The UCF Knights sat at a protracted, raised desk and spoke back questions inside the face of three large spotlights. Their heritage started it all: “March Madness.” These are a really extraordinary environment for the Knights. Still, at the eve of their first NCAA Tournament game in 14 years, their attention is on making their matchup as opposed to the VCU Rams as ordinary and familiar as possible. “We don’t need to make the sport any larger than it is. It’s still basketball,” redshirt junior shield Aubrey Dawkins said. Dawkins is the most effective player on the roster who has had NCAA Tournament publicity.
The Michigan Wolverines gained a tourney sport throughout Dawkins’ sophomore season in 2016. He has shared something expertise throughout the week he can get approximately what it’s want to play on an NCAA Tournament level. His father and UCF’s coach, Johnny Dawkins, has a wealth of tournament understanding after making three NCAA Tournament appearances with the Duke Blue Devils. Johnny Dawkins become captain of a Duke team that turned into the countrywide runner-up in 1986. “Basically, what we strive to tell our players is simply stay inside the second and enjoy this revel in,” Johnny Dawkins stated. “This is something that you have to cherish. These are hard to come by using. When you have got this opportunity, you are making the most out of it. So we type of talking to them that manner.”
UCF seniors B.J. Taylor and Tacko Fall know full well how hard it is to make the event. They were seeking to will this opportunity into existence for 4 or five years. Now they have made it, and the duo time and again said Thursday just how happy there to be here. But they’ll attempt to hold the feelings to a minimum whilst the bright lighting shines internal Colonial Life Arena around nine:40 p.M. Friday. “It’s a large deal. We’re now not going to downgrade it,” Fall said of the tournament. “… We’ve just got to exit there and compete and now not permit the feelings to take over.” Said Taylor: “We came here no longer to expose up. However, we want to win video games. That’s our major consciousness right now. We’re blessed and commemorated to be right here. Our aim isn’t simply to be here. We need to win it and make a statement.”
To your fitness, It’s honest to surprise if UCF might be making its 2d consecutive NCAA look if Dawkins, Taylor, and Fall had been a healthful remaining season. However, none of them turned into. Dawkins neglected the entire 12 months with a shoulder injury, and Taylor and Fall played exactly one recreation together because of their personal maladies. Although they were dinged up — Fall has a sprained right thumb, and Dawkins has played through again pain these days — making it thru the 12 months without whatever debilitating is a measure of suitable fortune that hasn’t been lost on the Knights, or they’re educating.
“To subsequently be obtainable and play collectively and stay healthy, it’s been a blessing,” Taylor stated. “It’s been an actual joy playing with both these men after me.” Said Johnny Dawkins: “I wish I could explain to you how exciting [staying healthy] has been for us because we’ve battled that loads. … When we’ve been healthful, we’ve been very aggressive.” Evans to play VCU point shield, and the main scorer Marcus Evans won’t be at complete power whilst he takes the ground versus UCF. But the maximum important part for the Rams is that Evans will take the floor. The junior said Thursday he’s feeling better every day as he heals from a hyper-prolonged left knee and bone bruise. He took part in an afternoon exercise and said he’s shifting without a good deal limit. “He’s now not 100 [percent]. However, he’s going to offer it a shot,” Rams instruct Mike Rhoades stated of Evans. “We’ll see from there.”