UNF basketball teams open 2022-23 season Monday

The Ospreys men’s basketball team will play at No. 2 Gonzaga for their season opener, while the Ospreys women’s team will host Warner at home on Monday night.

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 team will take to the field for their first game on Monday, Nov. 7, against second-ranked Gonzaga.

The Ospreys will be looking to build an explosive season on offense as they bring back leading guards Jarius Hicklen and Jose Placer, as well as forward Carter Hendricksen.

Hicklen says the Ospreys’ non-conference schedule, which includes road tests in Gonzaga, Houston and Kentucky, will challenge the team, but also test them.

“It’s definitely going to give us a great opportunity to be better. These teams will make us better. Obviously, we want to go out there and try to win. It will prepare us for the conference schedule,” Hicklen said.

Coach Driscoll, who took over at UNF in 2009, became the only male UNF coach to reach 200 career wins last season.

He says that while the Ospreys return a lot of goal threats, there’s one the team needs to improve on if they’re going to be successful.

“Rebounding has definitely been our defensive thing. It’s our Achilles so to speak. We tackled it. We approached it. We talked about it. We just have to keep working on it and improving. … we have to bounce the ball defensively,” Driscoll said.

On the women’s side, head coach Darrick Gibbs is entering his seventh season at the helm of the Ospreys.

Gibbs is only returning one starter from last year’s squad, but he was able to add two big transfer players this offseason.

Guard Brianna Livingston transferred from Monmouth and graduate forward Elysa Wesolek came to UNF after winning a national title with South Carolina.

Gibbs believes Livingston and Wesolek can make an immediate impact through their experience and leadership.

“They’ve had success. They’ve played against good, high-level competition and you can bring them in and obviously they’re ready to play straight away. It’s just a matter of bringing them into a new system,” said Gibbs.

Second-year guard Kaila Rougier, who was out with 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 anyone it’s going to be Brianna, she’ll be clapping, she’ll be yelling, sometimes yelling, it might be nothing but you still hear her voice so energetic. And Elysa, of course, with her experience in Carolina du Sud, the national championship team, they know a lot of things, so it’s great to have them both in the team,” said Rougier.

The UNF women’s basketball team opens the 2022-23 season at home on Monday, Nov. 7 against Warner.

The Ospreys men’s and women’s teams will play on UNF’s brand new CSI Companies field for the upcoming season.

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