UCF can relate to Heat with recent lineup changes
Donnie Jones will be forced to work with a smaller roster with the loss of senior Josh Crittle
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 17:08
Men’s basketball coach Donnie Jones may find his team this year has a lot in common with one in South Beach — but is that a good thing?
UCF announced last week that seniors Marcus Jordan, Josh Crittle and C.J. Reed will not be returning to the program in the wake of sanctions recently handed down by the NCAA.
Jordan will remain enrolled at UCF but will no longer play basketball. For Reed, who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, it was over before it began.
But the biggest loss, literally and figuratively, is Josh Crittle.
Crittle was the one true center on the roster and now that he’s gone, Jones faces the challenge of managing his lineup without anything close to a center on the team. Not to mention potential matchup problems throughout the regular season.
Jones, who was an assistant under Billy Donovan at UF before coaching Marshall, was grooming UCF to be a three-guard program like so many universities are finding fashionable. However, the Knights are going to have to get hip sooner than they thought.
We have seen a small lineup work as recently as in the NBA with the champion Miami Heat. In college and professional basketball we are seeing an evolution from lineups shackled by the traditional size definitions of positions to a more flexible, and consequently smaller, lineup based on scoring ability.
Like the Heat, the Knights will only win by playing the best five players — forwards Keith Clanton and Tristan Spurlock; and guards Isaiah Sykes, Daiquan Walker and Calvin Newell — will likely be the best five.
Forward Kasey Wilson should also be in the conversation. Somehow Jones will have to figure out a way to put five of those six on the floor.
Should Clanton, who decided to return for his senior year, play center? He might have to, just like Chris Bosh had to. That means guys like Spurlock and Wilson, conventional small forwards, could move over to the power forward position. Kind of like how Shane Battier locked down the position in the Finals against the Thunder.
I realize the Heat have LeBron James, who can play and defend multiple positions. The Knights don’t have anything close to LeBron, but they don’t have to be the Heat. They just need to court a team, and Jones needs to figure out how to manage lineup changes throughout a game — an often overlooked quality in coaches.
Maybe Jones should call Heat coach Erik Spoelstra for some tips. For Jones, however, it seems he will have to call on his players to do more this year than he anticipated.