Enjoy the ride: Men’s hoops thrives despite setbacks
Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012
Updated: Sunday, January 15, 2012 16:01
Things look rough in Central Florida right now.
The combination of the gloomy weather and the cloud of disappointment brought on by the 2011 football campaign is enough to bring a frown to even the most cheerful fan's face.
But, luckily, that's where A.J., Marcus and Co. come into the picture.
The basketball team's early-season success is something Knights fans know cannot be trusted but is also something that can bring life to the program.
Outside of the introduction of Todd Stansbury as the director of athletics, it's been tough to find positive news concerning UCF lately.
Two football coaches, Ted Roof (with the program for only 33 days) and Tim Salem, have left the program for greener pastures, and the ever-present shadow of the NCAA investigation brings plenty of negative attention to the university.
At a time where it seems all news is bad news, the basketball team is quietly having a good season. The team has racked up wins against UConn and College of Charleston at a neutral site and Old Dominion at home, heading into the thick of conference play with a 13-4 record.
Even though the basketball team has had its fair share of negative press this season, two players have left the team within the last week and suspensions have been the norm, the team continues to win.
The Knights seem to thrive under adversity, and they won all three games under associate head coach Shawn Finney while he was filling in for suspended head coach Donnie Jones.
The team saw adversity at its finest when it visited Marshall as a seven-point underdog in a huge match-up. Jones left Marshall to become the head coach at UCF, making him about the most hated man in Huntington, W.Va.
But, despite the rowdy, standing-room only crowd of 8,379, the Knights fought hard until the final seconds. Bad fouls and missed free throws hurt the team in the end.
But despite coming off a tough loss, UCF has a lot to smile about. The team is starting to play as a cohesive unit and has seen some tough road tests early in the year, which will only help down the stretch.
With a huge game against Memphis coming up, we'll know a lot more about this team in a week's time, but for the time being, enjoy the ride.
Next time you step outside and it's a bone chilling 50 degrees, remember that the world isn't all bad — the UCF basketball team has your back.