University of North Florida men’s basketball head coach, Matthew Driscoll, has put together one of the toughest schedules UNF has ever seen for the upcoming 2010-11 season, which was released Aug. 11. The schedule includes 10 teams that won at least 20 games and participated in postseason play last season.
The schedule includes 13 games to take place at home in the UNF Arena for the Ospreys. However, more importantly the schedule is littered with high level competition that will undoubtedly raise the level of play for the Ospreys down the road.
“A lot of big names,” said Driscoll. “At this level when you make this kind of transition the first three years you really have to make a concerted effort to make sure that you are doing a lot of different things that you can do and one of them is playing high level schools and being able to bring in money to the athletic department.”
The Ospreys play all of their Atlantic Sun foes such as Jacksonville University, USC Upstate, and East Tennessee State University who represented the conference in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
However, it is the Osprey’s non-conference schedule that will attract most of the attention for the 2010-11 season. UNF plays seven non-conference teams from major conferences who played in the NCAA tournament last season.
They play Florida State and Maryland from the ACC. They also will take on Pittsburgh from the very talented Big East. The Ospreys will also travel to Big Ten country to take on Purdue who is expected to contend for a national championship with returning players like guard E’Twaun Moore and preseason Big Ten Player of the Year candidate, forward Robbie Hummel. To top off the seven, the Ospreys play three teams from the Big XII including Missouri, Texas, and Kansas State who made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament last year.
“Purdue is a big strong team that can shoot the perimeter shots,” said UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon. “Pitt isn’t big but real athletic. Then Kansas State is big and real athletic.”
In addition to the regular season schedule, the Ospreys will make use of their passports and travel to Cancun, Mexico. UNF is participating in the Cancun Challenge, set to take place over Thanksgiving.
The Ospreys, who are trying to continue to improve their basketball program, have tried to schedule higher level competition the last two years since Driscoll has taken over said both Driscoll and Moon.
“Playing against the highest level helps your guys prepare,” said Driscoll. “The other thing about it is kids want to play against that. Kids, when you get to this level, want to either play against those guys or show that they can play against those guys or prepare themselves for when they get to the league.”
With the release of the schedule, the recruits the Ospreys are bringing in and the momentum of coming off one of the best season turnarounds in program history, Driscoll and the team are ready for school to start and to get to work.
“We had a great summer,” said Driscoll. “They really did a great job with each other, getting the new guys acclimated. We come back to campus this weekend coming up and we’ll start the very first day. We don’t waste anytime.”
The Ospreys kick off the season with a two game road trip starting with Wyoming on Nov. 18 and Missouri on Nov. 20. Their first home game of the season is Dec. 2 when they welcome Florida Gulf Coast to the UNF Arena.