Discover more from UB In 5
UB MEN BUCK BRONCS; SOUTH CAROLINA DROP UB WOMEN; BULLS FOOTBALL FALLS (AGAIN)
It's been a tough week for Buffalo sports fans, friends.
Image from UBBulls.com
It’s been a grim stretch for Buffalo sports fans. Since Wednesday:
UB football lost its home finale to Northern Illinois, 33-27, in overtime, putting the pin in the Bulls’ first losing season since 2016. Buffalo (4-7 overall, 2-5 in the Mid-American Conference) will neither defend its MAC East division title nor go to a bowl game.
The UB women’s basketball team took on South Carolina, the top team in the country, and dropped an 88-60 decision in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis. At least it happened in The Bahamas!
Off-campus, the Buffalo Bills got smoked, 41-15, at home by the Indianapolis Colts; the Canisius men’s basketball team lost, 80-70, at Cleveland State on Saturday; and both the Niagara men’s and women’s teams were clipped, the Purple Eagle men falling to a St. Thomas team playing only its fifth game as a Division I program (they did bounce back today with a 58-53 win over Youngstown State). The Sabres lost, 5-0, to Calgary on Thursday, too.
On the positive side, the UB men’s basketball team did score a non-conference victory over Rider, 87-65, at Alumni Arena on Saturday, and the Canisius women’s team won its home opener against Colgate, 61-58, to give new head coach Sahar Nusseibah her first career W.
This being a UB newsletter and all, let’s quickly catch up with our friends from Amherst.
That’s All For Football
Image from UBBulls.com
Well, there’s still the matter of Tuesday night’s 7 p.m. ESPN+ #MACtion game at Ball State (5-6, 3-4), a team that needs a win in the season closer to be bowl-eligible, but it’ll be a rote exercise for Buffalo following Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Huskies. There’s nothing left to play for but pride.
The game’s final two plays were the Bulls’ season in miniature: a brutal mistake at the worst possible time, followed by an absolute breakdown on defense. From The Buffalo News:
Matt Myers stepped forward with his eye on the end zone, hoping to give the University at Buffalo football team its first lead since the second quarter.
But then he lost control of the ball, on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and a swarm of defenders pounced upon the offering, a fumble recovery that ended UB’s first possession of overtime.
It became UB’s only possession of overtime.
On the next drive, Northern Illinois needed one play to win the game, 33-27, to win the MAC West Division, and to end UB’s hopes of earning bowl eligibility for a fifth straight season.
There were bright spots for Buffalo.
UBBulls.com noted that “redshirt-freshman Shaun Dolac earned his first career start and responded with 14 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss – both career highs,” and “James Patterson had 11 tackles, including a career-best 3.5 tackles for loss. The senior linebacker eclipsed 100 tackles on the season.” Patterson is 12th in the country in total tackles with 105.
Myers, starting in place of injured senior QB Kyle Vantrease, was 16-of-23 for 162 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 43 yards.
Junior RB Dylan McDuffie tallied his fourth 100-yard game in the last five games with 125 yards and a touchdown. He added a reception for 27 yards. Freshman receiver Jamari Gassett led the Bulls with 52 yards on five catches.
UB entered the game as just a 1.5-point underdog against a Northern Illinois (8-3, 6-1) squad that sealed its MAC West title with the win. The Huskies have won by the seat of their furry pants all season, notching its seventh win by one score or less, and its fifth win inside the final minute or on the final play of the game.
The old devils got Buffalo again: big plays. NIU WR Trayvan Henderson broke off a 75-yard touchdown run; RB Antario Brown scored on a 47-yard scamper; and the game-winning score, RB Clint Ratkovich’s 25-yard OT run, went the length of the field, given the situation.
It’s nothing new. Plagued by explosive plays all season, the Bulls give up an average of 0.474 points per play, 104th out of 130 FBS teams. They also surrender 6.6 yards per play, 117th overall.
The ugly numbers keep coming: 111th in offensive TDs allowed per game (4.4); 115th in yards allowed per rush attempt (5.5); 128th in opponent passing yards per completion (15.2). You get the picture.
Clearly, there’s room for improvement in 2022.
Thanks for reading UB In 5! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and tell your friends.
