Non-Conference Opponent Preview: Jackson State

Date: Nov. 15
Location: UCF Arena

Jackson State went 19-13 overall last season and claimed the SWAC regular season title with a 17-1 mark. The Tigers were upset by Grambling in the opening round of the conference tournament, and as a result, received a spot in the postseason NIT where they fell to host Mississippi State, 81-67. SWAC Player of the Year Garrison Johnson, who averaged a team-high 18.1 points, was lost to graduation. The team's top returning player is forward Tyrone Hansen, who was the SWAC Newcomer of the Year in 2009-10 after averaging 11.4 points.

UCF and Jackson State have never met on the hardwood. The Tigers are one of two SWAC squads that the Knights will host this season. UCF will also meet Alabama State on Nov. 27.


Non-Conference Opponent Preview: West Florida

Date: Nov. 12
Location: UCF Arena

The Division II Argos posted an 11-14 mark last year in head coach Bob Stinnett's first season with the program. West Florida will have plenty of new faces this season as the squad's top-six scorers from 2009-10 are no longer on the roster. Stinnett is expecting big things from forward Marquis Mathis, who averaged 18.5 points and 11.5 rebounds at the junior-college level two years ago. He redshirted at West Florida last year.

UCF has a 6-1 edge in the all-time series with West Florida. The last matchup came in 1993 and the Knights eased to a 102-61 victory in Orlando.


Exhibition Game Moved to Nov. 4

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UCF's lone exhibition game prior to starting the regular season has been moved to Thursday, Nov. 4. On that evening at the UCF Arena, the Knights will host Flagler. Former UCF star Bo Clark is Flagler's head coach. The time for the contest will be announced at a later date.


Jones to Appear on Football Pregame Radio Show

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With basketball season quickly approaching, UCF head coach Donnie Jones is doing all that he can do to get the word out about his Knights. On Saturday, Jones will appear on the UCF-ISP Sports Network football radio pregame show to talk about his team and the 2010-11 campaign. Jones is scheduled to appear on the pregame show around 5:55 p.m. The show is broadcast live from IOA Plaza outside Bright House Networks Stadium.


Knights to Enjoy Plenty of Time in Florida

Last season, the Knights left Florida just twice during the non-conference portion of their schedule. UCF played at both Notre Dame and Connecticut in December. Thanks to a trio of contests at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in nearby Daytona Beach, and a showdown against host USF in Tampa, UCF played 10 of its 12 non-league games in Florida.

This year, the squad will spend even more time in the Sunshine State. Twelve of UCF's 13 games are in Florida. The lone trip outside of the state will come on Dec. 22 when the team faces host UMass.

UCF fans in the Orlando area will have 11 opportunities to see the Knights play against non-conference opponents in person. In addition to the nine games at the UCF Arena, head coach Donnie Jones' squad will also face Florida at the new Amway Center in downtown Orlando on Dec. 1 as part of the Florida Citrus Sports Shootout, and travel down I-4 to face Stetson in DeLand on Nov. 23.


Taylor Talks About Second NBA Season

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As he continues to prepare for his second season in the NBA, former UCF star Jermaine Taylor recently sat down for a question and answer session with Rockets.com writer Jason Friedman. In the Q&A, Taylor talked about his thoughts on his rookie year and how he has improved his game during the offseason.

Click here to read the story


Knights Continuing to Work

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Team members were up early again Friday. The Knights had the day off from individual workouts, but were not idle. The squad spent time in the morning working with strength and conditioning coach B.J. Faulk. The session began in the weight room inside the UCF Practice Facility, and then moved onto the court for agility work.

The Knights are continuing to prepare for the 2010-11 campaign, which will serve as the first at UCF for new head coach Donnie Jones. UCF will begin official practices Oct. 15.


Thompson No Longer a Nomad

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For the last two years, Amara Thompson was a nomad with the Knights. Visit a UCF practice and the 6-foot-4 Thompson was working out with the team's post players. Come back the next day and he was on the perimeter, taking shots with the guards.

Always equipped with a big smile, Thompson was happy to contribute in any way for the Knights. But now after two years in the program (he redshirted in 2008-09), the sophomore believes that the perimeter is the place for him in new head coach Donnie Jones' up-tempo system.

