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UB MEN DROP A HUNDO ON BGSU, SNAP LOSING STREAK
PLUS: A UB women's hoops rivalry heats back up; UB football has a new OC; checking in with former Bull David Skogman
Image from ubbulls.com
All is Forgiven: UB Men Roll Bowling Green by 29
We’ve given the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team plenty of heat over the past week for its maddening road losses to Mid-American Conference pretenders Miami and Central Michigan. Today, we are pleased to celebrate a fresh and clean 100-71 home victory over Bowling Green (8-10 overall, 2-3 in Mid-American Conference play).
The Bulls (9-9, 3-2) had this one in hand early: up 14-13 eight minutes into the first half, UB went on a 28-13 run to build an insurmountable 16-point lead. Buffalo shot 51 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, driven by the hot hands of guards Yazid Powell (14 first-half points) and Curtis Jones (nine first-half points). Powell would finish with 27 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season, while Jones and freshman center Isaac Jack each collected 15 points.
Jack’s fellow big man Jonnivius Smith added 11 points and eight rebounds on the heels of his 13-point, six-board effort against CMU.
The blowout showcased the Bulls at their best:
Armoni Foster playing as a true point guard, picking up seven assists on a series of deft passes and snaring three steals. Foster played a key role in a team defense that held the Falcons to 35 percent shooting and ace BGSU guard Leon Ayers III to a seven-of-18 performance from the floor.
Curtis Jones knocking down a trio of threes while dishing out eight assists.
The big men not only scoring but opening lanes inside for Buffalo’s dangerous driving guards, leading to 58 (!) points in the paint.
Swingmen Kidtrell Blocker and Kanye Jones, whose minutes aren’t always guaranteed (especially in Kanye’s case—the Boston College transfer only saw six minutes of action in the past three games), combining for 17 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in 50 minutes.
Wildly athletic Isaiah Adams scoring an efficient eight points on four-of-five shooting without attempting to take over the game.
And Zid Powell…this team’s just different when Zid, who’s struggled with a shoulder injury over the past month, is healthy. Zid doing Zid things—like hard takes in the paint, no fear about attempting high-wire dunks, drawing fouls, adding up steals (he had two more on Tuesday, and is second in the MAC in thefts), blocking shots, and generally serving as the beating heart of this team—what can we say? We’re Zid Powell fans.
The MACtion is Real
Image from ubbulls.com
Five games into MAC play, things are already getting hectic. UB is two games behind conference-leading Kent State, but—over the next two weeks—could rise to the league penthouse or see its postseason hopes take a serious punch to the gut.
Image from espn.com
Here’s who the Bulls will face between Friday, Jan. 21 and Tuesday, Jan. 31:
TOLEDO (Jan. 21, 8:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network). Stakes are high—this is a nationally televised home game against the #23 squad in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and the #99 team in the country, according to KenPom.com (UB is #199). The Rockets have won two in a row against Ohio and Northern Illinois, but have lost to fellow MAC contenders Kent State and Ball State. Keep an eye on forwards J.T. Shumate (18.2 points per game) and Setric Miller, Jr. (14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds per game) when Toledo comes to town—the big men were preseason first- and second-team All-MAC selections, respectively.
AT BALL STATE (Jan. 24, 7 p.m., ESPN+). The Cardinals just missed being ranked in the Mid-Major Top 25—they’re 26th—and their four MAC wins include victories over Toledo and Akron. Leading scorer Jarron Coleman is 15th in the MAC at 14.6 points per game, but three more BSU players—guard Jaylin Sellers (13.6), center Payton Sparks (13.1), and guard Demarius Jacobs (12.3) are also in the MAC’s top 25. Oh, and did we mention UB is 0-5 on the road this season?
