Previewing UNF women’s basketball upcoming season

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The Ospreys are coming off of a successful season, but they’ve reloaded and are looking for more this year.

Last season’s 14-11 record isn’t fully indicative of the talent this group possesses. What’s encouraging is that they return all of their production, and also add even more weapons that will prove handy.

Much like UNF’s men’s squad, the ladies face quite the tough non-conference schedule. They kick off the season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at Florida State, the 16th-ranked team in the nation. 

This is only the beginning of a challenging slate, as the Ospreys also face a pair of SEC programs, Georgia and Auburn, on the road. In addition, they also face a pair of ACC programs, Clemson and Miami, prior to ASUN play.

While playing bigger schools on the road often serves as a form of fundraising, it can also help challenge a team and prepare them for conference play. With new schools joining the conference, things are only bound to be more challenging this season.

After a sweep of the Liberty Flames during the regular season, the Ospreys ultimately fell short when it mattered most. The disappointing exit from the ASUN tournament will certainly serve as motivation for this upcoming run at the title.

UNF forward Jazz Bond attempts a free throw. (Justin Nedrow)

Experienced forward Jazz Bond has been an anchor of this team, but this season will bring about some family ties as her sister, Jaida Bond, transferred in from North Alabama. The two sisters squared off in arguably the most exciting ASUN game of the 2020-21 season, both putting up ridiculous numbers. It was capped off in dramatic fashion with a Jazz Bond buzzer beater for the UNF win.

While some siblings may not get along all the time, Jazz Bond appreciates the opportunity to play with her sister. “Just being able to learn how she is in her adulthood stage has been very interesting,” said Bond at the UNF basketball Media Day.

The Bond sisters are far from the only threats the Ospreys have at their disposal. Returning for her fifth season is sharpshooting guard Rhetta Moore. Her three-point shot not only helped provide UNF with much needed buckets, but it has also helped further develop her game.

UNF guard Rhetta Moore attempts a free throw. (Justin Nedrow)

“They’ve really been harping on me this year to use my shot fake because people are going to label me as a shooter,” Moore said. “Using the three point shot [is a good way] to kind of open up the game in other ways,” she added.

Veteran leadership is something the Ospreys have no shortage of, as Tiffany Tolbert exemplifies. The fifth-year guard has been plagued by injury, but looks forward to a healthy run with this loaded squad.

“The knee is holding up as good as it can,” said Tolbert. “I’m just excited to have one last dance with these gals right here and see where we end up.” 

While having great leaders on the roster is important, the person leading the group is arguably the most important facet of a team’s direction. Head coach Darrick Gibbs approaches his seventh season in charge at UNF, and doesn’t want to settle for last year’s solid results.

UNF Head Coach Darrick Gibbs addresses those in attendance at UNF basketball media day. (Justin Nedrow)

“Nobody’s gonna give more than what we already put in front of ourselves in terms of what we want to accomplish,” Gibbs said. “It’s a matter of challenging [the team] on a consistent basis… and just preparing them for the moments that are ahead.”

It’s no secret that the Ospreys are talented, as they placed second in the ASUN Coaches Poll. This team is capable of great things, it’s just a matter of finishing games when it matters the most. Here’s to an exciting season, Osprey Nation!


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