UCF to Open Campaign Friday Hosting UMass

Nov. 12, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will open the 2009-10 campaign Friday, hosting Massachusetts at 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena. The contest is part of UCF's Homecoming festivities and fans are encouraged to come "Armored in Black" to support the Knights.

Led by sophomore guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.), the Knights will be opening year three at the state-of-the-art UCF Arena. The game against Massachusetts will serve as the debut for UCF's heralded freshman class, which is led by forward Keith Clanton (Orlando, Fla.).

During halftime, UCF will honor former head coach Torchy Clark and three-time All-America pick Bo Clark by unveiling banners inside the arena. Torchy started the UCF men's basketball program in 1969, and won 274 games in 14 years as the school's head coach. Bo was a star guard during the 1970s and is UCF's all-time leading scorer with 2,886 points. His No. 23 has been retired for years, but will now be displayed prominently inside the arena.

The Minutemen, who will also be making their season debut, feature one of the nation's premier guards in Ricky Harris. A Preseason All-Atlantic 10 First Team selection, he averaged 18.2 points per game in 2008-09.

Season tickets, which begin at just $79, are still available by calling (407) UCF-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com. On Friday, the UCF Arena box office will be open before the game. UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID. The first 2,000 students will receive a complimentary Knightmare headband.

Club and suite ticket holders should arrive early to enjoy a pregame chalk talk with UCF head coach Kirk Speraw starting at 6 p.m. in the Black and Gold Lounge.

UCF-Massachusetts will air on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 The Game in Orlando. Marc Daniels and Mike O'Donnell will have the call from the arena. Live video and statistics will be available on UCFAthletics.com.

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.

Series Information
? UCF and UMass will be meeting for the second time
? On March 14, 1996, the top-seeded Minutemen posted a 92-70 win over the Knights in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Providence, R.I.
? The coaching matchup for the NCAA Tournament contest pitted Kirk Speraw, who was in his third year in Orlando, against John Calipari
? UCF trailed just 43-39 at the half, but UMass used a 12-0 run at the start of the second half to pull away
? Harry Kennedy paced the Knights with 21 points, while Marcus Camby (14 points, 17 boards) led the way for the Minutemen
? UCF will be meeting an Atlantic 10 Conference program for the first time since 2004 (Fordham)
? The Knights are 2-6 all-time against current A-10 schools

? UMass head coach Derek Kellogg is in his second year at the school after serving as an assistant coach at Memphis
? Memphis faced the Knights three times during Kellogg's tenure with the Tigers

Up Next for the Knights
? UCF will host Howard on Nov. 17 as part of the Glenn Wilkes Classic
? The Bison have a 1-2 edge in the all-time series
? After meeting Howard, the Knights will play three games (Auburn, Niagara, Drake) in Daytona Beach as part of the Glenn Wilkes Classic

Opening Knight
? The Knights have won seven-consecutive season openers
? UCF's last loss to open the season came on Nov. 22, 2002, at Navy
? Under Kirk Speraw, the Knights are 11-5 in season openers
? A year ago, the Knights began the season with an 81-62 victory over visiting North Carolina A&T
? Jermaine Taylor led UCF with 28 points and 10 boards in the win

Flavor of the Month
? UCF has won 17-straight contests at home during the month of November
? The Knights' last home loss during the month came on Nov. 19, 1999, against Miami
? The team is scheduled to play three contests this November at the UCF Arena

Hey Young World
? The Knights' roster includes only three upperclassmen (one senior, two juniors) and 13 underclassmen
? UCF has the second-youngest team in the nation by underclassmen:
1. Harvard 14
2. UCF 13
Toledo 13

? The Knights also have the third-fewest amount of upperclassmen in the country:
1. Saint Louis 1
2. Toledo 2
3. UCF 3
George Mason 3
Florida Atlantic 3
Wyoming 3

Guess Who's Back
? Seven letterwinners from a year ago are back for the Knights
? Thirty-six percent of the squad's scoring from 2009-10 is back this year
? Isaac Sosa is the team's leading returning scorer at 8.2 points per game

Sunshine State of Mind
? A year ago, five of UCF's first six games were away from home and out of state
? The Knights played just one home game in November
? This year, the Knights will be spending more time in Florida at the start of the year
? The squad's first seven games are all in the Sunshine State, with four coming at the UCF Arena
? The other three games are contests at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in nearby Daytona Beach

