UCF ends Pre-Season Exhibitions by Pushing around Georgia College

 

By: Troy Ondrizek (Orlando, FL 11/12/14)

In their final pre-season exhibition UCF squared off with their second Peach Belt conference foe Georgia College. UCF looked like a bunch of Goliath's trying not to trample all the “Davids” that donned blue Bobcat jerseys. It was that size difference, or more importantly Justin McBride’s massive effort, that thwarted Georgia State’s attempt at slaying UCF as they fell 82-65 to the Knights at the Dungeon on Tuesday night.

Running a 2-3 zone early, GCSU basically parked the bus in front of the rim to prevent any dribble penetration and take away any real estate for UCF’s front line to maneuver. This measure mitigated the advantage of size that UCF held and limited UCF to only 7 possessions where the ball was passed into the block in the first half. Adonys Henriquez took the opportunity to expose the soft spots in the zone and drained a pair of early threes (he was 3-6 on the evening) to put UCF up early and forced the Bobcats to play an impossible game of catch-up.

UCF’s struggles from the Free-Throw line started early, they were 4 of their first 10, and barely improved as they finished 13 of 27 from the stripe. This inability to put points on the board let GCSU back into the game as after two turnovers and some 2nd chance points, the visitors hit from the line to pull within 1 (26-25) with just over four minutes remaining in the half.

The Knights gathered their composure and went on a 10-0 run culminating with a highlight dunk by Justin McBride over the outstretched arms and dignity of the GCSU forwards where Justin took the opportunity to high-five the backboard giving him a well-earned technical foul. The big man touched on it after the game, “I rolled up and smacked the backboard. I was hyped. I talked to the official after the play and that's what he told me. He told me, 'Big fella, you're straight; I know people are underneath you, but you went and smacked the backboard. That was the thing.' It felt good to be back and able to dunk. I couldn't do that last season. It felt good. I got a little too excited. I told coach I'll get it back. That was on me."

It was truly McBride’s massive effort and size advantage that took control of this contest. The “Beast from Bradford” had 19 points and 13 boards in 20min of work. At times he looked a little winded and his hops were hindered, but his effort and anticipation on glass paid off and he turned nine offensive rebounds into 10 2nd chance points.

The 2nd half saw an offense predicated on guard play and successful dribble penetration. Brandon Goodwin has some solid stretches where he was decisive with the ball and drove to the hoop setting up the low-block defenders to collapse on him for a kick-out, or when they hesitated, he didn’t and he finished at the rim. BJ Taylor followed suit with lethal long-range bombs where he was 5 for 7 from behind the money-line as GCSU never wavered from their 2-3 zone and left him open for the shots. Taylor led UCF in scoring in both of their exhibition games, a stat he is comfortable with as he was the state of Florida’s leading scorer last year in high school. He scored 22 points to lead everyone in scoring, but more importantly, he had only 1 turnover in 30 minutes of work. He could use a few more assists down the road, but this is very early in the learning process for the true freshman.

Outside of McBride, UCF had minimal inside presence on the offensive end; defensively it was much the same, save for Dylan Karrell. The Bobcat’s guards started making their way to the rim in the second half as if a flash mob was raiding the paint. When Dylan was in the game, he clogged the lane, blocked a shot, and deflected a few passes. Coach Jones spoke highly of his junior forward “I don’t know if Dylan had any points…but he got seven rebounds and deflected several passes. The kind of things he does to affect the game doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet, but he created shots for his teammates and helped defensively”.

Brandon Goodwin spoke about their defensive lapses, “As a team we’re not happy with our effort tonight”, we can play defense a lot better than what we showed tonight”. Offense will be there for this talented young team, if they want to make a mark this season and have a strong showing in conference, defense is what will take them there. Though, for their poor defending on the block, they made up for it on the perimeter; holding GCSU to 4 of 23 from three and only 2 of 14 in the second half as the Bobcats desperately tried to get back into the game.

UCF, due to previous violations weren’t able to have exhibition games against other teams last year and these two exhibitions gave this young squad some valuable minutes against other players than their own teammates. This is important as they build some chemistry before heading into the season opener this Sunday against longtime local rivals Stetson Hatters. Game tips off at 6pm at the CFE Arena.