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Two to go: what Buffalo Bulls Men’s Basketball needs to happen to get back into championship shape

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Photo Courtesy of UB Athletics

Entering last week, Buffalo Bulls Men’s Basketball was riding a six game winning streak until they dropped a pair of games, both at home. The Bulls lost to a Kent State team that is peaking just at the right time and an Akron team that is limping towards the finish line. In the six straight games that Buffalo won, UB looked like the best team in the conference, but now they need to find a few missing pieces again to return to that late season form.

The biggest problem that appears at the forefront of this two game funk is the lack of effective ball movement on Buffalo’s part. In the past two contests, the Bulls have laid back and relied too often on trying to generate offense on the perimeter. If the shot from three wasn’t there, the Bulls desperately drove into a clogged lane and practically hoped to draw a foul and get to the line.

Ball movement was much better and the offensive flow looked smoother before these two games in Alumni. Buffalo was able to get the person in the interior a lot more looks and it helped stretch the floor and the offense quickly became dangerous. This is telling with the assist column as UB averaged 12.6 assists per game during the winning streak, but they’re under 10 in this two game skid.

Not only is the assist category a little lower, but so is Buffalo’s three point shooting in this stretch. UB shot 24 and 30 percent respectively in their last two games from beyond the arc, and that is abysmal compared to how well they were playing for much of the win streak. Games where the Bulls were able to make 10-11 threes were becoming much more common along with shooting percentages well over 40%.

It’s easy to blame whoever is running the point, but I do think this comes back to Blake Hamilton in some way. Although he’s flirting with a triple-double almost every game now, the 6-6 hybrid point guard is trying to do too much by himself. Hamilton is taking a ton of shots at the wrong times and falls into a “drive into the lane panic” if he can’t find anything on the perimeter.

It’s similar to Hamilton running the point earlier in the season. The tempo is a tad slower at times and not everyone is getting involved on the offense—leading players like Willie Conner to jack up a three because they don’t know when the next time they’ll get the ball in their hands is.

I’m a firm supporter of Hamilton running the point, I don’t think anyone on the team is better than him at directing the offense yet. When Blake is at his best directing the offense, UB can play with just about anybody because of the scoring threats on this team. Hamilton just needs to keep aware of all his options in every possession and keep the ball moving. If the ball comes to him at the right moment for a triple, then that’s fine.

If that ball movement is there and UB can work the interior some more, there isn’t a single team in the conference that can beat them. UB’s rebounding numbers are only being rivaled by Kent State as of late and if they combine that with good shooting, the Bulls are a tough team to put away.

With two games left in the conference slate, the Bulls go up against two teams that aren’t as capable on the glass. If Buffalo can get the flow back into the offense, they’ll be in the right shape for a winning streak in Cleveland. Not only that, but they’ll also close out the regular season with a pair of wins and get a quarterfinal bye for the MAC Tournament.