"I am hoping that I will get more playing time this year due to the different style of play," Thompson said. "I think that it will suit me better due to my style of play. I see myself as a perimeter player. I think that they (the coaching staff) see me in the same light too. I feel like that is where I could be best used and where I would play my best."

Thompson appeared in nine games this past season, averaging 1.6 minutes per game. He was perfect with his shot, making all three of his field goal attempts.

As a true freshman two years ago, Thompson's main duty was to defend Jermaine Taylor in practice each day as a member of the scout team. He did a good job of getting the All-America selection ready for games, and knows that despite the change in UCF's offensive system, the best chance for him to see playing time will come from his defensive intensity.

"Playing defense is always a way for me to get on the court. Hopefully it will work this year," he said.


Clanton Considers First Week a Success

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The week has been a busy one for the Knights. Team members reported back to campus Sunday evening, and then started classes and strength and conditioning Monday. Wednesday marked the first day of individual workouts.

On Friday, sophomore Keith Clanton said he was happy with how the first week of the semester went.

"The week has gone really well for me," Clanton said. "I just got done with classes and the classes went real well. Now, we are trying to work out and get better for the season."

The 6-foot-8 Clanton was paired with fellow post players A.J. Tyler, Tom Herzog and Dwight McCombs Friday inside the UCF Practice Facility. The Orlando native seems pleased with his performance in the first few workouts.

"The workouts have gone well. I got to work out with the guards once and the bigs twice. I can show my versatility working with both."


Starting the Year

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Monday marks the first day of school on the UCF campus, but for members of the men's basketball program, the year officially began last night. On Sunday evening, the Knights reported back to campus and participated in a team meeting with head coach Donnie Jones. After a few more meetings Monday morning, the squad will hit the weight room with strength and conditioning coach B.J. Faulk.

Later this week the team will begin a series of individual workouts. Practice officially starts Oct. 15, and Jones expects his players to be ready to go on that date.


A Numbers Game

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At Oregon last season, Josh Crittle wore No. 42. When the big man transferred to UCF, he elected to change his number and opted for No. 1. That did not last long. Crittle has finally settled on a number. The Chicago native, who will sit out the 2010-11 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules, is now No. 24.

As a freshman at Virginia in 2009-10, Tristan Spurlock wore No. 24. Spurlock, who like Crittle will miss the upcoming season, has decided to wear No. 1 at UCF.


Noel Heading to Germany

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Former UCF standout Dave Noel spent the last two years playing with Reno in the NBA D-League. The guard is now taking his talents overseas. Noel, who concluded his collegiate career in 2008, will play for Heidelberg in the German ProA league this year.

In 2009-10, Noel appeared in 27 games for Reno and averaged 5.3 points. He shot 50.7 percent from the field.


Rompza Has No Regrets About Summer

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This afternoon, A.J. Rompza depart Orlando for his hometown of Chicago, where he will spend the next few weeks before school starts. The junior and all of the other returning Knights spent the entire summer at UCF, attending classes and working out. The point guard is looking forward to being at home with his family, but has no regrets about spending the summer in Orlando. And don't expect Rompza to stay away from the courts when he is in the Windy City.

"It is like anything. You miss home, but once you go home, you want to come back," he said. "It will be good to see my family and spend time with them. At the same time, I don't want to take a day, or two days off, after working out the whole summer. If you stop working out for a little, you could potentially lose what you have gained."


Looking Ahead to Start of Practice

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Today marks the first official football practice for the Knights, who begin their campaign on Sept. 4, hosting South Dakota at Bright House Networks Stadium. Although there is a great buzz about the football squad, it is not too early to look ahead to the basketball team's schedule.

UCF, and all of the other Division I teams across the country, will begin official practices on Oct. 15. There is no doubt that new head coach Donnie Jones and his team are excited about that day. The entire UCF squad, except Virginia transfer Tristan Spurlock, were on campus for the second summer school session. On Friday, team members will head home for a short break before returning to UCF around Aug. 20.