AT KENT STATE (Jan. 27, 9 p.m., ESPNU). Another nationally televised contest. I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched a decent amount of Kent State this season, and they’re nasty. The Golden Flashes are #38 in NCAA NET and #4 in the Mid-Major Top 25. Their three losses came to #18 Charleston, #1 Houston, and #6 Gonzaga by a total of 14 points. With that in mind, KSU’s five MAC wins include one legit opponent (Toledo), and that came in the friendly confines of Kent’s MAC Center. There are lot of fun players to watch on Kent State—guard Malique Jacobs, swingman Miryne Thomas, forward VonCameron Davis, among many others—but all eyes should be on guard Sincere Carry, the defending MAC Player of the Year with the potential to join former Toledo guard Ryan Rollins in the NBA.1
AKRON (Jan. 31, 7 p.m., ESPN+). The Zips are 109th in NCAA NET and are receiving votes in the Mid Major Top 25. Akron guard Xavier Castaneda is second in the MAC in scoring with 19.1 points per game, and forward Enrique Freeman is first in the conference in boards with 14.6 per game. The Zips have faced one top-five MAC team this season—Ball State—and lost, 70-63 in Muncie.
Exciting times! It’s make or break already. Let’s hope the Bulls we saw Tuesday are the Bulls we see going forward.
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Checking In On Our Guy Skogman
While we’re on the subject on men’s basketball—we had a chance to connect with former UB Bull David Skogman this past weekend when his new squad, Davidson, traveled to Fairfax, Virginia to face George Mason. It was a hell of an Atlantic 10 showdown, with the hometown Patriots eventually pulling out an exciting 67-65 win. Our guy Skogman played 33 minutes and helped the Wildcats weather the storm of GMU big men Josh Oduro, the 2021-22 A10 1st-Team selection at center and 6’8, 230-pound Malik Henry.
This one is the absolute killer, and if it seems we at UB In 5 hold a bit of a chip on our shoulder for Coach Whitesell it’s in large part because a.) he couldn’t find a way to fully utilize David in 2021-22 and b.) he let him get away after the season. Skogman—the leader in Division 1 basketball in true shooting percentage (71.7%) and two-point field goal percentage (.744), and 106th in the country in three-point field goal percentage (41%)—and did I mention he’s a 6’10 junior this season?—bounced for new Davidson head coach Matt McKillop and the 2021-22 A-10 runner-up Wildcats. Skogman only played 19 minutes in an absolutely critical game against Toledo on March 1 (a Buffalo loss); took just five shots in another important game against Kent State on March 4 (a Buffalo loss); and played just 23 minutes and took only six shots in the opening round of the MAC tournament against Akron (a Buffalo loss). I’d have transferred, too! Excuse me, I need to go calm down.
So what’s Skogs—who averaged eight points and six rebounds last season at Buffalo—up to these days? Let’s find out!
Q. You joined a team that made the NCAA Tournament last season, but is going through a real transition this year. How have you been able to find your role in all of this?
DAVID SKOGMAN: There’ve been challenges—new team, new system, all of that kind of stuff, but I’ve had great coaches and great teammates help me through it. I’m just really happy to be here. And, you know, it’s not just me—it took an army to help me get situated with the system, so I’ve appreciated the support.
Q. What have you been working on? How have you been trying to improve your game?
DS: Just kind of building off of last year, but also getting used to this new system, and getting used to playing with new guys. Obviously I played with Rondo (Ronaldo Segu) and Jeenathan (Williams) and Josh (Mballa) for all those years, so it’s just been about getting used to playing with each other, playing off each other.
Image from davidsonian.com
Q. From a personal perspective, what are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish this season?
DS: Honestly, all I’m worried about is winning right now. That’s the only thing that matters to me. They’ve had great success here (at Davidson), I’m just trying to add to that. They’ve had 20+ win seasons, I’m just trying to add to that and make another run.
Q. What led you to Davidson?
DS: The system, really, and Coach Matt (McKillop) is great. Seeing all the success they’ve had, especially with players with my type of skills, it’s just something that really led me down here. Just being around like-minded guys and really connecting with them, and I thought it was just a good opportunity.
Q: What made you decide to leave Buffalo?
DS: It was a combination of things. I don’t really want to get into that, but I still feel like I have a good relationship with the coaches there. I thought Coach (Jim) Whitesell was very good about it, and I still have a lot of love for all of the coaches up there.
Q: Keep an eye on how they’re doing?
DS: Oh, yeah. For sure.
David is currently averaging 6.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 19 games for the Wildcats (9-10, 2-5), who are currently on a four-game skid. The most efficient scorer in the country last season around the basket and #11 nationally in offensive rating in 2021-22, Skogman has struggled to match those numbers but has scored in double figures four times and even dropped nine on presumed Wooden Award winner Zach Edey of Purdue, a 7’4, 305-pound mountain of a man.
