Connect with us

UCF Knights

UFC Knights Enter 2nd Half of 22-23 Basketball Season | What to Expect

Kevyn Bryant II

Published

on

ucfknights.com

Halfway through the season, it is no secret that the UCF Knights find themselves in the thick of a very tight race in a competitive American Athletic Conference (AAC).   As things stand,  5 out of the top 7 teams in the American Athletic Conference have over 10 wins.  Additionally, nine of the 11 teams in the American Conference have a record of .500 or more.    It goes without saying that the leader of the pack in the American Conference is the #2 ranked Houston Cougars.

copyright | seatgeek.com

Central Florida is one of the 5 teams with 10+ wins.   They have a record of 10-4 overall and a conference record of 1-1.    There hasn’t been a game this season in which the UCF Knights have lost decisively.   It certainly hasn’t happened in their lost two losses.

Central Florida lost in heartbreaking fashion 68-66 to a buzzer-beater by Missouri’s DeAndre Gholston.   On New Year’s Eve, they played competitively against the Houston Cougars in a 71-65 defeat.

The UCF Knights are at the mercy of conference play for the rest of the season.  Key matchup that awaits UCF are their matchups against Memphis at home on January 11th and away on February 16th.   Wins in both of those matchups will greatly help their tournament resume.

However, the biggest season of the game for UCF is in three weeks against the #2 Houston Cougars at home.

Advertisement

It goes without saying that a win against the Houston Cougars will have major implications as far as a tournament bid is concerned.   While a conference tournament win automatically grants them a trip to the Big Dance, a win against Houston will give the team much needed leverage for an at-large bid provided that Central Florida has a stellar second half of the season overall.  Of course, UCF would have to follow that up with at least a trip to the finals in conference tournament play.

Key Players:

copyright ucfknights.com

In terms of offensive production, one can say that it’s been a collective effort.   So far this season, 4 UCF players have averaged over double figures.   However, the leader of the pack is freshman power-forward Taylor Hendricks.  Taylor Hendrick averages 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.  He is the team leader in all of those categories.  It is pretty clear that Taylor Hendricks is the frontrunner for the 2022-2023 AAC Rookie of the Year.    He made history by being the first freshman in the conference to earn “Freshman of the Week” honors four weeks in a row.

Another key contributor is sophomore guard Darius Johnson.   Despite only playing nine games this season,  Darius Johnson has scored in double figures in seven of those games.   He has had double-figure performances in five straight games.  He scored 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists on New Year’s Eve against Houston.    Darius Johnson also leads the teams in assists and steals.

Of course, the success of a team cannot solely thrive on underclassmen alive.   Experience is needed.   This can be seen in the contribution of seniors Ithiel Horton and C.J Kelly.

Advertisement

A recent transfer, Horton has found his place in UCF’s rotation quickly.  Ithiel Horton has averaged 10.9 points per game.  He had a season-high 19 points against Missouri.

Senior C.J Kelly has averaged 10.7 points per game for the season.  He has had two 20-point performances so far this season.

 

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK:

Through many years of watching conference and NCAA tournaments, I tend to find that the teams who do well  tend to have a lot of scoring options.   Along with Taylor Hendricks, UCF has three solid scoring options.

Advertisement

I feel the UCF Knights will have a competitive second half of the season.  Given their competitiveness in their first matchup against Houston,  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they will upset Houston in their matchup in three weeks.

I feel that their depth will make them a prime candidate for a deep run in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.   While I don’t think that they will win, I feel that they will make a trip to the conference finals.

Given that the AAC only accepted two teams in the tourney last year,  I will assume that they will do the same.   I feel that the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights will be the two teams chosen.  It is possible that they will be selected as one of the “First Four” teams.   However, I feel their run will end there.

Advertisement

UCF Knights

UCF Knights Secure Centerpiece Big Man for 2024-25 Season

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify for 2024-25 season.

Avatar

Published

on

Moustapha Thiam

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify, making him eligible to play for the Knights this coming college basketball season.

Thiam, the No.1 center in ESPN’s class of 2025, will anchor the Knights’ defense in their second season in the Big 12.

The 7-foot-2 Senegalese impressed scouts with his terrific play at the Adidas 3SSB circuit, serving as the focal point of Austin Rivers SE Elite in the tournament. In 28 minutes per game, he averaged 5.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 1.0 steals.

 

Advertisement

 

With Thiam joining a roster of seniors and promising young players, Johnny Dawkins’ UCF Knights is expected to outperform their surprising 7-11 record in their Big 12 debut last season.

