Two games, two wins. One takeaways post.
Men: Defeated Miami, 77-68
Encouraging in its uncharacteristicness
I don't really care that Miami is by most metrics the worst team in the conference, and that they've pushed Buffalo to the limit twice in less than two weeks. The fact is UB won yesterday without hitting a shot from outside and with barely any production in transition. Not just from beyond the arc, but from outside the lane period: 73 of 78 Bulls points came from the paint or the foul line.
You hear about it less nowadays, but there were always anecdotes surrounding the Peyton Manning Colts teams that they had four or five plays they believed they could execute on anyone in any alignment. Tonight, UB could execute in the lane against anything Miami brought, no matter how telegraphed it was. To persevere through and continue to succeed in the offense well after you're become a one-trick pony is impressive.
A stat you missed
Everything about this game, other than Xavier Ford, just felt underrated and quietly successful for me. Even Justin Moss' 31 points didn't really stick out until he was piling on with free throws at the end. But one stat that especially flew under the radar is Lamonte Bearden's 7 assists. On the scoresheet, Bearden is up and down a bit lately, but tonight was his second straight game with 6 or more dimes, and his sixth such game overall. For all the talk we've had around the short bench, this team would simply be up a creek if Hurley wasn't getting meaningful and productive minutes from the freshman guard.
A different comparison
The easy comparison here on a macro level is to the first Miami game, where an apparently safe lead frittered away to a tight final few minutes, but I think there's substantial similarities here to the Western Michigan loss, as well.
31 from Moss kind of overshadows it, but UB only had three guys in double digits. It sounds silly to use that as a negative, but the last time that happened in a Bulls win was Canisius. UB was 25-56 from the floor today, and 19-57 during the loss, with only Moss and Evans hitting double digits. If any one other guy steps up against WMU and hits a few more shots, you've got a box score that - aside from the assists - looks plenty similar to today's game.
Of course, WMU presents a very different style of play than Miami, but my big point here is that UB showed yesterday that they can pull out a win in different ways from the style they've shown in the first half of the season. That's encouraging because, like tonight and against WMU, UB won't always be clicking.
Women: Defeated Ball State 53-43
Best defense of the season?
Strong D has been a hallmark of UB over the last two and a half seasons, though this year has been a bit tougher. Yesterday might have been the best showing of Coach Jack's tenure. Ball State by shooting percentage came in as the top team in the MAC, and is near the top of most offensive tables, but scored only .63 PPP - the equivalent of the men's defensive first half against NIU, but for a full 40.
Thank goodness for offensive boards
As I said immediately in the recap, this is what we expected from the team at the beginning of the season. Maybe not the awful shooting, but that's what we've got now. But 27 offensive rebounds is a great number, that propelled Buffalo to 13 more shot attempts and 8 more tries from the line than their opponents. Take out those advantages, and you have a very tight game.
I think we found our point guard
It wasn't a particularly splashy debut, but Stephanie Reid was solid enough in her first start to play 36 minutes - the second-most on the team. On her way to 5 points, 7 boards, and a handful of secondary stats, the freshman only really 'wowed' with her hustle and fire, but leapt in my eyes to the top of the rotating guards list because of her ability to minimize mistakes.
Simply, who else do you trust for even 25 minutes right now? Camera Miley turns the ball over too much. Joanna Smith scored 5 and it was a notable uptick for her. Karin Moss didn't play today and has barely put together a stat line lately when she has. Meanwhile, Reid keeps the ball moving and the offense fluid at the point, and even got to the line 7 times. Now if only she could shoot a little better once she gets there.
It helps, too, that everyone is making Ashley Zuber comparisons and waiting for Zubs to coach her up.
I had half-written and ultimately scrapped a post on replacing Rachael Gregory when I ran out of time before the game. My main point was simply that no one on the roster save Bradley could match Gregory's style, an d given Bradley's short minutes this season the departed redshirt sophomore's contributions would have to be accounted for across a handful of different players stepping up.
Maybe not. The senior got as many minutes against Ball State as in the last ten games combined, and solidly pulled down 5 boards and 4 steals helping out the forward depth as Christa Baccas dealt with foul trouble. Here's hoping Bradley is a regular part of the rotation from here on out.