The Knights' Connections to the Final Four

April 4, 2014

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By Dan Forcella

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – The 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four will take place this weekend as Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky are set to battle it out in North Texas.  As the UCF men’s basketball team continues its offseason workouts in preparation for the 2014-15 campaign, the Knights will certainly be keyed in on what’s going on in Dallas.

A number of Knights, including head coach Donnie Jones, have connections to teams still vying for this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

Jones was an assistant coach under Billy Donovan at Florida from 1996-07, helping to lead the Gators to back-to-back National Championships in 2005-06 and 2006-07.  This weekend marks Florida’s first time back to the Final Four since Jones left the staff.

Director of Operations Craig Brown also has ties to the Gators, captaining the 1993-94 Florida team that went 29-8 and advanced to the program’s first ever Final Four.  A prolific shooter, Brown set a Florida single-season record with 89 triples back in 93-94.

In order to get to Monday’s title game, Florida will have to defeat Connecticut, a team UCF is very familiar with after competing in the first ever season of American Athletic Conference play in 2013-14.

The Huskies defeated the Knights twice this season en route to a 12-6 AAC mark and a trip to the conference title game.  Isaiah Sykes led the Knights with 17 points in both contests, but it was Justin McBride who impressed in the Feb. 9 outing at the CFE Arena.  The big man scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting in just 13 minutes.

“There’s a bright spot for him tonight,” Jones said of McBride following that game against UConn.  “He needed that confidence for how hard he’s worked.  So that was positive.”

On the other side of the bracket, meanwhile, is eighth-seeded Kentucky.  UCF Associate Head Coach Shawn Finney spent time as an assistant coach on Tubby Smith’s staff at UK from 1997-00, as he helped lead the Wildcats to a National Title back in 1998 with a 35-4 overall record.

Also, before transferring to Marshall to play for Jones, the Knights’ Assistant Director of Operations Adam Williams played one season at Kentucky as a freshman in 2005-06.

Whether the Cats, the Huskies, the Gators, or the Wisconsin Badgers end up taking home the crown, the college basketball world – which certainly includes the UCF Knights – will have all eyes on North Texas Monday night.