Fourteen years is a long time to coach at one school. Only 24 of more than 350 division one schools boat longer tenured coaches than Buffalo did up to this afternoon, and none of them were in the Mid-American Conference. If the greater scope of ninety six seasons of Buffalo Basketball only the teams founding coach, the legendary Art Powell put in more seasons than Coach Witherspoon. Even with 28 seasons though Powell still coached fewer games.
Coach Witherspoon's relation to Buffalo, and the University, made him a natural fit following the Tim Cohane recruiting scandal. UB need a coach to replace Cohane mid way through the season and they tapped Witherspoon who was then a coach at a community college down the street.
On the eve of the North Carolina game Witherspoon took the reigns and the former UB Ball Boy did not disappoint. Well into the second half Buffalo was in a position to beat one of the top teams in the nation, it was a thrilling contest against a national power which would see the Bulls fall just short.
|Len T. Serfustini||1956-70||14||311||206||105||66.2%|
|Arthur L. Powell||1915-43||28||388||198||190||51.0%|
|Malcolm S. Eiken||1946-56||10||213||140||73||65.7%|
|Daniel J. Bazzani||1983-93||10||265||111||154||41.9%|
|V. William Hughes||1978-82||4||109||49||60||45.0%|
|Edwin D. Muto||1970-73||3||70||37||33||52.9%|
Coach Witherspoon took a team burdened by scandal and then yoked by NCAA sanctions and turned them into winners. In an underfunded and unprepared athletics department he carved out a gem of a basketball program which went from door mat to feared opponent and conference contender within a season of UB's exit from probation they were a winner, within two they were playing for the conference title.
In the post probation word UB had just three losing seasons all came following graduation turnover and each season still featured UB getting out of the campus round of the MAC Championship Tournament, only Buffalo and Kent have managed that consistent level of play.
His career winning percentage sits at sixth but there again looking at what he carried the program through factors in. Once sanctions ended Buffalo won 55% of their games which would rank coach Witherspoon third.
The only on the court measure by which Reggie Witherspoon did no satisfy expectations was conference championships and trips to the NCAA tournament. Witherspoon did however take UB to four post season tournaments. Unfortunately 14 years without the big dance was more than could be endured by the department.
In 2005 Buffalo was a tip in away from the Conference title and a terrible snub there after kept them from the NCAA tournament. Buffalo settled for a trip to the NIT and got their first ever post season win when Buffalo beat Drexel in the opening round.
UB would also make the CBI tournament in 2008 and qualify fot the College Insiders tournament in 2011 and 2012. In 2011 Buffalo made it to the Quarterfinals before losing to eventual tournament runner up Iona.
His specialty was player recruitment and development which was a must have at Buffalo following Cohane. What Buffalo lacked in Banners they made up for with Quality players who were also solid students and UB community members. That is perhaps one of the best legacies a college coach can have, winning games with kids who make you proud in all phases of life.
Maybe its fitting he finished his UB career with 198 wins, a mark that ties Powell. Powell was the man that Got UB Basketball off the ground in 1915 and when the program fell on hard times it was Coach Witherspoon who picked it up, dusted it off, and restored it to something which would have made Art Powell himself proud.