Editors Note: I am pleased to have Brandon Harris who kicked off Basketball coverage of UB Hockey last season. Until I get him setup as an author I will be posting his material.
They may be picked to finish last in the MAC East, but boy was that one heck of a season opening performance. Buffalo’s route of Navy was exciting, successful, and showed great variety in what was thought to be a young team with no chance to be a contender.
Before we grant the Bulls too much credit, we have to really analyze how the opponent did. Navy is considered a below average mid-major, without major size, and was stuck playing on the road. They made a lot of unforced turnovers, but also were put in positions to make turnovers because the Bulls defense was active, quick, and correctly positioned. Something that is usually hard for a fan to do is be impartial when it comes to how the referees do. If you were a completely unbiased viewer, you would have noticed that the Bulls got a little bit of an edge when it came to the officials, which also contributed to the lopsidedness of the score. Other than that, it was all Bulls.
I’ve said it before, Javon McCrea is the best recruit that the Bulls have seen in a while, probably back to the turner battle days. I know he’s not that tall, but his solid frame and long arms make him a heck of a defensive threat right away. He also has the offensive ability to take it to the rack, which is something very uncommon for Buffalo forwards. The way he lowered his shoulder and just went right past defenders looked exactly like the way he did it in high school. More high powered break away dunks still to come from the exciting freshman.
Filzen was off early in the game, but Reggie kept encouraging him to shoot the ball regardless of how he was doing, which is a sign that there is a lot of trust, as well as skill there. One thing that I’m also excited about is that even though he only saw limited minutes last year, this is his 3rd year in the system, which means he knows where the spots will open up when running Reggie’s offense.
Barnett and Alston played fairly well, but they also both played strong enough defense to keep their man in check.
The 4 other freshman recruits that saw playing time all did well, and I know it wasn’t against an offensive powerhouse, but their defense seemed to be better than you would expect from freshman. Cameron Downing was someone who I had a few concerns over, because after watching all of his high school tapes his movement seemed to be sub-par, and I didn’t think it would translate over to a D-1 level. The movement we saw from him in the game was not how he moved in high school, which is something that we should really be excited about.
The only concern to me (like it was for many others) was the play of the two starting juniors. I know Titus isn’t the most conventional scorer, because most of his points came from misses/alley-oops , but with the way he started last year against Vermont you would expect more of him in the opener of this season. Watt came out of the gate flat as well. He had a few nice blocks, but other than that I thought his defense was terrible, and showed no ability to double digit scorer that the bulls need him to be.
All in all a win is a win. It may not have been against the strongest team, but the Bulls have a string of games against fairly east opponents, which is a great way to build team chemistry and confidence, especially in a team that is suppose to do nothing this year. -- Brandon Harris