Sunday, March 8, 2009

ECU @ UCF: Post-game Review (W 74-71)

Last night was Senior Knight, and anyone watching the game could tell. Our eldest members of the team, Jermaine and Kenrick, were clearly the leaders both emotionally and in the stat books. Jermaine played his best defensive game I've seen all year; perfect timing with the Charlotte Bobcats scout that was in attendance. I took down at least half of the notes that Mr. Scott Howard wrote down, and I'll list those at the end. Jermaine stuck with his man far better than I have ever seen him do, coming off screens well and getting a hand up on just about every shot. He shot much better from the field in the second half, and finally started to drive the open lane instead of looking for threes.

Will Weathers greatly impressed me as well with some lockdown defense on Brock Young that no one else seemed to provide without being called for a foul. I loved his vision as well, especially when he was able to see the lane and be confident enough to take it to the hole. PJ Gaynor also showed some ability off the bench tonight, knocking down a couple of inside shots and layups.

Zondervan came up with an incredibly heads-up game saving play with 3 seconds left. As Sam Hinnant (the Pirates leading scorer and hot hand all night) drove to the lane, he drew AJ Tyler as a defender, but didn't seem to notice Z slip into his lane and plant his feet to take a charge. Simultaneously Kenny and the crowd were electric. A perfect ending to a great Senior Knight, and a great beginning to what promises to be a riveting post-season tournament.

Notes from Scott Howard:

Excellent body
Outstanding confident athlete
Moves well without the ball
Very good rotation on jumper
Oustanding stepback move
Nice change of pace dribble
Involved others early in the game
Aggressive offensive rebounder
Uses body well to seperate from defender
On defense, closes out
Good defensive feet
Can stay with a driver

This guy had some of the smallest handwriting I've ever seen on his shot charts, but thankfully he had his laptop and constantly wrote notes on that large enough that I could read them. He also added center Chad Wynn from ECU to his potential draft prospects, and took down a few notes about him that I was unable to see. Wynn is only a sophomore, so I have to assume he was just preparing for future drafts.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Soap Box Talk


Jermaine Taylor’s number should hang from the rafters on Senior Knight.

Jermaine Taylor is the truest definition of a student athlete. When all is said and done, Jermaine will solidify himself as one of the greatest athletes to step on to UCF’s campus, but more importantly, he will graduate with a degree he has worked so hard for. That is the purpose of college, is it not? In fact, Jermaine Taylor’s number should be hanging up well before #24 ever receives immortal status. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll love Kevin Smith for all he did for UCF, but he does not represent what a student athlete is. He dropped out. Plain and simple.

Jermaine, more than likely, will win the CUSA Player of The Year Award, and he will graduate as UCF’s #1 career scoring leader at the Division I level, and may pass Bo Clarks DII record before the season ends. He’ll be on an NBA roster next year, and he’ll have his college education; one that he earned. Kevin Smith can’t say that. Call me crazy. I probably am. But that doesn’t change the fact that Jermaine Taylor, and his jersey number, should be immortalized at UCF. Put it next to NCAA Tournament banners, or better yet, place a giant banner on that eyesore of a wall behind the student section.

The UCF Arena will always be known as the house that Kirk built, but somewhere inside, the legend of #1 should live on forever.

Make it happen, UCF.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rice @ UCF: Post-game Review (L 66-69)

Apparently we are not a mirror of Davidson University. Jermaine Taylor looked like Stephen Curry last night, just without the minimal scoring help Curry gets. I understand that most of our players are playing their first year in college (Rompza, Tyler, Sosa, Gaynor, Weathers, Baez from last night), but were they this scared to shoot the ball in high school? I can’t imagine that Kirk would tell them NOT to shoot, so I’m not sure what they’re afraid of. Not one starter other than Jermaine took more than 5 shots last night. FIVE.

AJ Rompza had a rough game last night, getting in foul trouble early. I have to say, we need AJ Rompza in the game. He seems to be the only player out there that doesn’t play like he’s terrified and overmatched. He plays with intensity and confidence, and that is exactly the thing we need this year. Our gears of our offense seem to grind to an immediate stop whenever Rompza comes out of the game. No one on our team has the speed or will to drive to the hole and either go up for the layup or kick it out for a shot.

Part of the deficit we incurred through most of the game had to do with our perimeter defense, the other part came from Rice’s incredible three point shooting. To begin the first half Rice had open shots on three pointers innumerous times, and nailed just about all of them. When we actually started to get a hand in the face of shooters, they STILL hit shots. I saw at least two incredible fadeaway shots sink from beyond the arc, and for that I will give Rice their props.

One other side-effect of having no one to drive to the hoop or play strong inside (plus a few terrible “no calls” by the officials), is a huge lack of foul shots. Jermaine shot 12 for 13 from the line, that’s awesome. No one else on our team took a foul shot last night. Not a single player. Seems like an issue to me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Opening Day 2009

Get out your caps, sunflower seeds, and big league chew ladies and gentlemen. Baseball season begins now.

The Knights baseball team starts a new regime tomorrow with a new attitude: one team, one hope, one goal. Coach Rooney leads the way for UCF in his first season as a head coach, moving over from pitching coach of last year’s Omaha-bound LSU tigers. I’ve attended a scrimmage or two so far and from what I can tell, Rooney is an incredible motivator with a need for precision, timing, and discipline. Rooney has already convinced his group of players that they can get to Omaha, and he’s well on his way to convincing me.

I really hope I’m not the only one excited for this year’s baseball squad. We bring back a healthy Kiko Vazquez for his senior year, one of the most hyped power hitters in the nation as a junior. We also bring back Chris “Duffman” Duffy, another powerful cog in our lineup. Duffman is only a junior this year, and still has room to improve his batting average. In order to improve the defense this year, Duffy has been moved to left field where his strong arm can still be utilized, and Shane Brown has moved to third base. Shane is a smaller player, much more suited to the quickness needed to snag line drives at third.

Kyle Sweat will get the opening day start, a great honor for him as a senior. He will most likely be followed by Autstin Hudson on Saturday and freshman D.J. Hicks on Sunday. Caleb Graham will round out the series on Monday.

We lost some good talent last year to the draft and graduation, but here at UCF we don’t have a flop season when that happens, we simply reload.

Say it with me people: OMAHA!