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UPDATE: UB MEN'S HOOPS CLIPPED BY DRAKE IN PARADISE AFTER L VS. #25 UCONN; WOMEN EARN 1st W, PRINCETON GAME SNOWED OUT
Football preview is up next—but for now, let's get caught up on hoops
Image from ubbulls.com
Image from getsomemaction.com
UB announced Friday that both the women’s basketball game against Princeton and the football game against Akron were put on ice, so to speak. The women’s game is flat-out canceled. The Zips-Bulls game, however, was postponed (tentatively) until Sunday, depending on the conditions. We shall see.
As Ringo Starr once remarked, it don’t come easy. The UB men’s basketball team learned that lesson for the third time in a week today, dropping an 80-72 decision to Missouri Valley Conference favorites Drake (3-0) in the Paradise Jam at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas.
It’s Getting Better All the Time
Image from ubbulls.com
Unlike their losses to another mid-major heavyweight, James Madison, on Saturday, and #25 Connecticut on Tuesday, Friday’s defeat was not a blowout. In fact, the Bulls looked as dangerous as they have all season, taking a 40-33 lead into halftime and building a nine-point advantage at the 13:38 mark of the second period on a pair of free throws from guard Armoni Foster (16 points, two assists).
Even after burning that lead and falling behind, 65-64, on Drake guard Roman Penn’s three-pointer with 5:31 left in the game, UB took back a 70-65 lead on a 6-0 run capped by forward LaQuill Hardnett’s (pictured above) jumper with exactly four minutes on the clock.
Image from godrakebulldogs.com
That’s also the precise moment when everything fell apart. Hardnett was called for a mystifying technical foul—apparently for woofing at the Drake bench on his way back down the court? Lame—and Tucker Devries (pictured above) did the rest.
The Bulldogs sophomore guard, a member of the preseason All-MVC team and a conference player of the year candidate, hit both technical free throws and promptly drilled a three from the corner to tie the game.
He also scored Drake’s bucket, giving the ‘Dogs a lead they’d never relinquish, as well as the first seven points of a 15-2 run to close out the game. Those 15-2 runs will get you every time.
The technical foul marred an otherwise stellar game from Hardnett, who scored a game-high 26 points and led both teams in rebounds with 12.
Image from ubbulls.com
Buffalo’s familiar offensive issues from this early season caught up with them in the end, unfortunately, including streaky shooting (54 percent from the field in the first half, 34 percent in the second) and poor three-point shooting (26 percent, or four-for-15).
The Bulls outscored the Bulldogs in the paint, 36-30; their game gets shakier away from the basket. Outside of Hardnett, Foster, and dynamic guard Yazid Powell (15 points, six boards), there aren’t many consistent scorers on this team quite yet.
Freshman center Isaac Jack (pictured above) scored seven points in 26 minutes off the bench, which isn’t bad for a kid who was playing high school ball in Fort Erie last fall. Sophomore guard Curtis Jones shot two-for-eight for four points and starting center Jonnivius Smith had one bucket (it was a nice one, but still).
There’s work to be done.
On the plus side, UB out-rebounded Drake, 37 to 32, and even pulled down more offensive rebounds (11-7), two problematic areas in their previous three games. The Bulls also cut their turnovers down to 13—a dramatic drop from the 21.6 they’d averaged the past three games.
The problem, however, is they also allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 60 percent from the floor in the second half, thanks in large part to Devries, who scored 21 of his 22 points in the final 20 minutes
Lake Effect Avalanche Will Likely Wipe Out WNY Weekend at UB
Well, the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team picked the right time to get out of town, no?
Image from google.com
Canisius College and Niagara University have called off their games for the weekend, according to The Buffalo News. The Buffalo Bills moved their Sunday home game versus Cleveland to Detroit. The odds of the UB women’s basketball team actually facing a formidable Princeton squad, a team receiving votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll, on Saturday at noon in Alumni Arena seems unlikely. There’s a good chance that the game’s canceled by the time you read this (which is a great reason to follow us on Twitter).1
Not the men, however! No, the men are a six-hour flight south in the U.S. Virgin Islands with seven other mid-major programs (well, six plus Boston College) for the annual Paradise Jam.
