Well that was no good. No online feed for New York's Flagship Basketball Team, so I and the whole fanbase was left #Pecking it tonight, unless you were in the gym. And if you were, I'm sorry. Except for you, unidentified Portland Blazers Scout. You and your knee-ruining karma need to get far, far away from our program.
Crash the boards?
It's almost hard to believe that the rebounding numbers in this game were just about even. The story of the first half was Canisius' second chance points, as 15 of their 26 first half tallies came after an offensive rebound. On the night Canisius had 14 offensive rebounds and only 6 turnovers. That's a tried and true way to overcome a slow first half from the floor.
Baron got his... but Valenti?
I was under no illusions that Billy Baron was going not to score some points tonight. And indeed, the only reason the Griffs were within ten at the half was because Baron was carrying Petey on his back. Baron finished with 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting to go along with 4 boards and 3 assists. 4 triples for the senior, as well.
But the guy who really killed UB as Canisius blitzed the Bulls with a 16-4 run in the second half and then continued to build the lead was depth guy Phil Valenti, a redshirt freshman from Aquinas in the Rochester area, who scored double digits for the first time this season and scooped up a half dozen hustle rebounds. As UB's defenders boxed out the Heath Brothers, Baron, and Manhertz time and time again Valenti swooped in for put backs and rebounds. Bobby Hurley has to be shaking his head that his team got schooled by the same hustle that made the Buffalo coach so dynamic as a player himself.
In the come-from-behind win against St. Bonaventure, UB was lead by Freshman Shannon Evans and Sophomore Jarryn Skeete, who both scored 17 points. In tonight's game we saw the double-edged sword that is a dynamic underclassman, as the two combined for 7 boards and 10 assists, but only 4 points on two buckets by Evans. As Canisius built momentum and switched to a zone, UB's backcourt was unable to shoot over it and open up space for the post guys.
Not the best night for Mssrs. McCrea and Oldham. Jarod had one of the worst games of his career, with only 5 points, 3 boards, and 2 assists to go with 3 turnovers and 5 fouls. McCrea was a bright spot out of the gate in the second half as UB looked to run away with it, but as Canisius switched to the aforementioned zone, he ran out of space and was called for a costly fourth foul on an offensive possession with the game still tight that would ultimately be UB's last chance to stem the bleeding. I was really hoping for one of these guys to take it over as the young guns seemed to falter.
Will Regan, for the record, had a pretty good night. 4-4 from the floor for 10 points to go with 2 blocks. Without a video stream, I can't really comment on his defense, but given his offensive struggles so far this year, this was a pleasant surprise.
The key to beating a strong zone is shooting over it and forcing guys to pay more respect to your perimeter shooters. The key to getting killed by a strong zone is to miss long range shot after long range shot and allow the defenders crowding the key to box out your overwhelmed post players. Guess which one happened as the Bulls ran into trouble today?
Unfortunately, the three point barrage didn't start when UB lost the lead, but rather much earlier, at the earliest signs of momentum shift. Again, without the feed, I can't say if young players were feeling the pressure to throw it up and flip the momentum, or if the zone was that good, but when your team misses 6 straight three pointers and is having the life choked out of it, you gotta run a set play of some sort, guys.
Freelove? Free Love!
It's really a shame we've only got this guy for one year. I would say coming into the season that UB fans were cautiously optimistic on Josh Freelove as he transferred to a stronger conference, but his numbers and style of play exude dependability. Tonight Freelove had a quiet 11 bolstered by 3 triples, and while he didn't lead the Bulls in any category, Josh Whetzel just kept calling his name. Freelove is the perfect transfer... steps right in and does his thing and there seems to be little chemistry issues with the rest of the team. Hopefully youngsters like the dynamic Shannon Evans and Deyshonee Much can learn from the 5th year senior.
Stats of the Game
Canisius 9 steals, 6 turnovers
Buffalo just 2 steals and 15 turnovers.
The Bulls next play on Saturday, December 21st at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against the Manhattan Jaspers.