Matthew Driscoll

North Florida’s first NCAA tournament trip helps boost school’s merchandise sales

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The NCAA tournament is a major moneymaker in a number of ways. Of course there’s the multibillion dollar contract paid by CBS/Turner to the NCAA for the right to televise one of America’s best sporting events, and conferences earn financial “units” based upon how many games their members play in.

Also of note is the money schools can make in areas such as merchandising and increased enrollment, something that North Florida is experiencing on the heels of its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. According to the Florida Times-Union, the Atlantic Sun tournament champs have seen merchandise sales increase nearly 47 percent in the last year.

UNF Business Services reported that retail sales of UNF merchandise from all sources saw a 46.8 percent jump in the past year from $1.01 million in 2014 to $1.48 million in revenue in 2015, up by $473,860. Bookstore sales of merchandise alone increased 28 percent in the past year going from $673,735 to $862,434, a 28 percent increase, and that’s still only about 20 percent of total bookstore sales.

Those revenue streams are of great importance to any school, much less one that doesn’t have the benefit of a major college football program on its campus. And for some schools, additional money provides financial flexibility when it comes to facilities that they may not have enjoyed before.

So as head coach Matthew Driscoll looks to lead the Ospreys to a second straight NCAA appearance, being successful in that mission will have an impact on the UNF campus as a whole.

North Florida coach offers honest, scathing review of Iowa after game

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Iowa beat North Florida on Monday night, a win that moved the Hawkeyes to 9-4 on the season but didn’t do much to hide the issues that plague this team.

They struggle coming out in the second half. They struggle dealing with adversity. They don’t have anyone that can answer a run. They don’t defend when they need to defend.

Anyone can see it, and in a refreshingly honest postgame interview, UNF head coach Matthew Driscoll, who is close with Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, said exactly that.

“Here’s your problem with your guys,” Driscoll said. “Your guys, they get down when they miss a shot. Coach doesn’t get on them, coach doesn’t sub them, Coach doesn’t do anything. Your guys have to get a little bit thicker skin and understand I’m going to miss some shots but I can’t let it affect the next one. Just from watching your games on tape and preparing for this game, that’s the one thing I saw is maybe a head drop or some things like that where guys, you could just see.”

“It’s not a confidence thing, because obviously they’ve got guys who can shoot the ball. It’s not a confidence that they can’t make them. It’s a confidence thing where if they miss like one they’re like, ‘Man.’ So I think that’s something that they’ve got to fix, and I think it’s personal. I think they need to fix it.”

When asked about it, McCaffery was honest as well, telling the media that Driscoll was right.

“Well, yeah, it’s accurate,” McCaffery said. “He’s a really good coach. He’s been around. I’ve known him a long time. He’s done a terrific job there. I guarantee, he’s watched every one of our games probably twice. So he is qualified to make those remarks. But, I mean, so are you. You’ve seen it.”

We have.

Part of what made Iowa’s loss to Iowa State so disappointing was that it looked like the Hawkeyes had finally turned a corner, that, after out-toughing North Carolina in Chapel Hill, that they had figured out a way to win close games without folding.

And then they got embarrassed by their arch rival on their home floor, rolling over and taking the beating instead of fighting back.

Here’s the bigger issue: I’m not sure that’s something that can be changed or developed or coached up.