Buffalo Men’s Basketball’s Trial By Fire Continues Under the St. Thomas Sun
Image from uconnhuskies.com
In case you’re wondering, St. Thomas—home of the University of the Virgin Islands2 and the Paradise Jam tourney—will also be experiencing below-average temperatures for the next few days. It’s only expected to be 84 degrees instead of the more typical 86. Hope the guys packed sweaters!
The Bulls (1-2) are coming off their second consecutive loss following a season-opening win over Colgate, who beat Syracuse by double digits for the second year in a row on Tuesday. UB lost to #25 UConn, 84-64, in Hartford on Tuesday.
On the plus side, Buffalo became the first team of the season to take a lead on the Huskies (3-0) when guard Yazid Powell finished a breakaway with a layup at the 11:16 mark of the first half to give the Bulls a 12-11 advantage.
The bad news is that Connecticut outscored Buffalo, 33-16, over the remainder of the half, thanks in part to 9-for-10 shooting from the free throw line over that stretch. The Bulls were whistled for 13 fouls and committed 12 turnovers in the first half alone.
“I really liked our effort on the defensive end," Buffalo coach Jim Whitesell told the Manchester (Conn.) Journal-Inquirer. "I thought we tried to pressure the ball, swarm. Fouls really hurt us in the first half in terms of making it closer. You break the game into four-minute blocks, we had 10 of those. I thought three of them were pretty good in terms of what we wanted to do, especially on the defense end. But the getting in the foul game is an area we've got to get a lot better at."
The big star of the game was Tristen Newton, a senior guard who transferred to the Big East powerhouse this offseason following three solid seasons at East Carolina.
Tristen Newton recorded the first triple-double of his college career and the first for the Huskies since 2015. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists while also contributing four steals in 35:50 of action. The senior went 4-for-14 from the field and was a plus-24.
13 — The number of fouls drawn by Newton. No other Husky drew more than three. Newton went 14-of-17 from the foul line.
All in all, not a great night for the Bulls, who were out-rebounded, 42-29, and shot just 13 free throws to Connecticut’s 28. With that in mind, UB did hold their hosts to 44 percent shooting from the floor and 26 percent from three-point range.
Newton earned his triple-double on four-for-14 shooting from the floor, and was 0-for-5 from three. Adama Sanogo, seen as a legit Big East Player of the Year candidate and one of the best centers in the country, was held to 11 points in 22 minutes.
Joey Calcaterra, usually the third man off the Huskies’ bench, was the spark plug, scoring 15 points on three-of-five shooting from three to help break this one open.
Kidtrell Blocker and Armani Foster each scored 11 to lead Buffalo. There aren’t many other highlights to discuss.
It was an ugly game, both ways.
"I would've loved to see us take care of the basketball. I think that's an area where I was really disappointed,” Whitesell said. “We need to gang rebound. We've been a good rebounding program. But tonight, we got beat on the boards. Part of that was offensively, we've got to be more disciplined with what we're trying to do.”
It Doesn’t Get Easier: Drake, Friday at 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Image from godrakebulldogs.com
While it’s not a surprise that it may take a few weeks for the Bulls to get their act together, seeing as how they’re working with eight new players on a 12-man roster (nine new players once center Sy Chatman is healthy).3
The schedule, however, isn’t doing UB any favors. While the weather is certainly delightful in St. Thomas, Buffalo’s first P-Jam opponent, Drake, is no lame duck.
The Bulldogs (2-0) are #4 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and are the overwhelming favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference. Sophomore guard Tucker Devries, currently averaging 18 points and eight rebounds per game, and backcourt mate Roman Penn are preseason 1st-team MVC picks.
The options at guard come fast at furious for Drake, who also boast three-point bomber Sardaar Calhoun, dependable senior Garrett Sturtz, and D.J. Wilkins (pictured above), one of the MVC’s top defenders.
This will be the first meeting against the Bulls and Bulldogs. Head Coach Jim Whitesell has also never coached against Drake as a head coach. All-time, UB is 9-8 against Missouri Valley Conference teams. The last time the Bulls defeated a team from the MVC was last Nov. 24, 2021, as they took down Illinois State, 106-90. Junior transfer Sy Chatman, who played at Illinois State last season, shot 9-for-14 for 21 points, including 3-for-5 from three-point range.
