Smells Like Bulls' Spirit

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The Spectrum


"You wanna get nuts? Come on! Let's get nuts!"

-Michael Keaton in "Batman"

A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say.

What I say, is that it's about time to desecrate and defile one certain picture that has been bothering me for quite some time.

You can't help but notice the enlarged and framed photograph behind the counter in Campus Caf?(c) in The Commons. It's a picture from the 1999-00 season when the storied University of North Carolina Tar Heels graced Alumni Arena in a game against the Buffalo Bulls.

UNC gave us a nice 91-67 thrashing, but all you ever hear about concerning UB basketball is that we led those Tar Heels at halftime.

That is our athletic claim to fame.

We were winning at halftime.

Pretty pathetic, if you ask me.

It's about time for a new claim to fame, don't you think? It's time for the era of Witherspoon, Battle, Bortz, Jordan, Bird, Idbihi, Cage, Middleton and Gilbert to take command of this school and never let go. It's time to smash that UB-UNC picture and forget that we ever "led at halftime."

This is it. This is what we've been waiting for. You can feel it in the air, there is a buzz on campus surrounding the very meaningful game taking place tonight at 7 p.m. in Alumni Arena.

And no, it's not a hapless UB team going for its record 83rd-straight loss, it's a 12-11 Bulls team fighting for the rights to host a home playoff game as they are pitted against a team that has owned the Mid-American Conference, the rival 20-3 (13-1 MAC) Kent State Golden Flashes.

Kent State is a team that made it to the NCAA Tournament's elite eight in 2002. A team that narrowly escaped Alumni Arena last year on a heartbreaking buzzer beater. A team that barely held off the Bulls in Kent, Ohio, two weeks ago today, winning by a mere four points.

Most of all, the Flashes are a team that the Bulls could very well beat tonight. And that victory is something that this university desperately needs to happen tonight. It may not be time to call it a "must-win" game in terms of conference standings, but it certainly is a "must-win" game in terms of generating excitement on campus.

I think I might break down and cry if Buffalo just gets plain blown out of Alumni Arena tonight in a laugher that sends bevies of fans home with another disappointing UB athletic event churning in their stomachs. In my two years as an editor at The Spectrum, the teams I, and most people, care about - the football and men's basketball teams - have combined to go 7-45.

We just can't take it anymore.

This 12-11 Bulls team represents so much. The team has already accomplished a ton this season, but a win tonight would just be, well, glorious. It would be the culmination of every hope and dream that UB has had about its athletic programs. Knocking off Kent State in front of a frenzied "Sea of Blue" may be the final boulder to pass on the road to not only respectability, but pride amongst a school of 20,000 plus.

Who's to say that a win tonight couldn't propel the Bulls through the rest of the season, the MAC Tournament and into the big dance? It's a distinct possibility, and that's just how important this game when you talk about momentum, confidence and maturity.

That's what is great about this game too. Although UB will be doling out the usual goodies in hopes of attracting even more fans tonight, it is totally and completely unnecessary to lure people in with free prizes.

The game sells itself.

Tonight we have a basketball game. A basket-f'n-ball game. No strings attached. No atrocious, not to mention expensive, gimmicks like Screech or Shaggy.

It's all about David and Goliath going at it one more time tonight. The Bulls meet Kent State in the most important game that has happened in the modern era at UB as of press time.

I have pictures dancing through my head of what a victory celebration could be like tonight. I see Reggie Witherspoon riding a police horse around Alumni Arena crying like Wade Boggs did when the Yankees won the World Series in 1996. I see Mark Bortz celebrating with the Bortzy Boys in the Student Section, and I see a mass celebration covering up that ghastly, but classic, orange basketball on center court.

But most of all, I see that pride in everybody's eyes.

It's what we've been waiting so long for.

So let's all get nuts and blow the friggin' roof off of Alumni tonight.

It's about time.