Five things to take from basketball’s opener
Published: Sunday, November 15, 2009
Updated: Sunday, November 15, 2009 18:11
Men's basketball defeated UMass 84-67 in the season opening game Friday night at the UCF Arena.
Here are five things to take away from the victory
1. Marcus Jordan is not at full strength
Jordan was suffering from a knee injury in the pre-season, and still looks to have some signs of discomfort on the court.
The freshman missed both his shots from the field, and was held scoreless in 11 minutes of play. He also missed two free throws and registered two fouls.
"He hadn't had very much practice time .... "His timing is off, but he is going to be fine," head coach Kirk Speraw said. "He is going to be a big part of what we are doing."
As Speraw alluded to, Jordan never really had time to practice with his team in the offseason due to injuries, so his rhythm with his teammates is off and appears timid on the court with his shot selection.
2. A.J. Rompza will look to be a more active scorer
Last season, the point guard registered just 4.3 points per game as a sidekick to Jermaine Taylor. After the season opener, it appears Rompza will look for his own shot more this season.
Rompza was 6-for-8 from the field. He registered 13 points and also dished out five assists, while turning the ball over just once.
Rompza was still his old self though, diving for loose balls and hustling up and down the court, while showing some of the aggressive scoring presence Speraw asked of him before the season.
"His grittyness and toughness has always been there," Speraw said. "He has to make that transition into a floor general and a quarterback on the court."
In addition to his shooting from inside the arc, Rompza also knocked down a 3-point shot, something he didn't do often last season.
3. Jakub ‘Kuba' Kusmieruk looks significantly better
After losing almost 40 pounds in the offseason, Kuba looks night and day compared to his first season in a Knight uniform last year.
The 7-foot-4 center averaged just five minutes a game last season in 14 appearances and looked slow on the court.
In Friday's victory, Kuba scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting and showed parts of his game that he didn't have last season, including a nice turn-around hook shot.
He also brought down three rebounds and registered a block in nine minutes of play.
4. Freshman Keith Clanton will be really good, really soon.
Clanton scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds in 27 minutes of play, but looked comfortable all around the court.
He played inside, hovered around the arc and also handled the ball well in the open court when Rompza was out of the game.
Another part of Clanton's game that will be crucial this season is his passing game. He is known as a big man who can pass well — with two assists against UMass — which will be essential in the Knights game plan this season with shooters like Isaac Sosa and Nik Garcia.
"Keith showed the types of versatility that he has," Speraw said. "He can do a lot of things. He is only going to get better and better."
5. The returning freshman will be counted on heavily
Isaac Sosa went off in the game, scoring a career-high and game-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 6-of-7 from long range. The other returning freshmen from last season include Rompza, Dave Diakite, A.J. Tyler, P.J. Gaynor and Kuba, combined to go 14-for-31 from the field and accounted for 40 points in the game.
These returners will be the heart of the team, and it will take a total effort from these guys on a game-by-game basis to replace Taylor's production from last season.