And now the hangover for UB Basketball begins. Before we start to focus on other UB sports, let's look ahead to next year and why the team and season already has a collective buzz about it.
The Bulls are losing two players who technically combine to make up a single starter but each played a huge role this season. Will Regan and Xavier Ford built much of the success in the winning streak late in the season, the MAC tournament, and factored in the solid effort against West Virginia.
Will was a technically sound player, hit key 3's, and much of his effort did not show up on the score sheet. His hustle and defensive efforts played a large role in too many victories. Xavier had a break out season and when Moss went down with an injury in the MAC Championship the X Man carried the team.
Bull Run editors Matt and I break down the incoming Bulls. A very interesting difference in transfers vs. recruits. A very interesting different outlook from Matt and I. First we will look at the recruits coming to Amherst:
Nick Perkins. Milan High School, Michigan
David: Nick is an interesting choice for the Bulls. In my eyes is a project player who I would guess will be a red shirt freshman next year. Looking to be the replacement for Moss in a couple of seasons. Perkins is the complete opposite look of Xavier Ford. Nick is wide and has torque to box out or make his way to the rim. Perkins looks to be more of a standard set player who looks for the ball inside. The Bulls talent this featured a more upbeat run and gun style.
Perkins is interesting as a natural lefty and looks good against high school competition. Has a soft mid range shot but has a smoothness to slip around defenders. Will be interesting to see how college level conditioning transforms his physique and game. Vacillated between Buffalo and Akron, but when Peter Agba verbally committed to Akron, the option was the Bulls. As the future plays out, let's see how the careers of Perkins and Agba pan out.
Matt: Sorry Dave, but Perkins is going to get minutes next year. The coaching staff has already made that expectation clear. He's not the balls-to-the-wall energy that Ford was, but he's smoother and more polished at both ends, if against lesser competition less explosive, than Moss is. And I suspect that "not having any set plays for Ford" isn't really the way Bobby Hurley wants his offense to run.
I think Hurley wants to keep the lane even more open than we saw this year, and Perk looks to be already skilled at receiving the ball outside of the low post and working a move or two to get to the basket. I think we see in Ikenna Smart and the recruitment of Godspower Ogide a desire to use one mobile big man who can get into the lane without setting up shop and using a wide-open offense. Perkins' ability to score from further out seems to me a step in that direction.
Nate Navigato Geneva High, Illinois
David: Great size at 6'8" and will add some bulk to his listed weight of 210 pounds. Besides UB had Toledo and LeHigh in the mix. My best description of Nate is simply: "pure shooter": to be 6'8" and have the three ball down will be hard to defend. Can play with his back to the basket and had success in high school. Will have to really work on that part of his game if he wants to have success. Regan seemed more athletic but did not have the touch that Nate has. Look to see how Nate can defend college forwards. Overall, for a team that at times struggled behind the arc, good to have a sharp shooter
Matt: Disagreeing with you once again, Dave. I think you're thinking of Navigato too much in the frontcourt. In this system, 'back to the basket' is just not a frequently used skill, and if Nate's the biggest guy on the floor for UB in a "small" lineup, then they're moving the ball fast and getting it to him as he's already open. I see Wigginton's role a much better comparison than Regan's. I also think "pure shooter" really undersells a ton of his game. I followed Geneva's run to the Illinois state semifinals and this guy can do it all on offense, but is especially comfortable cutting to get open, receiving passes in the lane, and using one move to get to the hoop. I think how much he plays depends on his defense and how much better he can shoot than Rodell.
Maurice O'Field, Midland College & Cleveland, OH (Original Article)
David: Maurice is the most exciting player for me coming to UB. Maurice can step right onto the court next year and has three years of eligibility left. Maryland fans had Mr. O'Field playing for them next year, but now Maurice will be calling Amherst home. Look at some of his highlights and just talk about versatility: play in Maurice's face and he is going to blow by you, give him a step, and his will knock down the jumper. I see Hurley with three guards on the floor and impossible to defend. In his video, if you are only going to watch one play, shift to the end and check out the dunk.
Matt: Four guards. Can't really take away Bearden's ball skills or Skeete's shooting. I have a feeling Bearden-Evans-O'Field-Skeete-Moss won't be the starters, but will be a real frequent lineup next year. In O'Field you simply see the type of athleticism that comes with better recruits. If you thought Evans was flashy, get ready. I'm super pumped that he has three years left thanks to never playing at ETSU. Something to remember, too, as you watch this highlight video: When this was made he was a consensus two-star recruit. He's improved enough in two years that during his JUCO recruitment he caught the eye of Maryland, Gonzaga, and Marquette. Those schools don't really look at two-stars.
Torian Graham, Houston (Original Article)
David: The Bulls depth took a large hit when Marshall transfer Jamir Hanner was removed from the team. Assistant Coach Levi Watkins originally recruited Graham while at NC State but Torian went the JUCO route and ended up at Houston before leaving for personal reasons. Graham will have to work hard away from the court to stay eligible. I cautiously wait to see Graham wearing the Blue & White but if he does watch out MAC. Graham is a gamble but his has all the basketball skills and is another amazing athlete. A back court with Evans, Bearden, and Graham. I feel bad for any team trying to defend against the speed and athleticism.
Matt: Jamir Hanner, meh. Eight minutes a game at Marshall? Mory Diane was a bigger hit.
Anyway, this paragraph right here is why you've got to think four-guard set ups may be common. From player to player Dave's building different three-guard lineups. Though, I believe Torian won't be able to play next year until the end of OOC play, because he played in an exhibition or two at Houston in Fall 2014 before transferring. Without dwelling too much on it, I also think the eligibility issues are a thing of the past now that more time has passed since Graham's mother passed and he's built up some stability.
I don't really have time to find a different highlight video, but I wish this one showed something other than Graham dunking in space. But you see the athleticism in the other highlights, too: watch for the elevation he gets on his jumpers. If Graham can dish well, he'll be a matchup nightmare because very few teams in the MAC will have the length to defend that jumper elevation and keep a big body down low, as well. His combination of size and athleticism is unmatched by any other perimeter player in the conference.