UCF Hoops Fastbreak: A Look at UCF's Top Moments of the 2000s

Dec. 31, 2009

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A memorable decade for the UCF men's basketball program will end today. For head coach Kirk Speraw and the Knights, the 2000s were filled with big victories, historic firsts and great players.

With this decade about to conclude, here is my list of the top off-the-court moments for the program:

10. A Good Sign

When Marcus Jordan signed a National Letter of Intent with the Knights in April 2009, his pledge to UCF was international news. His signing informed many of what UCF has to offer recruits - top-notch facilities, strong academics and a great coaching staff.

9. A Permanent Home

For much of the 2000s, the Knights would practice wherever they could on campus. The old UCF Arena, the Education Gym and even the Rec Center were destinations for the team. That changed during the summer of 2008, when the UCF Practice Facility was completed. The facility, which was constructed inside the old arena, gave the Knights a permanent practice court, plus offices, a locker room, team lounge, weight room and film room.

8. The Future Star

Just days before the Knights participated in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, Speraw received great news when Jermaine Taylor committed to UCF. A local star from Tavares, Taylor selected UCF over schools like Auburn, Penn State, Texas A&M and UAB. The shooting guard could have played Division I football as well. Taylor was the first Conference USA-caliber player to join the Knights when the program left the Atlantic Sun.

7. Honoring the Clark Family

At halftime of the Knights' 2009 season opener against UMass, UCF honored former head coach Torchy Clark and three-time All-America selection Bo Clark by unveiling banners inside the UCF Arena. Torchy, who passed away in spring 2009, started the UCF program in the late 1960s and remained the Knights' head coach until 1983. Bo is the school's all-time leading scorer, and played for his father from 1975-80.

6. A Big-Time Recruit

UCF secured the services of one of the nation's premier prep players in November 2008 when Orlando's Keith Clanton signed a National Letter of Intent with the Knights. Listed as one of the top-75 seniors in the country, the Orlando Christian Prep star selected UCF over BIG EAST and SEC programs. After Clanton signed his NLI, Speraw said, "Hopefully Keith's commitment to our program will show that UCF is a top choice for not only the best local products, but also for the premier players in the country."

5. Award Tour

After guiding UCF to 22 regular-season wins, and a second-place showing in Conference USA, Speraw was selected as the league's coach of the year in March 2007. Picked by his peers, Speraw was honored for guiding the Knights to an easy transition from the Atlantic Sun to C-USA.

4. The Streak

UCF's 14-game winning streak in 2003-04 was not only a school Division I record. The streak brought some much-deserved attention to the program. Leading up to the Knights' Jan. 31 home contest with Troy, a great buzz surrounded Speraw's team. The Knights, and star Dexter Lyons, garnered great local media attention, leading up to a then school-record 4,737 fans attending the contest against the Trojans at the old UCF Arena.

3. Feeling a Draft

Taylor showed great improvement each year at UCF, eventually developing into an All-America pick. After averaging 26.2 points per game as a senior, the shooting guard had a great spring on the pre-NBA Draft circuit. His hard work paid off when he was taken by Washington with the 32nd overall pick in the 2009 Draft. On draft night, he was traded to Houston. Over the summer, Taylor inked a multi-year deal with the Rockets.

2. Conference Call

On July 1, 2005, UCF officially joined Conference USA. The move for the Knights was a big one. Gone were Atlantic Sun games against Lipscomb and Mercer. Now UCF was competing in one of the nation's top-10 basketball leagues, facing historic programs like Houston, Memphis, Tulsa and UAB.

1. Homecourt Advantage

For Speraw and his staff, getting recruits excited about playing inside the old UCF Arena was not easy. The building was cramped, dark and dirty. So when plans to build a new 10,000-seat facility were announced on Nov. 14, 2005, Speraw was ecstatic. Two years later, the Knights opened the new venue with a 63-60 win over Nevada. Since the arena opened, top-rated recruits have joined the program, UCF has hosted several national powers and dozens of attendance records have been established.

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.