For my regular readers, you’ll know I was not impressed with the Bulls performance in the opener in the Hard Rock Riviera Maya Resort ballroom on Tuesday night. Credit where credit is due, though, the young men representing UB recovered to perform much better Wednesday night in defeating the Redbirds from Illinois St., by a score of 106-90, setting a single game high score record in the history of this MTE.
Criticized for being sluggish and sloppy against SFA, coach Whitesell’s tweaked lineup was much more energetic from the tip and jumped out to a nice early lead they would not relinquish. The execution was far better on both ends of the floor, specifically the ball movement offensively and the screen switching defensively. They took far better care of the ball and rebounded much more like their usual selves.
David Skogman got the nod at the 5 spot in place of Brock Bertram and responded with a career performance, scoring 15 in the first half and, more importantly, sparking the team. We saw all of Skogman’s promise on display; he hit two threes, made all of his free throws, finished a play with a catch and dunk when set up on a nice passing play and drove and finished at the rim off of a ball fake outside the arc. I said yesterday the team needed to find a fifth player to complete their primary lineup; if the young big man from Wisconsin continues to play like this, that question will be answered.
The rest of the regulars responded as well; I noted PG Ronaldo Segu’s 6 turnovers in the previous game even as we noted his career high 25 points. In this one, he was much more in control of tempo and finished with 8 assists to 1 turnover, a much more steady performance that his teammates have come to need from him. Josh Mballa was more assertive as well and looked quicker around the hoop on his way to a career high 29 points in a team high 33 minutes. He also controlled 8 caroms. Jeenathan Williams fought through another luke warm shooting night to finish right near his averages with 17 points, and added 5 assists.
Rondo Segu was named all tournament as the Bulls finished play in the Cancun Challenge in third place in their bracket. Overall, this result will go down as somewhat of an opportunity missed, but they avoided a disaster by recovering with a good performance in win.
UB returns to play against NAIA school Point Park University on Monday in Alumni Arena.