Saying "Wats Up" to a New Leader
The sixth man is the role sophomore guard Tony Watson III will fill this season as he takes his game to new heights. Karen Larkin /The Spectrum
That is the name of sophomore point guard Tony Watson's season-long blog about the men's basketball team.
The blog was passed down from former Bull Sean Smiley, and not just because it could be given this clever title.
With the departure of six seniors, Buffalo is now one of the youngest teams in the Mid-American Conference, and the sophomore guard has emerged as one of the leaders of the squad.
Due to the large group of seniors on the team, Watson only averaged 4.2 minutes per game during the 2009-10 campaign. However, the lack of playing time did not discourage Watson; rather, it allowed him to adjust to college basketball and learn from the older players.
"Being a freshman last year was good for me because I was able to learn a lot," Watson said. "I was able to be picked on in practice and I got better, so this year I'm able to step up and play like more of a junior or senior than a sophomore."
The sophomore guard has proven to be hard-working, and, more importantly, he sees being a leader as something that comes with playing his position.
"Well, as a point guard, you're always the floor general and the leader on the team, so it's just part of being the point guard where it causes you to be outspoken," Watson said.
In addition to being one of the more outspoken players on the team, Watson spent the offseason consistently working to earn his minutes and a more demanding role on the team.
Head coach Reggie Witherspoon was impressed with Watson's work ethic over the summer.
"Tony was in the gym in early hours of the morning, getting a lot of shots up with various people," Witherspoon said. "I think that has certainly ignited his development."
Even more significant to Watson's maturation as a leader was his summer job. The job, which was in sales, required the sophomore to make calls to people he didn't know and then go out to their houses and effectively present a product.
Watson learned a lot about responsibility and accountability from the experience, and it helped him become acclimated to the idea of being a leader.
With the loss of six seniors, this leadership experience will be very important and has already proven to be a great help to the incoming freshmen.
"Tony, being in his second year here, has helped by telling me some of the things he went through as a freshman… His experience also helps because I learn from mistakes that he made," said freshman point guard Jarod Oldham.
Watson was a highly regarded member of the 2009 recruiting class. He averaged 19.4 points, 11 assists, and five rebounds in his senior year at Palm Beach Gardens High School in Florida.
The sophomore has proven to be a very good shooter, and he handles the ball effectively. Witherspoon looks to encourage him to use that ability in the increased minutes that are now available to him.
The coach sees the ability on the court and believes that it is translating into leadership.
"I think that [leadership role] is evolving for him," Witherspoon said. "He and Byron [Mulkey] need to work together and find the best way to provide that leadership."
The blog allows Watson to not only reflect on the team throughout the season but also to give something back to the fans.
He has already made two entries, and it gives fans an insight to the Bulls and keeps them updated on things that go on behind the scenes.
This quote from the blog best sums up the goal of the men's basketball team this season:
"The entire coaching staff has made it their goal to not only prepare us for the season, but also make us men."
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