This is probably the top to bottom-most talented team UB has fielded since Nate Oats’ last season in Buffalo. On top of talent, they are also a team dominated by upperclassmen who have been playing together at least two seasons.
Basically UB should be well-positioned to challenge for the MAC title, at the very least they should be the kind of team that is sitting on the bubble for the NIT.
But here we are, two games into MAC play and the Bulls are 6-6, winless in the MAC, and without a true quality win on the season. To top it all off they lost a game to Canisius, even in a year when the Griffs are playing well that stings, but this season the Griffs are terrible.
So, yea, the Whitesell hire’s not looking too good. Hindsight is 20-20 and he seemed to be the right hire at the time. Hiring a guy who the players loved and who helped build the Oats teams was the safe play, but it’s not working out.
I don’t know if UB pulls the trigger on a coaching change this year. The Bulls could turn this around, lord knows the talent is there.
Even if they don’t turn it around there is the financial hit you take from letting go of a coach you just Quinstended last season.
But, just because it’s Wednesday and why not, if Buffalo makes the change perhaps the school should make an unconventional hire from within.
Rather than tap an on-staff men's coach, move your successful women’s coach over to the men's team and give her a shot to bring some passion back to a Bulls program that to this fan feels a lot like the last few years of Reggie Ball.
This is not a gimmick hire, or a glass ceiling hire. Nor is this an attempt to pretend the women's program is not a key part of UB Athletics. I think you go with Coach Jack for the following reasons.
- She is, without a doubt, the most successful coach UB basketball has ever had.
Nate Oats burned a tiny bit brighter, but only a tiny bit, and he was not here long enough to know if he would have sustained that. More over Oats inherited a very solid program from Bobby Hurley and took it a bit higher, he did not build from scratch.
Coach Jack took over a very moribund women's program and over the course of one recruiting class took them to the dance, then again, then once again. She has a sweet 16 run in there.
- Her energy is just what this program needs
I’ve lost count of the times, as a fan, when I desperately wanted some other UB team to have a skype call with Coach Jack at the half, if for no other reason than to fire her up.
She has a contagious passion that gets into her players, other coaches, and fans. Hiring her would maintain an amazing ambassador for the department.
Coach Jack is warm, charismatic, and most of all authentic. Of all the UB coaches, for all the programs that we’ve ever covered for Bull Run I can say that she is easily the one I’d most want to sit down with over a meal and just talk.
- The players under her thrive in all things
Felicia Leggettte Jack has managed to balance on the court success, academic accomplishments, and stressed a life/sports/school balance which has manifested itself in countless different ways.
- Realistically if we don’t make the move, we’re probably losing her soon
Look the dream is that she stays with the women's program that she built but every spring it seems like “that’s the job” that’s going to snatch her away from Buffalo. A chance to coach the Mens team, and the salary that comes with it, is probably the best hope Buffalo has of holding onto her.
- It would create a media buzz
This is certainly not the reason to do it, but it would be a very nice little bonus. It would be hard for the local media to ignore the move, and if anyone could charm the local media it would be FLJ
The challenge here is going to be that Men’s college basketball and women's college basketball are slightly different games. The speed and difference in the players build means the strategies are going to be different.
But if Nate Oats, a High school coach, can make the transition, it’s certainly possible that Coach Jack would find success.