The Edge: Buffalo vs. Canisius
Previewing the women's basketball game between the Golden Griffins and the Bulls
The Bulls are coming into their game against the Canisius Golden Griffins after going 1-1 at the Arizona State Classic. They had a strong game in their last outing beating the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels 80-53.
The Bulls (5-1, 0-0) look like the better team on paper heading into Thursday’s home game. The Bulls have been able to get results on both sides of the ball unlike the Golden Griffins (2-5, 0-0), and it shows in both teams’ records.
Expect another fast paced game where the Bulls outwork their opponent on both sides of the ball. See the position breakdowns below for more detail.
The Bulls have the clear advantage at center. Senior center Cassie Oursler has been a strong rebounder all season and in her last game had 16 points. Oursler’s rebounding hasn’t been as strong as it was earlier in the season but she finds ways to produce in multiple areas for the Bulls.
The Golden Griffins have no true center on the team. Similar to the UB men’s basketball team, the Golden Griffins are made up entirely of guards and forwards. The Griffins just doesn’t have a player that can matchup to the size of Oursler.
The Golden Griffins don’t have many top producers on their team. One of the few however is junior forward Sara Hinriksdottir who has already scored more than 100 points this season. Hinriksdottir is the kind of player who can pass and shoot. She could be an issue for the Bulls given that she has not scored below double-digits this whole season.
Yet the Bulls hold the advantage with the numbers game. The Bulls just have too many solid forwards when compared to the Golden Griffins. Given that the Bulls are a strong defensive team, it will be hard for Hinriksdottir to get going in this game.
Senior forward Katherine Ups is a forward accurate from the three point line and can still get rebounds. Sophomore forward Summer Hemphill is shaping up to become a versatile player for the Bulls. In her tenure with the team dating back to last season, she has had great performances shooting, passing and rebounding. Now it is just a matter of making those numbers consistent.
The Bulls still have a strong backcourt despite senior guard Stephanie Reid finding herself on the bench with an injury. Senior guard Liisa Ups may not be the passer Reid is but she is aggressive on the boards and has range behind the three point line.
The real standout at the guard position is junior Cierra Dillard. With each game, Dillard looks to be returning to form after a year layoff. She had 18 points in her last game going 4-9 from beyond the line and shot a perfect 6-6 in free throws. Strong scoring performances could start becoming the norm for Dillard who was previously the top scorer at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The Golden Griffins have one of their best players in senior guard Margret Halfdanardottir. She averages 10.1 points a game and has solid range from behind the three point line. Yet, even her stats don’t match up as well to some of Dillard's recent performances. Add in Ups solid performance and it becomes clear why the Bulls have the edge.
Coach Felisha Legette-Jack is only six games into the season and she has already made this Bulls look strong. Her adoption of a new fast-paced play style has worked to the team's advantage so far, while she remains keen on more player growth.
The Golden Griffins coach, Terry Zeh, is in his 14th season as the team's head coach. That will help even out the experience factor that both coaches have. Yet Zeh hasn’t formed an impressive unit this year and the team has lost their last two games by 25 or more points. The team will be heading into Thursday’s game on a four-game losing streak.
The Bulls benefit from having an experienced bench. Unlike other teams where play time can vary, Legette-Jack seems insistent that all her players should have time on the court. She has trust in the bench unit as almost every player on it has been through a season with Legette-Jack already. With players like senior forward Mariah Suchan and junior forward Brittany Morrison coming off the bench, the Bulls have made a strong second unit.
The Golden Griffins just don’t have the same depth. In their last game, there were nine players who made one field goal or less. A bright spot for the team however is sophomore guard Anna Sweny. Despite being 5’6,” Sweny has proven to be a strong rebounder for the team with 16 rebounds combined in her last two games. The Golden Griffins will need a lot more than a strong rebounding performance if they hope to get by the Bulls.
Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com