UCF Basketball - Final Thoughts

The Knights finished their season with a resounding thud, as they were blasted by Southern Miss, 77-53. UCF dropped eight of their final 10 games, and it appears as if the loss of Tony Davis was greater than we first anticipated it would be. Still, Davis' absence wasn't the reason this team went into the tank.

As the season progressed, UCF became more and more dependent on Jermaine Taylor. Although his fantastic efforts earned him C-USA Player of the Year, Taylor and the Knights simply regressed as the "supporting cast" was tentative to shoot, and the motion offense that Kirk Speraw ran all of a sudden had no motion in it.

Taylor spoke about the POY award.

"It is a privilege that the coaches and the players think that I am the best player in the league," Taylor told reporters in the post-game press conference. "If I could trade it for the win today I would."

This day pretty much described the UCF season from February on. Jermaine Taylor honored, but the team lost. The truth about what happened to the Knights is that none of the young players stepped up and offered a viable second offensive option. Jermaine Taylor was able to keep the Knights in games, but they needed someone else to push the team over the edge from mediocrity.

Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy described the defense that his team played on Taylor to hold him to just 15 points.

"We really struggled playing man defense on him," Eustachy said. "He is really hard to guard. We started out with (Craig) Craft on him and he did a nice job. But I wanted to go to a zone on him quickly and just be really aware of where he was. When he came into somebody's area in our 2-3 zone, they just matched up to him. We wanted their other players to beat us. If we were going to lose we didn't want him to do it."

Those final two sentences speak volumes. Opponents didn't respect the Knights supporting cast enough to keep them from throwing waves of defenders at Jermaine Taylor.

Coach Speraw referenced his team's youth and inexperience in big game situations, and even referred to them as being "mentally weak." This will need to improve greatly by next season, as they lose their "safety net" in Jermaine Taylor.

Maybe the absence of Taylor will allow for the growth of other players?


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