New Era for UCF Men's Basketball Begins Friday

Nov. 11, 2010

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By Doug Richards

Click here to order your season tickets for the 2010-11 campaign

Join the UCF Victory Club

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A new era will officially begin for the UCF men's basketball program Friday when the Knights host West Florida for their season opener at 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena. The contest will mark new head coach Donnie Jones' UCF debut.

Jones was named UCF's head coach in late March after three successful campaigns at fellow Conference USA program Marshall. Since arriving in Orlando, he has added talented recruits and transfers, worked to gain support for the program throughout the state and introduced an up-tempo style of play to the Knights.

His squad returns some of the top players in C-USA, including sophomore forward Keith Clanton (Orlando, Fla.). The former Orlando Christian Prep star was a C-USA All-Freshman Team selection a year ago. Clanton, and the Knights' seven other returning letterwinners, are joined by a large group of newcomers, including senior center Tom Herzog (Flint, Mich.), who transferred from Michigan State, and freshman guard Isaiah Sykes (Detroit, Mich.).

The game versus West Florida is the first of a school-record 17 for the Knights at the UCF Arena. The Knights are entering their fourth campaign at the state-of-the-art arena.

West Florida is led by a pair of transfers in Mike Lewis (Eastern Kentucky) and Terrance Beasley (Tulane). The Argonauts went 11-14 in 2009-10 during head coach Bob Stinnett's first year at West Florida.

Season tickets, which begin at just $96 and include a free Knightmare t-shirt, are currently available by calling (407) UCF-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com. On gameday, fans can purchase tickets to the contest versus West Florida at the UCF Arena box office. All UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID.

The game will air on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 The Game in Orlando. Marc Daniels will have the call and will be joined on the broadcast by former UCF star guard Mike O'Donnell.

The first 1,000 fans to enter the arena Friday will receive a free Donnie Jones mask to commemorate his first game with the Knights. Prior to the game, members of the UCF Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will be collecting canned food items to help those in need this holiday season.

Series Record: UCF leads 6-1
Last Meeting: UCF 102, West Florida 61 (Dec. 17, 1993 in Orlando)

? West Florida is the first of five in-state opponents that the Knights will face this season
? Since the UCF Arena opened in 2007, UCF has not started a campaign against an opponent from Florida
? The last time that UCF faced an in-state school for its season opener was in 2006 against Rollins
? West Florida junior guard Terrance Beasley is a Tulane transfer who started last year against the Knights in Orlando, finishing with one rebound in six minutes in a 62-54 UCF's victory

Donnie's Debut
? Donnie Jones will make his UCF coaching debut during Friday's game against West Florida
? After three successful campaigns as the head coach at Marshall, Jones was named the sixth coach in UCF history in late March
? Jones is hoping to pickup a win in his first game at UCF; he was victorious in his inaugural game at Marshall as the Thundering Herd topped visiting Pikeville (his alma mater), 60-49, on Nov. 13, 2007

Opening Knight
? The Knights have won eight-consecutive season openers
? UCF's last loss to open the season came on Nov. 22, 2002, at Navy
? A year ago, UCF began the season by rolling to an 84-67 victory over UMass in front of 8,727 fans at the UCF Arena
? Isaac Sosa hit six 3-pointers and finished with a career-best 26 points versus the Minutemen

Flavor of the Month
? UCF has won 20-straight contests at home during the month of November
? The Knights' last home loss during the month came on Nov. 19, 1999, against Miami
? UCF is slated to play four contests this November at the UCF Arena

Home Grown
? The contest against West Florida is the first of a school-record 17 home games in 2010-11 for the Knights
? UCF will play nine non-league and eight Conference USA contests at the UCF Arena this season

On the Run
? Since Donnie Jones arrived in Orlando last March, the Knights have been preparing to compete in his up-tempo style of play
? UCF's returning players had two opportunities to play against a Jones' coached team last year, and tried to defend against his offensive system
? Jones' 2009-10 Marshall squad had one of the most efficient offenses in the nation
? In addition to ranking ninth in the country in scoring at 79.9 points per game, the Thundering Herd were 18th in field-goal percentage (47.8) and 16th in assists per game (16.1)

Lone Tuneup
? The Knights played just one exhibition game, topping visiting Flagler, 78-70, on Nov. 4
? Marcus Jordan led UCF with 19 points and both Keith Clanton (15 points, 11 rebounds) and A.J. Tyler (14 points and 13 rebounds) had double-doubles in the win
? Flagler, an experienced team that returns five starters, is coached by Bo Clark, who is the all-time leading scorer in UCF history

