Ospreys can draw hope from ETSU loss


As UNF looks forward to building a future with a winning basketball tradition they may want to take comfort in a fellow A-Sun Conference team’s loss.

The Eastern Tennessee State University Buccaneers suffered a 72-62 loss to the University of Pittsburgh March 20 during the opening round of March Madness 2009. Although the Bucs inevitably lost, UNF fans can take solace in the fact that a team that they have matched up evenly against in their conference almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of college basketball.

ETSU represented the Atlantic Sun Conference in March Madness after defeating Jacksonville University in the A-Sun conference tournament final 85-68 March 7. ETSU faced off against UNF twice during the 2008-2009 regular season, with ETSU winning twice: 88-57 in Tennessee and 67-64 at UNF.

In the second match the Ospreys fell just short of defeating the Bucs after the Ospreys’ defense gave way at the end of the second half.

“Give them a lot of credit, they showed why they are the first place team in the Atlantic Sun,” former UNF head coach Matt Kilcullen said in a press release. “I thought we put forth a tremendous effort today and showed how much we have improved since playing them a month ago.”

Kilcullen wasn’t the only one impressed with how ETSU plays.

“There’s no way this is a No. 16 seed,” Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon said of ETSU to ESPN. “I watched them play.”

For UNF ETSU’s loss can stand as a glare of hope for the future. As of now UNF has proven that they can hang around with and beat teams such as ETSU, Jacksonville and Mercer who have shown that they can compete against some of the top teams in the nation. As UNF continues to grow their Division I basketball programs and become more competitive they can draw encouragement that they are moving towards competing with some of the nation’s top teams.