Suhr Brings Impressive Credentials to UCF

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During his long tenure as an assistant and executive in the NBA, Brendan Suhr, who was named UCF's director of player development by Donnie Jones Monday, had the opportunity to work for three Hall of Fame coaches - Hubie Brown, Chuck Daly and Lenny Wilkens. Suhr helped develop four Hall of Fame players: Adrian Dantley, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas and Dominique Wilkens.

Here is a list of some other notable players that Suhr has coached:

Dennis Rodman
John Salley
Vinnie Johnson
Bill Laimbeer
Doc Rivers
Kevin Willis
Spud Webb
Kenny Anderson
Derrick Coleman
Marcus Camby
Damon Stoudamire
Penny Hardaway
Horace Grant
Stephon Marbury
David Lee
Quentin Richardson
Nate Robinson
Jamal Crawford
Zach Randolph


Jarvis Davis Featured in Central Florida Future

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The Central Florida Future is continuing to highlight UCF's newcomers. Thursday's edition includes a nice story on Jarvis Davis. Carson Ingle's piece details how Davis became the first recruit to join the Knights after Donnie Jones was hired to lead the program.

Click here to read the story


Jones Takes Part in ESPNU Segment

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Earlier this week, Donnie Jones taped a segment with ESPN.com national college basketball reporter Andy Katz for his "Katz's Corner" shows, which will air on ESPNU next month. Jones was part of a roundtable discussion with other coaches. The group talked about various topics pertaining to college basketball. Jones was one of about 30 coaches nationally who took part in the taping.


More on Spurlock

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Two years ago, Tristan Spurlock was one of the most highly-sought after high school seniors in the nation. The athletic wing was being recruited by some of the top college programs in the country, and eventually elected to attend Virginia over Georgetown, Maryland and NC State. After spending his freshman campaign in Charlottesville, Spurlock is now a Knight. Head coach Donnie Jones announced yesterday that Spurlock is transferring to UCF.

Spurlock will sit out the 2010-11 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules, and will then have three years of eligibility remaining with the Knights. He will give UCF something that the program has not had in years - an athletic small forward who can score. The Woodbridge, Va., native averaged 2.4 points as a rookie, but those numbers should not be alarming. The Cavaliers like to slow things down offensively. Spurlock's game is more suited for an up-tempo system, which is exactly what Jones plans to implement at UCF.

Since Jones was hired at UCF in late March, he has added some impressive talent to the team's roster. Spurlock is one of four Division I transfers who have joined the program, joining Tom Herzog (Michigan State), Josh Crittle (Oregon) and Jeff Jordan (Illinois). Herzog will be eligible immediately, while Crittle and Spurlock will sit out this upcoming season with Spurlock. Jones has also added junior-college transfer Dwight McCombs, and prep players Jarvis Davis and Isaiah Sykes.


Central Florida Future Features Tom Herzog

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With his unique path to UCF, Tom Herzog should get plenty of attention as he enters his senior (and only) season with the Knights. Carson Ingle of the Central Florida Future has a nice story about how Herzog arrived at UCF after attending Michigan State for four years.

Click here to read the story


Picking it Up

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In past years, the Knights have never really had a full complement of players on campus during the summer. As a result, pickup games were not always too competitive. That is not the case this summer. All 16 Knights are currently on campus, working out individually and often meeting for evening games inside the UCF Practice Facility. P.J. Gaynor, who is entering his junior campaign, says that the Knights are enjoying the increase in competition.

"Pickup is a lot better," he said. "It has picked up a lot. The tempo is fast paced. It is up and down. We are pushing each other and going at each other, trying to make everyone better."


What's Next Part III

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Here is the final installment of some things to look for during the 2010-11 campaign at UCF:

Power in the Paint
Last season, UCF's primary post players consisted of A.J. Tyler, Keith Clanton and P.J. Gaynor. All three are dynamic forwards who are more known for their finesse than their abilities to bang down low. Enter Dwight McCombs. One of the top junior college forwards in the country, McCombs signed a National Letter of Intent with the Knights in early May and will give the program some power in the paint. The 6-foot-8 McCombs averaged 22.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois. He led the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II in blocks at 5.0 per game. The addition of McCombs will allow players like Tyler, Clanton and Gaynor to do what they do best - create mismatches with their versatile offensive games.

