The Buffalo Bulls basketball season finally tipped off last night against the St. Peters Peacocks in Alumni Arena. The students showed great numbers for the home opener knowing that this could be the season that the Bulls finally break through. More importantly, the Bulls showed up excited and ready to go, coming through with a 72-65 victory to start the year off on the right note.
The Bulls had a very balanced scoring attack with 4 players scoring in double figures. Sensational sophomore Javon McCrea led the Bulls with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while Dave Barnett, MItchell Watt, and Zach Filzen contributed 13,12,11 themselves in that order. The FG% wasn't what fans were accustomed to last year only making 42 percent of their shots, but more importantly 15 of the 23 baskets had an assist.
The Peacocks were down a significant amount for most of the second half, but managed to make it fairly close and interesting down the stretch with clutch free throw shooting and efficient late game offense. They had cut the lead down to 4 with under a minute left, but the 18 points Bulls lead was too much to come back from for St. Peters. Junior guard Chris Prescott led the Peacocks diverse offensive with 23 points, but his fifth foul seemed to have finally done them in.
Pro's- Buffalo played fairly well for a first game of the year, displaying diversity on the offensive end, improved defense from a year ago, and athleticism from their strong front court. 72 points seems like a fairly average number for this Bulls attack, but they played against a zone for a majority of the game which hindered them from scoring the 80+ points they're capable of. Jarod Oldham had a very impressive game in my opinion, contributing with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and more importantly only 1 turnover. The point guard position was one that most Bulls fans were worried about going into the year, but Jarod looked extremely comfortable (especially in the final 4 minutes against the full court press) and showed Bulls fans that he's fit for the job. Another important stat to me was that the Bulls starters only turned the Ball over 7 times in 169 minutes. Another very soothing sign is that the Bulls won a game in which Javon was the leading scorer, which failed to happen all 8 times Javon led the team in scoring last year. Its good to know that this Bulls team can play well even when Filzen isn't lighting it up.
Con's- Letting a game in which you lead by 18 come that close down the stretch makes fans believe you're not an elite team. The best/most consistent teams know how to put games away and not even let the opposition smell a chance to pull off the upset, which apparently this senior latent team didn't get the memo about. One thing that was strange to me was that only 3 different Bulls came off the bench to see some playing time, and only 31 bench minutes were given out. Reggie usually runs at least 10 guys out there in every non-conference game, but didn't seem to find a need for back-up PG Tony Watson or the athletic sophomore wing Aurum Nuiriankh. I don't know if these players were injured, or Reggie just didn't feel like they were ready to play. Maybe going 9 or 10 deep is a thing of the past and Reggie is just going to stick with his horses.
Regardless, the Bulls are 1-0 heading into a very winnable game against Cornell on Wednesday. Not an overly impressive opening performance, but by no means not a bad performance by this Bulls squad considering they were up by at least 10 for 75% of the game. They have a good ways to go before they're considered an elite mid-major team, but starting off on the right foot none the less.