North Florida (0-1) opens its home slate tonight with Edward Waters College. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 o’clock start time (1010XL at 8, ESPN3 entire game) in the UNF Arena. The Tigers (1-2) and Ospreys will be playing for the fifth straight season.
UNF has its easiest game tonight of the first four on the schedule. It’s a chance for the Ospreys to gain some positive energy – with two high-major opponents on the horizon – having dropped three games dating back to last season.
The Ospreys own a 15-3 advantage in this series. UNF has won seven straight over the Tigers. They coasted in that one last season, 98-69. Matthew Driscoll has won six of his seven home-openers at the UNF Arena.
Freshman Garrett Sams had 11 points and six rebounds against an SEC school in his first collegiate game. He could get more than 23 minutes vs. EWC. Another new Osprey – Aaron Horne – scored five points in 11 minutes and was extremely effective. Horne will double his minutes.
North Florida will, most likely, trot out Dallas Moore (#14), Aaron Bodager (12), Nick Malonga (23), Chris Davenport (35) and Romelo Banks (33). It’s the first time Driscoll has said he could shuffle his starting pieces. The Ospreys are focused on making it three straight ASUN regular-season titles.
EWC has Charles-Eddie Smith (#1), Keith Williams (2), Oceann Maddox (30), Trumell McCrimmon (40) and Trey Gosier (10).
About Edward Waters:
The last few years the Tigers always plug in similar players with different last names. In his sixth season as head coach, Frank Burnell has been able to recruit for his style of play. The Tigers never give up. Even though it’s likely the Ospreys will put up 90 for the home opener, EWC will try for 70-plus points.
Ospreys center Romelo Banks. With his first career double-double Friday night, he showed the talents that can knock off FGCU. Will anyone be able to stop his jump-hook?
Seniors Moore and Davenport combined to go 3-for-19 at Auburn last week. Opponents can usually take one off their game but not both. UNF needs the duo to guide them to postseason play.
How UNF Can Win:
Play a clean game, and don’t get caught looking ahead to Miami (Wednesday at UNF Arena) or LSU (on the road Friday).
Give the Osprey Nation something to salivate over. UNF has lost its last two in the UNF Arena – FGCU and Florida in the NIT.
Ospreys will get first win of 2016-17. Cruising by 25 points should be expected. Keep the turnovers under 10.