The Buffalo Bulls have finally reached a long break in their basketball season having finally reached finals week where they have 8 days in between games. The quantity of the non-conference schedule may be past them, but you can make an argument that the quality is more plentiful in the near future. Tough road games against BYU and Temple still sit in the near future for the Bulls, both games that the Bulls will be the underdog for. Right now they sit at 6-2, with a very nice road win at Dayton, but also comes with what is looking like a bad loss against Princeton. Their RPI has them in the 110-120 range, but with plenty of room to improve with the upcoming games. So is a 6-2 record at this point promising, or concerning for the Bulls?
I think right now 6-2 is pretty much like shooting Par in a round at the Masters. Impressive, yes...but there's plenty of room to improve. Their non-conference schedule up to this point has been fairly weak, but they have handled it fairly well. They didn't lose the trap game against Youngstown State, and looked dominant against a very good A-10 team. However at the same time they lost their biggest game of the year against St. Bonaventure and have failed to crush inferior opponents. I think a lot of knowledgeable Buffalo fans would have put them at 7-3 or 6-4 for the non-conference portion of their schedule, and that looks to be on track. We've seen a lot of promise and a lot of head scratching moments so far this season, but I think the 2 games upcoming are crucial in terms of figuring out how good this team really is.
The good so far-...Tony Watson. Just like many Buffalo fans are harsh on Titus Robinson, I have always been a doubter of Tony Watson. There's nothing he's extremely good at, but I think he does a lot of different things well. So far this year he has hit some clutch 3's when they were desperately needed, done a good job not turning the ball over when he's out there, and has done an acceptable job running the point when called upon. His numbers would argue against him being a part of my "good" section, but he doesn't need to have great offensive numbers on a team that has 3 excellent mid major scorers.
...Mitchell Watt- I don't think any of SWatts numbers this year are surprising considering his talent and size, but I'm more impressed with his consistency. Double digit points in every game but one this season, and at least one block and a handful of rebounds every night as well. In years past it seemed like there would be nights that Watt didn't show up to play at all, as well as games where he would get in foul trouble extremely early and put the Bulls at a disadvantage in the front court. Mitch has failed to do that to the team this year, as his consistency has increased his numbers (from last year) by 2.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, .6 blocks, and 6 points. (Plus I think we all love his ability to throw down at least one hammer on a nightly basis).
The not so good so far...Auraum Nuiriankh has been non-existent so far this season. I think the increased playing time towards the end of last season was really going to help him turn the corner and be a big bench player for the Bulls this season...I guess not. He's already 21 years old, went to prep school for a year, is in his second year of Reggie's system, and he still looks lost out there. He's accumulated 12 total points in the 6 games he's played so far this season, and was riding the bench for their most recent out against Youngstown State. This team need help off the bench, as well as needed another guy who can hit the 3 ball, and so far this season Auraum has proven that he is not the guy to help in those departments.
...Jarod Oldham's consistency. Let me start off by saying that by no means do I think Jarod has done a bad job so far this season. I actually think he could be on my "good" list in some way. The one thing I have a problem with is his consistency. He has an assist to turnover ration of 2.3 right now, which is good, to go along with his stout defense and ability to rebound as a point guard. Unfortunately he seems to have games where he looks like a burden on the team. One turnover one night, 4 the next, 0 the next, followed by 7 turnovers, then a game of 1 turnover, it just seems like you never know what you're going to get with him. Same thing with his assist numbers, 9, and then 4, then 8, then 1, 8 again, etc. I think the worst thing a point guard can do on a team surrounded by scorers (because we all know he's and awful outside shooter, and consistently fails to make lay-ups) is be inconsistent. He's in a position where he doesn't need to do anything fancy in order to make this team successful, but if you dont know what you're going to get from your starting PG on a nightly basis, then you dont know how good the whole team is night in and night out. I love Jarod Oldham's game, and I mean love. I may one day write a full page article on how great a defender and rebounder he is just to get the point across, but I think a little more consistency handling the ball, a little better ability to finish around the rim (or when on a breakaway) and a little better job shooting from the line could put this team in an elite mid-major class.