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REFLECTIONS BEFORE GOING DARK
The basketball season is over for the University at Buffalo men's and women's teams. We're taking some time off, too.
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The biggest news, of course, is that Jim Whitesell is done.
This comes as a mild surprise, as it’s been a while since we’ve seen one of the Big Three (football, men’s and women’s hoops) coaches at the University at Buffalo get canned (Jeff Quinn, anyone? Reggie Witherspoon? Linda Hill-MacDonald?).
No argument about the move here. UB men’s basketball has consistently underwhelmed with Whitesell at the helm, at he leaves the program stacked with mercenaries who will likely split (as is their right) for new opportunities and recruits who haven’t developed. This past season was an exercise in frustration as the nine new players brought in never quite improved and never quite seemed convinced to play team basketball, the first and most important requirements of any coach.
Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News notes “…possible coaches that could be considered for the opening are Carlin Hartman, an assistant at Florida and a Grand Island High School graduate; Adam Cohen, an associate head coach at Xavier and a Williamsville North graduate, former UB assistant Bryan Hodgson, a Jamestown High graduate who is now an assistant at Alabama; Quinnipiac coach Baker Dunleavy; and Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton.” Rachel’s also got quotes from UB AD Mark Alnutt and Whitesell himself, neither of which are particularly enlightening. We’ll see what comes out.
In More Positive News…
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Congratulations to University at Buffalo women’s basketball coach Becky Burke, who announced her marriage on Instagram this weekend. Like Coach Burke, my wife and I opted for a City Hall quickie, albeit in downtown Orlando nearly 16 years ago. There was a lot less snow.
Good luck to Zid Powell, the now-former UB men’s basketball guard, who announced his intent to transfer on IG on Saturday. Zid’s been a rambling man since high school, so, true to form, it’s on to the next one for the tomahawk-dunking two-guard with a preternatural ability to get to the free throw line.
Kent State won the Mid-American Conference men’s bracket, taking out Toledo, 93-78. This is probably a bit disappointing for the stuffed shirts in the MAC front office, as the Golden Flashes would’ve had a decent shot at an NCAA at-large bid, or at least one of the First Four slots. The Rockets, despite a regular season title and 27 wins, probably don’t.
Toledo will represent the conference in women’s basketball, as Tricia Cullop’s crew scorched Bowling Green, 73-58, in the title game. The MAC may send an at-large bid or two, as Bowling Green and Ball State are 73rd and 77th in NCAA NET rankings, respectively.
Seasons Change, Even in Buffalo
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I feel good about the future of Buffalo’s women’s squad—the Bulls put a real scare into the Rockets in their quarterfinal loss, and arguably outplayed the eventual champs in a 75-74 punch to the gut.
“Proud of the 40 minutes of basketball that this team played today,” Burke said on UBBulls.com. “Obviously not the outcome we wanted, but they left absolutely everything on the floor. I want to thank this team for one heck of a season and for laying a strong foundation for Buffalo women's basketball as we move forward.”
Burke’s made several allusions to the talented new recruiting class coming in this offseason. After guiding a patchwork lineup to seven league wins with the shortest bench in the conference, and coming 14 seconds from a massive upset of Toledo in the MAC playoffs, I think I speak for all Bulls fans when I confidently write that UB women’s basketball is back on an upward trajectory.
On the men’s side…too early to say. The Whitesell decision is the right decision. Now comes the rebuild. Unlike the women’s team, UB men’s basketball social media has been glaringly empty when it comes to big recruitment announcements or other positive off-court developments. We’re probably looking at another season of mercs and castoffs. Fun.
On that note…
Image from clarence chen, flickr.com
Spring football starts in a couple weeks. We here at UB In 5 are going to use that time to figure out what the future of this project looks like.
On one hand, it’s been fun to be part of the Bulls’ community, and gratifying to build a small but dedicated audience. Thank you to everyone who reads these long-ass missives.
On the other hand, these long-ass missives feel a little self-indulgent, and, without the ability to more easily build personal relationships because of our distance from Buffalo (we’re publishing out of Northern Virgina), the work begins to feel repetitive and, frankly, lonesome. We’re not as hardcore-online as other publications, which hurts growth, because we’re not grinding out social posts 20 times a day, every day. Day jobs are what they are.
So…this is the end, for now. We’ll see where things go.
Thanks again for reading, and let us know if you have any feedback, advice, or other thoughts.
Have a good one, and horns up.