What a difference a year makes!
Last season it seemed like we were waiting forever to begin the hoops season. Buffalo football was languishing through another painful season with a 2-7 record and hoops seemed like the only thing that could make the fan base feel better.
Since then the football team has been 9-3 and basketball was so bad that Buffalo's long-time coach Reggie Witherspoon was fired and replaced by Bobby Hurley.
When Buffalo's new era of hoops begins this Friday it will be led by one of the greatest Bulls every to hit the court.
Last season McCea finished second in the MAC in scoring (18.0), tied for third in rebounding (7.9), third in field goal percentage (.557), and second in blocked shots (89). He was named MAC player of the week twice and finished third in the player or the Year voting. Both of the players who finished ahead of him are gone.
Along with McCrea is Will Regan, Buffalo's native son returned home after a stint with Virginia.
As last season wound down and Bulls shifted from doormat to competitor it was Regan who helped lead the charge. He scored 14 or more points points in six of the final seven games of the season. When Buffalo defeated a nationally ranked Akron team Regan scored 16 points with seven rebounds and he had a season high three blocks.
Both of these players will be tools in the hands of Buffalo's guards. And their starting Point Guard, Jarod Oldham, is a force to contend with. Oldham has always been very good at distributing the ball and minimizing turnovers. Then last season he increased his three point percentage by 12 points to 35.7%, and his overall field goal percentage to a not-stellar-but-pleasantly-surprising 39%.
Under former Duke point guard Bobby Hurley Oldham may make Bulls fans sit up and pay attention as the seasoned upperclassman had already found success in the MAC.
Jarod will additionally be boosted by sharing the back court with his most talented group of fellow guards yet. Sophomore Jarryn Skeete got tons of time last year stepping into the PG spot, and UB also adds Joshua Freelove, a 5th year senior transfer who averaged 13.6 ppg for Alabama State last year, as well as freshman Shannon Evans, who has a 50 point game to his credit in high school and looks to get some time when Hurley goes deeper into the rotation.
They open the season against a very young Texas A&M squad looking to turn their season around. The Aggies sat home last season after six straight NCAA Tournament appearances before sitting out the postseason all together the last two seasons.
Now Forward Kourtney Roberson is the only remaining scholarship player on the roster who played under former coach Mark Turgeon. New Coach Billy Kennedy is, for the first time, coaching a team primarily made up of his recruits.
It's a roster that includes six newcomers and three players who red-shirted last season. Among them is Fabyon Harris who is the lead returning scorer for the Aggies.
This Friday at Reed Arena the Bulls new coach will take on the Aggies new players. Each team hoping to start their new era off on a good foot.