Image from purduesports.com
“You just feel kind of helpless at times,” he said of battling Edey (pictured above; Skogman to the right). “He’s a great player. Hardest matchup I’ve ever had. He is massive.”
We hated to see David leave Buffalo, but are glad he’s developing his game against the top players in the country. Best wishes, Skogs—we’re pulling for you.
UB Football Has New Offensive Coordinator: Meet DJ Mangas
Image from The Athletic
The Bulls football team has a new man at the offensive helm. Meet D.J. Mangas (pictured right), the 33-year-old college football wunderkind who joins 29-year-old defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey and 38-year-old head coach Maurice Linguist in a locker room that makes me feel more like an old man every day.
From The Buffalo News:
ESPN and On3.com reported Saturday that DJ Mangas will take over, only days after the departure of Shane Montgomery, who held the same position for the last two seasons.
Mangas, 33, was a defensive analyst at UCF this past season, but was an offensive analyst for the Carolina Panthers in 2020, and spent two seasons on staff at LSU. He was the passing game coordinator for the Tigers in 2021, and was an offensive analyst for Tigers' passing game coordinator Joe Brady in 2019, the season the Tigers won the College Football Playoff with Joe Burrow at quarterback. Burrow, now the Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback, threw for an NCAA single-season record of 60 touchdown passes that season. Brady is now the Bills' quarterbacks coach.
A former wide receiver at William & Mary, Mangas coached for five years with the Tribe's football program, from 2014-18. He coached running backs for three seasons, and became offensive coordinator in 2017.
“I think DJ is going to be one of those coaches that everybody’s going to be wanting,” Brady (pictured left) told The Athletic in 2020. “The fact that I coached with him at William & Mary, coached him with LSU and now here at Carolina, it speaks to how I feel about DJ as not only a man but a coach.”
The duo is reunited in Buffalo, albeit separated by geography into the Northtowns and the Southtowns. Hopefully, proximity sparks some more of the bayou magic for the Bulls.
Whistling into the Graveyard: UB Women ‘s Upset Hopes Killed by 4th Quarter Fouls vs. Ball State
Image from ubbulls.com
This game lived up to the hype for just over three quarters—the UB women’s basketball team went toe-to-toe with Ball State (14-4, 4-1, #76 in NCAA NET) until the game unwound in a nightmare fourth quarter for the Bulls (8-6, 3-2, #197). The 81-59 final from Alumni Arena isn’t necessarily an accurate representation of the product on the court.
UB went into the fourth quarter down 51-49 in a seesaw slugfest between two teams with contrasting offensive styles: the Cardinals, who love to swing the ball around until they find an open three or driving lane, and the Bulls, whose talented guards apply maximum pressure on a defense with nonstop attacks on the basket.
Buffalo tied the game at 51-all early in the fourth quarter, and then all hell broke loose.
Image from ubbulls.com
The breakdown began 31 seconds into the fourth quarter, when Thelma Dis Agustsdottir's second-chance layup broke a 51-51 tie and kicked off a 21-2 run by the Cardinals that reached into the final five minutes of the game. Otherwise, UB (8-6, 3-2 MAC) was able to stay within striking distance of Ball State (14-4, 4-1) until the fourth quarter.
In a span of nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter, the Bulls made only one of three shot attempts from the floor before Jazmine Young's 3-pointer with 3:53 left, which made it 72-56. The Bulls committed three turnovers and had an intentional foul called against Latrice Perkins with 6:34 left. Less than 20 seconds later, Perkins (12 points) exited the game after she was called for her fifth foul.
After shooting 51.1% (22 for 43) in the first three quarters, the Bulls shot only 4 for 11 from the floor in the fourth. Ball State, meanwhile, went 10 for 16 in the fourth.
An even more granular look at the critical momentum swing in the final period from UBBulls.com:
Perkins scored on UB's first possession to tie the game at 51 but Ball State answered with a 10-2 run to go up 60-43 at the 7:35 mark. After a hectic few possessions and an intentional foul called on UB that gave the visitors two free throws and the ball, the Cardinals extended their run to 21-5 to take a 72-56 lead at the final media timeout and that would be the decisive blow as UB got no closer the rest of the game.
Buffalo shot 48% from the floor and scored 38 points in the paint but the Cardinals held a 35-28 edge on the glass, including nine offensive rebounds which they turned into 13 second points, and made 12 threes on the night.