Changing Faces
? Despite returning eight players from 2009-10, the Knights will have a new look this season
? Seven newcomers have joined the program and four of the new faces - Jarvis Davis, Tom Herzog, Dwight McCombs and Isaiah Sykes - will make their UCF debuts versus West Florida

Summer Days
? UCF players had the chance to work on their games during the summer on campus
? All eight returning letterwinners from last year spent the entire summer at UCF, as did Jarvis Davis
? The squad's other newcomers, with the exception of Tristan Spurlock, spent the second summer school session in Orlando
? The players worked out with UCF's strength and conditioning staff and played pickup games daily inside the UCF Practice Facility

Hometown Hero
? A Conference USA All-Freshman Team pick in 2009-10, Keith Clanton is poised for a breakout year
? Clanton, who averaged 9.7 points and a team-best 6.8 boards as a rookie, added 18 pounds to his 6-foot-8 frame this offseason
? The 245-pound Orlando native arrived at UCF as the most heralded recruit in program history
? He led Orlando Christian Prep to a pair of Florida Class 1A titles and was listed as the 68th-best player in the nation as a senior by Scout.com

Moving Up the Ladder
? A.J. Rompza enters his junior campaign in the top 10 on a pair of UCF career lists
? The Chicago native is seventh in steals with 294, and Bo Clark (1975-77, 78-80) is next on the list with 302
? The point guard ranked ninth nationally in steals per game a year ago (2.6) and is 10th in program history with 127 career swipes (Clark is ninth with 133)

? One of the best long distance shooters in the country, Isaac Sosa starts his junior season 10th in UCF history with 130 career triples, just behind Gary Johnson (142 3-pointers from 2003-05)
? Sosa, who led Conference USA in 3-point field goal percentage a year ago (42.7), has made 43.8 percent of his attempts during his career, good for second all-time at UCF behind Edsel Bester (47.4 from 1986-90)

All-Around Game
? Joining Keith Clanton on the 2009-10 Conference USA All-Freshman Team was teammate Marcus Jordan
? The shooting guard started the final 18 games of the year and exhibited a great all-around game
? The Chicago native averaged 8.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists
? In C-USA games, he averaged a team-high 10.8 points in 31.1 minutes per outing

A Big Addition
? UCF's largest newcomer is Tom Herzog, a 7-foot transfer from Michigan State
? Herzog spent four years with the Spartans, where he played in 44 career games
? The senior, who redshirted in 2006-07, is pursuing a master's degree at UCF and is eligible immediately
? As a junior in 2009-10, Herzog appeared in 15 contests, averaging 1.3 points and 1.2 rebounds

Wait Until Next Year
? Over the summer, Donnie Jones added three prominent transfers who will all have a chance to make an impact with the Knights in 2011-12
? Junior forward Josh Crittle (Oregon), senior guard Jeff Jordan (Illinois) and sophomore forward Tristan Spurlock (Virginia) will all sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules
? Crittle appeared in 51 career games for the Ducks and averaged 2.9 points and 2.5 rebounds
? A strong defender, Jordan joins his brother Marcus at UCF after playing in 92 games in three years at Illinois
? Spurlock appeared in 13 games in 2009-10 at Virginia and was listed as a top-75 player in the nation as a senior at Word of Life Christian Academy in Virginia

Wait Until Next Year Part II
? On Nov. 10, the first day of the signing period, three of the top prep players in Florida inked NLIs with UCF
? The signing class, which consists of Rod Days (Weston/Sagemont), Wayne Martin (Jacksonville/Providence Christian) and Kasey Wilson (North Port/North Port), has been listed among the top-50 in the nation
? The 6-foot-6 Days is ranked as the 35th-best small forward in the country by ESPN
? Martin is 6-foot-7 and listed as the 30th-best power forward in the nation by ESPN
? Wilson is also 6-foot-7 and is rated as the 44th-best power forward in ESPN's national rankings

Tough Slate
? In 2010-11, the Knights will play games against squads that participated in the postseason a year ago on 15 occasions
? Seven Conference USA programs played in the postseason in 2010: Houston (NCAA), UTEP (NCAA), Memphis (NIT), Tulsa (NIT), UAB (NIT), Marshall (CIT) and Southern Miss (CIT)
? The Knights will play Memphis, UAB, Marshall and Southern Miss twice
? In non-league play, UCF will face postseason participants Florida (NCAA), Jackson State (NIT), USF (NIT) and either Northeastern (NIT) or Princeton (CBI) in the UCF Holiday Classic

Up Next
? UCF will continue a stretch of three-straight home games to begin the year on Monday, hosting Jackson State in the first meeting between the two schools