A New Wingman
Without Jermaine Taylor, the Knights struggled to score from the perimeter in 2009-10. Adding some pop on the wing was a key for Donnie Jones and his staff while they were on the recruiting trail. The group's top target was Isaiah Sykes, and the Detroit native officially became a Knight on May 17 when he signed a National Letter of Intent. The 6-foot-5 Sykes averaged 19.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a senior at Denby High School, and was rated as the 39th-best small forward in the country by Scout.com. Sykes knows how to get to the basket and will certainly help with some scoring from the perimeter.

Senior Moments
A year ago, UCF was one of the youngest squads in the country. The Knights had just three upperclassmen, and only one of the veterans was a senior. A lack of veteran leadership should not be the case this season. The squad will feature three seniors - A.J. Tyler, Taylor Young and Michigan State transfer Tom Herzog. All three are fifth-year seniors.


Orlando Sentinel Gives Jermaine Taylor Some Love

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Iliana Limon has a nice story in Friday's Orlando Sentinel on former UCF star Jermaine Taylor. The story focuses on Taylor's strong play at the 2010 NBA Summer League for Houston and his desire to improve entering his second professional season.

Click here to read the story


Another Big Game for Jermaine

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Jermaine Taylor had another big game in the 2010 Las Vegas Summer League in Las Vegas Saturday. The former UCF standout scored 21 points in an 87-78 victory over Dallas. That performance came after the shooting guard totaled 25 points Friday versus Phoenix.

Rockets.com writer Jason Friedman has a nice story on Taylor on the Houston web site. He calls the 2008-09 Conference USA Player of the Year a "breakout summer star."

Click here to read the story


Jermaine Makes Splash in 2010 Summer League Debut

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Jermaine Taylor's debut at the 2010 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas Friday was definitely impressive. The former UCF star scored a game-high 25 points in 26 minutes to help Houston beat Phoenix, 100-82. The shooting guard made 10-of-19 shots from the field, and connected on all five of his free-throw attempts. Taylor also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists.

The Rockets will continue play in Las Vegas Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern against Dallas.


Taylor Talks Summer League

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On Friday, former UCF star Jermaine Taylor and the Rockets will open play at the 2010 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Houston is slated to play five games at the event, starting with a 6 p.m. Eastern game Friday versus Phoenix. The majority of the team's games will air live on NBA TV.

Taylor is entering his second season with the Rockets. He appeared in 31 games as a rookie in 2009-10, and averaged 4.1 points. Taylor, who was tabbed as the Conference USA Player of the Year as a senior in 2008-09, made four starts late in the year.

The shooting guard recently spoke to reporters in Houston about his preparations for summer league play.

Click here to watch video of Taylor talking about the summer league


Fresh Faces Produce Some Laughs

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Earlier in the week, UCF's newcomers had the opportunity to meet with the Orlando-area media inside the UCF Arena. The group, which included Josh Crittle, Jarvis Davis, Jeff Jordan, Dwight McCombs and Isaiah Sykes, were mostly asked serious questions... except from one individual. John Evans, who serves as the emcee during home games at the UCF Arena, brought some levity to the proceedings. Check out his questions, and the Knights' answers, on the video below, which was produced by the UCF sports marketing office.

Click here to watch the video


Florida Today Features Newcomers

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Carl Kotala of Florida Today was on hand yesterday as UCF's large group of newcomers met with the Orlando media for the first time. Florida Today has a pair of stories in today's edition on the Knights. One focuses on Donnie Jones' entire class of newcomers, while the other is a feature on Jeff Jordan.

Click here to read the story on the newcomers

Click here to read the story on Jeff Jordan


New Knights Meet with the Media

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On Tuesday afternoon, the majority of UCF's large group of newcomers had the chance to meet with the Orlando media for the first time. Josh Crittle, Jarvis Davis, Jeff Jordan, Dwight McCombs and Isaiah Sykes were all on hand at the UCF Arena to talk to the press. Head coach Donnie Jones also met with the media. Expect to see stories on the Knights this evening on WFTV-9 and Bright House Sports Network.

