Ospreys drop two of three during road trip, ready for home stretch

Spinnaker

The UNF men’s basketball team began last week’s three-game road trip on a high note, breaking a six-game losing streak with a 57-55 win over Campbell. However, it was downhill from there as the Ospreys fell to Belmont 91-59 before losing a close match-up against Lipscomb 80-76.

“Those are losses that are going to sting hard, but we have to get over it like every other game because we got East Tennessee State on Thursday,” said sophomore swingman Jerron Granberry.

Losing two of the three games surprised head coach Matthew Driscoll. He felt his team was finally turning the corner after playing well in two tough games against Maryland and Kansas State. He said even though they had lost six straight, he felt like they were making improvement.

His thoughts were confirmed when the team opened its road trip with the win over Campbell. However, the next two games were a letdown during what Driscoll called the most difficult road trip for any team in the Atlantic Sun.

“We have to remember we went against two of the best teams in our conference,” Granberry said. “Belmont, I feel like they’re a really great team, and they’re obviously probably going to be in the championship. Like coach said, we’re going to be in the championship. Lipscomb, I think we just lost that game, we didn’t play for 40 minutes.”

With the road trip, the Ospreys fell to 5-11 and 2-3 in Atlantic Sun. The Ospreys lost eight of their last nine games, however, six of their next eight games will be at home inside the UNF Arena. Another will be in Jacksonville against Jacksonville University, which means no road trip. For a team that has spent most of its season on the road, playing in its home stadium will be a nice change of pace.

“Seven of our next nine are in Jacksonville, which means we’re going to sleep in our bed for a long time,” Driscoll said. “It’s going to be a great blessing, not just from a basketball standpoint, but more importantly from a physical standpoint, mental standpoint and academic standpoint.”

As the Ospreys head to their Jan. 13 game against East Tennessee State, Driscoll is still looking for his team to improve in the rebounding and defensive columns–the same thing he has preached to his team all season. He pointed out that the Ospreys struggled in both areas during their recent losses.

Granberry said they need to play a full game without letting up. He said finally playing some home games will help and looks for the team to get into a rhythm while back in Jacksonville.

“It’s good to see some familiar faces,” Granberry said. “Being home, being familiar with our own balls, and our own goals and our fans should really help us out a lot.”

At 2-3 in the A-Sun, Driscoll still said his team is not far from turning it around. He said had they not blown a lead against Lipscomb, and had they done a few things better when tied at home against Stetson with two minutes to play, they could be 4-1 in conference.

“It’s not like we’ve gotten blown out and got two lucky wins,” Driscoll said. “Can we turn it around? Absolutely. Do we have a lot of turning around to do? No. Our margin for victory is extremely small.”

The Ospreys play East Tennessee State inside the Arena Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. before hosting USC Upstate Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.

“We know any team in our conference can be beat,” Granberry said. “We’re going for first place. We’re not just trying to make the tournament. So we’re trying in every game to play hard, play for 40 minutes.”