Advertisement

UCF has retained the service of Jaylin Sellers and Darius Johnson, the two top-scorers from last season, and secured commitments from a slew of transferees such as JJ Taylor and Mikey Williams from Memphis, Keyshawn Hall from George Mason, and Deebo Coleman from Georgia Tech.

The program has successfully recruited Cameron Simpson, a local standout from Oak Ridge in Orlando, Florida.

Scouting Report Provides Things to Expect from Moustapha Thiam

Moustapha Thiam is an enticing prospect because of his large 7-foot-2 size, impressive length, and quick-twitch movement.

As a true center, he can open his hips, glide laterally, and recover from switches.

While he has to gain muscle, especially considering his slight foundation and narrow shoulders, he is an excellent rim protector who can influence ball movement and play from the weak side.

Advertisement

Thiam possesses a nice touch for pick-and-pop jumpers with his feet set and good hands for passes at chest level or higher.

As he continues to develop in each game, he will improve his decision-making skills. His size and physical tools set him apart from his contemporaries.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

High School

Building Relationships with the Community: Gus Malzahn Winning Strategy

Tramayne Wright

Published

on

 

Coach Lo discusses how Gus Malzahn identifies the key figures within the local community in Central Florida.

 

Gus Malzahn had a vision. He saw the potential in the local sports scene and knew he had to seize the opportunity. Coach Lo Wood vividly remembers the strategic move that set Malzahn apart: reaching out to key figures in the community.

Advertisement

“The first thing I recognized about Gus was how he instantly reached out to the guys in the community,” Coach Wood shared. “He called me up and said, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ And it wasn’t just talk. Gus meant it. He wanted to build something real.”

Mazzone’s approach wasn’t just about forming superficial connections. He sought out genuine relationships with influential community members. Soon, other notable figures like AG Waseem and Ellis Danley were echoing the same sentiment. “Next thing you know, there’s AG Waseem saying the same thing, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ Then he calls Ellis Danley with the same message. It was clear that Gus was building a network of trust and cooperation,” Coach Wood explained.

These were not random choices. The individuals Malzahn reached out to were deeply embedded in the community, and respected for their roles and commitment to the local youth. “Who are all these guys he’s been in a relationship with?” Coach Wood asked. “They’re the guys from the community, the ones who have the kids with them every day. They’re the mentors, the coaches, the father figures.”

Malzahn vision was to ensure that talented athletes didn’t feel the need to leave their hometown to find success. “I knew right then that a lot of athletes were going to stay home and be hometown heroes,” Coach Wood stated. “That’s the way to do it.”

He elaborated on the significance of this approach. “When you have someone like Gus, who invests in the community and builds these relationships, it creates a support system for the kids. They see that they can achieve their dreams right here, with the people who have always been there for them. It’s about pride, it’s about belonging, and it’s about giving back.”

Advertisement

Coach Wood believes this method will have a lasting impact. “What Gus is doing isn’t just about winning games. It’s about building character, fostering community spirit, and creating a legacy. These kids are not just athletes; they’re future leaders, and Gus is showing them that they can lead from their own backyard.”

Malzahn efforts are not just about creating successful athletes; they are about nurturing future leaders who can lead from their own community. By building a strong foundation within the local sports scene, Gus Malzahn is making a lasting impact that will benefit the community for generations to come.

 

 

Coach Lo talks about The Importance of Building a Strong Community for the UCF Knights

Advertisement

 

 

Continue Reading

UCF Knights

UCF Football Set for Black Friday Showdown with Utah Utes on Nov. 29

UCF Football announced the date of their Black Friday football game against the Utah Utes.

Avatar

Published

on

UU vs. UCF

UCF Football announced the date of their Black Friday football game against the Utah Utes.

Fox Sports will broadcast the Knights’ final regular-season match on their 2024 college football schedule on November 29 from the FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Advertisement

The Knights had a solid run during their maiden season in their new league, finishing with 3-6 Big 12 record and 6-7 overall.

UCF won their first three games against Kent State, Boise State, and Villanova before pulling off a signature upset win over the No.15 ranked Oklahoma State, 45-3, last November 11.

Expectations are high for the Knights this coming season after securing the service of two-time Bowl Games MVP KJ Jefferson. The quarterback spent his first five years in Arkansas, setting most of the passing records for the Razorbacks.

UCF also bolstered other areas of their offense following the transfer of elite running back Peny Boone from Maryland and wide receiver Agiye Hall from Texas.

The Knights’ Black Friday game opponent, Utah, will debut in the Big 12 this season after capping their Pac 12 run with an 8-5 season (5-4 conference).

Advertisement

 

 

UCF Football will kick off their second season in the Big 12 on August 29 against New Hampshire at home field.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Trending