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Patience Is Key with the Youthful UCF Basketball Team

MILWAUKEE - MARCH 19:  Head coach Kirk Speraw of the Central Florida Golden Knights watches the action from the sideline during the first round game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Bradley Center on March 19, 2004 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Pittsburgh defeated Central Florida 53-44. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Kevin StanleyContributor IJanuary 28, 2010

Coming off of two blowout losses, it's hard to keep faith in whichever team you root for.

But even though the UCF basketball team has dropped two straight embarrassing games, it's important to be a little patient throughout the rest of the season.

The Knights have had a very up and down year so far. They've played well against out-of-conference foes like UConn and Auburn, but have been embarrassed by conference opponents like SMU, UTEP, and Tulsa.

Expectations are hard to keep moderate around Orlando after the arrival of the top recruiting class in the program's history. However, it's important to remember that the Knights are not putting freshman like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins out on the floor.

Winning with a cast of freshmen and sophomores is just not common in college basketball. Of course, sometimes a youth-ridden team is highly successful, but it's extremely difficult unless you are bringing in multiple five-star players like John Calipari has or like Thad Matta did with Greg Oden and Mike Conley.

Even with Calipari's one loss Kentucky squad, he has been feeling the effect of having a team led by underclassmen who have shown their youth throughout an impressive campaign.

Then you have a team like UCF, which must rely on a handful of underclassmen, but with a minor step down in talent, and is playing in a league that's been more competitive than any time in recent memory.

Kirk Speraw will likely define his career at UCF with the players he's recruited to campus the last two years. How he continues to develop them will probably decide whether he will coach at UCF for the rest of his career.

Speraw has brought in AJ Rompza, Isaac Sosa, Dave Diakite, Keith Clanton, and Marcus Jordan all within the last two years. Now that they are all halfway through their freshman and sophomore campaigns, Speraw will need to turn the names on paper into a winning formula sooner rather than later.

The blowout losses in the past few weeks have already started to shake some of the fan base with disapproval of Speraw, but hopefully Kirk and the team will be able to right the ship.

With one of the youngest teams in college basketball, Speraw is certainly facing a very new challenge with leading this squad. Right now, however, it's important that the fan base stand behind the team throughout their growing pains this season.

With a 10-10 record, the Knights will look to get a big win this Saturday at home against Tulsa, who is currently sitting in second in C-USA with a 16-4 record.

Maybe a big win and some confidence could provide just what the youthful UCF squad needs right now, and certainly a strong finish to this season could do wonders for next year's campaign.

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