A 'Sea of Blue' Expected at Bulls Game Wednesday



When the Mid-American Conference-leading Kent State Golden Flashes come to Alumni Arena on Wednesday night, a "sea of blue" is expected to wash them away and out of town.

That is the plan, at least.

The UB athletic department is urging all that attend the 7 p.m. game on Wednesday to wear Buffalo's royal blue team color to create the "sea of blue."

"My feeling on (the sea of blue) is that we would be bringing the essence of college basketball in its truest and brightest form right here to UB," said Bulls' head coach Reggie Witherspoon.

On Feb. 11 in Kent, Ohio, the Buffalo Bulls lost a close, 79-75 game to the Flashes, one that UB point guard Turner Battle thought slipped through their fingers.

"We felt we should have won at Kent State," said Battle. "With them being a veteran team and winning more than we have, they executed better later in the game than we did."

Bulls' forward Mark Bortz was impressed with Kent's raucous arena and their respective "sea of gold."

"When we were down in Kent State they had their sea of gold," said Bortz. "It was probably one of the loudest places I've ever played at. If we can create that here it would be great."

"It's very exciting to have an atmosphere like that," said Battle. "The fans that we have now have done a good job, but if we have more we can be as loud as them."

The UB athletic department has gone the full nine yards to make sure that when the Buffalo Bulls go to war with the Flashes on Feb. 25, UB students will walk away with a sense of what Buffalo athletics are all about.

Students that come to the game will receive gift bags including free items from Wendy's, Mighty Taco, Key Bank, Tops Friendly Markets, Tim Horton's, Domino's Pizza, The College Store, Regal Cinemas, Aeropostale, the Student Association and Montana's Cookhouse.

A few fans will also receive autographed jerseys and basketballs signed by the entire team.

In addition to all the prizes given away to UB students, they will get to watch what is currently the most important game of the year for the resurgent Bulls (12-11, 7-7 MAC), as they clash with the rival Golden Flashes (20-3, 13-1 MAC) in a game that has major playoff implications.

"It's huge, not only for our standings, but for the program," said Bortz. "To beat Kent State, it allows us to get that much closer to a home playoff game, something that Buffalo has never had. We're trying to make history."

Buffalo currently sits at fifth in the MAC with a conference record of 7-7. If the playoffs were to start today, they would host a playoff game against the 12th place Northern Illinois Huskies. But with the Kent State and Miami of Ohio (15-8, 10-4 MAC) games looming on the Bulls' schedule, and with Ball State (10-13, 7-7 MAC), Bowling Green (12-13, 7-7 MAC), Marshall (9-14, 6-8 MAC) and Ohio (9-16, 6-8 MAC) nipping at UB's heels, nothing is certain.

"If you can get a win the next game gets bigger," said UB head coach Reggie Witherspoon of Wednesday's game being dubbed "game of the year."

"And if you get another win the following game gets bigger. It's a huge game deep in the conference schedule and we're at a point we have never been at," Witherspoon said.

For those who have never attended a game, or are unsure about attending Wednesday night's 7 p.m. contest, Bortz and Battle also had a few comments.

"Give us a chance," said Bortz. "We love to see the fans in the stands. We want them to come and have a great time and we'll do our best to do everything to bring them back."

"I think they would enjoy themselves coming to watch a competitive basketball game," said Battle. "Hopefully we can bring our A-game and give them something they can all enjoy."

Witherspoon also had words for those on the fence about attending the UB-KSU game.

"I think what people need to realize is that coming to a college basketball game is fun because of the fans," said Witherspoon. "Often times people say, 'well I don't know that much about basketball, I haven't followed it that much.

"What they will find out is, that when they show up there is so much more that they will enjoy than just the game," continued Witherspoon. "And when there is more people there, there is more enjoyment there, and they're a part of it and not just spectators."

The tip-off is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night in Alumni Arena.