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MEET THE UB-EATLES? BUFFALO WOMEN FAB FOUR DISMISS EASTERN MICHIGAN
PLUS: UB men keep making the same mistakes, fall to CMU in OT
Images from ubbulls.com
The University at Buffalo women’s basketball team won for the seventh time in eight games on Saturday, taking down visiting conference rival Eastern Michigan (9-6 overall, 1-3 in Mid-American play), 78-59, at Alumni Arena. UB’s Fab Four—guard Re’Shawna Stone (pictured, bottom right), guard Jazmine Young (bottom left), swing Emerita Mashaire (top left), and Zakiyah Winfield (top right) combined for 63 points, 27 rebounds, 12 assists, and 147 minutes in the victory.
How comfortable was this blowout? Bulls Head coach Becky Burke, who’d tightened the rotation down to a bare minimum of reserves in recent weeks, was able to splurge and give five bench players minutes in this victory.
Image from ubbulls.com
"I'm so excited for this team and how they are playing right now," Burke (pictured above) said after the game. "We have really come a long way and figured out how and when we play our best basketball. They came out today and followed our game plan to the highest level. We're really happy for them and excited for them moving forward."
FAB FOUR RIDES AGAIN: The backcourt trio of Zakiyah Winfield, Jazmine Young, and Re’Shawna Stone accounted for nearly 80 percent of the Bulls offense on Saturday, scoring 21, 20, and 20 points, respectively. Swing Emerita Mashaire didn’t put up huge counting stats, but played 35 minutes and went toe-to-toe with EMU’s bigs (more below).
ZAKIYAH MANIA: Winfield grabbed 17 rebounds, a career high, for her 10th double-double, effectively bouncing back from her five-point, nine-rebound performance against Ohio last Wednesday. She also vaulted back into the top 10 in the country—eighth, to be exact—with an average of 11.5 boards per game.
DON’T PASS ME BY: Stone’s 20 points marked her fourth straight game with 20+ points and ninth in a row in double figures. She’s now averaging 22 points, six rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.3 steals per game in MAC play. Re’Shawna ranks in the top 10 percent in the nation in 11 different offensive categories, according to HerHoopStats.com, and is 188th in Division 1 basketball in scoring with 14.6 points per game. Who’s 189th? Winfield, at 14.6 points per game.
CARRY THAT WEIGHT: Young was the only player to return from last year’s MAC championship team, and she’s shown why she was a part-time starter on a team that gave #18 Tennessee a heavyweight fight until the final four minutes of a 80-67 loss in the NCAA Tournament. Jazmine has scored in double figures 10 times this season, is averaging nearly 17 points per game in MAC contests and shooting 42 percent from three-point range since a 71-56 loss to Rhode Island on Dec. 1.
ALL I’VE GOT TO DO: Mashaire isn’t expected to pour in points like the Backcourt Three, or rebound at the same clip as Winfield (few in America can) or even 6’3 Kayla Salmons, who scored six points and grabbed two boards in 18 minutes on Saturday. Mashaire’s job is to provide an outlet when her guards get trapped in the paint; set high screens; hit the occasional three or take an overmatched five off the dribble; and, at the most basic level, provide the undersized Bulls with height (she’s a 6’0 guard/forward) on defense. Mission accomplished against the Eagles—while Emerita scored just two points and grabbed two boards, she played 32 minutes, added four assists, and played tough, under-the-basket defense on 6’3 Tayra Eke (six points) and 6’2 Irekpitan Ozzy-Momodu (four points), helping to hold both below their season averages.
UB improved to 8-5 on the season and 3-1 in the MAC. The team is currently #196 in NCAA NET rankings.
Image from ballstatesports.com
Buffalo’s tied for first in the conference with Akron, Bowling Green, Toledo, and Ball State, the latter of whom comes to Western New York on Wednesday at 6 p.m for a huge league matchup at Alumni Arena (ESPN+).
The Cardinals are (13-4, 3-1) are #8 in the College Insider.com Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 and #77 in NCAA NET, and boast legit stars Anna Clephane (18 points per game), Thelma Dis Agustsdottir (14.3 points per game, 52% three-point shooting percentage), and Ally Becki (13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, MAC-leading seven assists per game). This is a tough, hard-nosed team on both sides of floor and a great test for UB.
This team deserves your attention, Western New York! Watch this game.
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UB Men Continue to Confound, Lose Again on the Road—This Time in OT at CMU
Image from cmuchippewas.com
Dropping the Beatles theme from above, maybe we should reference The Smiths because this joke isn’t funny anymore: the Bulls (8-9, 2-2) lost an overtime decision at Central Michigan (7-10, 2-2), 87-78, in a game riddled with miscues.
Buffalo committed 20 turnovers, shot under 40 percent from the field (26 percent from three and 62 percent from the free throw line), trailed by 10 points at the end of the first half, battled back to take a five-point lead with 3:17 remaining only to let it slip away on a game-tying Carrington McCaskill basket with two seconds on the clock. The Bulls were then promptly outscored 10-0 in the first three minutes of the five-minute overtime period.
Both of UB’s centers fouled out, forcing a redshirt freshman into action in crunch time—and, predictably, was nowhere to be found when McCaskill slipped backdoor for a shockingly easy bucket to tie the game as time expired.
