Sept. 27, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - As the 2007-08 UCF men's basketball season approaches, www.UCFathletics.com will take a look at the Knights, position-by-position. UCF opens the regular-season campaign on Nov. 11 against Nevada in the first game at the new UCF Arena. Season tickets are currently available by calling 407-UCF-1000.
The Knights will play 16 regular-season games at the new 10,000-seat facility. One lucky season ticket holder will get to drive home from the new UCF Arena in a brand new Mazda CX-9, courtesy of Classic Mazda, the presenting sponsor of this year's season ticket drive. UCF basketball fans that purchase two season tickets for this year's inaugural schedule at the new UCF Arena will be entered into a drawing to win the Mazda CX-9.
The winner of the CX-9 will be selected and announced on Nov. 24 during the UCF-UTEP football game at Bright House Networks Stadium. The vehicle will be on display at all UCF football home games and at Classic Mazda, which is located on 2075 North Semoran Boulevard in Orlando.
The look at the Knights begins with an analysis of the squad's point guards: seniors Mike O'Donnell (Largo, Fla./Largo) and Chip Cartwright (Houston, Texas/Phillis Wheatley) and freshman Taylor Young (Orlando, Fla./The First Academy).
An all-conference candidate, Mike O'Donnell is one of two senior starters in the backcourt. In two seasons at UCF since transferring from NC State, O'Donnell has started all 60 of the Knights' contests at point guard.
He averaged a team-high 30.7 minutes per game last season and recorded 10.3 points and 3.7 assists per game. O'Donnell took good care of the ball, committing just 49 turnovers. An accurate shooter, he shot 44.2 percent from the floor and ranked second in C-USA in 3-point field goal percentage (43.0).
In just two campaigns with the Knights, the Largo, Fla., native has connected on 120 triples, which ranks ninth all-time at UCF. O'Donnell served as a co-captain a year ago and Speraw expects him to serve as the team's leader, both on and off the court.
"As a senior point guard, Mike has to be the main leader. Last year, he was more comfortable leading not only by example, but also by being more vocal," said UCF head coach Kirk Speraw. "He has a great understanding of the game and we need him to play with a great deal of confidence."
O'Donnell shot with great confidence numerous times last season against C-USA opponents. He hit four 3-pointers and totaled 20 points in a UCF win at Marshall in January and nailed five treys to help the Knights to a home victory over Southern Miss in February. In conference play, he registered eight double-digit scoring performances.
Fellow senior Cartwright will serve as O'Donnell's backup for the second-straight season. A playmaker who can break down defenses with his ball-handling skills, Cartwright saw time in 24 contests as a reserve in his first year at UCF last season. A transfer from Angelina College in Texas, he averaged 2.5 points and 1.9 assists. Since he is a pass-first point guard, Cartwright often played alongside O'Donnell, who does not hesitate to shoot. The pairing should continue this year.
"Chip is great at finding open teammates and creating shots for them," said Speraw. "He is an exciting player to watch, especially on a fast break."
Young spent his redshirt freshman year running UCF's scout team last season. A well-rounded point guard, he will provide depth behind O'Donnell and Cartwright. Young earned Florida Class 2A Player of the Year honors at The First Academy in Orlando in 2005-06. He averaged 25 points, 5.7 assists and 3.4 steals as a senior. An energetic player, Young will again help the Knights get better in practice and will give Speraw depth behind O'Donnell and Cartwright.