Who’s on point?
UB men’s basketball enters this season looking for a point guard
Former UB point guard Lamonte Bearden threw a curveball at the men’s basketball team last summer. Bearden, who led the team to their second Mid-American Conference title, announced he was transferring.
The team has never truly established a point guard since.
Former forward Blake Hamilton closed out last year, but it wasn’t his natural position. With Hamilton’s graduation the team is back in flux.
The Bulls (1-0) [record will change on Wednesday night] enter the year with an arsenal of guards but no established choice for the point. Head coach Nate Oats said there are at least four viable options. They each bring different skill sets to the team, according to Oats. But sophomore guard Davonta Jordan and senior guard Wes Clark are the likely choices because their play style fits most naturally at the point position.
“If you go traditional point guard that’s not really looking to score that much, Davonta Jordan is the only guy on the team that really fits that bill,” Oats said. “Wes Clark is a point guard. He just can score at a high level … CJ [Massinburg] can play the point, but he’s not really a point though. Dontay Caruthers can play the point. … They all bring different stuff to the table.”
Jordan has more assists per game than any other returning Bull. According to Oats, Jordan told him he wants to lead the MAC in assist-to-turnover ratio, but he had a rough start at Saturday’s season opener with two assists to three turnovers.
Jordan showed a willingness to pass, but his best asset was his scoring. He shot 7-of-8 from the floor and 2-of-2 from 3-point range, proving he is the most efficient shooter for the Bulls.
Clark, a first year transfer, comes from Missouri with promise. The senior scored 9.8 points per game for the Southeastern Conference school along with three assists and three rebounds per contest. The Bulls will have to play without him for the first 10 games, however, as Clark is ineligible for play based on NCAA transfer rules. Oats said he will be active come mid-December.
Oats has high-expectations for what Clark will be able to contribute once he’s on the floor for Buffalo.
“He can score at a high-level. He’s got a super high IQ, doesn't turn the ball over,” Oats said. “So whenever we get him, hopefully sooner rather than later, he’s our best point guard.”
The addition of junior guards Caruthers and Massinburg will keep opponents on their toes too. The team feels having four quality ball handlers will allow them to play a lot of combination style lineups with two different point options on the court.
“If one person is taken out of the play, we have other ball handlers that can create,” Jordan said. “Not just one person can create for others, but lots of guys can push the ball ahead and they create for the team so that helps a lot.”
Oats said he wants to see the ball moving quicker this season, no matter who is running the point. He said last season the ball had a tendency to stick too much. He wants players to make a decision within a half-second of getting the ball to either pass, shoot or drive.
All four prospective guards said having another ball handler on the court will help to keep the ball moving.
“It definitely makes the job easier when you have shooters all around,” Massinburg said. “You know you have [junior forward] Nick Perkins and [junior forward] Montell McRae and those are our big men and they can both shoot the three well so teams are going to hesitate to come off and help. … It also makes it easier because you can really spread it anywhere on the court because it will get knocked down.”
Daniel Petruccelli is the sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org