a dream, but it could happen.
"We've got a 1-in-64 chance of winning the national championship."
The 14th-ranked University of Florida, which boasts a 25-7 record and advanced the finals of the Southeastern Conference tournament last week, stands in JMU's way.
The game is set for 10:05 tonight and will be aired live locally on the CBS affiliate from Richmond, WTVR-6, and the Washington D.C. affiliate WUSA-9.
The No. 3 seed Gators are most noted for their tenacious defense, which held opponents to just 41.6 percent shooting from the field and 31.7 percent from three-point range.
"They're a lot like Duke. They overplay and deny all your passes," Driesell said. "That's their forte, their defense."
The game will be a reunion for junior forward Louis Rowe, who played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Florida, and was teammates with most of its current roster. He and senior guard Craig Brown entered the school as head coach Lon Kruger's first two recruits, but after averaging three points per game in two seasons, Rowe transferred. He's downplaying the revenge factor of tonight's game.
"I talked to Craig last night," Rowe said on Tuesday. "We just talked about some old times and laughed a little bit. There's no added pressure on me. It's just another game we have to win."
Driesell said, "I don't want him to go in there all tight just because he's playing against his former school and his former teammates. Sometimes guys get too pumped up, and they go in there and try to do things they can't do."
Florida relies on its backcourt for most of its scoring. Junior point guard Dan Cross leads the Gators with 15.7 points per game.
Brown, a senior shooting guard, is next at 14.9 points per game.
"They set a lot of screens on the ball and look for the three- pointer," said junior guard Kent Culuko, who will guard Brown.
Florida's top inside scorer is 6- foot-7, 286-pound sophomore forward Dametri Hill, who averaged 12.7 points per game, including a season-high 28 against Louisville.
"I've talked to some people, and they say . . . don't be fooled by his looks, he can really play," Driesell said. "He uses his weight well and can post up."
After a roller-coaster CAA tournament, Driesell hopes the Dukes will keep tonight's game in proper perspective.
"It's not the end of the world if we win, and it's not the end of the world if we lose," Driesell said. "It's just a basketball game."