The most national notoriety the team received came in 1996, when they finished with an 11-19 record, but ran the table in the Atlantic Sun Tournament to earn a spot in the big dance. That was the Knights second of four trips to the NCAA Tournament, and they're yet to record their first tournament victory, or even their first appearance since moving to Conference USA.
This season the Knights seem to be turning around their potential postseason fortunes as there are plenty of reasons to watch the team in black and gold play. First and foremost is guard Jermaine Taylor. Taylor is currently the nation's eighth-leading scorer at 23.9 points per game, and he's the only player in the top ten in scoring that shoots better than 50% from the field. Taylor's game strongly resembles that of former C-USA star Dwayne Wade, as he is fearless when going to the basket and has retained the lost art of the mid-range jumpshot.
"I think my mid-range game has improved a lot," Taylor said when asked about his drastic improvement from his junior season. "I worked on it all summer and it's working pretty good for me right now, and I also think I am a better passer than I was last year. I am taking my time and I can see when my teammates are open, and if they're open I am getting it to them."
Although Taylor is a dynamic leaper and provides high-flying highlights on a nightly basis, you probably have never heard his name if you don't live in the greater Orlando area and aren't more than a casual fan of UCF basketball. Taylor takes a backseat on "SportsCenter" highlights, while guys without half of his game are featured consistently.
InsideKnights.com asked Taylor about his lack of national recognition and he gave a politically correct response, even though it was obvious that the lack of respect irks him a bit.
"I don't really worry about that," Taylor said. "I see those guys on ESPN all the time and I feel like I can play with those guys, if not even better. I'm just focusing on what I'm doing and if they don't see it, its fine with me, I'm going to do it regardless."
With their overtime victory over Tulane, Taylor's UCF Knights now have a 15-6 record, and have won five straight conference games. Although they only have an RPI ranking of 111th in the nation, UCF appears to be on pace for postseason play, whether it be the "big dance," or the NIT tourney.
Jermaine Taylor spoke about the Knights prospects of the postseason in the press conference following their 70-45 victory against SMU last Wednesday—
"It's real big, that's what I believe our goal is for this year. I mean I've never been there, my teammates in the past, Josh Peppers, Dave Noel, Mike O'Donnell, they've been there. I hear them talking about it all the time, just the excitement, the feeling it is, and I think it would do a lot for this program. I know we haven't been there in a few years. Just to show people we are a good team, and we can make it. Especially being this is my last year."
A postseason run and a few games on national television could do a lot in waking the nation up to this fantastic talent from nearby Tavares, FL.
"I think it would showcase my talent a lot, because I think a lot of people think I am just scoring so much because the teams we are playing, but I think it would help me out a lot just to let people know I am a scorer and it doesn't matter who I step out on the court against," Taylor said. "I am going to score."
Taylor Sets Sights on Postseason
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