Only one Buffalo player had more assists than turnovers.
Image from cmuchippewas.com
The things we love about the UB men’s basketball team are also the things that will drive us nuts this season.
And those things we love, like a seemingly endless supply of confidence that the next shot, no matter how ill-considered, is going to go in, leads to problems that have led to two consecutive winnable MAC losses.
Honestly, some of these flaws have been visible for months—ice-cold shooting to start games, an inability to win on the road, and the turnovers, the freaking turnovers. Buffalo turns the ball over on a whopping 20 percent of its plays, 248th in the country, according to KenPom.com.
It’s maddening. Not really in the mood to throw college kids under the bus, but it’s often the same culprits, over and over and over again.
It’s great that the Bulls are a fast-paced team (fifth nationally in adjusted tempo, and fourth in D1 hoops in fast break points). Speed loses its luster when it results in sloppiness.
UB is 245th in the country in assist/turnover ratio at .95, which means they’re turning the ball over once for every assist.
Image from cmuchippewas.com
Considering how many turnovers Buffalo forces (15.7 per game, 46th nationally), they should be kicking their opponents’ asses—especially struggling outfits like Miami (see our write-up from the 91-80 loss last week) and CMU.
With no disrespect to the Chips, they’ve lost to such solidly mediocre-to-bad teams as High Point (#278 in NCAA NET), Robert Morris (#265), Tulsa (#286), and Eastern Michigan (#331) this season. UB should not be losing to Central Michigan.
CMU, quite frankly, played a a bad game on Saturday—19 turnovers, 44 percent from the field, 21 missed three-pointers, out-rebounded by 13 boards, outscored 13-0 to start the second half.
CMU won because its opponent played down to their level. The Bulls should have left Mount Pleasant with a 10-point win.
Instead, here we are, wondering when things are going to change.
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Image from ubbulls.com
Patience. We can be patient. Come out and beat Bowling Green (7 p.m., Alumni Arena, ESPN+) tonight, and things start to feel a little better.
We stand by another thought we shared last week:
Is Buffalo going to win the regular season title? Probably not. Who cares?
Could you see this team getting hot in March? Making an improbable run to the tournament? Why not?
If Buffalo can tighten up the turnovers, play more consistent defense, and start popping some threes—all things they’ve done, at times, this season—who knows?
It’s still true. With that in mind, progress has to be made. Consider the past three seasons in the tenure if Head Coach Jim Whitesell, the apple that fell into Amherst from Nate Oats’ coaching tree:
Last year’s team, described as “one of the most experienced and physical in the country,” underachieved, winning only 17 games against D1 competition, went 1-7 against the top four teams in the conference, and was sent home in the first round of the MAC Tournament by Akron.
The 2020-21 squad lost in the MAC tourney, went to the NIT, and lost in the first round to Colorado State.
The 2019-2020 team was also knocked out in the first round of the MAC Tournament before COVID erased the rest of the season.
Not exactly up to the standard set by Bobby Hurley and Coach Oats, is it?
How Soon Is Now?
On a local note, Jesse Fleming, St. Bonaventure’s women’s basketball coach, was fired this weekend.
Over the past year, there’s been a decent amount of flux in the men’s college basketball coaching ranks. Louisville fired Chris Mack; Kansas State let Bruce Weber go; LaVall Jordan was bounced at Butler.
Travis Steele was axed at Xavier. Tom Crean got the boot at Georgia. Will Wade finally sank at LSU, and Ben Howland was given the bum’s rush at Mississippi State.
Cuonzo Martin didn’t show enough at Missouri. Frank Martin was introduced to the door in South Carolina.2
Jobs aren’t inevitable, even for guys with very strong resumes, which current Buffalo head coach Jim Whitesell does not possess.
For those hoping for a midseason change on the UB bench—here’s the deal on Whitesell’s contract, according to a Buffalo News article from 2021:
Contract terms, obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information Law request, specify that Whitesell’s contract to coach the men’s basketball team will now run through April 5, 2025…
Whitesell's original contract, which The News also obtained through a FOIL request, ran through April 5, 2024. Whitesell currently earns an annual base salary of $300,000, and annual additional compensation of $100,000.
Whitesell’s contract extension includes an agreement that the school would owe him $600,000 if he is terminated by UB before April 5, 2022, and that buyout would drop by $100,000 in each of the following years, until the expiration date of the contract.
Honestly, I have a hard time seeing Buffalo eating $400-500K in coaching salary, so we’re probably in Whitesell territory for the next couple years.
At the same time, Jim, buddy, it’s time for you to step up.
You either recruited players you can’t coach, or you need to start breaking some chairs in the locker room. If someone has six turnovers, or shoots four-of-13 from the field, maybe nail their shorts to the bench for a while. Is the alternative really worse?
What’s happening right now does not meet the standard set by your predecessors.
There are a lot of people in Buffalo whom would kill for $300,000 a year. There are a lot of very hungry coaches who would kill for less.
To paraphrase the great Tom Hanks—it’s time to earn this, James. Earn it.
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There are 363 Division 1 men’s basketball teams, for reference’s sake. Buffalo is currently #212.