With two games in the books, the Buffalo Bulls Women’s Basketball team is in good shape at making progress to defending their Mid-American Conference title. The Bulls are 2-0 overall after persuading wins over a gutted UMass team and Big 4 rival Niagara. Dating back to their exhibition win over Bloomsburg, the Bulls have won all of their games by 10 or more points.
So for the first time this season, let’s make some observations from what we’ve seen so far.
1. Summer Hemphill
We knew that she’d be good but this freshman has stunned UB fans so far. In her regular season debut as a Bull, she hauled in 8 points and 9 rebounds—enough to applaud a freshman for a great start.
But, Hemphill backed that performance up and showed that she’ll be a threat all season long thanks to her 15 point and 8 rebound performance versus Niagara. UB seems to have struck gold with this freshman.
2. The starting five’s chemistry
UB’s starting five has come out of the gate ready to throw points on the board in a hurry. The Bulls have averaged 22 points in the first quarter dating back to the exhibition and average 13 from beyond the arc in that time.
Offense hasn’t been the only key to this bunch as their defense has also been consistent. The Bulls are only allowing a solid 10.6 points in the first quarter.
3. Willingness to stick to the game plan
Despite the Bulls winning all of their games by large margins, there’s been some close calls. When something goes wrong in the past, we’ve seen a revolving door of sorts with the bench as it looked like Coach Jack was hitting the panic button. Despite trailing to Niagara in the second half, the Bulls remained calm and went to work.
4. Mariah Suchan
Once again, Suchan has been sneaky good and has received little praise for it. Without her being in the game versus Niagara, I don’t think UB would’ve won. The Bulls’ defense had been struggling and bringing her into the post did wonders. Suchan brought 11 boards in for Buffalo—sealing that category 48-21. Give Suchan more opportunities on offense and I think you’ll see this junior thrive.
5. JoAnna Smith
JoAnna looks poised to have an amazing season. Although she had an outlier game versus UMass, the 5-8 guard has put together phenomenal efforts otherwise. In limited minutes she threw up 14 points versus Bloomsburg and had 20 off of 75% shooting versus Niagara. Smith seems to be flourishing now that she knows that she doesn’t need to completely carry this offense. She’s waiting for only high quality shots now and that’s going to be a game changer throughout this season.
What’s not so great
1. The typical stagnation of the offense
We’ve had fun every game watching UB sink threes throughout the first quarter and rip teams to shreds, but the real problem begins from there. After the initial starting five starts being rotated out, Buffalo has struggled offensively. Buffalo could be 0-2 had they not been able to rejuvenate some offensive production late.
3. Inability to put bad teams away
Taking from the previous point, UB may start off hot, but they’re letting some pretty awful teams stay in the picture. At this rate, the Bulls are going to get their first loss to a bad team if they can’t destroy any of their opponents momentum. Had there been no halftime break versus Niagara, I’d have to say that the Purple Eagles would’ve won because of the energy they were building.
Buffalo’s averaging 23 turnovers per game despite all of the talent they bring back at guard. There really isn’t an excuse for a team as experienced as this to have so much trouble taking care of the ball. We’ll definitely be paying attention and see if this number starts to drop.
4. Stephanie Reid
The floor general has had a rough start to this season. After averaging 10.3 points per game last season, the junior hasn’t been able to get past 5 markers yet. It’s been mentioned that Reid hasn’t been driving through the lane and making her trademark layup—and that may be the case for why her scoring is so low.
Reid’s only four points versus Niagara were from drawing fouls by driving into the lane. Which could lead us to think that UB’s offensive stagnation could be solved if their star point guard gained some ground on this front.
For a team that’s been raining from beyond the arc no problem, the charity stripe hasn’t been a strength. Buffalo is averaging 56% from the free throw line, leaving a lot of points up for grabs.
Regardless of the good and bad, Buffalo is in great shape at this point of the season. The mistakes that have been made aren’t ones that should make Bulls fans uneasy. I’d have to say the offense slowing down mid-game is the only big concern, especially with Duquesne on the horizon.
Expect an article of this nature on the Men on Sunday