When UB fans think back to last basketball season they remember winning the MAC championship, they remember player of the year Justin Moss and they remember the bright future of guys like Shannon Evans. You might even remeber giving West Virginia everything they could handle in the NCAA tournament.
What they don't tend to remember is a 6-6 start, some late game collapses, and some question about Danny White's decision to fire Witherspoon and Hire Hurley.
"And when you’ve set your goals as an athletic department to be the ‘next big-time college athletics brand,’ it’s hard to explain being 6-6 in a mid-major conference." -- UB Spectrum, February 15th 2015.
In part because of Hurley's courtside demeanor and in part because of Danny White's perceived "brashness"(tm) the team because something of a punching bag to sports opinion folks at various media outlets.
Yup, few remember that only about half way into MAC play and f the vultures at the Buffalo News and UB Specturm were lining up Danny White and Bobby Hurley for a date with the firing squad.
But I remember.
I also remember myself, six or so games into last season, thinking "yea there's too much youth an inexperience for a run this year". I did not fault the coaches or players they were, in my opinion, building something special. They just needed a little time to get everything together and they were oh so young.
I was so excited, for "next year".
Turns out they only a little time to gel. The team caught fire won the MAC East for the second consecutive season. They also won a share of the outright MAC championship and a bye to the semi finals. In Cleveland they did what no other Buffalo team had done. The won the whole thing.
It was a wonderful experience and when Bobby Hurley passed on DePaul it looked like this season might be even better.
Then all hell broke loose. Starting this year out we have a new coach and a whole host of new faces.
They did what I expected them to do in the off season. No big let downs, beat the bad teams, and lose to the top 50 RPI teams we played. They got into conference play and have been inconsistent. A close loss to Akron at home and impressive wins over Kent and CMU. Putting aside two very poorly played road games at Eastern and Western Michigan they have been more impressive than I might have expected.
So far the teams big struggles have been early in the games, falling behind, and having to climb back into the contest. It cost us big against WMU and made the Ball State game way harder than it had to be.
That has to be one of the more fixable problems a team could have. Fix the first seven minutes of the games and this is a top 4 team in the MAC. So don't panic, just enjoy the season.
Once again I see a talented group of players who can compete well this season in the MAC. Once again I think they need more time before being a power in the conference. Maybe they will prove me wrong again.