After arguably the best season in the Buffalo Bulls' Men's Basketball teams history, the awards were bound to come in after the season. However with Coach of the Year, it is often given to a coach who led his team past the expectations they had in the preseason. We here at Bull Run made our case for Nate Oats to win, but we were ready to be disappointed with EMU's Rob Murphy winning or Miami's Jack Owens taking home the award.
However, that was not the case, and Nate Oats brought home the hardware! Oats had the following reaction on twitter:
Coach of the Year should really be a Program Award. Great assistants and great players make or break a team. We have an unbelievable staff and high-character, unselfish, really talented players so congrats to all of them!— Nate Oats (@nate_oats) March 7, 2018
I agree with Oats in terms of it feeling like a departmental award, especially considering the fact that some of his assistants could easily be head coaches at D1 schools. That being said, let's take a look at all of this season's accomplishments for Oats.
Why Oats Won
For starters, you have to look at the schedule that Nate Oats helped to put together for the OOC season. He had stated in preseason interviews that he wanted to challenge his team as much as possible, and expose their weaknesses, rather than march through a cupcake schedule. This paid off immediately as the Bulls showed to be the most battle tested team come conference play.
Oats also had to deal without some of his best players during the season. Wes Clark was ineligible due to transfer rules, Ikenna Smart was recovering from back surgery, Brock Bertram injured his knee, and Dontay Caruthers broke his leg. All together, Oats had to bring in quarterback Dominic Johnson, just to make sure his team had a deep enough bench. The way in which he handled his roster through all the obstacles however, was a work of art to watch. He wasn’t afraid to move Perkins to the bench which allowed him to succeed.
The final big reason Nate Oats is coach of the year, is because he never let this season unravel. When expectations were huge, he could have lost focus and dropped his intensity, but he didn’t. He made sure the team was playing at their best all season. Yes the Bulls may have slipped up for three bad performances during MAC play, but he never let it lead to another loss. UB always rebounded after a loss this year, their only losing streak being against Syracuse and Texas A&M, two power five teams.
Overall, Oats had the best season coaching in Buffalo history, and hopefully we see his contract extension soon after the season ends, to ensure that his phone isn’t allowed to ring. Thank you and congrats Coach Oats for an incredible regular season, now lets go win a championship!