I hope you’ve been hearing about the UNF men’s basketball team as of late. They’re currently in the midst of what may be the best season in school history. The Ospreys dismantled cross-town rival JU twice and knocked off their first power conference team.
They also opened conference play at 6-0. The team dropped two of the last four, each to USC Upstate and is now second in the conference, behind Florida Gulf Coast, who they beat at home in January. In such a long season, bumps are expected and they’ve put themselves in position to make a run for the regular season A-Sun title, which would give them home court advantage in the conference tournament.
Dallas Moore and Beau Beech are the two leading scorers on the team. The pair, along with conference leading rebounder Chris Davenport, were named to the preseason all-conference team, and they have not disappointed. I talked to Moore and Beech about the season, their hobbies and anything else. Here is my chat with Beech, with Moore’s scheduled to be posted later today here.
Beech is averaging 12.6 points per game, almost 5 rebounds and 2.5 threes per game. He’s been named A-Sun player of the week in January, and at 6′ 8″ 210 lbs., his versatility allows him to play inside or out at guard or even forward.
Q: What’s your pre-game routine and meal?
Beech: Some chicken Alfredo, some corn on the side and a couple pieces of garlic bread. Maybe one or two pieces of grilled chicken. That kinda starts my routine, around 4 (for 7 p.m. tip offs) I get to my room and take a nap for an hour. Then I shower, which is kinda weird to shower before a game. I’ll come to the arena around 5 or 5:15, get all my stuff on, get my ankles taped. Then I go to the floor, I try and be the first on the floor for every game, at least every home game.
Q: How about after a game?
Beech: After a loss, personally I think about what I could have done better, but after a win we’re always ecstatic in the locker room playing music, jumping around dancing, really silly things honestly but just having fun.
Q: On that note, how much of a bond does this team have, what off-court things do you guys do together?
Beech: We’re a really tight-knit group, without a doubt. We are brothers on and off the floor. Off the court we go out and just all hang out, go to dinners. We’ll just go out to a restaurant and invite the guys. Over winter break, we all went bowling, we didn’t really have anything else to do, we just kick it really.
Q: What’s your favorite non-basketball thing to do?
Beech: Just going to the beach and just hanging out. I know it’s kinda cold now, but when I got off-days and what not, I like to go out by the ocean and relax. It gets you away from basketball, I don’t have to think about anything but just what a nice day it is.
Q: What music are you listening to now?
Beech: I like to think I’m pretty divers on my music choice, but others would say not so much. Drake just had a new album come out, so I can listen to Drake a little bit. I have a little country flavor in me as well, from my family. I mix it up every once in awhile. Trent (Mackey) on our team only listens to country, so we give him the hardest time about that. He’ll plug his iPod in the locker room and we’re like, Trent you gotta stop playing this man. So we take it off and put some Gucci Mane on or something and Trent’s like I can’t stand this and he leaves.
Q: Any before game pump-up songs?
Beech: I listen to a few on the drive over, some Drake, Lil Wayne, but probably just that since it’s only about a five-minute drive.
Q: Favorite non-basketball sport?
Beech: Soccer for sure. I’m not much of a professional sort of guy. We play FIFA a lot with the guys, I pick Chelsea when I play. I love watching the soccer teams here, especially the women’s team. That’s where I really make the connection with soccer.
Q: Favorite NBA team?
Beech: Unfortunately, right now, it’s the Orlando Magic, I know there not very good. Defiantly a Magic fan, always have been, just no teams in Jacksonville, so I just kinda picked the next closest team.
Q: If you could choose any player who has ever shot a basketball to spend a whole day with who would it be?
Beech: Can I give you two, Kyle Korver for the Atlanta Hawks, he’s shooting like 55 percent this season from three, I’d love to spend a day with him and Klay Thompson, those are just knock down shooters.
Q: If you compared yourself or tried to model your game after someone who would it be?
Beech: It’s crazy to compare to them, but I try to emulate their games. It’d be those two for sure, the way they shoot the ball and the consistency that they shoot it with, me and my dad always talk about it, and even coach Driscoll. They’re tall shooters like me, so I try to do what they do.*Beech’s dad is the head couch at Ponte Vedra High, were he played.
Q: What’s your favorite part about Jacksonville?
Beech: The city itself is great, I love the beach. Hometown for me, grew up in PV, so I’m local. There’s just a lot to offer, you can go to the beach, surf, kayak, college sporting events. The campus itself is great and so is the area.
Q: Favorite restaurant?
Beech: That is a tough one. Hmmm, there’s a lot of good ones. You got to go to Palm Valley Fish Camp, it is so good. You have to go to Palm Valley Fish Camp at least once.
Q: Best place you traveled to in the last two years with the team? (excluding Mexico)
Beech: Purdue. The reason I say that is because my mom graduated from Purdue, it’s weird because she’s in Jacksonville and we got to go play them. It’s crazy that happened. Also we won the game, so you know, going to a school like that and playing in that kind of arena, it feels like the crowd is on top of you. It’s so loud, they’re just yelling killing you the whole time, it was a blast. I wouldn’t say it’s only cause we won, it defiantly helped, but the atmosphere in there was different than other gyms. When we played at Indiana, last year, that was incredible, the history in there and those fans were unbelievable as well. But because we won at Purdue I’m gonna say Purdue was a better trip, but the atmosphere’s were the same.
Q: Worst trip with the team?
Beech: It was tough, freshman year we went out to Portland. I’d never been that far west and the trip was a long trip. We get there and it’s 30 degrees, miserable place to be. Get to the locker room, cramped, tiny. We’re all sitting on top of each other. We’re all coughing and all sick from a three-day travel. Just there looking at each other like we want to go back home.
Q: How was the trip to Cancun, Mexico for the Cancun Challenge?
Beech: It was fantastic, by far the best experience I’ve ever had because of basketball. It was fun cause we got their a day early before the game We had practice, then we kinda toured the entire campus there and that place is incredible. We’re walking up and down the shoreline, going through all the places and seeing what they have to offer. After we won the tourney, we had a couple of hours and the whole night to go out. We were out by the pool, they had a night club by the pool. I was like, how is that even possible. Everybody is so friendly there, it was 80 degrees in November.
Q: Do you and Dallas ever see who can get more A-Sun player of the week awards?
Beech: We have joked about it, but we’re not striving for those. We always say it’s a team effort. We joke around about it but when we get it, it’s just such an hour for people to recognize us, but for us it’s not about just us. If I didn’t have Daniels, or Chris or Devin or Jalen, I wouldn’t have done anything [at UNF].
Q: What do people underrate about the team going into the home stretch?
Beech: Our resiliency. Being in the position we’re in now, we know that a lot of teams are going to give us their best effort every night. We just have to be ready for that and we know they’re gonna have their runs and when they’re playing well and we’re not. We’ll just not worry about it and push into the next four minutes.