Students: Enjoy the successful basketball team while you can

Will Weber

 Photo by Tiffany Salameh

Students participating in traditional basketball “swoops” even during away games at the Rival City Rumble watch party held on Feb. 25. Photo by Tiffany Salameh

As the spring semester drags along and students grind their way towards summer, a group of Ospreys are making history and putting UNF athletics on the map.

The UNF men’s basketball team is the number one seed in the Atlantic Conference (A-sun), and set to make another run for the NCAA Tournament after appearing for the first time in program history last year.

UNF is led by a core group of players, whose three-point stroke has led the Ospreys to their best record in school history. Coach Matthew Driscoll has also revitalized the program, winning more than double the amount of games in the last two seasons than the program won in the four seasons prior to his arrival.

Dallas Moore. Photo by Tyler van Voorthuijsen
Dallas Moore broke the program record for career points with 1,514 on Feb. 18. Photo by Tyler van Voorthuijsen

The Ospreys are led by Dallas Moore and Beau Beech, arguably the two best players to ever call UNF arena home. Moore, a three-time A-sun player of the week, broke the program record for career points with 1,514 on Feb. 18. But with Beech trailing by 23 points, it’s by no means safe.

In addition to two prolific scorers, junior Trent Mackey is fourth in the nation for three-pointers made, and is closing in on Parker Smith’s school record of 116. The Ospreys ability to hit three pointers have earned them the nickname “Birds of Trey” and rightfully so. UNF ranks first in the nation for three-pointers made, first in three-pointers made per game and eighth in three-point percentage.

Senior Demarcus “BaeBae” Daniels is a two-time A-Sun defensive player of the year and the leader of the team. Daniel’s is frequently called upon to draw up plays on the coach’s clipboard and is constantly instructing and helping fellow players.

Senior Demarcus Daniels. Photo by Caleb Moseley
Senior Demarcus Daniels, two-time A-Sun defensive player of the year and the leader of the team. Photo by Caleb Moseley

This team is historical, their success unprecedented and their shooting record-breaking. But it could be coming to an end.

Six of the seven main contributors are juniors or seniors, and in two years the team could have a different identity. Beech and Mackey, both seniors, are in the top 10 in the nation for three’s made, and replacing their production next year will difficult. The team must also find another defensive cornerstone to replace Daniels on and off the court.

So, what does this mean for students? Enjoy it while you can.

This could be the pinnacle of UNF basketball, and the last shot for the Ospreys to take on the role of “Cinderella” come March Madness.

Programs wait decades for the success UNF have achieved in the last two years. The high-scoring, three-point shooting Ospreys light up scoreboards and draw record-breaking crowds.

If the Osprey’s manage to pull an upset in March, they will put UNF on the national spotlight, and maybe, even if it’s for a week, make students forget there’s no football team.

 

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