So whaddya know? A Marshall game on the tube, albeit for the digital tier. And I guess I will miss it, as I will staff a high school game, Spring Valley at St. Albans.
First, let’s review last season. As you know, the Herd and UCF play twice each year in a rotation that Conference USA may never change until the next realignment.
At Orlando, the Knights ran roughshod over a Herd team that had no clue on the road — it was the fifth roadie in a row in which the Herd fell behind by 21 or more. Final score: UCF 87, Herd 69, with Jermaine Taylor & Co. going 11-of-15 from 3.
At the Henderson Center, the Herd won 67-62, sealed after Taylor badly missed a late 3-pointer — a shot that sent him all the way to second team on my all-conference ballot. (He only won Player of the Year, but who am I?) Shaquille Johnson hounded Taylor into 2-of-11 shooting from the arc. The crowd was a season-high 6,153, and it was pretty loud.
The game also was memorable for the time A.J. Rompza stole a Chris Lutz pass and zipped up court, flinging a perfect pass to Isaac Sosa for a wide-open 3-pointer — only to have a referee get in the way and inadvertently knock the ball out of bounds. Coach Kirk Speraw was so honked off, he cut his press conference short, telling us, “Have a good weekend.”
Anyway… 2010 is here and Taylor is a lightly used Houston Rocket. With that overwhelming scoring presence gone, Coach Jones called the Knights a more complete team, and they did dispatch what I think will be another cellar-dwelling Rice team, 77-58.
But are they going to be that good, overall? I’m not so sure — I picked them 7th in my early January rankings, a long, long spot behind Marshall. But they are 3-1 all-time against Marshall in Orlando.
Talked to Pete Gillen of CBS College Sports tonight. He is really, really interested in seeing the Herd for the first time, and was very curious about Hassan Whiteside, as you can imagine. He has seen a bit more of UCF, it seems.
He loves Rompza’s toughness — you may recall that he’s that he’s a 5-9 point guard from Chicago who plays like he’s channeling Al Capone. Shoot, I thought he was going to start a hockey fight at Marshall!
He loves Keith Clanton, the 6-8 freshman. He does, however, call him a “Bambi on Ice,” saying he is committing too many turnovers and is still making the transition from Class 1A high school ball. Still, Gillen says Clanton is the brightest prospect UCF has landed and predicts “Bambi will turn into a bear.”
Elsewhere in C-USA, Gillen says he saw UAB beat Cincinnati and came away *really* impressed. He did not expect Mike Davis to integrate the transfers so well — 5th-year seniors Kenneth Cooper and George Drake, plus junior Elijah Millsap. He says Aaron Johnson has really picked up the pace at point guard.
If you can watch the Herd-UCF game, enjoy …