Coach Grant made some changes in this game that worked out very well. I really liked the starting lineup of 1. Relly, 2. Algie, 3. Levi, 4. Jacobs, and 5. Taylor. As I posted before, I don't like starting both Releford and Retin, and while Retin has been fantastic, I think he is a great asset as the first off the bench. Nick Jacobs and Jimmie Taylor compliment each other well in the post. Jimmie helps Nick out on defense and the opposite is true offensively.
We set the tone early with our press, whereas in the last few games we have waited a bit to get into the press. UNF's guards turned the ball over several times in the early going leading to easy baskets. We built an early 11-0 lead and never looked back. The defense was outstanding, which led to increased opportunities on the offensive end. After defensive rebounds, the guards did a great job of pushing the ball up the court, and our bigs ran the floor well, allowing us to go up-tempo and get scoring opportunities before the Osprey's could get set up in their zone. I'm not sure if North Florida normally runs a lot of zone, or if they were just trying to follow the Drexel blueprint, but they did not look comfortable on defense. The Osprey's were generally hesitant to collapse and slow to close out, and we were able to exploit them with good ball movement and backside screens.
We went through a cold spell toward the end of the first half, but was able to maintain a 13 point lead at halftime thanks to solid defense and free throw shooting. The second half started much the same as the first half and the lead was 20+ points by the first media timeout, and never in doubt.
Levi scored 20 points, most importantly including 3 of 6 from the point range. I've noted that his outside shot looks better this year, he just needs to have the confidence to take it in big game situations. He could be that second perimeter scorer we so desperately need. He also briefly had some gullible fans believing that he has a pet skunk named "Stank."
Releford had another solid game with 10 points and only one turnover. Nick Jacobs and Jimmie Taylor both put up double digits as well. I was very impressed with the way Jimmie Taylor played, both in moving without the ball on offense and providing help defensively. Retin's scoring was down but he still contributed with 3 blocked shots, a couple of steals and six rebounds. He plays much bigger than his size. I also thought Algie played well even though he was only 2 of 8 from the floor. Shannon Hale came off the bench and knocked down a couple of 3s in 5 minutes of playing time. Cooper continues to struggle, and I'm not sure what it's going to take to get him going, but he will be badly missed if he doesn't turn it around. It was good to see Isiah Wilson get into the game. Dakota Slaughter is out indefinitely with a broken nose.
The crowd was sparse, I would estimate no more than 1,500 in the house. UNF's coach Matt Driscoll called out the fans saying he "expected a different atmosphere and for more people to be there..." because "we should appreciate this team." While I may agree with the sentiment, it's not the place of an opposing coach, especially one from the mighty North Florida Ospreys, to say it. Take your 30 point loss, your paycheck, and your 5 foot nothing butt back to Jacksonville and shut your pie-hole, Driscoll. That being said, scheduling a women's game and a men's game at the same time demonstrates how little the athletic department cares about both basketball programs.
Up next, we travel to Tampa, FL to take on the South Florida Bulls in the Sun Dome Saturday at 9 p.m. EST (8 pm CST). The game will be televised on ESPNU. It's hard to get a read on how good USF is, they got blown out by a great Oklahoma State team, but have otherwise taken care of business with the exception of a home loss to Detroit. It's a huge game for us, as we need to get our first win away from Coleman.