John Denton's Knights Insider: Tribble's Message Rings Clear With Knights

Feb. 15, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFathletics.com) - UCF's women's basketball team has strung together an impressive three-game winning streak and has started to take on the look of the 2008-09 team that executed a strong late-season closing kick and ultimately won the Conference USA crown.

But the source of inspiration for the recent hot streak has come from someone you might not fully expect.

Down recently after a stretch in which it lost four of five games, UCF's squad put away the basketball and brought out the notebooks following a visit from Athletics Director Keith Tribble. The 90-minute session between the players and the AD was both candid and confiding, pointed and personal.

Tribble didn't hold back in the meeting, telling the then 11-10 Knights that he expected greatness from a team that has a talented senior class and is loaded with talented young players. The central theme of Tribble's lecture held on the team's practice court was ``Characteristics of Excellence,'' something he wanted the players to demand of themselves and their teammates in games. He also wanted the team to know that they had his unwavering support.

``Every so often I get a chance to talk to our teams and I just thought they were at a point where I needed to let them know that everybody was supporting them,'' Tribble said. ``From my vantage point, they were giving the right hustle and doing the right things. But when you have had success like we have in the past teams come in with something extra to play us. I told them that they have to play to get respect.''

The motivational talk seems to have done wonders for a UCF team that has won its past three games to move to 14-10. The Knights hammered Tulsa and Marshall in gritty road wins and got a miracle victory when junior guard Gevenia Carter hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to beat UTEP.

The three-game winning streak has kept the Knights in the hunt for the No. 2 seed in the Conference USA Tournament, which begins March 9 in El Paso, Texas. The Knights play next on Thursday at UCF Arena against Tulane, the team that eliminated UCF in heart-breaking fashion from the C-USA tourney last March.

UCF head coach Joi Williams was in full support of the AD addressing her team last week. Williams said that ``it's always good to hear another voice,'' and she said Tribble's support of her program means the world to her and the players.

``He talked a lot about earning respect and that the championship that we won two years ago means nothing now. People want to beat UCF and we need to play with more pride,'' Williams recalled. ``He really called out the seniors and told them that everybody expects more of them. They know that he cares a lot about this basketball team and they want to please him. They took his words to heart and I think it motivated them to pick it up another notch.''

Senior forward D'Nay Daniels, who recently joined the 1,000-point club at UCF, said that having encouragement come from Tribble helped the team focus and bond as one. Tribble hired Williams four seasons ago, and Daniels was a part of this coaching staff's first recruiting class. With the 2009 championship already in their possession, Daniels said she wants to be a part of the team that wins another C-USA title for the school.

``He gave us motivation and we think of him like a father to us. We were like his babies when we first got here on campus and we don't want to disappoint him,'' Daniels said. ``I felt like I was talking to a father with Mr. Tribble. He wants the best for us and it's amazing how close he is to our program. He wants the best for us and if we ever have any issues he wants us to come to him. I just told him, `I'm going out to fight for our respect every day out.'''

Tribble shared with the team the same message that hangs on his office door and the one that he tells the UCF coaches on a daily basis. A sign that reads, ``Just Get It Done - No Excuses'' hangs just outside the door to the AD's office and it's a message that Tribble wants the women's basketball team to adopt down the stretch of this season.

``We have a senior-dominated team and expectations were high for the team and sometimes it doesn't always go the way you want it to. We just had a candid conversation and I let them know that I supported them and I want them to play to earn their respect,'' Tribble said. ``I had them reflect in front of their teammates on their role as it relates to the success of the team. Each of them responded that they understood that it's important for them to gain the respect of not only the teams that they are playing but also the fans and people who support them. All of these seniors, they had that rough first year and the second year they won a championship. I wanted to point out that they had won a lot and I wanted them to keep in mind how they wanted to be remembered here at UCF.''


John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.