It turns out that a full week without a basketball game is a long time. Only for finals and Christmas has UB taken a break this long since beginning the season in mid-December.
Fortunately, that means there's plenty of time to look at other things while we wait for the bottom eight teams in the MAC to filter themselves down to four. This afternoon, I figured I'd go back and look at some of my predictions from this year's season previews.
Some highlights, and player-by-players looks:
It's quite possible that the Bulls adjust to the turnover fast, take another step forward in 2014-15, and come into MAC play at 10-3.
If everything goes right for the Bulls this year, they could hold steady from 2013-14 and once again claim a top-four seed in Cleveland.
That second quote makes it sound like I was hedging a bet, but I felt good about another 18 or 19 wins in the regular season this season. Sometimes you have to be a bit less excited in the season preview. Of course, in nonconference world, the only thing stopping us from a 10-3 OOC record was yet another cancelled snow game.
The freshmen are linked above, but I didn't make any predictions for them at the time. I can say for sure I didn't see Lamonte starting on a regular basis, let alone every game.
I was particularly focused on Evans' fitness level.
It's good that as a freshman Shannon got 26 minutes a game, because he'll likely be over 32 per this season
He ended up at 34.4.
There's more, though, than the purely physical side of taking on a bigger role. With five of last year's teammates no longer in Amherst, Evans now is thrust into a leadership role. ... But we'll be keeping in mind that there's more to Evans' increased role than the number of minutes on the floor.
In terms of a numbers-based outlook for the year, I would fully expect Evans to crack double-digit scoring and approach, if not hit, five assists per game while playing 30 to 32 minutes a game
In the last week, I've talked about Will Regan as the emotional bellwether of this team, keeping them steady. If that's the case, it's also true that Evans has been the sparkplug here. And in the numbers, 15.3 points and 4.8 assists in 34 minutes is pretty good.
For the juniors and seniors I offered Best and Worst case predictions.
I honestly don't know what to make of Skeete's prospects this season: for a two-guard he's never been a particularly great three-point shooter.
It seems ludicrous now after Skeete's hot start and 40% number from three, but he's jumped 10% from distance this season. I was also concerned about Jarryn's defense, which has been strong to my eyes when Skeete is on the floor with Rodell Wigginton.
Best case: Skeete gets 2012-13 minutes and improves his scoring touch. Evans is able to create lots of room on the perimeter for kickouts, and Jarryn hits 8-10 ppg while also hustling his way to 4-5 rebounds.
At 9.5 points per game over two more minutes than in his freshman year, Skeete's right on there. His rebounding has remained about the same as during his first two years, but all things considered, he's a lot closer to this prediction than the worst case where he gets beat out by Bobby Frasco and Rodell Wigginton.
It looks like he can be an effective swingman in UB's normal offense, and he has the height to play small forward if Hurley ever wants to go small and fast. Even if there is a dropoff from 16.2 JUCO points per game, Wigginton could still be good for 10-12 points if he gets enough minutes.
I won't provide the best and worst case predictions here, as Wigginton's season falls in the middle. Stylistically, I really didn't understand Wigginton, comparing him in my head to Freelove as a shooter when really he's most valuable in transition and open space nearer to the basket.
I have been high on Moss' prospects for this season from the end of last season. Let me say it here: He will be crowned a breakout player even if he does not improve a whit over 2013-14. Justin could get only 20 minutes a night splitting time in the two forward roles and would still likely get to ten and six in those 20 minutes. There will be nights this year where Moss is the best Bull on the floor.
I didn't see Moss making such a huge jump in minutes, but I knew he was real good.
Best Case: Moss' rate stats remain steady with an explosion of minutes, he plays his way in front of Ford and Johnson in the 5, builds on his evident chemistry with Shannon Evans, and steamrolls his way through the MAC to the tune of 14 points, eight rebounds a game.
Not quite, Matt. But good job, good effort.
It all depends on how Johnson fits into the lineup. ... On the other hand, if Johnson is another forward in UB's rotation - to varying degrees Buffalo's three returning forwards can play the four or the five - he may not stand out too much.
All of my forward projections were really skewed by thinking Regan was going to be eating up more minutes and score reliably, but I think this part rings true.
Worst Case: Xavier Ford takes another step forward, Justin Moss can indeed play hard for 30 minutes a night, Rodell Wigginton proves similar to and an effective sub for Regan, and UB's other 6'10" newcomer Ikenna Smart gets his career started hot. Johnson is unable to crack the top four forwards and gets five minutes a night.
Moss and Ford took such big steps forward that Smart didn't even enter the picture. Johnson was a little better than this, scoring three a night in 12 minutes, but closer here than to the high-energy Justin Moss clone I forecast in the best-case scenario.
It's easy to feel confident about the senior's coming contributions given his consistency over his first two years in Buffalo. By the same token, though, it's hard for me to see a significant improvement: I don't think he's going to take a drastic leap forward from his 48% shooting or step into as central a role in the offense as Javon McCrea enjoyed last year.
Suffice it to say, it's not just that Regan didn't step into a more important forward role, but also that the forward roles drastically changed.
Worst Case: Hurley's offense, with scads of Hurley-recruited talent in the backcourt, isn't well suited to cater to multiple forward threats, and Regan misses out on floor time and high-percentage shots to Justin Moss or a combination of newcomers. Will matches, but doesn't improve upon his junior year numbers: 10.6 points and six boards per game.
One of the few places, along with Ford, where I missed entirely with my range. Everything here is about right until I hit the stats; Regan's actual numbers were six points and four rebounds. I wish I had prattled more about his leadership.
Ford was used primarily last year as a minutes-eater when Javon McCrea was in foul trouble, but given his increased stats and efficiency each of the last two years, he could step in as a regular part of the forward rotation on a team that's nearly half newcomers.
Good so far.
Best Case: Ford does indeed continue to improve, and is a regular starter over Justin Moss, getting a little over 20 minutes per night on his way to eight points and five boards a game.
The forward's wrong, but otherwise ok, right? Ford's actual numbers are nine and six in a little over 20 minutes a night.
Let's just get to playing basketball again.