Click here for a photo gallery of the Knights meeting the media


Chi-Town Connection Continues

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UCF's Chicago connection is growing. With the announcement Monday that Jeff Jordan has transferred to UCF from Illinois, the Knights now have five Chicago-area products on the 2010-11 roster. Jordan, along with Oregon transfer Josh Crittle, will sit out the upcoming year due to NCAA rules.

A.J. Rompza began the influx of talented players from the Windy City when he signed a National Letter of Intent with UCF in fall 2007. In spring 2009, Marcus Jordan joined the program. Since Donnie Jones arrived in March, Dwight McCombs, Crittle and Jeff Jordan have all decided to become Knights.


Looking Back at the Draft

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At this time a year ago, Jermaine Taylor was confident about his status in the 2009 NBA Draft. He had good reason to be positive. After concluding the 2008-09 campaign ranked third nationally in scoring 26.2 points per game, the shooting guard excelled in the pre-draft process. The All-America selection was one of the top performers at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in April, and also attended the NBA Draft Combine in May.

Taylor was rewarded on draft night when he was selected by Washington with the 32nd overall pick. The Wizards used the second pick of the second round on the Tavares native, and then traded him to Houston. Taylor appeared in 31 games for the Rockets in 2009-10, and averaged 4.1 points. He earned most of his minutes at the end of the season, and started four games late in the year.

This year's NBA Draft is set for Thursday. NBADraft.net lists four Conference USA players - Elliot Williams of Memphis (20th overall), Hassan Whiteside of Marshall (23rd overall), Jerome Jordan of Tulsa (40th overall) and Derrick Caracter of UTEP (59th overall) - in its latest mock draft. Whiteside was recruited by and coached by current UCF head coach Donnie Jones during his lone collegiate season.


Game Versus Florida Featured in Central Florida Future

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In Monday's edition of the Central Florida Future, Carson Ingle has a story about last week's announcement that UCF will face Florida in the inaugural Florida Citrus Sports Shootout on Dec. 1 at the new Amway Center in downtown Orlando.

Click here to read the story


Making History

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UCF and head coach Donnie Jones garnered plenty of media attention yesterday when Florida Citrus Sports announced that the Knights would face Florida in the inaugural college game at the new Amway Center in downtown Orlando on Dec. 1. The contest will serve as the first time that UCF and the Gators have met in Orlando. The programs have played in Gainesville seven times, and also met in Jacksonville twice, most recently in 2008.

Ironically, both the Knights and Florida were involved in the opening of the current Amway Arena. On Feb. 4, 1989, the programs played in a doubleheader that served as the first sporting event inside the facility. UCF met cross-town foe Rollins, and Florida played Stanford.


What's Next - Part II

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Here are some more items to look for during the 2010-11 campaign:

A More Confident Clanton
Keith Clanton showed at times during the 2009-10 campaign why he was considered the top recruit in school history by some who follow the program. The former Orlando Christian Prep star averaged 9.7 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds. At the conclusion of the regular season, he earned a spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. The forward has said that he was not impressed with his rookie campaign, especially the high number of turnovers that he committed. He is working to get stronger over the summer, and once the fall arrives, will have the chance to work with new assistant coach Darren Tillis. The towering Tillis, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, should serve as a great mentor to UCF's post players, and will help Clanton play with more confidence as a sophomore.

An Abundance of Speed
A.J. Rompza is typically one of the quickest players with the ball in his hand on the court each game. This season, he might not even be the fastest player on his team. Jarvis Davis, who was the first recruit to sign a National Letter of Intent with UCF after Donnie Jones took over as the head coach, is a speedy player who had a solid postgraduate year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia in 2009-10. Davis is a drive and dish-style point guard who should thrive in the Knights' up-tempo offense.

A Healthy Marcus
Marcus Jordan was not himself last season. Sure the freshman had some incredible performances, like a 23-point effort at Houston on 9-of-9 shooting, but he never seemed to get into a good rhythm during his freshman campaign. The shooting guard was hampered by injuries all throughout the year, especially in the preseason. As a result, Jordan was not in the best physical shape at the start of his freshman season. In an effort to avoid injuries this year, Jordan has been training hard during the offseason. He has already dropped a few pounds, and hopes to shed a few more over the summer. A healthy Jordan will help the Knights on both sides of the ball in 2010-11.


