The Edge: Buffalo vs. Central Michigan
Position breakdowns for the women's basketball game against the Chippewas
Despite the Bulls’ success this season, there still remains one team ahead of them in the Mid-American Conference: the Central Michigan Chippewas. The Chippewas are currently first in the MAC and have been perfect in conference play this season. They are the last team to beat the Bulls, having a 86-79 win back in January.
In the rematch, the Bulls (19-4, 10-2 MAC) will play in Alumni Arena, a home field advantage they did not have in the first game. The game will be crucial as a win and would put the Bulls one game behind the Chippewas (20-4, 12-0 MAC), but a loss would put them four games back. Below is a position-based breakdown for Wednesday’s game with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.
In the last game, center Cassie Oursler had a poor performance, shooting 1-12 with only 6 rebounds. Since the loss, Oursler has bounced back including a double-double in the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes (11-14, 4-9 MAC).
The Chippewas have junior forward Reyna Frost at center where she has produced strong numbers all season. Frost averages over 10 rebounds a game and can score double digits despite being undersized for the spot. In their first outing, she had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite the edge going to the Chippewas, don’t be surprised if Oursler has a strong performance on Wednesday night.
The Bulls’ best performance in the first Central Michigan game came from sophomore forward Summer Hemphill. She shot 7-10 with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 0 turnovers. With senior guard Katherine Ups able to play forward along with senior forward Mariah Suchan on the bench, the Bulls have a strong set of players to fill the three and four spot. This allows them to switch from a two-guard scheme to a three-guard scheme, making them more unpredictable on the court.
The Chippewas don’t have the same level of depth at this position. Starting forward Tinara Moore is a solid player but has already shown issues trying to stop the Bulls’ forwards in their first game. The Chippewas also start with a three-guard scheme which should allow Hemphill to have another strong performance where she can attack the lane.
Guard: Pick ’em
The guards will be the x-factor in Wednesday's game as both teams rely on their shooters for most of their points. The first time around junior guard Cierra Dillard struggled shooting, going 6-26 and 3-20 from beyond the arc. A strong performance from the Bulls’ best shooter will be paramount for a different result on Wednesday.
Senior guard Stephanie Reid will look to repeat a strong shooting performance, with 20 points in their last game. If she can have a strong passing day too, she could make up for a lack of made shots by Dillard. Add in the bench guards including freshman Hanna Hall and senior Liisa Ups, and the Bulls have depth at the position.
The Chippewas may not have the same talent at the guard spots, but they have plenty of depth. According to their official website, 11 players on the team can play guard. Despite that, the team rarely calls on their bench and has their starters play 35 minutes or more. But that same starting five also had one of the best defensive performances against the Bulls all year. Expect junior guard Presley Hudson to be the Chippewas’ best guard shooting.
Both teams shot below 50 percent in their first game, so if one team can get hot shooting early, they have a chance to run away with it.
Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack has already been trying to address the issues the Bulls showed in the last Central Michigan game. She expressed in recent post-game interviews she would like to see the team return to a more fast-paced style. With Legette-Jack’s track record and a deep coaching staff, expect the Bulls to look different then they did last time against Central Michigan.
The Chippewas have strong leadership in head coach Sue Guevara, former head coach at the University of Michigan. As with Legette-Jack, Guevara will be looking to fix the holes even after winning the first game.
Given the Bulls’ recent strong performances, it would seem Legette-Jack may already have her team ready to go.
Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.