Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with UCF F Tristan Spurlock about moving from the C-USA to the brand-new American Athletic Conference.
Your program moved from the C-USA to the brand-new American Athletic Conference over the summer, what impact has this had on your preseason preparation (if any)? We are going to come in focused no matter who we are playing against, but we certainly are aware of the big names we will get to see in the AAC this year.
Your non-conference schedule in November includes games against Florida State and Miami, what is the college basketball scene like in the state of Florida these days? It is great: even FGCU broke out last year. Miami shocked a lot of people last spring, so if we can win those games it will give us bragging rights throughout the state.
You return seven of your top eight scorers from last year, how big a factor do you think your team’s experience will be this season? It will help a lot to know that we have guys coming back who have been through the battles and know what to expect.
You made the NIT in 2012 but did not participate in the postseason in 2013, what do you think it will take to make it back to the postseason this year? We just have to string some wins together, especially on our home court.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I want to win a conference championship: it would be great to cap off my wonderful time here at UCF with at title.
In 2010 you transferred from Virginia to UCF, what made you pick the Knights? The coaching staff and the style of play that lets us go up and down the court. They also let me play multiple positions and the campus is great.
You play for Coach Donnie Jones, who has won at least 20 games in each of his three years at UCF, what makes Jones such a good coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him? He is a players’ coach and understands how we think and work. He gets the best out of us every day. He taught me that you have to work every day even if you are tired or banged up because there is always someone out there working to beat you.
Last year you lead your team with 76.2 FT%: what is your secret for making FTs? Taking my time and concentrating. I worked on it a lot the previous summer by trying to knock them down in practice when I was tired.
You also made 39 three pointers: how do you make so many shots from behind the arc despite being 6’8”/230? As the season went on I learned when to take them and when not to take them after taking too many in the past. It is the same as with FTs: repetition.