The Buffalo Bulls are currently sitting at 6-3 with a bit of time left before MAC play. With three loses already and some tough opponents looming, an at large bid feels like a distant chance, so what should you be looking for as we finish up OOC. Obviously we want to win them all, but so much more is gained from these games than a tally on the record. I’m going to outline the phases of the game and what I want to see going forward before MAC play begins.
The Bulls have been electric, high scoring, and overall fun to watch this year. However, it is not the finished product we need yet so I still want to see a few things worked on.
For starters, our paint play needs to increase. I know Brock Bertram and Ikenna Smart have been hurt, but we still haven’t shown what we need. I know we’re a fast running team, but sometimes you have to slow it down and pound the paint. I’m looking to see Bertram begin to play more physical with some tough games coming. MAC play is hard, so I would love to see him able to bang around inside.
I also want to see Montell McCrae put all of his weight in to someone and battle. His height is awesome, but his weight is tough. He needs to start giving it everything he has and getting mad. If he plays mad, I think he will start impacting the paint a little, which is all we need.
As for guards, I want more than anything for Jayvon Graves to find his shot and his confidence. James Reese has showed flashes of getting his game going, but Graves feels frustrated at the moment. He’s getting to the rim and not finishing, missing threes, and just seems off. He’s still adjusting to the size of the college game but I’d love to see him finish the adjustment as we finish OOC and become the role player we need in his freshman year.
As for defense, the Bulls have been hot and cold. They’ve been like wild dogs, on the perimeter, but have been out played in the paint. This goes back to McCrae needing to be angry and stop trying to draw charges off of post ups. One is fine, but after two, they assume you’re flopping and you’ve lost the refs.
I want to see Davonta Jordan continue to show off his quick hands, but to be careful of reaching. As the NCAA continues to change the hand check rules, Jordan will get in trouble with MAC refs and we need him in the game. With Wes Clark on the horizon his role will be scaled back, but he still is our #2 point guard, who HAS to stay out of foul trouble.
These were just some basic things I want to see develop during the final few games OOC. No team is going to be flawless going in to MAC play, but the Bulls will sure be one of the most tested. There are quality teams to prepare for like Ball State and WMU, and these tough games like Syracuse and A&M should teach us what we need to know. Until tomorrow, go Bulls!