This is not a post I really feel like writing, but there's no reason to skip out on a regular thing just because of a tough loss. Both UB teams saw 10+ point leads fall away last night.
At the end of the day, a loss is a loss, but in general, the surprises on the women's side were positives in my mind, while the surprises in the men's game were big negatives. Of course, the unsurprising parts of the Toledo loss were exasperating constants, and there just wasn't enough of the UB team we're used to this season in Mount Pleasant for much of that game not to be surprising.
The men finished first, so I'll start with them:
Men: Lost 84-73 at Central Michigan
"Like a team full of DJ Coopers": Three-point bonanza sinks UB
Keno Davis reminds us that Bobby Hurley is in only his second year as a head coach.
Keno Davis is a coach.
I've been critical of CMU's weak schedule, but Davis seems to have used that weak slate a confidence boost for his team, who stuck to their game throughout yesterday and buried the Bulls. Compare that to UB, who met the defensive adjustments and deficit in front of them in the second half and lost all sense of offensive identity.
In the immediate recap I noted that Davis used the stoppages to his advantage and killed the Bulls strategically. The two obvious points here are at halftime, after which CMU leapt to a multiple-possession advantage and didn't let go, and midway through the second half, when Shannon Evans got UB to within four.
At that moment, Davis called a timeout, and you thought maybe Buffalo could regroup with 10 minutes to play and make a game of it. Instead the Chippewas went on an 11-1 run. Looking at the immediate few possessions after timeouts last night, only once in the first half and never in the second would I say UB got the better of their hosts out of a break.
I'll also point out that Hurley used three timeouts in the final five minutes of the game, two in the final 80 seconds. I think those could have been much more useful earlier in the half, to say the least.
Playing from behind?
Here's a comparison for you. 2013 UB Football. When they got going with the lead and settled in, they had a stranglehold on the game. But if someone punched them in the mouth, either for an early lead or coming out of the half before Branden Oliver took over, they couldn't respond.
Obviously the Bulls never regained the lead last night. After a dig through the play-by-play data for the whole season, these Bulls are even worse at playing from behind than you thought. The Bulls have only thrice erased a deficit of five points or more, and they've needed long stretches to do it:
- vs Miami, trailed 34-29 with 19 to play
- vs Cornell, trailed 33-24 with 29 to play
- vs SDSU, trailed 47-40 with 12 to play
Notice those are all at home. The largest road deficit UB has erased this year? Four points at Kentucky.
Last night's game did a lot for changing my perception of this team, but the truth is they've been consistent in this regard, with their most impressive comeback being just seven points and coming way back on opening night.
Women: Lost 75-63 (OT) at Toledo
Women fall cold in OT, lose thriller
36 strong minutes gave way to four thrilling and five more agonizing ones tonight in Toledo.
If you want to be more negative about this game, that's fine, but I think there's a lot to like. The Bulls team of two weeks ago doesn't make it to overtime.
Is there any doubt she's the best we've got at point guard? The freshman has been in America less than a month and has now put together two solid games at the point, playing 73 minutes over the last two. I would like to see more consistency, as Reid burst out of the gate and was more middling over her final 32 minutes, but 9 points, 6 assists and a positive assist-to-turnover ratio is a combination we haven't seen from anyone else this year.
Even better, Joanna Smith is starting to warm up since Reid's arrival. At the half, Smith's 7 points gave UB nearly half of their scoring from the backcourt. Again, not going to throw a party, but it's better than we've seen in a while.
Closing it out
Coming into this season, I expected UB to be a seasoned team now used to the grind of winning in the MAC and able to grind out tough situations late. Obviously that didn't happen last night. But considering the lineup we're dealing with right now, it's not surprising.
Rachael Gregory (transfer, gone forever) and Mackenzie Loesing (concussion, coming back someday), two of the team's more experienced scorers, are not playing. Only half the backcourt had even worn a UB uniform before this year.
And the two upperclassmen, Kristen Sharkey and Christa Baccas, both hit huge shots late trying to keep UB up. The Shark had 8 points in the final ten minutes, and Baccas had five on two incredible shots in the last three herself to at least keep the Bulls up.
I'm not even upset about Reid's three-point attempt to close out regulation. The passing lanes were covering, Reid is small and probably wouldn't find a great shot were she to drive into the lane, and the defenders were sagging off her. The shot was true, just a bit strong and off the back rim.
I'm not as concerned by the foul situation last night, because there's not a doubt in my mind that if Loesing is healthy and UB has five more fouls to give before a disqualification, then Buffalo wins in regulation. But, the familiar refrain continues, and it was plenty frustrating in the moment since the Rockets got to 54-54 with 1:39 to play with a run of nine of 14 points from the line. Toledo got to the line a TON, and UB was just 3-7 in their opportunities.
It's a loss, I know, but...
As is the case with any overtime game, if any of a dozen moments late are slightly different, I'm writing about gritting out a tough win with a shorthanded roster.
No Loesing, who even at her inefficient norm for this season would have at least matched Smith's 7 with more trips to the line.
The team is still adjusting to post-Gregory life, and only using eight players is somewhat of a departure for Coach Jack. I believe Reid and Smith on four fouls late is a better look right now than five minutes of Katherine Ups.
For 30 minutes this was UB's best offensive game of the year, and the final numbers bear out the balanced scoring. In the last 15 UB only played five good minutes offensively (the last five of regulation), but the first 30 are encouraging.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda, but that's the mood I'm in. Don't sue me.