Yes they're 3-5 [0-1 in the MAC], having lost to Cornell at home, then Detroit , Bowling Green, Canisius and Youngstown State on the road. All three wins of their wins this year have come at home.And they look like a veteran team, with 4 Seniors and a Junior on the roster.
But once you look at playing time and scoring, only one of the Seniors is near the top of the scoring and playing time list. The bulk of the scoring and time on the court is coming from Sophomores with a couple of Frosh thrown in.Last year, the Cats had little trouble beating the Bulls 63-57 in Buffalo as Tavaras Hardy had a double-double [18 points 10 boards]. And this could be scary - the Cats have never lost to Buffalo.
The Buffalo Bulls head coach is Reggie Witherspoon, who is in his 4th year . He's from the Buffalo Area, and had quite a record in his first coaching assignment - leading Sweet Home High School to 4 straigh division titles.The Starters
His tenure at the Bulls has been marked by several rebuilding years and has pulled Buffalo up from obscurity to a losing, but a close to .500 showing in the MAC last year. His teams have been able to rise up and beat the best in the MAC - the Bulls have won games from Kent State, Miami of Ohio and Akron over the past year.
He also stresses academics - his freshman class last year had a 3.35 GPA their first semester at Buffalo. Three of the present squad are graduates - playing out their eligibility: Guard Davis Lawrence, Center Clement Smith and Forward Joe Veal all picked up their diplomas last Spring.
Forwards: 6-9 Senior Joe Veal [#40] and 6-6 Sophomore Daniel Gilbert [#31]The Big Gun
Center: 6-8 Senior Clement Smith [#15 - right]
Guards: 6-3 Sophomore Turner Battle [#11] and 6-4 Sophomore Jason Bird.
This quintet has started all eight games for the Buffalo Bulls. All average over 36 points and 25 minutes a game, except for Veal who plays only 10 minutes.
No Question about it, its 6-3 Sophomore Guard Turner Battle [#11-left]. He's played the most minutes , has the most points , is tied for second on Rebounds [14/30/44]. and has 14 Steals. Take him out of his game, and you take away a big part of the Bulls game.The Rest of the Team
Off the Boards its 6-10 Sophomore Forward Mark Bortz, who comes off the bench, but is the rebound leader with 56 [21 offense/35 defense]. He's also the second leading scorer on the team.
While the Bulls have 2 1.000 3 point shooters, the regular player with the best 3 point percentage is Bortz - he's 5-12.. Starting 6-4 Guard Jason Bird has take the most shots from beyond the arc , but he's only 9-30.
This year, the Bulls Coach Reggie Witherspoon has played all 14 of his roster players, but 9 have played in every game and in some cases the subs have more minutes than the starters. On average, the subs also are outscoring the starters 37.2 - 36.2.So the Challenge for the Wildcats
Forward Mark Bortz [#42 - right] is the 2nd leading scorer on the team, and is averaging 23.8 minutes a game, even though he's coming off the bench. With a 9.1 ppg average and 7 boards a game, he's #2 in scoring and the rebound leader.
6-3 Freshman Guard Roderick Middleton [#22] is also playing close to 20 minutes a game, and is #3 on the season box score with 8.8 ppg.
B.J. Walker [#44], a 6-9 Freshman Forward is averaging 4.3 ppg and 14.4 minutes, followed by 5-11 Freshman Guard Calvin Cage [#10] who plays 11+ minutes and is averaging 3 ppg.
All four of these subs are averaging move points a game and more minutes than Senior forward Joe Veal who starts at forward for the Bulls.
As a team, Buffalo is shooting .396 from the floor, and .315 from outside the arc. They're a little better from the free throw line shooting .688. They have a slight edge in rebounds over all their opponents so far this year [37.9 - 35.4] but the big margin is on the offensive end [119-97].
Obviously its to stop the two Sophomore scorers for the Bulls, Turner Battle and Mark Bortz and shut down Freshman Guard Roderick Middleton too. The good news in all this may be that they don't all start. The bad news is that they get in against an opponent's bench and score a bunch.Once Again no TV
If NU Coach Bill Carmody is still trying to evaluate players heading into the Big 10 Season, Buffalo's bench players may give him a chance to see what our bench can do, but the Buffalo Bulls apparently don't give up much when they substitute.
You will be able to hear the game on WGN 720 AM, or http://www.wgn.com. Fans on the East Coast will also be able to pick up the Bull's broadcast on Buffalo's Flamethrower WWKB - 1520 AM. [maybe even on their teeth in upstate New York] I do expect to host a Chat using the Microsoft/IRC Chat. during the game.
Photos copyright University of Buffalo