1. Diverse offensive success
Other than a stretch in the first half, when UB seemed a little too eager to take long shots early in the shot clock, and a shorter one later when Buffalo had established their control when they got a little streetball, the offense was beautiful. There was ball movement, there was off-ball movement, there was kickout passes to open players on the perimeter, and there were drop off passes down low turned into points. It was I thought the smartest offensive performance we've seen all season.
2. They're not Moss or McCrea, but the big men are critically important
UB was never in danger of losing this one, despite what you might have heard from cranky guy in Section 204, but they're a very different team when Ikenna Smart, Nick Perkins, and David Kadiri have to sit with foul trouble.The streetball I speak about above came after all three had hit four fouls, and UB wasn't able to really pull away because the Blue Hens were able to continually get to the hoop.
3. Conner, Kadiri, and Rakicevic
It's simple: If this is what UB can get from their depth game-in and game-out, they're good enough to manage a winning record in conference play and position themselves as a tough out in Cleveland. I've already mentioned the smart ball movement, but these three in particular were rarely caught without an option, and combined for 46 points on 15-24 shooting to only 3 turnovers. Don't forget that Blake Hamilton, who usually meets my approval as a smart, versatile player who avoids unnecessarily risky play, sat out this game with a concussion.
Player of the Game: Willie Conner
Conner brought an entire different dimension to the floor than in the past. He was always moving and always looking for a better shot, whether it meant getting himself into space or the ball to someone else with a better look. Very quietly he led all players with 6 assists.
1. Nikola has made his case for more minutes
Up until today, Rakicevic hasn't seen a ton of minutes despite the hype of he had coming aboard from his native country, Serbia. Today, Nikola was firing on all cylinders while he was on the floor. 14 points and 5 rebounds isn't anything to sniff at and it shows his potential. He may not have the athleticism that many players on this team can brag about, but his decision making is phenomenal. I expect more 20 minute days from Johnny.
2. Wigginton struggles again
December has been a roller coaster for Rodell. He had two games where he had two good games of 50% and 75% shooting respectively. The other games were a struggle including Buffalo's trip to Iowa State where he only earned 9 minutes during the entire game. Wigginton has looked sloppy with his decision making as of late, which is something that should be addressed soon.
3. 10 wins in conference play isn't a reach goal for this team
I thought really high of this team coming in early this season. I still think that a top four MAC seed is very possible for this team, especially if they play like they did tonight. Anyways, I expect 10 wins at the very least, and for this team to make a little noise in the MAC tournament even though I don't expect them to win it. I still think the best has yet to come for this team and I look forward to it.
Player of the Game: WILLIE
Best game he has had yet. This is the Willie Conner I expected coming into the season and it looks like he finally found his role on the team.