With a win over Drake, Buffalo will play on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. EST against either Howard or Wyoming. If the Bulls were to lose, they'll play on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 3:15 p.m. EST. against Howard or Wyoming.
Let’s turn it around, gentlemen!
Becky Burke Earns 1st Win As Bulls’ Head Coach; Up Next, a Bigger Challenge
It wasn’t always aesthetically pleasing, but wins all count the same in standings—and the UB women’s basketball team, essentially rebuilt from scratch over the offseason, has a notch on the good side of the ledger after a 62-56 win at Stonehill on Monday.
Whoever won this game was going to earn a little piece of history—it was the first home game for Stonehill since ascending to the Division 1 level this season, and it turned out to be the first victory for first-year Buffalo head coach Becky Burke.
"I can't say enough about how proud I am of this team," Burke told UBBulls.com. "I saw a ton of growth both offensively and defensively tonight, especially when we faced some adversity. This is a big step in the right direction for us. We are a team that's a steady work in progress and they are getting better every day."
Tied 25-25 at halftime, the Bulls (1-1) put this one away with a big fourth quarter run:
The Bulls scored on two of their first three possessions to open the third quarter as (guard Re’Shawna) Stone sliced to the basket for two and later hit (center Kiara) Johnson with a lob pass and she powered up for a layup to give the Bulls a 35-34 lead at the media timeout. (Guard Jazmine) Young continued to attack out of the timeout as she got the bucket and the foul to put UB up four and later, (guard Zakiyah) Winfield scored on an out-of-bounds play to extend the UB run to 6-0 and force a Skyhawks timeout at the 2:11 mark. (Guard Caelan) Ellis gave the Bulls a lift as she drilled a step-back triple and then Stone sliced to the basket for two off glass to cap an 11-2 run and put the Bulls up 44-36 at the end of the third.
The Skyhawks opened the fourth quarter on a 7-1 run to cut the UB lead to two before Young came up with a steal and found Winfield for a fastbreak layup to put the Bulls up 47-43 at the 6:16 mark. The Skyhawks answered with a 7-0 run to take a three-point lead before Young and Winfield answered with six straight points of their own to put UB up 53-52 with 3:24 remaining. Winfield continued to attack as she got a turnaround jumper to drop to give UB a three-point lead and later, she drove and kicked to (forward Hattie) Ogden who drilled a three from the wing to give UB a 58-52 lead and that would be enough as the Bulls secured the game at the charity stripe.
Here Comes Princeton (But Probably Not Because, You Know, the Snow)
Image from goprincetontigers.com
Let’s pretend there’s a world in which UB plays Princeton on Saturday afternoon at noon in Alumni Arena (ESPN+). Buffalo lost an instant overtime classic to the Tigers (3-1), 79-77, at Jadwin Gymnasium last December. While the Bulls are a much different team than the group that took the court in that contest—the Syracuse Orange look more like that UB squad than Buffalo does today—Princeton is still a mid-major monster, ranked fifth in the CollegeInsider.com poll and the consensus pick to win a third straight Ivy League title.
Junior forward Elie Mitchell is a record-setting rebounder. Senior guard and team captain Julia Cunningham (pictured above), who dropped 21 points on the Bulls last season, was a 1st-team All-Ivy League selection in 2021-22. Junior Kaitlyn Chen, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2022 Ivy League tournament, scored 19 points in a 70-67 win over Fordham on Wednesday. So did Grace Stone, a senior who averaged nine points and four boards last year.
Princeton may be the most formidable opponent UB sees this season. It’s a measuring stick game—assuming that measuring stick isn’t being used to see how many feet of snow are covering North Campus. We’ll see what happens.
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Assuming Twitter still exists a week from now. We do have an Instagram account, too, but honestly, have been struggling with the best way to use it.
The graduation rate at UVI is 21%, which makes a ton of sense.
Even so, according to kenpom.com, Buffalo is 320th in the country in turnover percentage, 347th in offensive rebounding percentage, 308th in the three-point percentage, 301st in non-steal turnover percentage, and 293rd in steal percentage. New players or no, that needs to be cleaned up.