A wishbone effort
Bulls split games over Thanksgiving Break
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 19:11
After falling short at the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and losing a tough battle to cross-town rival Canisius (3-1), the men’s basketball team (2-5) took care of business against a vertically challenged opponent in Division II Mansfield (1-1).
It was a result that was badly needed for the slumping Bulls – a team that was going through a litany of injuries during the week. Buffalo played without the services of sophomore forward Xavier Ford against the Golden Griffins, and senior guard Tony Watson missed both games.
It was hard for the Bulls to overcome the injuries to its third (Watson) and fifth (Ford) leading scorers, falling to Canisius by a score of 71-64.
The Bulls were also victimized by sloppy ball handling, committing 24 turnovers on the night.
“It’s painful for us to go through these experiences, but we have to go through them in order to get our guys growth and development,” said head coach Reggie Witherspoon after the game. “The positive is that we’re getting guys on the floor and getting guys minutes … the negative, obviously, is you don’t want to do this shorthanded.”
A frustrated Bulls team turned it around on Saturday night against a squad whose tallest player is 6-foot-6. They pounded Mansfield, 76-57.
“[Mansfield] came to win, and they weren’t sitting around holding it and milking the clock,” Witherspoon said after the game. “Any time you play a Division II team, these are guys that are going to think you passed on them or were part of a group of schools that passed on them, and they’re going to come in and play hard. And they did.”
Buffalo took care of the ball this time around, committing only 11 turnovers in the win.
Despite losing Watson for four games with an ankle injury, in which the Bulls went 1-3, they have gotten a lift from some of their other scorers, notably sophomore forward Will Regan. Against Canisius, he scored 15 points, and he followed that up with another 15-point effort against Mansfield at home. He has been effective in stretching the floor for Buffalo, as he shot 3-for-4 from three-point range in both games.
After a slow start, Regan is getting used to the college game.
“I think he’s coming along,” Witherspoon said. “There’s moments when he’s waiting to see what’s going to happen, and he doesn’t always trust what he know will happen. When he does that, he will play better.
“He hadn’t played, so some of it is rust and some of it was he hadn’t played at this level. Although it’s his third year of college, he came in with less experience than most sophomores and almost at a similar level as a freshman. He’s gotta work his way through.”
Regan’s scoring has been a welcome sight for frontcourt mate junior Javon McCrea. McCrea continued his dominant performance over the week, scoring 22 points, grabbing six boards and blocking three shots against the Golden Griffins and following that up with a 14-point, seven-rebound effort against the Mountaineers. McCrea is averaging 17 points, six rebounds and two blocks through seven games.
After a game in which all five starters played 30-plus minutes against Canisius, Witherspoon used his bench more against Mansfield, as every Bulls player who entered the game scored a basket.
“We had pretty good energy come off the bench. It got us going and we were able to separate ourselves,” Witherspoon said. “I thought we moved the ball well and that’s certainly an area we are working on really hard to learn the lesson of not beating ourselves. I think tonight we were decent in that area.”
Buffalo looks to continue its winning ways when it takes on Temple (3-0) on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.