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The Furey Factor: Second chance at JU win

As a UNF student, I’ve never had to worry about getting into a fist fight with a bloodthirsty Dolphin fan, but after last week’s basketball game against Jacksonville University, it looks like our cross-town rivalry is starting to get pretty heated.

When UNF played at JU’s Swisher Gymnasium last week, JU fans vastly outnumbered the small section of UNF supporters, waving their keys and chanting in a way that makes me think they might have been casting a spell over the unwary Ospreys. However, even if we all started growing dorsal fins and tails, JU should start shaking in their Nikes because UNF has a chance of rebounding a win when we play them again Jan. 29.

In our away match Jan. 18, UNF had an edge over the Dolphins for the majority of the game, and it wasn’t until there were six minutes left that JU tied the score, rallied for the lead and secured a 62-55 win.

“Our guys fought,” said UNF men’s head basketball coach Matthew Driscoll after their game against JU. “They’re always going to fight. They are going to compete. They are always going to compete. … But there is no question that second chance points were the name of the game.”

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Although Driscoll was referring to JU’s second chance at a win during the second half, UNF has a second chance of its own Friday night, and I think the Ospreys have a really good chance of turning their second game into a win.

Although the Dolphins were the 2008-2009 Atlantic Sun regular season champions, their season this year isn’t too far off from the Ospreys. Going into this week’s games, UNF’s record is 10-11 while JU’s is 10-8 overall, just slightly above UNF.

In addition to their fairly equal records, both UNF and JU have strong point guards resting in the heart of their teams, UNF junior Brad Haugabrook and JU senior Ben Smith.

Smith is a member of the 1,000 point club and has started in every game since he was a freshman,  JU’s head men’s basketball coach Cliff Warren said. Smith was also the leading scorer with 18 points in the match against the Ospreys, but we have a strong safety net that will be able to keep him at bay this Friday.

Sure Smith may seem like a Michael Jordan, but we have Stan Januska, Matt Sauey, Jerron Granberry, Eni Cuka and Haugabrook. There is no “I” in team, right? Hopefully these guys will bring their A-game and defend their house in their second game against JU. Plus, I think our point guard can take him.

Even though Haugabrook is a new member on UNF’s basketball team, he is already making his mark this season. He’s led the Ospreys through many matches, including their Jan. 2 game against Kennesaw State, where Haugabrook’s 17 points and six assists helped seal a five-game winning streak, the longest since the 2003-2004 UNF season.

UNF fans also have a second chance to go up against their college rival this week, and there will be plenty of opportunities for them to show their school spirit. In preparation for another rowdy rivalry game, UNF Athletics is preparing a pre-game pep rally and encouraging UNF fans to wear white shirts and white out the UNF Arena in support of the basketball team, but we can go even further than that.

College rivalries go way beyond just our years in college. I’m sure there are some Gator and FSU fans out there who would bleed orange and blue or garnet and gold because their devotion for their favorite teams runs just that deep.

I want to see UNF fans feeling the same way about the Ospreys, feeling pride over the blue and gray and utter disgust for hunter green and white.

I’ve seen Jacksonville University advertised as Jacksonville’s true university, but as a university just a few exits down on 9A, we should try to establish our school as the top college in Jacksonville.

Now, I’m not condoning violence or anything, but let’s step up the rivalry at this week’s game and show some true Osprey pride. If there is any chance of a big game brawl, I’m going to be looking for some blue and gray blood.

Threats, dirty looks and spell-like chanting are all in the equation for a true college rivalry, especially when both teams have pride at stake. But even if we lose, the game is on a Friday night. There’s got to be a party going on somewhere.

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