Sept. 29, 2009
By Andrew Gavin
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF head coach Joi Williams announced her team's 2009-10 schedule Tuesday, and the third-year head coach will again test her women's basketball team with a challenging slate. The Knights will again play a difficult non-conference schedule, highlighted by home games against Washington, Alabama, Florida State and Notre Dame.
UCF's 25-game slate includes nine non-conference games and 14 home games at UCF Arena. In 2008-09, the Knights went 9-4 at home, including a perfect 8-0 record in conference play.
"This schedule that will be very challenging for our team," said Williams. "Our non-conference schedule will provide us an opportunity to prepare for a successful Conference USA season."
Last season, Williams watched her young UCF team post a 2-11 record against one of the nation's toughest schedules. UCF played the likes of Colorado, Baylor, Wisconsin, Florida State and Wake Forest, and while the wins were hard to come by initially, the team showed tremendous improvement.
Some questioned the schedule, but Williams proved she knew that positives would come from it. The Knights rattled off 11 wins in their 15 Conference USA games and then won four-straight contests to claim the C-USA tournament title and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Now a year more experienced and with 10 letterwinners returning, the team will open the season on Nov. 15 at Middle Tennessee State. MTSU is led by the nation's leading scorer from a year ago, Alysha Clark, who averaged 27.5 points per game last season.
UCF junior Emma Cannon (Rochester, N.Y.) will counter Clark. The 6-foot-2 Cannon averaged 15.5 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in 2008-09 and won C-USA Tournament MVP honors. She will enter her junior season needing just 122 points to crack the 1,000-point mark in her career.
The home opener will be Nov. 20 when UCF hosts Bethune-Cookman. A trip to play at Jacksonville on Dec. 2 opens a month in which the Knights will play five of seven games on their home floor.
Williams and her team will welcome Pac-10 foe Washington on Dec. 6. The matchup will be the first meeting between UCF and a school from the Pac-10 in the program's history.
A trip to FAU (Dec. 12) precedes home games on Dec. 14 and Dec. 16 against Alabama and Florida State respectively. The Knights will be looking for revenge in both games after road losses to both teams last year.
After hosting Jackson State on Dec. 20, UCF will close out the non-conference schedule when Notre Dame visits UCF Arena on Dec. 29. It will be the second time the programs have met and first in over 20 years, with the Fighting Irish having also played in Orlando on Nov. 25, 1989.
"I am really excited about our home schedule," said Williams. "We will be hosting Notre Dame, Washington and Alabama, along with a defending ACC regular season champion Florida State team. Those games will give us the opportunity to challenge ourselves on the court while also showing off UCF Arena. I believe the fans of the UCF community will really enjoy watching quality teams."
The Knights will begin their quest for a C-USA regular season title on the road, playing at Marshall (Jan. 8) and East Carolina (Jan. 10).
The conference home opener is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 15 against Memphis and will be followed by a home game against UAB two days later. The game against the Blazers will tip-off at 5 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.
The national audience will have its eye on UCF junior Chelsie Wiley (Riviera Beach, Fla.), an All-Conference USA performer in 2008-09. Wiley averaged 18.3 points in four games against the two schools a season ago.
The first of two rematches of the 2009 C-USA tournament title game will be at UCF on Jan. 21, when the Knights host Southern Miss. UCF defeated Southern Miss 65-54 in overtime of the championship game last March. The Knights will make a return trip to Hattiesburg to close out the regular season on March 3.
Other home games include: Tulane (Jan. 31), Marshall (Feb. 4), East Carolina (Feb. 6), Rice (Feb. 18) and Houston (Feb. 20). The schedule concludes with three-straight road games, with trips to defending regular season champion SMU (Feb. 25) and Rice (Feb. 27) preceding the season finale at Southern Miss.
"Once again, C-USA will be a highly competitive league," said Williams. "There were five teams within one game of winning the regular season title last year, and I fully expect to see a similar battle for the championship this season."
The Knights will defend their C-USA tournament title in early March at the C-USA Championships. Along with the men's championship, the women's tournament will be held in Tulsa, Okla., from March 8-12.
Season tickets are currently on sale with the UCF Ticket Office. Knight fans can purchase season tickets for each of the team's 14 home games for just $39.
Women's basketball season tickets can also be purchased with the UCF Gold Pass, which grants fans admission to every women's basketball home game as well as each volleyball and softball home contest. The UCF Gold Pass costs just $79 and saves fans a total of $34.
For more information on the UCF Gold Pass or season tickets, contact the UCF ticket office at (407) 823-1000.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.
2009-10 UCF Women's Basketball Schedule
Nov. 8 (Sun): St. Leo (Exhibition), 3 p.m.
Nov. 15 (Sun): at Middle Tennessee State, 3 p.m.
Nov. 20 (Fri): Bethune-Cookman; 7 p.m.
Dec. 2 (Wed): at Jacksonville, 7 p.m.
Dec. 6 (Sun): Washington, 1 p.m.
Dec. 12 (Sat): at FAU, 7 p.m.
Dec. 14 (Mon): Alabama, 7 p.m.
Dec. 16 (Wed): Florida State, 7 p.m.
Dec. 20 (Sun): Jackson State, 1 p.m.
Dec. 29 (Tues): Notre Dame, 1 p.m.
Jan. 8 (Fri): at Marshall*, 7 p.m.
Jan. 10 (Sun): at East Carolina*, 2 p.m.
Jan. 15 (Fri): Memphis* , 7 p.m.
Jan. 17 (Sun): UAB*, 5 p.m.
Jan. 21 (Thurs): Southern Miss*, 7 p.m.
Jan. 24 (Sun): at UTEP*, 4 p.m.
Jan. 31 (Sun): Tulane*, 2 p.m.
Feb. 4 (Thurs): Marshall*, 7 p.m.
Feb. 6 (Sat): East Carolina*, 7 p.m.
Feb. 12 (Fri): at UAB*, 8 p.m.
Feb. 14 (Sun): at Memphis*, 3 p.m.
Feb. 18 (Thurs): Rice*, 7 p.m.
Feb. 20 (Sat): Houston*, 7 p.m.
Feb. 25 (Thurs): at SMU*, 8 p.m.
Feb. 27 (Sat): at Tulsa*, 8 p.m.
Mar. 3 (Wed): at Southern Miss*, 8 p.m.
2010 Conference USA Championship (Reynolds Center - Tulsa, Okla.)
Mar. 8 (Mon): First Round, TBA
Mar. 9 (Tues): Quarterfinals, TBA
Mar. 10 (Wed): Semifinals, 5/7:30 p.m.
Mar. 12 (Fri): Championship Game, 12:30 p.m.
*Conference USA game
Bold denotes home game at UCF Arena
All times eastern and subject to change