Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/11/14
When the UCF Knights lost to the Houston Cougars on Saturday, there shouldn’t have been surprise or disappointment from the UCF basketball faithful. Losing 12 out of 14 games will provide a bit of numbness for any fan base, especially with four losses this season coming to the likes of FAU, Valparaiso, Rutgers and USF. What might be even worse are the understandable losses. Wednesday’s showing at home against Cincinnati was hard to watch. It took 14:38 for the Knights to lay in their second field goal of the game. It took less time for Cincinnati to secure its first 20-point lead of the game. While UCF nation may settle into the numbness that often comes with losing, there’s one thing that will surely send a jolt to its system — the thought of next year. If two conference wins and a loss to FAU is the norm this year, what’s going to happen next year when Isaiah Sykes, Tristan Spurlock and Calvin Newell are gone? So UCF’s trio of seniors has not played to expectations this year — especially Newell and Spurlock. (Take Sykes out of this discussion, because he’s been great considering the circumstances.) But they are still the three most talented players on the team, hands down. They may be inconsistent, but at least there’s the hope that Spurlock and Newell can go off on any given night. Is there any hope of that next year? I believe Donnie Jones is bringing in a couple of solid players in Adonys Henriquez and B.J. Taylor in the 2014 recruiting class. Taylor is an incredible scorer at the high school level and Henriquez looks to be a versatile player who can contribute right away. But even if those two guys wildly exceed expectations, could they even come close to matching the loss of production from Sykes’ departure? Not a chance. I like what UCF has in Brandon Goodwin, Staphon Blair, Matt Williams and Justin McBride. But none of those players are game changers right now. They’ll only get better, but the gap is so wide right now between the Knights and the rest of the conference. There’s always the chance that the team will just click next year and the Knights’ attitude and teamwork will prevail over their gap in talent. But that will take a herculean effort from the coaching staff and players that I just don’t think is possible. That leaves UCF and its fan base in a difficult situation. Recruiting is pretty much done with.
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