UB Men Roll Rider
Image from BuffaloNews.com
In happier news, the men’s basketball team is on a two-game winning streak after a season-opening loss to #4 Michigan, giving the visiting Broncs —predicted to finish fifth in the MAAC in its preseason poll—the horns in a 22-point victory at Alumni Arena. The game was actually a “campus contest” as part of the upcoming Cancun Challenge, which kicks off on Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. when Buffalo faces Stephen F. Austin. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
From UB Bull Run:
After splitting a road trip to start the season the Bulls headed back home, to open the year against Rider.
Jeenathan Williams had 19 points and Maceo Jack added 18 more as Buffalo comfortably beat Rider 87-65 on Saturday.
But despite the final score, the Broncs kept it close through the first, and early into the second. Four minutes into the game Rider was up 9-8 over the Bulls, then at 17:56 they trailed by only three.
The game was not a dominating one, but UB came to life in the second, built a huge lead, and got deep into the bench.
Those minutes are going to be huge going forward this season.
UBBulls.com added a few interesting game notes, including:
Josh Mballa had eight points, seven boards and three steals.
Ronaldo Segu added nine points and five assists.
Freshman Curtis Jones didn't score in the game, but had a career-best six assists, to go along with four boards, two steals, and a drawn charge.
Tough Loss To Number One
Heading into its game against #1 South Carolina, the UB women’s basketball team wasn’t quaking. From Anthony Decicco of The UB Spectrum:
(Head coach Felisha) Legette-Jack insists the Bulls aren’t embracing the “underdog mentality” that may come with playing against some of the top teams in the country.
“We’re not underdogs anymore, we’ve been here way too long to be an underdog,” Legette-Jack said.
While South Carolina heads into Saturday’s contest as the clear favorite, Legette-Jack’s transformation of the Bulls’ program speaks for itself.
UB has made it to three NCAA Tournament appearances under Legette-Jack, including the only Sweet Sixteen appearance in program history, in 2018. The 2017-18 Bulls were also the first MAC team to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1996.
Fair enough, but the Gamecocks are on a whole other level. Since Dawn Staley took over the program in 2011, the South Carolina women have appeared in nine consecutive NCAA tournaments, including eight Sweet 16s, four Elite Eights, and three Final Fours, earning one national title (2016-17).
“South Carolina shot over 57% from the floor and outrebounded Buffalo 49-26, while scoring 48 points in the paint,” UBBulls.com reported. “The Bulls forced the Gamecocks into 22 turnovers but UB struggled offensively shooting just 33% from the floor and 65% from the charity stripe.”
Junior guard Dyaisha Fair led the Bulls with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
UB (1-2) also fell to Oklahoma earlier tonight, 93-72. More to come on that game soon.
Williams Has His Eye On The Association
Image from UBBulls.com
Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News wrote a nice profile of Buffalo senior forward Jeenathan Williams that’s worth checking out. Williams, a second-team All-MAC player in 2020-21 who led the Bulls in scoring with 17.6 points per game, spent time in the offseason sharpening his game against guys who’ve made it where he wants to go.
Jeenathan Williams listened carefully to the advice Ben McLemore gave him during a training session this summer in California.
Be aggressive. Don’t hesitate. Be sharp.
“Never show any weaknesses on the court,” Williams recalled. “Be sharp and stay mentally polished. That’s all he harped on.”
Williams (spent) his offseason fine-tuning for his fourth season and for an eventual chance at the professional level. He met McLemore through one of the many pickup games he played against college and pro players, but the advice of McLemore, the veteran NBA shooting guard from the University of Kansas, resonated with Williams the most.
“Ben, he taught me a lot about the game, and how to expand my IQ and things to do, things on defense,” said Williams, who goes by "Nate" among friends. “Being around that high level of basketball helped me grow.”
Williams’ entry into the NBA draft process last summer was quiet. Realistically, he wasn’t going to get drafted last summer, but he wanted feedback from NBA scouts on what it would take to get to the pros after this season.
Williams recited the points: improve on reading defenses, improve efficiency in the assist-to-turnover ratio (he had 61 assists and 63 turnovers last season), and make more methodical decisions as a primary ball-handler and playmaker.
If you read this far, clearly you should subscribe. Thanks!