Happy Camping

The first of two individual camps for youngsters hosted by Donnie Jones at UCF this month began this morning. The Little Knights Day Camp is for children ages 6-10. Starting next Monday is the Individual Boys' Day Camp, which is for ages 7-17. To sign up for the week-long camp, visit DonnieJonesBasketball.com


What's Next - Part I

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I recently wrote a story for the June edition of KnightVision that contained a short list of who and what to keep an eye out for during the 2010-11 athletics campaign at UCF. The list had one basketball item, focusing on head coach Donnie Jones' plan to implement an up-tempo offense for the Knights. Here are a few more items to look for in regards to the men's basketball program:

A Consistent-Shooting Senior
A.J. Tyler shot 48.4 percent from the field this past year. Despite ranking seventh in Conference USA in field goal percentage, the forward did not really have a great campaign shooting the ball. Tyler made just 3-of-26 attempts from 3-point range, and also shot 72.0 percent at the free-throw line. Tyler is a skilled offensive player who can score in a variety of ways. He is spending ample time during the offseason working on his shooting, so expect him to drain more shots as a senior.

Points from the Point Guard
As a senior at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, A.J. Rompza averaged 18.0 points. Since arriving at UCF, the point guard has told anyone within earshot that he has the ability to score the ball. Sure he will do whatever it takes for his team to win, and sometimes that means just distributing the rock to open teammates. But Donnie Jones expects his point guards to supply points as well, and Rompza will be willing to contribute. After averaging 4.3 points as a freshman, Rompza upped his scoring average to 8.6 points in 2009-10. It is a good bet that his scoring average will rise this upcoming season.

Sosa Filling Humphrey's Role for the Knights
When Donnie Jones was an assistant coach at Florida, players like Corey Brewer, Al Horford and Jaokim Noah garnered most of the publicity, but the program could not have won back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007 without Lee Humphrey. The sharp-shooting guard finished his career with 288 3-pointers, the most in Florida history. With his shooting ability, Humphrey opened things up offensively for his teammates. Isaac Sosa, who has one of the best shooting touches in the nation, could fill that same role for the Knights. This past year, Sosa led Conference USA in 3-point field goal percentage (42.7) and drained 73 triples. In Jones' fast-paced offense, Sosa should get more touches, and the chance to connect on more treys.


Rompza Featured in Central Florida Future

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The Central Florida Future has a nice feature story on A.J. Rompza in its Monday edition. The piece, written by Allen Levin, focuses on Rompza's summer workout routine.

Click here to read the story


Jones to Appear on WFTV-9 in Orlando

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Donnie Jones took time out of his busy schedule Wednesday to sit down with WFTV-9 in Orlando and talk about the UCF program. Jones touched on a number of topics, including the Knights' returning players, newcomers like Dwight McCombs and Isaiah Sykes and the summer camps that he is hosting in June. Expect portions of the interview to air throughout the week, and on WFTV's Sunday evening sports show.


Back on Campus

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Each summer, several former Knights return to campus to workout with current members of the team. Former star small forward Josh Peppers was at the UCF Practice Facility Friday. Peppers, who ranks eighth all time at UCF with 1,376 career points, has played professionally in Japan since concluding his time in Orlando in 2007. This past season, the Memphis, Tenn., native averaged 20.5 points playing for the Sendai 89ers.


UCF Adds Another Transfer

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Since taking over the helm of the UCF program in late March, Donnie Jones has added new talent to the Knights through a few different methods. He signed prep standouts Jarvis Davis and Isaiah Sykes. Jones convinced one of the nation's most-sought after junior college players, Dwight McCombs, to attend UCF. He has also welcomed a pair of four-year college transfers in Tom Herzog and Josh Crittle.

On Thursday, UCF announced that Crittle, a 6-foot-8 forward/center, was transferring to UCF from Oregon. The big man from the Chicago area was rated as one of the top post players in the country as a senior at Hales Franciscan High School. Crittle, who appeared in 51 games in two years at Oregon, will have to sit out the 2010-11 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility at UCF.

