In its final season in Conference USA, the UCF Men's Basketball team wants to achieve a first. The Knights have never won the league's regular season title. Slapped by the NCAA with a one-year postseason ban, the C-USA crown is the carrot the team will chase during the 2012-13 season.
"We still got a lot to play for," said Knights Head Coach Donnie Jones today at Media Day, "One thing that excites me is we've never won a Conference USA Championship here. That's something that can still happen."
As Jones enters his third season leading the Knights, he has a very diferent and young roster. Gone are guards AJ Rompza and Marcus Jordan. Rompza graduated. Jordan opted not to return for his senior season. That leaves UCF with only one upperclassman, Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year, forward Keith Clanton.
"I'm real excited. Just focused on the season, just knowing that we can come out and still win a conference title so we're just focused and getting ready," said Clanton.
The senior from Orlando is coming off his strongest season, averaging 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a junior. He was a floor leader on a team that finished 22-11 overall, 10-6 in C-USA. The Knights leave Conference USA for the Big East following this season. It's an exciting future, but Jones says he's focused on the present.
"All these guys play for each other," said Jones, "We're gonna return everybody on this team next year, other than Keith Clanton, so we got a young group of guys who are playing together. This is the best chemistry we've had since I've been here in my three years."
UCF opens the season November 10th at South Florida.