UB top 10 moments in UB Athletics from 2015-16 school year
From the double Mid-American Conference Championship wins to Danny White leaving UB, here are the top 10 moments in UB Athletics from the 2015-16 year.
Honorable Mention: Katie Weimer’s historic freshman season
It would be downright unfair to talk about the year in UB Athletics without mentioning softball catcher/infielder Weimer, who had, hands down one of the most dominant freshman seasons in recent school history. From day one, head coach Trena Peel boldly slotted the freshman in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, usually reserved for a team’s best hitter, and it paid off.
Honorable Mentions: Spanish tennis players Alvarez and Arevalillo win 100th matches
Always impassioned, and occasionally intense, when speaking of or playing tennis, Sergio Arevalillo was never one to mask his emotions. “I had the best time of my life when I was here,” the Spanish tennis star said following his final match. For fans of UB men’s tennis, that feeling was certainly mutual.
Arevalillo finished his final season for Buffalo with a team-leading 24 singles wins, while Pablo Alvarez, Buffalo’s other four-year superstar, finished second on the team with 18.
1. UB men’s and women’s basketball win MAC Tournaments
March 12, 2016 will go down as the greatest day in the history of UB Athletics. Just hours apart, on the same floor at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams capped off Cinderella runs through the MAC Tournament with buzzer beaters that landed both in the NCAA Tournament.
First, the women’s team, a no. 8 seed going into the MAC Tournament, shocked no. 2 seed Central Michigan with a walk-off floater from sophomore point guard Stephanie Reid as the clock struck zero in overtime.
Next, the men’s team, coming off a season in which they lost their head coach and two best players, and had their new head coach see his wife diagnosed with Cancer just before the season, pulled off a shocking repeat performance. Junior wing Blake Hamilton hit a last-second three-pointer against Akron, just hours after Reid’s buzzer beater, to send the Bulls dancing yet again.
2. Athletic Director Danny White leaves, Allen Greene takes over
In a move that always seemed like it was only a matter of time, young, ambitious Athletic Director Danny White left Buffalo after three years on Nov. 17 to accept a job at the University of Central Florida, a larger school with a larger athletic budget. White’s most controversial move in his mostly successful tenure at Buffalo was the “New York Bulls Initiative (NYBI),” which essentially set out to re-brand UB as the “University of New York.” Jerseys prominently featured the words New York, rather than Buffalo.
Exactly one week after Green’s departure was announced, former deputy director of athletics Allen Greene was promoted to take his spot. It was a mostly uneventful rest of the year for Greene in terms of coaching hires. Not a single coach resigned or was fired this year. Greene’s biggest move, however, came earlier this year when he announced NYBI, often unpopular locally, would be no more.
3. Justin Moss dismissed from basketball team and expelled
In a shocking summer development, reigning MAC Player of the Year and rising senior Justin Moss was caught stealing money from a dorm room on June 2 along with teammates Mory Diane and Raheem Johnson. The burglary was Moss’ second offense at Buffalo, and the university would have no reservations in it’s punishment of Moss, despite the fact he was considered to be the number one contributor on Buffalo’s 2015 MAC Championship team, and was expected to carry an even bigger load after head coach Bobby Hurley and star guard Shannon Evans bolted for Arizona State University.
Moss was dismissed from the basketball team and expelled in August, while Diane and Johnson were allowed to return to both classes and the basketball team since it was both of their first offenses. Moss now plays in the National Basketball League of Canada.
4. Mike Kaelin goes in 15th round of MLB draft
Cheektowaga native Mike Kaelin took the closer role for Buffalo last season as a sophomore and has seemed destined for professional baseball ever since. From day one, he took the pressure in stride, flashing poise on the mound that was every bit as impressive as his stuff. Just 5-foot-9-inches, Kaelin’s fastball sits in the low 90s (MPH), and sometimes touches as high as the mid-90s. Combine that with a hammer curve and great control, and you can see why he has so often left the rest of the MAC looking overmatched in his three-year career.
5. Russell Cicerone’s game-winner sends soccer to MAC Championship game
On Nov. 13, one day after being named the MAC Player of the Year and less than two weeks after hitting a highlight reel goal to send UB to the MAC Championship, Russell Cicerone outdid himself yet again.
In what he would later call “the biggest moment” of his career, a career which includes 10 game-winning goals in his three years at Buffalo, Cicerone ripped a 35-yard missile into the back of the net, sending Buffalo to its first MAC Championship game in nearly a decade and sending Western Michigan, a school Cicerone was once committed to, packing.
6. Megan Burns domination
Sophomore swimmer Megan Burns continued her incredible career this year, winning three events – the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, and 800 freestyle relay – at MAC Championships. For the 50 free and 100 free, she advanced all the way to NCAA Championships. Two seasons into her career, Burns has incredibly never lost in the 50 free or 100 free at a conference meet.
7. Licata, Kling, Weiser sign NFL contracts
Buffalo’s three year streak of having a player selected in the NFL Draft may have been snapped this year, but several players were still signed as undrafted free agents or given training camp invites.
Offensive lineman John Kling signed with the Chicago Bears, while tight end Matt Weiser signed with the San Diego Chargers. Quarterback Joe Licata was given a training camp invite with the Buffalo Bills and later signed with the Cincinnati Bengals after being cut by the Bills. Cornerback Marqus Baker also received a training camp invite from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
8. UB ice hockey wins NCHA Championship
Just four years after being created, UB’s hockey team, which competes in Division III, took home a National Collegiate Hockey Association Championship on the back of several seniors who had once helped bring the team to Buffalo.
Lost in the shuffle among all the great moments UB Athletics saw in March, the Bulls tore off an impressive 4-2 victory of Penn State in the Championship in Newark, Ohio, one they hope will be the beginning of something big.
9. Darien Johnson and Malayah White both win gold in 60-meter dash at Indoor MAC Championships
At the MAC Indoor Conference Championships on Feb. 26 and 27 at the Akron Field House in Akron, Ohio, a pair of unlikely champions rose for Buffalo. Two seniors and good friends who had underachieved for the first three years of their careers, both Johnson and White finally came full circle in their last career indoor meet. Both broke Buffalo’s 60-meter dash record for their respective gender earlier in the season, but it would have meant little if they didn’t show up when it mattered most.
10. Wrestling leaves “the dark ages”
In February, UB’s head wrestling coach John Stutzman said the “dark ages” of UB wrestling were over, and his team, led by a pair of gritty, ambitious redshirt freshmen on opposite ends of the weight spectrum – Kyle Akins (125 pounds) and Jake Gunning (285 pounds) – backed up his proclamation. After two years without a single conference victory, the Bulls made the first step this year in what appears to be a comeback to prominence under Stutzman.
Michael Akelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com