2008-09 Central Florida Preview: #131
Overall Rank: #131
Conference Rank: #7 C-USA
2007-08: 16-15, 9-7, 4th
2007-08 postseason: none
There is some rebuilding to be done this year, but nothing is more important to UCF than finding a new point guard. Taylor Young only averaged six minutes per game as a freshman and he has the most experience of any ballhandlers. Young has the potential to fill the void, but that lack of experience could spell trouble for the Knights.
Dave Noel, Mike O’Donnell and Chip Cartwright all averaged three or more assists per game during their last seasons with the Knights; thus, the point guard problem. But those three did a lot more than just pass. Noel did everything and averaged 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals on top of his 3.1 assists. O’Donnell was a prolific long range shooter and Cartwright was the team’s leader despite not scoring very much. That is a tough trio to replace; and it gets worse. Guard Mike Battle has also run out of eligibility and that leaves very few players on the perimeter with any experience whatsoever. The news is not so great in the frontcourt either with the departure of Stanley Billings, Andre Thornton and Cordell Pope. Billings, the usual starting center, averaged 5.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Thornton and Pope saw limited action and opted to transfer.
Freshmen William Weathers and A.J. Rompza will throw their hat in the battle for a point guard. Weathers, despite injury problems, averaged 17.5 points and 7.2 assists during his senior year at Lewisville High School in Texas. Rompza is not as highly touted as Weathers, but the 5-9 speedster has the smarts to run a team as a freshman. He is a great playmaker and, once he gets stronger, should be a key player for UCF. The point guards might play the most important role this year, but it is another perimeter player that has Knight fans the most excited. And that is because Isaac Sosa is not just a shooting guard, but he can play the point as well. Sosa is not a selfish player, but he is more known for creating for himself rather than his teammates. His future at UCF will be at the two guard spot, but having another player who is used to handling the ball is never a bad thing. Chris Baez, a 6-5 wing, missed last year with an injury and will suit up as a freshman this season for the Knights and should make an impact in the scoring column. Jakub Kusmieruk, P.J. Gaynor and A.J. Tyler will look to add depth up front. Kusmieruk is an intriguing prospect. At 7-4 the Polish product will be a force around the basket. He has decent hands and a nice touch on his mid-range jumper, but it remains to be seen how well he can adapt to life in Conference USA. Tyler, a transfer from Clemson, has the most experience. He did not see much action with the Tigers averaging just 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in five minutes per contest as a freshman, but the 6-9 forward should play a much bigger role on UCF.
Who to Watch:
Jermaine Taylor averaged 20.8 points during his junior year. His senior year should be even better. Obviously, Taylor is a prolific scorer. He will get it done from behind the arc and by getting to the basket. With a lack of experienced perimeter scoring threats around him, Taylor may be asked to do even more scoring.
Taylor is the star, but Tony Davis and Kenrick Zondervan hold the fate of the 2008-2009 Knights in their hands. Davis, despite only starting nine games, led the team with 5.9 rebounds per contest. Now a junior, Davis is expected to become more of a leader in the frontcourt and play a bigger role in the offense. At 6-9, Zondervan has the size to man the middle. Without Billings to help out in the paint, Zondervan needs to increase his scoring output and help out a little more on the glass. UCF could take a small step back from their fourth place finish a year ago, but this is still a program on the rise and Coach Kirk Speraw’s success on the recruiting trail can attest to that.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Taylor Young, Sophomore, Guard, 0.7 points per game
Isaac Sosa, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Jermaine Taylor, Senior, Guard, 20.8 points per game
Tony Davis, Junior, Forward, 6.4 points per game
Kenrick Zondervan, Senior, Forward, 4.9 points per game