JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Each year teams are different.
Personalities change, staff changes, maybe even your venue changes, but for the 2018 University of North Florida men's basketball team, they are like no other in the country.
Matthew Driscoll, entering his 10th year as the Ospreys head coach, believes that there is only five teams in the NCAA that are returning all five of their starting lineup from the previous season. Of those five teams, only UNF has no seniors on their roster. One of those returning starters is guard J.T. Escobar who says with their experience together, they are not afraid to play anyone, anywhere.
"As a competitor you expect to win every night," says Escobar who was one of six Ospreys to average double-digit points in the Atlantic Sun last season. "Especially with all of us coming back, having played a year together, we definitely feel much more confident and much more mature. So, every time we step on the court we legitimately think we are going to win that game, as we should."
It's not only the players who think they can win every game they lace their shoes up for, their head coach Matthew Driscoll did not hesitate in saying that this is his most talented team he has ever had at UNF. Driscoll says that talent isn't only coming from his five returning starters.
"Our freshmen are so talented on both sides of the ball," says Driscoll. "You may not be able to see it that much because they are going to struggle to get on the floor. So, they are going to go through some growing pains and they are going to have to understand that. We are going to have to do a good job as coaches in helping them understand that too. I see it every day in practice of what those freshmen are going against and it is not close to what it was when we won back to back championships."
As Driscoll enters his 10th year as the Ospreys head coach he says that it feels just like his first. The passion, the intensity and the anticipation are all still there like he just stepped on campus. He says that he realized just how far they have come as a program and as a university in those 10 years.
"It has been a long, long time and to see our progression and to see where our culture has gone to and where the expectations are, its been great. And the university in general, what we have been able to do in this community, the southeast and the nation as far as putting us on the map, that's really a cool deal."
UNF starts their 2018-19 season on the road at Dayton on Wednesday, November 6th. The Ospreys stay on the road to face Penn State on November 9th before their home opener on November 14th against Edward Waters College at 7 PM.