Among my favorite local sporting events are:
- The Georgia-Florida football game. Its No. 1 on my list because of not only the game but the citywide buzz it creates.
- The Players. I’m a golf nut anyway and when you get nearly every outstanding golfer in the world on a challenging layout you have something truly special.
- The Jaguars’ annual home opener. The Jaguars go into the game tied for the AFC South Division lead and, for that one day at least, there are visions that this is the year the team does something special. (During those rare years when the Jaguars start the season strong later games make the list. I have fading memories of late-season Jaguars games that had playoff implications and how exciting they were. And the three playoff games hosted by the Jaguars were off-the-charts exciting and fun.)
- Any given Suns baseball game. I’m a bigger baseball nut than I am a golf nut.
- The UNF-JU basketball games. In the overall landscape of big-time college basketball these games don’t move the needle, but this city rival has become special.
Now you understand why I sound so excited. JU plays at UNF Friday night.
If you attend Friday night’s game you won’t see any future NBA players, but I’ll guarantee you you’ll see two teams busting their butts, and you’ll probably see a competitive game not decided until the final minutes. During the last three seasons, JU holds a 4-3 edge (one Atlantic Sun Tournament game played in Macon, Ga.) with six of the games decided by 9 or fewer points.)
I love the contrasting dynamics of the two teams. JU has the better overall athletes; UNF has the more fundamentally sound players. Both coaches, JU’s Cliff Warren and UNF’s Matthew Driscoll, are animated from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer.
And the UNF Arena, thanks to a lively student section and pep band, provides a fun atmosphere.