Herzog is a 7-foot center who should be eligible immediately. He has already earned his bachelor's degree at Michigan State, and has one year of eligibility remaining after redshirting in 2006-07 with the Spartans. He will pursue a master's degree at UCF.

The arrival of Crittle and Herzog will mark the first time since 2005 that UCF has welcomed multiple transfers from Division I institutions. That year, Carlton Christian arrived from Marquette, Dave Noel transferred from UNC-Wilmington and Mike O'Donnell came to Orlando from NC State. All three sat out the 2005-06 campaign, but helped make up what has to be the best scout team in program history. The trio pushed starters like Gary Johnson and Josh Peppers every day in practice, helping the Knights claim their second-straight Atlantic Sun Championship title and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in as many years. Christian only spent one year at UCF, but both Noel and O'Donnell went on to have productive careers with the Knights, and are recognized as two of the best guards in school history.


Weight List

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With every returning member of the team on campus this summer, the Knights are spending plenty of time working on their strength and conditioning. Donnie Jones has asked some players, like P.J. Gaynor and A.J. Rompza, to gain weight. Meanwhile, other Knights are looking to drop a few pounds. David Diakite fits in neither category. The sophomore currently weighs 213 pounds, and is not looking to make any changes.

"I am just trying to maintain," Diakite said. "I am happy where I am at. I am feeling light on my feet. I feel quicker than I did (during) the season. I am just trying to stay at the weight I am at. With the weight program that we are doing now, I think everything is going to work out that way."


Numbers Game

I recently updated the Knights' roster on UCFAthletics.com. Here are the jersey numbers that the squad's newcomers will wear in 2010-11:

Jarvis Davis - 2
Dwight McCombs - 10
Isaiah Sykes - 32
Tom Herzog - 41


Jones to Appear on The Beat of Sports Friday

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On Friday, Donnie Jones will talk about UCF's impressive recruiting class on "The Beat of Sports" on ESPN 1080 in Orlando. He is slated to appear around 10:15 a.m. The show is hosted by UCF radio voice Marc Daniels.

Click here to listen live


C-USA Championship Heading to El Paso

At the conclusion of the annual Conference USA Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., Wednesday, the league announced that El Paso has been awarded the 2011 C-USA Men's Basketball Championship. The league's board of directors will still have to approve the site, but the event should be held at the Don Haskins Center on the UTEP campus in March. This past season, the tournament was held in Tulsa, Okla. In each of the previous four years, Memphis, Tenn., hosted the event.


Return to the South

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On Tuesday, the Orange Bowl Committee announced that the Knights will meet Miami as part of the 2010 MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic on Dec. 18 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise. The contest will serve as UCF's first appearance in south Florida since 2005. The program's last game in the area occurred on Dec. 13, 2005, when the Knights fell 59-54 at Florida Atlantic. The 2005-06 campaign marked the school's first year in Conference USA.

UCF does not have any players from the southern portion of the state on its roster, but Issac Sosa, who is a native of Puerto Rico, did attended Grandview Prep in Boca Raton.


Time to Meet

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While his program continues to garner headlines for its recruiting success, head coach Donnie Jones is currently in Destin, Fla., for the annual Conference USA spring meetings. Among the basketball topics that will be discussed is conference scheduling. The league could opt to switch to divisions for basketball, and the Knights would meet the teams in their division twice, and the other conference squads once. C-USA should also announce the location of the 2011 league championship this week. This past season, the tournament was held in Tulsa, Okla., for the first time. In each of the previous four years, the championship occurred in Memphis, Tenn.


Heading to Orlando from the Big Ten

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UCF officially announced Thursday that Tom Herzog is transferring to the school from Michigan State. The 7-foot center spent the last four years with the Spartans. Herzog will have the opportunity to be eligible immediately at UCF if he meets NCAA fifth-year transfer requirements. The Flint, Mich., native could have remained with the Spartans, but elected to leave his home state to seek more playing time. UCF returns three post players, but all three - A.J. Tyler, Keith Clanton and P.J. Gaynor - are skilled offensive players who feel more comfortable facing the basket than posting up. Herzog also fits that mold, but with his size, will give new head coach Donnie Jones some needed help up front. The Knights have also added rugged junior college transfer Dwight McCombs, a forward is more physical inside.

