Get ready to cheer: winter is almost here
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
As I stood on the sideline of the homecoming football game on Saturday, I didn’t feel very comfortable. The cold rain had drenched me to the core and my spirits matched my wet, numb feet.
It was an apt symbol of my feelings for UB’s athletic teams so far this year.
As we are more than halfway through the fall sports schedule, the only highlight for me has been the football team’s record-setting performance against Morgan State on Sept. 8.
I want to like the sports teams on campus; I really do. I want to root for the football team and the other teams that carry the UB banner around the country during the fall months, but it’s hard when they continue to lose week after week.
Although the playoffs are right around the corner, I find myself disinterested. The only team with a reasonable shot at the playoffs is the women’s soccer team, and the Bulls are going to be huge underdogs if they make it.
The lack of wins and exciting moments makes students and Bulls fans alike yearn for a better time. A time when cheers were more common than jeers and Buffalo could be proud of its biggest college sports presence. When coaches were loved – not questioned – and fans outnumbered empty seats.
If this seems familiar, it’s because this was the reality not too long ago.
Just last March, Mitchell Watt and the men’s basketball team lit up Alumni Arena with their record setting performances and electrifying play. This team complemented a season in which the women’s soccer team shocked many around the nation with an 11-game turnaround from 2010, the best in school history and the best Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) jump in the nation. The men’s tennis team was thrilling, too, as it finished the season winning the Mid-American Conference regular season title after starting 1-7.
To all the students like me who are dejected: Do not fret; the winter teams are here to ease your pain.
Last season, the men’s basketball team surprised the conference by clinching the No. 2 seed in the regular season, earning a triple-bye in the postseason tournament and coming a hair’s breadth from clinching a spot in the title game and possibly a berth in the NCAA tournament.
This season promises to be almost as exciting. Although the Bulls lost the greatest senior class in school history, they have strong young talent and transfers ready to step in and further the Bulls’ success.
Last year, junior forward Javon McCrea watched as senior Mitchell Watt single-handedly dominated teams. But McCrea is no slouch himself, and this is his team now. McCrea will be a huge presence all over the court, and the Bulls’ season relies heavily on his success.
Joining him for the first time will be a Virginia transfer, junior center Will Regan. Regan is a local product from the Nichols School and will be a big threat for the Bulls in the paint. His presence in the post will allow the multifaceted McCrea to play wherever he is needed – on the perimeter or in the paint.
Although the women struggled last season, the future is bright for them as well. Fiery new ead coach Felisha Legette-Jack brings an energy that many parallel to men’s head coach Reggie Witherspoon, who has been a huge success in his 12 seasons at Buffalo.
Although Legette-Jack will need time to implement her system and bring in her recruits, she has already proven to be a hit with fans and players.
I figure the Bulls’ success will stretch beyond the hardwood. Both the wrestling and swimming teams figure to have strong seasons.
The men’s swimming and diving team has finished first and second at the MAC championships the past two seasons and continues to get stronger under head coach Andy Bashor.
Although the women’s team has not had the strong finishes of the men’s team, the athletes have been consistently improving. With senior Brittney Kuras returning after possibly the greatest individual season in Buffalo history, you can’t help but be optimistic about this team.
The wrestling team was young last year and showed its youth throughout the season, but this year figures to be much more exciting. Even though the squad graduated one of the best wrestlers in school history in Kevin Smith, UB has enough talented underclassmen to make up for the loss. John Martin-Cannon will lead the Bulls in their quest for a MAC title, which is a more realistic goal than most realize.
So perhaps the near future of UB sports isn’t as bad as it looks. Although the fall season has been brutal on Bulls fans, the winter season will breathe new life into this campus and student body.
Disgruntled fans will shed their winter coats and fill gratefully into the seats in Alumni Arena to watch teams that have a legitimate shot at winning games.
So shake off the moist fall weather and get your foam fingers ready. It’s almost time for the best teams UB has to offer.