JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The UNF men's basketball team will rely on an experienced group of returning players this season, as the Ospreys face a tough non-conference schedule.
Head coach Matthew Driscoll's squad will hit the court for their first game Monday, Nov. 7 at second-ranked Gonzaga.
The Ospreys will look to build off an explosive season on offense, as they return leading scorers in guards Jarius Hicklen and Jose Placer, as well as forward Carter Hendricksen.
Hicklen says the Ospreys' non-conference schedule, which includes road tests at Gonzaga, Houston and Kentucky, will challenge the team but also make them battle tested.
"This is definitely going to give us a great opportunity to be better. Those teams will make us better. Obviously we want to go in there and try to win. It'll prepare us for the conference schedule," Hicklen said.
Coach Driscoll, who took over at UNF in 2009, became the only UNF men's coach to reach 200 career wins last season.
He says while the Ospreys return a lot of scoring threats, there's one are the team needs to improve on if they want to be successful.
"Rebounding has definitely been our defensive thing. It's been our Achilles so to speak. We've addressed it. We've approached it. We've talked about it. We just got to continue to work at it and get better at it...we've got to defensive rebound the ball," Driscoll said.
On the women's side, head coach Darrick Gibbs enters his seventh season leading the Ospreys.
Gibbs returns only one starter from last year's team, but he was able to add two big-time transfer players over the off season.
Guard Brianna Livingston transferred from Monmouth and grad transfer forward Elysa Wesolek came to UNF after winning a national title with South Carolina.
Gibbs believes both Livingston and Wesolek can make an immediate impact thanks to there experience and leadership.
"They've seen success. They've played against good, high competition and you can bring them in and then obviously they're ready to play right away. It's just a matter of integrating them into a new system," Gibbs said.
Sophomore guard Kaila Rougier, who was sidelined with an injury for part of last season, says Livingston and Wesolek have already made an impact on the women's team.
"In practice if you hear anybody it's gonna be Brianna she's clapping, she's yelling, screaming sometimes it could be about nothing but you always hear her voice so very energetic. And Elysa of course with her experience at South Carolina, national championship team she's very experienced knows a lot of things so it's great having both of them on the team," Rougier said.
The UNF women's basketball team opens the 2022-23 season at home Monday, Nov. 7 against Warner.
The Ospreys men's and women's teams will get to play on UNF's brand-new CSI Companies court for the upcoming season.