The announced attendance was above 3,000 Saturday afternoon, but it feels like few people paid attention to UB's win over Binghamton. Our takeaways:
1. Wigginton, Hamilton & Intangibles
Rodell Wigginton's contributions while on the floor are glaringly obvious even to those who might struggle to see beyond the stat sheet. Down two possessions early and with no sense of a functioning offense, Wigginton's substitution immediately brought better spacing on offense and smarter positioning on defense. He didn't actually take a shot until midway through the second half, but there's a clear difference when he's on the floor.
Blake Hamilton, on the other hand, did light up the stat sheet. I scoffed in the preseason when Nate Oats touted him as a triple-double threat, but obviously it's there. I have more to say about Hamilton running the point in a coming post, but he just seems to be everywhere. Like Wigginton, he's a master of the weakside rebound, and the ball moves more on offense with him at the point than any of UB's other options.
All this leads me to say that UB is succeeding not when they put their most electric players on the floor. That's not new - it's why Dave Barnett was so beloved, and why I praised Raheem Johnson last week - but it's not always happening for Buffalo this season, leading to poor spacing, poor ball movement, and low-percentage shots.
2. Inconsistent defense
On the whole, this was a good showing. The Bearcats were below .90 points per possession, and had several long stretches of absolutely nothing. In between, though, UB slacked off and couldn't put Binghamton away. Part of that is because Marlon Beck II is a 45% three-point shooter, and at times someone like that is going to score a bunch, but even though Buffalo's first ten-point lead came with four minutes to play in the first half and ballooned as high as 17, Binghamton was able a few times to get within seven or so.
3. Free throws
Midway through the second half, UB wasn't bad from the line, but certainly not great: 5-8 after the break along with 3-5 in the first half. UB finished 7-8 from the line to get above 70% for the game and really ice it.
Player of the game: Hamilton
It's not just 8 points, 9 rebounds, or 8 assists; it's also 4 steals and doing all of that in 28 minutes and against a single turnover. But for some wild layups, Blake outplayed Lamonte today and in general looks plenty comfortable anywhere but the low post.
1. That's a nice assist total
I know that Coach Oats has been aiming for this team to get to twenty assists but I'll take seventeen considering we were barely able to get any earlier in the season. Lately, the ball movement was there and the problem was that the shot selection was there. What makes me happiest is Blake Hamilton's eight assists. It's really nice to have somebody that's willing to be selfless with the ball.
2. Smart and Kadiri work well together
I don't think our post defense has been any better than when Ikenna Smart and David Kadiri are both on the floor. Binghamton just couldn't get any penetration as the size of both players was overwhelming. I would now love to see Kadiri get more minutes after his 4 point, 3 block effort in just twelve minutes. We may not have a single leader in the post but with these two working together, they make a very formidable duo.
3. Please dunk the ball
So many times I see a big man like Nick Perkins, Smart, or Kadiri have a chance to get a nice offensive rebound and put it back for a dunk. The problem is that they don't do that and try to tip it back in. Often times we lose the rebound because of that and it's tough to watch. Either put that shot back with some force or bring the ball back out to a guard so the play can reset.