Knights to Face Tough Test at Notre Dame Sunday

Dec. 5, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

By Doug Richards

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will face its toughest test of the young season Sunday when the Knights meet host Notre Dame. Tip-off at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center is set for Noon.

The Knights (6-1) have already posted impressive victories over Auburn and Massachusetts this year. The game in Indiana will serve as the squad's first contest outside the state of Florida in 2009-10.

Head coach Kirk Speraw's Knights have won three-consecutive games. Sophomore guard Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) paces the team in points at 12.9 per game. The matchup at Notre Dame will give UCF's three Chicago natives - sophomore guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman guards Nik Garcia (Chicago, Ill.) and Marcus Jordan (Highland Park, Ill.) - the chance to play close to home.

Notre Dame (6-1) is receiving votes in both national polls. The Fighting Irish have won 43-consecutive non-conference games at home. BIG EAST Player of the Year candidate Luke Harangody is averaging 25.3 points and 10.3 rebounds for the Irish.

The contest will air live 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 Notre Dame.

The game will not be televised, but live video will be available at UND.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.

UCF-Notre Dame Series Information
? UCF and Notre Dame will be meeting for the first time
? The Knights will be playing in Indiana for the second-straight season
? A year ago, UCF met host Valparaiso

Conference Call
? The Knights are getting a tour of the BIG EAST this month as Notre Dame is one of three conference squads that UCF will face on the road in December
? UCF will also play at USF (Dec. 16) and Connecticut (Dec. 20)
? UCF has met at least one BIG EAST program in each of the last two years
? UCF hosted USF a year ago, and played both at USF and hosted Connecticut in 2007-08
? The Knights will be looking for their second win in as many seasons over a BIG EAST team
? On this day a year ago, host UCF posted a 73-61 win over USF

? The contest at Notre Dame will give UCF's three Chicago natives - Nik Garcia (Evanston Township HS), Marcus Jordan (Whitney Young HS) and A.J. Rompza (Whitney Young HS) - a chance to play close to home
? UCF assistant coach Robert McCullum went 1-2 against Notre Dame when he was the head coach at USF
? In 2006-07, his final campaign in Tampa, the host Bulls posted a 69-63 victory over No. 21 Notre Dame

Up Next for the Knights
? Due to final exams, UCF will not play any games until Saturday's home contest with Bethune-Cookman

Last Time Out
? UCF improved to 6-1 on the year with an 80-62 win over visiting Newberry Tuesday
? A.J. Tyler scored 16 points and grabbed a career-best nine rebounds in the win
? Newberry is coached by former UCF assistant Steve DeMeo

Big Wins to Start the Year
? UCF has started the campaign with several big wins, including triumphs over Auburn, Drake and Massachusetts
? Both Auburn (NIT) and Drake (CollegeInsider.com) participated in the postseason a year ago

From the Start
? UCF's 6-1 start is the best for the program since 2006-07, when the Knights began the campaign 6-0
? The Knights finished that year 22-9 overall
? After seven contests last season, UCF was 4-3

Approaching History
? Kirk Speraw is approaching history at UCF
? In his 17th year with the Knights, Speraw has 270 victories at UCF and needs only five to become the winningest coach in program history
? Torchy Clark, who coached the Knights from 1969-83, won 274 games in Orlando
? The 2006-07 Conference USA Coach of the Year, Speraw has led the Knights to the NCAA Tournament on four occasions
? He is one of only 14 coaches in the country who have spent at least 16-straight years at their current school

Tough Slate
? Despite having one of the nation's youngest teams, UCF is facing the toughest non-league schedule in program history
? The slate includes contests at three BIG EAST programs, plus two games (vs. Auburn, at Ole Miss) against SEC squads
? Eight of UCF's non-conference foes participated in the postseason last year

New Balance
? Last year, Jermaine Taylor averaged 26.2 points and led the Knights in scoring in 29 of the team's 31 games
? The All-America selection finished the campaign third nationally in scoring and was one of three UCF players (Isaac Sosa, A.J. Tyler) to pace the squad in points
? With Taylor playing in the NBA, UCF now features a more balanced offense
? Through only seven games in 2009-10, four Knights have already led the team in points - Tyler (3), Sosa (2), Dave Diakite and Taylor Young
? Five UCF players are averaging at least 8.0 points an outing, and the team's leading scorer is Isaac Sosa at 12.9 points per game

Follow the Leader
? Despite his diminutive stature, Chicago native A.J. Rompza is UCF's leader on and off the floor
? The sophomore ranks fourth in Conference USA in both assists (4.3) and steals (2.9)
? Rompza was a C-USA All-Freshman Team pick a year ago after averaging 5.2 assists
? His main job was to get the ball to league player of the year Jermaine Taylor, who averaged 26.2 points
? As a result, Rompza averaged just 4.3 points per game
? Without Taylor, the point guard is looking to score more this season and is averaging 7.6 points an outing

Facing the Best
? This past summer, Isaac Sosa worked hard on his game when he helped Puerto Rico place sixth out of 16 teams at the FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand
? Sosa averaged 9.6 points in nine games and connected on 18-of-39 attempts from 3-point range
? Playing against the best young talent in the world has paid off for Sosa
? Through seven games, he is averaging a team-high 12.9 points for the Knights
? In UCF's season-opening win over Massachusetts, he totaled a career-best 26 points
? As a freshman, he made eight starts and averaged 8.2 points last year

Going Deep
? He might not get much recognition nationally, but Isaac Sosa is one of the premier 3-point shooters in the country
? This season, Sosa leads Conference USA, shooting 51.3 percent (20-of-39) from deep
? For his career, the sophomore has made 77-of-165 attempts from 3-point range
? His career 3-point field goal percentage (46.7) ranks second all-time at UCF (Edsel Bester, 47.4) and first in C-USA history

Fab Freshman
? Heralded freshman forward Keith Clanton has started his collegiate career in fine fashion
? Through six games, he is averaging 8.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in 23.4 minutes as a reserve
? The Orlando native is shooting 55.6 percent from the field

The Score
? A year ago, Taylor Young spent time at both guard spots, but his primary role was to distribute the ball
? The Orlando native averaged 3.4 assists and 3.3 points
? The junior worked on his offensive game over the summer, and the results have shown
? He is averaging 9.1 points in 2009-10
? Young has scored in double-figures on four occasions
? He entered the campaign having scored at least 10 points in a game only twice during his career

Getting Defensive
? The Knights have been winning games thanks to their strong defense
? Foes are averaging 63.9 points against UCF, and two of the team's foes have failed to score over 60 points
? The Knights are limiting opponents to 27.9 percent shooting from 3-point range