Women’s basketball takes to Ireland for early-season test

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The University of North Florida (UNF) women’s basketball is headed across the pond to participate in the Dublin Challenge, facing a pair of foes that will put the young squad to the test.

While the location of these games may come as a surprise, this is nothing too far out of the ordinary. College basketball teams are no stranger to playing in exotic locations, with early-season events taking place everywhere from Hawaii to Jamaica, and from the Bahamas all the way to Ireland.

UNF"s women basketball team at the airport
The Ospreys landed in Dublin with a full week ahead of them. (UNF athletics)

Nevertheless, the Ospreys are looking forward to doing what they love in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“This will be an amazing opportunity to compete while creating lifelong memories for everyone involved,” UNF head coach Darrick Gibbs said.

The event features both men’s and women’s teams from the ASUN Conference and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Squads from the mid-major leagues will duke it out for bragging rights, but also picking up critical experience against similar teams early on in the season.

As for UNF’s opponents, they will face Rider University on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Jacksonville time. The Broncs hail from Lawrenceville, New Jersey, currently sitting at 1-2 on the year. In their last outing, they took down St. Francis Brooklyn in a thrilling 71-70 overtime win on Sunday. 

Following the opener, the Ospreys will take on Marist College on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. The Red Foxes, who will be traveling from Poughkeepsie, New York, have had a tough go so far this year. An 0-3 record doesn’t catch one’s eyes, but they will be nothing to glance past.

The court on which this weekend's games will be played on
This weekend’s games will be played at National Basketball Arena in Dublin, Ireland. (UNF athletics)

The Ospreys themselves are coming off of a tough loss to the Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday. Despite leading early on, UNF fell 77-54 in a game that got away from them. The early progress already seen has been impressive, though, considering they return just one starter from the 2021-22 campaign.

While early-season affairs often have to be taken with a grain of salt, this weekend should provide a gauge of where the Ospreys are as a unit. After a win against a Warner team far below their caliber and a loss to a Big Ten Wisconsin group above their caliber, these games against level opponents will give the Ospreys an idea of how they might fare in conference play.

This is a basketball event, but it also gives players the opportunity to explore a new culture. In addition, local fans will get to experience college basketball, a staple of American sports culture. This exchange highlights the positive aspects of events like these, which will hopefully carry on into the future.


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