Inexperienced, not young UNF hoops teams ready to start the season

Both the men's and women's basketball teams have a combined five seniors on them


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When you look at the rosters for both the North Florida men's and women's basketball teams, they are loaded with mostly freshmen and sophomores on both teams, but don't tell Coach Driscoll or Coach Gibbs that their teams are young.  They say they are just inexperienced.

During the Ospreys annual media day luncheon on Tuesday, both head coaches and selected players met with the media to discuss the upcoming season that begins on Friday for both the men and women.  While coach Matthew Driscoll has just two seniors on his team while Coach Darrick Gibbs has three senior girls on his squad, neither is using their youth as an excuse.

"All we are is inexperienced," said coach Driscoll.  "This is one of the most talented teams I have had at UNF and I've had some good ones with Dallas (Moore) and Beau (Beech) coming through here now.  But I'm telling you, all we need is experience."

Redshirt sophomore J.T. Escobar is a transfer from Ole Miss and after sitting out last season, he is not only ready to get back on the court but also ready to gain that experience that Coach Driscoll is looking for.

"We don't believer that because we are young or inexperienced that we shouldn't be able to do certain things.  We believe we are talented, we put the work in and we compete so we have the same chances someone who is older or more experience," said Escobar.

It will not take long for the men's team to begin that quest.  They start the season with six games in nine days with five of them on the road beginning with number one ranked Michigan State this Friday. 

"It is exciting to play against such good competition," said sophomore forward Wajid Aminu.  "It allows us to get better, it gives us more respect for the game.  I think our team is ready, our coaches know what they are doing, they have done it before.  Coach Driscoll says he has been doing this for 30 years, so we trust him that we will be prepared."

Less than 24 hours after facing the number one team in the country, the Ospreys will get on a bus and face Michigan in Ann Arbor before traveling to VCU to play the Rams.  They will also face Florida, Miami, Missouri, LSU, and Mississippi State all on the road before starting conference play on January 6th.  It is that date that Coach Driscoll has circled on his calendar and is a big reason for what he calls the toughest schedule he has ever had at UNF.

"I have to do a good job and make sure that I'm coaching them the way they need to be coached," said Driscoll.  "I need to do it with the understanding of our inexperience and who we are playing and the longevity of what is reality.  That reality is the Atlantic Sun.  I have to do a better job as a 53-year old adult in understanding and making sure that I don't take them to a point where I don't want them to be and have to recover so much.  I'd rather in January just his the reset button and play."