National Pride
? In July, Isaac Sosa helped Puerto Rico place sixth out of 16 teams at the FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand
? The sophomore averaged 9.6 points in nine games
? He connected on 18-of-39 attempts from 3-point range, good for 46.2 percent, which ranked 10th among all players at the tournament
? Sosa was Puerto Rico's third-leading scorer at the event behind Mike Rosario of Rutgers (24.0) and Jio Fontan of Fordham (13.3)

The Dish
? A Conference USA All-Freshman Team pick in 2008-09, A.J. Romzpa ranked 32nd nationally in assists per game at 5.2
? The point guard dished out 150 assists, good for third on the UCF single-season register

Ending the Year on a High Note
? A.J. Tyler will be looking to start his junior campaign in a similar fashion to how he closed the 2008-09 season
? The forward led UCF with 16 points and six boards at the Conference USA Championship against Southern Miss
? In his first year competing with the Knights after transferring from Clemson, Tyler averaged 7.1 points and 4.4 boards last season

The Return
? Due to an injury, Dave Diakite played in just five contests as a true freshman last season
? The forward is now healthy, and should see significant minutes for the Knights
? The Washington, D.C., native showed flashes of his potential early last season
? In 14.2 minutes per game, he averaged 2.2 points and 3.6 boards

The Biggest Loser
? When Jakub Kusmieruk concluded the 2008-09 campaign, the freshman weighed around 320 pounds
? After losing 40 pounds during the offseason, the 7-foot-4 Kusmieruk looks considerably smaller
? Kusmieruk averaged 2.2 points and 1.0 rebounds in 5.0 minutes per game a year ago

Rated Rookies
? UCF's freshman class of Keith Clanton, Nik Garcia, Marcus Jordan and R.J. Scott is considered to be one of the top recruiting classes in the country
? The group was listed as the seventh-best "non-BCS" recruiting class in the country by ESPN.com and was named one of the 50-best classes by Prep Stars Recruiters Handbook
? Clanton finished his senior year as the 68th-best senior in the country according to Rivals.com
? Prep Stars Recruiters Handbook listed Garcia as the 175th-rated senior in the nation in its final rankings
? HoopScoop named Jordan the country's 115th-best player

The Champs Are Here
? Three UCF freshmen are bringing a winning mentality to the Knights
? Keith Clanton, Marcus Jordan and R.J. Scott all led their high schools to state titles as seniors
? Clanton guided Orlando Christian Prep to its second-straight Florida Class 1A championship
? Jordan was the state tournament MVP as Whitney Young took the Illinois Class 4A crown
? Scott led Salmen to the Louisiana Class 4A championship

Tough Tests
? According to Kirk Speraw, UCF will face the toughest schedule in program history this year
? The slate includes 10 games versus foes who played in the postseason a year ago
? In non-conference play, the Knights will meet three BIG EAST teams (Notre Dame, UConn, USF) on the road, and also meet two SEC squads (Auburn, Ole Miss)
? Auburn (NIT), Niagara (NIT), Drake (CIT), Notre Dame (NIT), Connecticut (NCAA), Liberty (CIT) and Ole Miss (NIT) are all on the Knights' schedule after participating in the postseason in 2009

In the Big Leagues Now
? All-America selection Jermaine Taylor has taken his talents, and his 26.2 points per game average, to the next level
? The 2008-09 Conference USA Player of the Year, Taylor was third nationally in scoring last season
? In league play, he set a C-USA record by averaging 29.1 points
? Taylor was selected by Washington with the 32nd overall pick in the 2009 National Basketball Association Draft
? After being traded to Houston, he signed a multi-year deal with the Rockets over the summer

A Winning Tradition
? Kirk Speraw will begin his 17th campaign at UCF when the Knights host UMass
? Speraw enters the season with 264 victories at UCF
? He needs only 11 victories to become the winningest coach in program history
? Torchy Clark, who coached the Knights from 1969-83, won 274 games in Orlando

Tuning Up
? The Knights defeated visiting St. Leo, 84-65, on Nov. 4 in the team's only exhibition contest
? P.J. Gaynor led UCF with 18 points, and A.J. Rompza and Keith Clanton both added 16 points in the win