While offense might fill seats, it is often said that defense wins championships.
The UCF men's basketball seems to think so, as the squad repeated one main thing to be its focus for improvement this off-season — defense. Senior, and returning starter, Kasey Wilson said if there's one thing the team has worked on, it's defense.
"[We've been working on] being able to defend teams and then go score, instead of having to trade buckets. Going to score then us getting a stop, or two stops, three stops in a row. That's one thing we lacked last year," Wilson said.
In 2013, the Knights, on average, allowed their opponents almost 74 points per game. Opponents also shot an average of 45.6 percent from the field with UCF only shooting an average of 43.9 percent. The Knights did make some strides on the defensive side of the ball last year though. Junior forward Staphon Blair was the team leader in blocks last season with 47. This year, Blair said he wants to block at least 60 shots.
Seven players on the roster have yet to record minutes for UCF but Blair said the mentality of the newcomers, and veterans alike, has been the same.
"We've been preaching defense all over. Defense, defense, defense, that's all coach preaches. We do defensive drills every day in practice," said Blair.
Head coach Donnie Jones said that Isaiah Sykes, Tristian Spurlock and Calvin Newell were integral parts in the team's system last year and losing those veterans means UCF has to rely more on a team effort.
"I don't know if we have one guy that's going to be like Isaiah Sykes. We have to do that by committing," Jones said. "What I like about this team is that I think we can be better defensively."
Blair and freshman guard Adonys Henriquez, said confidently that they're both most looking forward to playing UConn. Both players expressed how much it would mean to be able to beat the defending national champions. The Huskies only gave up 63 points per game last year and allowed opponents to shoot just 39.2 percent from the field. Wilson thinks the Knights have the potential to make those adjustments this season.
"I think if we can get some stops this year, we've got enough guys who can score the ball," Wilson said. "I think we'll be fine if we just play defense, listen to what coach says and execute."