Recon: North Florida

Recon: North Florida

I hope we have all moved on from the Obliteration in Orlando and are prepared to move on with our lives. Like an overconfident Ronda Rousey, the Sweater Nation™ caught a quick, swift kick to the jugular. Nevertheless, the show must go on. 

With six games left on the non-conference slate, the Flyers still have opportunities to rack up some wins, strengthen their resume (particularly against Vanderbilt next week) and get the freshmen continued chances to find their comfort zones before opening up conference play at Duquesne on January 2nd.

How UD plays against North Florida will be telling. Will the Flyers have a hangover from last Sunday or will they put it behind them and easily dispatch their visitors from Jacksonville. UNF poses some unique challenges for Dayton, particularly on the defensive end, I shit you not.

Overview

The Ospreys are coming off the best season in the program’s short history. North Florida racked up 23 wins and won the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament titles, qualifying for the school’s first ever appearence in the NCAA tournament in 2015. Coach Matt Driscoll returns four starters from last year’s team, as a result the Ospreys were picked first in the Atlantic Sun’s preseason poll.

driscollThe one thing North Florida can do better than Dayton is shoot from the perimeter. As a team, the Ospreys are shooting an absolutely absurd 46% from the three-point line — currently ranked fourth in the nation. (The school have self-adopted the name, “Birds of Trey,” as a nod to their shooting acumen.)

In addition, UNF is connecting on 78% of their foul-shots, good enough for twelth in the country (North Florida finished tenth in three-point field goals made and twenth in three-point field goal percentage last season). It’s clear the Flyers are going to have to protect the perimeter and keep the Ospreys off the foul line. If it’s so clear why did I feel the need to say it? Fuck you, that’s why.  

North Florida will shoot until their arms get tired, as evidenced by their thirty-three attempts from behind the arc in their 119-108 loss to LSU on Wednesday night. Not surprisingly, the Ospreys play a quick pace and like to get shots up with plenty of time on the shot clock. What’s most impressive is that Driscoll’s club employs their system with a very short bench. UNF basically goes seven deep, plays up-tempo and averages an impressive 1.15 points per possession. It’s kinda unfathomable when you think about it. By comparison, the Flyers average 1.02 points per possession, not quite as effecient as North Florida.

On paper, this is a scary game. UD has a key matchup with #16 ranked Vanderbilt next Wednesday, so you have the look-ahead factor. The Flyers have a well-document history of not defending the three-point line, Dayton is currently allowing opponents to shoot 38% from three (ranked a dismal 283rd in the nation), an aspect of the game in which the Ospreys butter their bread. Throw in the fact that Gem City is coming off a completely disheartening loss and you have a rather intriguing matchup. Now I’m not calling an upset, but this is certainly a team you’d be foolish to overlook.

North Florida enters tomorrow’s game with a 6-3 record, the losses, all by double digits, coming at the hands of Saint Louis, Louisville and LSU (to be fair, the Ospreys did take the Bayou Bengals to overtime).

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Beau Beech, the Atlantic Sun preseason player of the year, can absolutely light it up from outside. The senior forward gets good looks from the perimeter due his 6’8″ frame and ability to bump off screens. The majority of his shots come from behind the arc, where he is converting 51% of his attempts. He is coming off a 31 point effort against LSU. Junior point guard Dallas Moore is the Ospreys’ leading scorer, averaging 21.4 points per contest. Like Beech, Moore is a first team All-Atlantic Sun first team player who can do a little bit of everything. He leads the team in assists, six per game, grabs around five boards an outing and like most of North Florida, can stroke the three (46%).  He’ll play almost the enitreity of the game and will challenge Scoochie on both ends of the floor.

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Demarcus Daniels is the A-Sun’s reigning defensive player of the year and, along with forward Chris Daveport, is really the only guy on the roster that does body work down low. Davenport and Daniels are the team’s best rebounders and only options on the low blocks offensively. Sophomore guard Nick Malonga rounds out the starting lineup, is not much of a threat offensively and seems like a bad fit for the North Florida system.

Trent Mackey comes off the bench yet averages around thirty five minutes a game. He is the squad’s best shooter, hitting 59% of his fifty four three-point attempts this year, and possesses an absolutely insane 1.53 points per shot. He is built for the offense the Ospreys employ. Aaron Bodager is another major contributor, he plays around twenty minutes a contest and can, yes, shoot from three. Osborn Blount is an undersized guard that barely plays but it’s the Hateful Eight, not the Scornful Seven, so here we are.

Nate’s Numbers

wide-angle-view-full-half-court-240-sourceThese kids can flat out shoot. Not only are they making almost 50% (2nd in the country) of their attempts, but almost 44% of their attempts come from three (3rd in the country). This means almost 46% of their points come from three. They live and die by it.

It’s not just one or two guys either. They have three guys who attempt an average of 4+ threes a game.  Moore has forty-two attempts at a 43% clip, Beech has forty-six attempts at a 53% clip and Mackey has thirty-eight attempts at a 58% (!!!) clip. 

From a shooting stand point, in terms of percentage, attempts and balance between multiple shooters these guys are pretty comparable to some of the McBuckets Creighton teams.

North Florida plays almost no defense (255th in defensive efficiency), but given the weakness Archie’s pack line defense has in defending the three, I’m very concerned how this may go. 

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Prediction

I realize I just spent around seven hundred words giving North Florida a verbal handjob, so it come as a suprise when I say UD will win this game. Possibly comfortably. UNF is a superior shooting team but is limited greatly by their lack of rebounding. Second chance points were hard to come by against teams like Louisville and Saint Louis, cutting the Ospreys’ margin for error into smithereens (Pitino’s squad outrebounded North Florida by 29 in their matchup — no matter how well you shoot, it’s almost impossible to overcome that type of disparity on the boards). Dayton shakes off the dust from Orlando and takes down North Florida, 78-70.

https://youtu.be/ijV8JxJo0p8

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Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o’ D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.

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