Let’s say what those two outlets won’t: the Bulls kinda got screwed by the refs in this one.
Sure, in a 22-point loss, there are more issues than simple officiating that decide a game. UB, however, was called for five rapid-fire fourth-quarter fouls, all between the 8:22 and 6:13 marks.
These fouls directly led to 11 Ball State points, got Perkins out of the game, and turned what had been a two-point deficit into a 13-point hole during a two-minute stretch in which Buffalo barely touched the ball—or, in the case of these whistles, barely touched the Cardinals.
When the officiating crew of Steve Lazroff, Andrew Bills, and Colleen Thompson finally decided they’d had their time to shine, BSU’s Ally Becki and Anna Clephane hit back-to-back-to-back threes to put the nails in the coffin, giving the Cards a 19-point, 75-56 advantage with 4:17 left on the clock.
Considering the Bulls only had 14 total fouls in the game, and BSU had 12—and none in the fourth quarter—it’s a little weird that Buffalo was suddenly blistered with a full handful of whistles right at the start of the final stanza. Huh.
It’s almost like Ball State Head Coach Brady Sallee had a few harsh words for the refs about evening things up, and the refs were intimidated into some game-changing, ticky-tack calls.
Sallee certainly had something to say to UB Head Coach Becky Burke after his team’s win, which led to a brief confrontation between the teams after the postgame handshake. Burke didn’t comment on the convo, according to The Buffalo News.
If you wanted a rivalry, I think you got one. Here’s what Sallee and some of the Cardinals had to say after the game:
Although it was the same Buffalo name on the jersey, the Cardinal players took little notice of the previous MAC victors. Redshirt senior Anna Clephane said that “It is a whole new team,” and sophomore Ally Becki added that “we knew what we had to do.”
“The Buffalo team we played, there was only one kid from that [championship] team,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “That is not the defending champion, that is a whole different team they got right now. We didn’t really talk about it, and I didn’t think it was much of a motivator.”
Sallee said the game went how he thought it would. He was impressed with how the team stuck to the game plan.
“We defended and started to turn them over, and turning defense into offense,” Sallee said. “If you let us get off that many threes it is going to probably be a long night for you. [I am] really really happy with the way we played on the road, it was a good win.”
The Bulls, even in a loss, were able to cause some trouble for the Cardinals. Fifth-year Zakiyah Winfield, fifth-year Jazmine Young and graduate student Re’Shawna Stone all were in double digits scoring. They combined for 41 of the 59 points that Buffalo scored.
“Those three guards are good, quick on quick, and they can really get it to the rim and break your defense down,” Sallee said. “Really for us, it was about being really really disciplined, trying to make them a single effort. Trying to turn them into just jump shooters instead of getting it to the rim.”
Ball State now advances to 10-0 when they score 80 or more points.
“It is a whole lotta good players and selflessness,” Sallee said. “You look at the way we move the ball and our assist numbers, I always say the hardest thing to guard is ball movement. When we get the ball moving I think we are tough to guard, obviously we have a lot of people who can make shots.”
What’s that noise? Oh, it’s just the smug meter is going off.
Credit to Ball State’s players, though—Becki was dominant, recording a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double while shooting five-of-eight from three. The sophomore guard also had six assists and three steals in 35 minutes. There’s a good chance she makes the leap to a major program next season.
Four Bulls scored in double figures, led by Jazmine Young who scored 15 points to go with three rebounds and two assists. Fellow fifth year Re'Shawna Stone scored 13 points to go with five rebounds and a team-high six assists while Zakiyah Winfield added 13 points, seven rebounds four assists. Fifth year Latrice Perkins also scored in double figures, recording a UB career-high with 12 points.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and it’ll be plenty chilly in Cleveland this March. If a rematch occurs in the MAC tourney, I think there’ll be some extra motivation for Buffalo after this one.
Image from wmubroncos.com
ONWARD: Western Michigan (8-8, 3-2, #203), winners of three in a row and home of redshirt sophomore guard Lauren Ross, the eighth-leading scorer in Division 1 hoops at 21.6 points per game, are up next. The game is slated for Saturday, Jan. 21 at noon at Read Fieldhouse in Kalamazoo. Watch the action on ESPN3.
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