Oct. 1, 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.
Today, www.UCFathletics.com will take a look at the squad's shooting guards: seniors Dave Noel (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) and Mike Battle (Waldorf, Md./Southern Maryland Christian Academy), sophomore Drew Speraw (Oviedo, Fla./Oviedo) and freshman Chris Baez (Kissimmee, Fla./Gateway).
After seeing limited time as a reserve point guard as a sophomore in 2005-06, Noel earned starting shooting guard duties prior to last season and did not disappoint. He started all 31 games and proved that he has a well-rounded game. Noel averaged 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
Compared to his sophomore season in which he struggled at the point, Noel looked comfortable last season playing at his natural position off the ball. When he did handle the ball, he was efficient, recording a 1.78 assist/turnover ratio in league play.
He shot 50 percent overall and ranked second in C-USA and 37th nationally in free-throw percentage (85.4). Most importantly for Speraw, Noel developed into a defensive stopper. In two regular season victories against Rice, Noel limited league player of the year Morris Almond, who finished the season third in the country in scoring (26.4), to just 6-of-28 shooting and a 2-of-11 showing from deep.
"Dave did all of the things defensively to help us win," said Speraw. "Almost each and every game, he guarded the opponent's best player and did an outstanding job."
Battle missed the 2005-06 campaign due to an injury and spent last year getting healthy. He appeared in 28 games, averaging 7.6 minutes. A 3-point specialist, he canned 17 treys and scored 2.4 points a contest.
"Mike is a great shooter. He has very good instincts for the game," said Speraw. "We need Mike to be able to come in and knock down shots in order for us to be successful."
A local product from Kissimmee, Baez spent last year at Lee Academy in Maine after graduating from Gateway High School in 2006. An accurate shooter from 3-point range, he averaged 19 points at the prep level in 2006-07.
As a senior at Gateway the previous year, he earned a spot on the Florida Class 6A All-State Second Team after averaging 25.2 points and 6.7 rebounds.
In addition to his shooting ability, Baez can take the ball to the basket and also distribute.
"Chris is a very good shooter," said Speraw. "He has a pretty good feel for the game, but needs to learn how to compete at this level and compete defensively. He can be a major contributor for our program."
After appearing in 17 games as a rookie in 2005-06, Drew Speraw redshirted last season. An intelligent player, Speraw improved his 3-point shooting last year and will provide depth at the shooting guard position. He also has the ability to handle the ball if needed.