There's not a lot to learn from UB's annual season-opening exhibition against D-III Buffalo State, but it was good nonetheless to see game action as Coach Jack's team rolled to a 89-54 victory.
There are things we certainly already knew that wouldn't change under any result:
- Alexus Malone, who led the Bulls with 22 points on 9-11 shooting, is good at basketball
- UB is going to outrebound a lot of teams this year
- The Bulls are better at basketball than Buffalo State
- UB has a deep bench, and a number of upperclass weapons
The Lineup: I was pleasantly surprised to see Australian freshman Liisa Ups get the start at point guard today. Joanna Smith, Camera Miley, and Karin Moss all got lots of time, as well, but Ups was clearly comfortable with the ball, good for seven assists in just 19 minutes, including six in the first half.
Mackenzie Loesing, Kristen Sharkey, Joanna Smith, and Christa Baccas were the other starters today. Sharkey played just four minutes before sitting out, but Smith looks to get a lot of time now that Margeaux Gupilan and Jenna Rickan have graduated.
Unlike Coach Hurley on Thursday, Coach Jack didn't hesitate to run her subs out quickly, and by the first media timeout she already had a full new five on the floor: Katherine Ups, Ayana Bradley, Alexus Malone, Moss, and Rachael Gregory. Everyone but Sharkey, including deeper subs Miley and Mariah Suchan got at least fifteen minutes tonight. We can assume that it will slim down in games that matter, but after injuries really hurt UB's depth last season, it's good to see Coach Jack go 12-deep, even in an exhibition.
UB fans are going to love watching the Ups twins play. Neither of the two freshmen from Wollongong, New South Wales, put up strong offensive numbers, but Liisa did spin out seven assists in 19 minutes. Both players are absolute hawks on defense, and combined for seven points, eleven assists, six boards, and five steals.
UB's other freshman, Mariah Suchan, is sneaky tall at 6'1". She may not see a ton of time this season, but had a good day today in 15 minutes, leading the Bulls with two blocks and pulling down five rebounds. She was the lone Bull not to score any points in the blowout.
Free Throw Shooting:
Here's a spot for concern, as shooting from the stripe doesn't really change from D-III to MAC competition. Alexus Malone was the only Bull to even have adequate numbers from the line, hitting all three of her shots. Karin Moss was 2-4 and that was it for the Bulls.
Seriously. UB was 5-12 in free throws at the half, and finished 5-16. UB also gave Buff State a full 21 more shots from the line than they themselves got. Ugly.
UB was notably aggressive from beyond the arc today, hopefully because the Bengals were giving them that much space. Other than the final ten minutes of the first half, it wasn't a great game from distance for UB. Early on they were 3-10 before rallying to 7 of 16 at the half, but finished the game 8-29.
Buffalo's excellent rebounding and general advantage over their opponent provided them with 18 more shots than the Bengals, and UB took 19 more attempts from beyond the arc. I don't have a conceptual issue with 25+ three-point attempts in a game, but UB needs to hit better than 28% for it to be worth it.
The Ups sisters and Joanna Smith were a combined 1-13 from distance, while Alexus Malone and Christa Baccas were 2-2.
Some new-old faces:
Coach Jack started the second half with nearly her entire second string, so there's not much to be said for the game, but we did get an extended look at Rachael Gregory and Karin Moss, two players who will see a huge increase in minutes this year.
Gregory, who is returning from a knee injury, looked solid and more comfortable as the game went on, at one point in the second half scoring eight of ten UB points and finishing with 12 points. At times Gregory favored her braced knee, but her length and post moves and guard quickness will help her capitalize on uneven matchups all season long.
Karin Moss played a good amount last year, notably sinking a game-winning layup at the end of January, but will see much more time now that Gupilan and Rickan have moved on. Moss' 23 minutes were the most on team as she scored ten points to go with six assists, and lit up the small crowd at Alumni with consecutive steals midway through the second half.
UB will play their first regular season game next Friday at 5:00 PM, hosting Siena. It's the first half of a men's-women's doubleheader, so if you were planning on coming for the men's matchup against South Dakota State, come a bit early for the ladies, as well.