May 9, 2012
UCF Prepping For Jump To Big East

Florida Today, David Jones

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120509/SPORTS/305080038/UCF-hoops-coach-Jones-selling-future-?odyssey=nav|head

When Donnie Jones arrived at UCF as the new basketball coach, there was already a lot of rumbling about the Knights possibly joining the Big East Conference.

As expected, the school officially starts competition in the league in the 2013-14 school year. That’s a year away. But not really.

Teams joining new leagues have to get ready in a hurry. Missouri and Texas A&M, for example, started getting football teams prepared months ago for play in the Southeastern Conference this fall. There are teams to evaluate, schemes to break down and the need to match talent with how a league plays.

Jones will already be getting UCF ready for that same challenge this summer. How do you prepare for the great unknown with a season in another league left to play? Easy. You push a little harder and you recruit a little stronger, which makes summer a hectic time when you are joining a bigger and better league in the near future and need bigger and better players.

If UCF is able to compete right away in the Big East, one of the keys is what talent Jones is able to lure right now.

Last season, Jones had to miss some games over NCAA issues. UCF is awaiting an NCAA ruling over some of those incidents and Keith Tribble departed as the athletic director. But Jones rebounded and led the Knights to their second straight 20-win season and first appearance in the NIT. He’s looking forward, not back.

There’s a solid group of new players coming in, Jones is after some of the nation’s elite recruits with the ability to step up recruiting and the program appears on the rise.

“Our kids stayed positive, Jones said of last season’s trying times, during a recent UCF booster visit to Brevard County. You’re always going to have some bumps in the road, some rough water sometimes. But I thought our kids really battled adversity and made us better and I think our program got stronger from it. I was really proud.

“We had a lot of firsts last year, what we were able to do. We beat a top four program that was a national championship contender — or champion, should I say —the year before. We were able to finish third in the league. We were 10-6 last year. We got in postseason play for the first time in the NIT.”

UCF’s 68-63 win against defending national champion UConn will go down as one of the biggest in school history. The Knights had to rally from 17 points down. It was just the third time in school history UCF beat a ranked opponent.

There was also a 68-67 win against Memphis with a crowd of close to 9, 000 watching at the UCF arena in the Knights’ first-ever win against the Conference USA power.

Jones started his first season as the head coach at UCF with 13 wins and a national ranking for the first time in school history. Last year, the Knights kept making strides.

But Jones feels the best is yet to come, with 84 percent of the scoring returning for his third season in Orlando — including the top four scorers.

UCF has two more key players becoming eligible after sitting out a season as transfers. C.J. Reed, the 2010-11 MEAC player of the year, averaged 18.8 points at Bethune-Cookman, and will be the new starting point guard. Calvin Newell, a shooting guard from Oklahoma, will also be eligible in December as a junior. Add four solid freshman recruits also joining the team and you have a lot of depth.

“We’re here, Jones said of UCF going into the Big East. We’ve still got another year in this conference, which we want to make sure we finish right because that helps us recruit into the Big East. But I think now as we’re recruiting this next class, we are selling the future.”

That means there’s a serious need to start luring in the elite college players around the country. So Jones has to start going after them.

“We are, he said. We’ve been trying to get Big East players now. But I think (joining the Big East) gives us a chance to get a different audience.

“You’ve got a different audience but now you’ve got to be able to get them. We will get a lot of visitors in that are high profile.”

Competing for top talent on the state level is also among the new demands.

UCF Prepping For Jump To Big East

Florida Today, David Jones

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120509/SPORTS/305080038/UCF-hoops-coach-Jones-selling-future-?odyssey=nav|head

When Donnie Jones arrived at UCF as the new basketball coach, there was already a lot of rumbling about the Knights possibly joining the Big East Conference.

As expected, the school officially starts competition in the league in the 2013-14 school year. That’s a year away. But not really.

Teams joining new leagues have to get ready in a hurry. Missouri and Texas A&M, for example, started getting football teams prepared months ago for play in the Southeastern Conference this fall. There are teams to evaluate, schemes to break down and the need to match talent with how a league plays.

Jones will already be getting UCF ready for that same challenge this summer. How do you prepare for the great unknown with a season in another league left to play? Easy. You push a little harder and you recruit a little stronger, which makes summer a hectic time when you are joining a bigger and better league in the near future and need bigger and better players.

If UCF is able to compete right away in the Big East, one of the keys is what talent Jones is able to lure right now.

Last season, Jones had to miss some games over NCAA issues. UCF is awaiting an NCAA ruling over some of those incidents and Keith Tribble departed as the athletic director. But Jones rebounded and led the Knights to their second straight 20-win season and first appearance in the NIT. He’s looking forward, not back.

There’s a solid group of new players coming in, Jones is after some of the nation’s elite recruits with the ability to step up recruiting and the program appears on the rise.

“Our kids stayed positive, Jones said of last season’s trying times, during a recent UCF booster visit to Brevard County. You’re always going to have some bumps in the road, some rough water sometimes. But I thought our kids really battled adversity and made us better and I think our program got stronger from it. I was really proud.

“We had a lot of firsts last year, what we were able to do. We beat a top four program that was a national championship contender — or champion, should I say —the year before. We were able to finish third in the league. We were 10-6 last year. We got in postseason play for the first time in the NIT.”

UCF’s 68-63 win against defending national champion UConn will go down as one of the biggest in school history. The Knights had to rally from 17 points down. It was just the third time in school history UCF beat a ranked opponent.

There was also a 68-67 win against Memphis with a crowd of close to 9, 000 watching at the UCF arena in the Knights’ first-ever win against the Conference USA power.

Jones started his first season as the head coach at UCF with 13 wins and a national ranking for the first time in school history. Last year, the Knights kept making strides.

But Jones feels the best is yet to come, with 84 percent of the scoring returning for his third season in Orlando — including the top four scorers.

UCF has two more key players becoming eligible after sitting out a season as transfers. C.J. Reed, the 2010-11 MEAC player of the year, averaged 18.8 points at Bethune-Cookman, and will be the new starting point guard. Calvin Newell, a shooting guard from Oklahoma, will also be eligible in December as a junior. Add four solid freshman recruits also joining the team and you have a lot of depth.

“We’re here, Jones said of UCF going into the Big East. We’ve still got another year in this conference, which we want to make sure we finish right because that helps us recruit into the Big East. But I think now as we’re recruiting this next class, we are selling the future.”

That means there’s a serious need to start luring in the elite college players around the country. So Jones has to start going after them.

“We are, he said. We’ve been trying to get Big East players now. But I think (joining the Big East) gives us a chance to get a different audience.

“You’ve got a different audience but now you’ve got to be able to get them. We will get a lot of visitors in that are high profile.”

Competing for top talent on the state level is also among the new demands.






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