Gators have to match Ospreys intensity

Is there any doubt that the University of North Florida wants this game bad?  The Florida Gators, a program with two national championships and in the SEC travels 75 miles away to play UNF in first round NIT action Tuesday night and the Ospreys will be gunning for the Gators.

Florida Gators (19-14) vs University of North Florida Ospreys (22-11)

Tuesday March 15, 2016; 9 p.m.

Jacksonville, Florida; UNF Arena


This is like David vs. Goliath, like the AFL vs. the NFL, like… well you get it. A win for North Florida over the Gators on a national ESPN stage would mean the world to their players, coaches, and program. They have everything to win in a game like this.  Florida needs to understand this going in.

“I don’t think they have any idea now,” Florida head coach Mike White said to the media Monday about this very subject. We’ll try and get that point across as much as possible. It would be like LSU coming to our place at Louisiana Tech. Despite how much I will try and get it through our guys minds, I don’t think it will hit them until we are a few minutes into the game.

“First of all they are really good. In watching film of some of their home games, the atmosphere has been great. With the University of Florida coming in, I can’t imagine those guys won’t be geeked up and ready to roll. We’ll have to be prepared for a team that is going to be really excited to play us.”


Florida Projected Starters

Ht. / Wt.



F Kevarrius Hayes

6-9, 210



F Dorian Finney-Smith (SR)

6-8, 220



F Devin Robinson

6-8, 195



G KeVaughn Allen (FR)

6-2, 183



G Chris Chiozza (SO)

6-0, 175




UNF Projected Starters




F Beau Beech (SR)

6-9, 215



F Chris Davenport (JR)

6-8, 225



G Trent Mackey (R-SR)

6-3, 180



G Dallas Moore (JR)

6-1, 180



G Nick Malonga (R-SO)

6-4, 180



With the Gators not playing in the NCAA Tournament, Florida can use this chance on the road and if they win more road games, to maybe bond and build on chemistry for next year. White doesn’t see it that way.  

“I would like to play all of our games in the O’Dome, but it’s all part of it,” White said. “We’re excited that the renovations are on the way. It’s a really exciting time for our basketball program in that regard.

“I would rather travel to Jacksonville than travel to Alaska. It’s not too far of a ride and hopefully we’ll be able to meet and play in front of some Gators. It’s an opportunity against a good team and studying them last night and this morning, their offensive numbers are staggering. It is incredible what they’ve done offensively.

“Obviously winning their league, they’re good at other things as well. Coach Driskel has done an amazing job of spreading the floor and putting guys out there that can make shots.”

But it is defending the three point shot that has to have the Gators concerned and ready to sell out on. UNF has shot 402 3-pointers this year, more than any team in the country. They also shoot them at a 41.5% clip. They are a very dangerous outside shooting team that will be playing in their home environment.

“It’s a huge challenge because it a really unique team,” White said. “I can’t think of a team that we played that is like them this year. Maybe Richmond, to a certain extent has 4-5 guys that can make threes at any given time. Arkansas shoots it really well at 2-3 positions, but with these guys, all of their starting five can make threes.

“The biggest issue it presents is that not only are you dragging your 4-man (power forward) out to defend the arc, but also your 5 (center). Their post players’ abilities to make threes and drive it and make decisions… their center is a great passer and he can make threes.

“It’s going to be a very difficult match up for our bigs to have to defend in a way that they have rarely defended this season.” 

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