Looking To Be KnightedUnder The Radar
Sometimes it’s beneficial to head to a new place with no set expectations.
That’s exactly the approach new UCF coach Greg Lovelady had upon arriving in Orlando. After having a wealth of success at Wright State, including a trip to a regional title game in 2016, it would be easy for Lovelady to show up and expect immediate results. But, this wasn’t his first rodeo and he knew the culture needed to change. UCF hadn’t reached the postseason since making back-to-back trips in 2011 and ’12, and there were certain elements of the program that Lovelady didn’t feel were quite up to par.
Overcoming those obstacles can sometimes take a coach a year or many more. Few new head coaches can install a true overnight fix. But for Lovelady? He sold a unique vision and the players immediately bought into his proven plan, setting the stage for what has been a fruitful campaign.
While the Knights are still an unfinished product and there are no certainties from a postseason standpoint, they’d be in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today, sitting at 31-14 overall, tied for first in the American Athletic Conference with a 9-6 record, and most importantly from a postseason perspective, they have an RPI of 34 with a quality 16-12 mark vs. RPI Top 100 teams.
“I’m extremely pleased with the talent we have here. When I came here in the fall, it was hard to have expectations for a bunch of guys I hadn’t ever seen in actual games. So, I had zero expectations with this group,” Lovelady said. “I did know we weren’t going to have talent issues, though. I knew that our games were basically going to have to be my classroom to teach these guys, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best baseball yet,” he continued. “We’ve shown flashes of being very good, but we’re not a finished product yet. There are still some things our kids are learning and they’re still getting more comfortable with what we want. There’s still a lot of growth going on right now.”
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