Ospreys set for early test to start regular season


The UNF men’s basketball team opens the 2010-11 regular season Nov. 12, when it travels to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles.

After UNF’s blowout 98-54 win in their exhibition game against Edward Waters Nov. 4, the Ospreys are looking to show they can play with bigger schools like FSU.

“I was just really happy to get out on the court,” said senior guard Brad Haugabrook after the Ospreys win over Edward Waters. “We’ve been practicing a lot against each other, but it’s always good to play someone new.”

UNF is starting the season with an early test. Not only do the Ospreys take on FSU, they follow that up the very next day with a trip to the University of Pittsburgh to take on the No. 4 Panthers.

“People always say, ‘Well, Florida State coach, come on, ACC, picked second in the league yada, yada, yada.’ We don’t ever look at things that way,” said head coach Matt Driscoll. “We always look at things as opportunities. If we do what we’re supposed to do, and we play the way we’re capable of playing, then any night, anything can happen.”

The Ospreys put a scoring clinic on against Edward Waters using 65 points to pull away from the Tigers in the second half. They are going to need to do more of the same if they plan to compete with teams like FSU and Pitt.

Sophomore guard Parker Smith led the Ospreys with 23 points Nov. 4. He caught fire in the second half, making all eight of his shots, seven of which were from three-point land.

“In the second half, I just felt a lot more comfortable,” Smith said after his big performance against Edward Waters. “I felt more prepared because I’ve been practicing for a year and a half now just like repetition and the motion and routine of how I get my shots in our offense.”

Another thing the Ospreys look to take from the Edward Waters game is their defense. UNF played aggressive and active defense the entire game. They forced 20 turnovers and held the Tigers to just 36.2 percent shooting. Defense was something Driscoll stressed during the offseason, pointing out that most of the top teams in the nation are at the top of their conferences in defensive statistics, especially in defensive field goal percentage.

“In order to win championships, you’ve got to be the best defensive team in the league,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll said the athletes will have to efficiently pass the ball so as to not turn it over against a long defense like the Seminoles.

“They’re really long, something you can’t simulate,” Driscoll said. “You can put broomsticks on guys. You can do all that kind of stuff you want, but you can’t simulate it.”

Pittsburgh has a regular season game under their belt after their Nov. 8 win over Rhode Island. Ranked in the top five in most of the national polls, the Panthers are a more physical team than FSU that plays tough defense.

“It will be a different game in the sense that they play more half court, really physical, where Florida State is going to try to be long and wide and athletic and try to get that thing going,” Driscoll said.

For some of the Ospreys, the game against FSU is especially meaningful because of the in-state rivalry. However, Driscoll said they are excited to show what they can do against both big time schools.

“Florida State, really, because it’s an in-state school that did or did not recruit [UNF athletes], that they want an opportunity to play against,” Driscoll said. “They know a lot of guys on the team. And then Pitt, I mean, they’re fourth in the country. National TV. So getting an opportunity to do those kind of things — I think — is an easy excitable, too, for the guys.”