The last time that a player came to UCF from the Big Ten Conference certainly worked out for the Knights. Mark Jones starred at UCF in 1997-98 after transferring from Minnesota. Jones, the first UCF alum to play in the NBA, averaged a team-high 20.8 points in his lone campaign in Orlando and set several school scoring records.


A Closer Look at UCF's Growing Attendance

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Yesterday, the NCAA released its list of the top average attendance increases in the nation. UCF posted an increase of 1,020 spectators per game in 2009-10, the 17th-best mark in the country. UCF averaged 5,411 fans this past season, good for a program record. A school-best 81,161 fans attended 15 games at the UCF Arena during the season.

Those numbers are especially impressive when you look at some past attendance numbers. The Knights have posted solid attendance numbers since moving into the UCF Arena prior to the 2007-08 campaign. It was only five seasons ago that an average of 1,541 watched the Knights play in 2005-06 at the old UCF Arena.

Here is a look at UCF's attendance over the last eight years:
2009-10 - 81,161 (5,411 per game)
2008-09 - 70,244 (4,390)
2007-08 - 78,253 (4,891)
2006-07 - 43,296 (2,706)
2005-06 - 23,115 (1,541)
2004-05 - 19,246 (1,283)
2003-04 - 24,495 (1,884)
2002-03 - 16,377 (1,260)


JUCO Coach Thinks McCombs Will Thrive at UCF

Last week, head coach Donnie Jones announced that Dwight McCombs, one of the top junior college forwards in the country, had signed a National Letter of Intent with UCF and will be joining the program over the summer. A native of Chicago, the 6-foot-8 McCombs averaged 22.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per game at Moraine Valley Community College in 2009-10. I had the opportunity to speak with Moraine Valley head coach Dedrick Shannon recently about McCombs. Shannon had nothing but great things to say about McCombs, and thinks that he will thrive in the up-tempo, fast-paced system that Jones plans to implement at UCF.

"That is actually how we play," Shannon said. "He will fit right in. We actually played him at the top of our press. We pressed pretty much the majority of the game. We played an up-tempo style. We averaged around 82 points a game. He will fit right in with that style of play. That is actually what he was looking for."


Zondervan Continuing Rookie Campaign in France

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In April, former UCF center Kenrick Zondervan concluded his rookie professional season with Egaleo in Greece. A native of Holland, Zondervan averaged 12.0 points for Egaleo. As a result of his strong play in Greece, Zondervan was invited to join AIX-Maurienne in the French Pro B League.

He has already appeared in two contests in France, averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game. Zondervan is shooting 80.0 percent from the field. His team has one regular season game remaining before starting the postseason next week.

Zondervan's team is located in Aix-les-Bains, which is in east France near Lyon.


Welcome to Dropping Dimes

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Welcome to Dropping Dimes. My hope is that this blog will provide a unique insight into the UCF men's basketball program. I plan to use this blog to write about the Knights on a daily basis. During the season, I feel that this blog can provide some inside aspects of the program, including observations from practice, or information about life on the road. Having traveled with the Knights for over five years, it seems like so many interesting stories occur with the team on the road, but they just are not documented. I think that this blog can shed light on these details, like A.J. Rompza's affinity for gossip magazines, or my battles with Marc Daniels in H-O-R-S-E (Marc wins most of the time).

I still plan on writing longer, more in-depth stories for UCFAthletics.com. I see this blog as the progression of my Fastbreak notebooks, which I updated almost daily on the web site. Thanks to former UCF athletics communications assistant Eric DeSalvo for the name. He had some other quality suggestions that did not make the cut, as did Marc. His Bowtie Bonanza just missed out.

Hopefully this blog provides some insightful content. I welcome any feedback (drichards@athletics.ucf.edu), as long as it is positive.

Go Knights!

Doug Richards
Associate Director of Athletics Communications


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