Shakin' it Like a Salt Shaker

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The Spectrum


I'm treading on thin ice with this one, so before it gets totally played out, a quote from "Lil' Jon" to describe Monday night's UB playoff game.

"YEAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Seriously though, how intense was Monday night's game? I'd say it ranks somewhere between the first time I saw "The Neverending Story" when I was seven and Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart's pre-match interview where he talks mad trash about the Nasty Boys at Wrestlemania VII. (Cue the Anvil voice) Now that's intense, baby!

Monday night's game was the epitome, the end all be all, the culmination and the dictionary description of what college basketball is all about. UB head coach Reggie Witherspoon said it best in the post game press conference.

"If you didn't enjoy when you walked into Alumni Arena and you heard the band playing, the cheerleaders and dance team, and saw all that blue up there; then you just don't like basketball," said Witherspoon. "Maybe you don't like anything. But if you like basketball, you cannot tell me that you wouldn't enjoy it."

The Reginald hit it right on the nose. If you did not like everything that came packaged with the game on Monday, then you have more issues than Rickey Henderson and Carl Everett combined. And these are guys that either constantly talk in the third person or don't believe dinosaurs ever existed. Issues people, issues.

I was in a constant state of awe on Monday night. Chills repeatedly ran up and down my spine. I'd even bet that everyone, and I mean everyone, in the Arena felt the same uncontrollable chills before I bet the over/under (I'm taking the under) of 14 for people at this year's Springfest.

My favorite moment of the night came right after the timeout where AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" played in the Arena. Coincidentally enough, thunder was about to roll through Alumni. Mark Bortz had just slammed home one of his three identical dunks sending the crowd into a frenzy, but it was the ensuing couple of plays that really got the place going. Roderick Middleton stole a pass on defense and subsequently bounced a beauty of a pass to Daniel Gilbert who proceeded to slam the rock home.

The arena literally sounded like it exploded. The roll of thunder was so loud and furious that the table I was at was actually shaking. I thought that maybe Subway's Jared Fogle went with the retro fad, downed a few hundred chimichangas and started jumping up and down behind me.

Alumni Arena was as loud as it possibly could be. I couldn't hear the guys next to me, I can't hear the guy next to me right now and my future children will be born deaf. (Lil' Jon warning) "WHAT?!?"

But, good lord was it worth it.

And then there was the exposure that the Bulls got from just about every local media outlet. I think I watched every highlight package and interview that was available on TV, but there was one segment that soared above all others.

Jim Brinson. Yassin Idbihi. Need I say more? With Idbihi being the man, and Brinson being Brinson, this concoction had me glued to the screen. If you didn't get the chance to see it, I pity you. Words are failing me in how to describe it, so I'll just leave it at "classic."

Sadly, Monday had to come to an end at some point. But you know what, so did Wednesday's Kent State game two weeks ago, and look what happened after that. The Bulls reeled off another four victories including the playoff victory on Monday to extend their winning streak to eight games, and 12 of 14 overall.

The red-hot Bulls now take their chatter-sparking show to Cleveland's Gund Arena for their first ever appearance in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament, leaving only one question.

Can they become the MAC Champions and make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament?

Why the heck not? UB has busloads of fans going to Cleveland to cheer on their Bulls in a scene that will surely be reminiscent of the final tournament scene in "The Karate Kid." The Bulls remind me of Ralph Macchio in that movie, having to fight off a bunch of "Cobra Kai" MAC opponents determined to dismantle this young upstart team.

I can hear the Karate Kid's theme song, "You're the Best Around," playing over a montage of UB highlights in my head right now.

I'm getting the chills again.

Unlike Macchio however, UB has more than one competitor that can deliver knockout blows on a nightly basis. Nothing evidences this fact more than Buffalo's having a different leading scorer in six of the last seven games.

Like NIU's head coach Rob Judson said, "pick your poison," when it comes to this squad.

You have Turner Battle, the ever-reliable triggerman who is capable of doing just about everything.

There's Calvin Cage, the man who plays with a fearless attitude when it comes to driving into a forest of trees in the paint and can drop in 3-balls from anywhere on the court.

Danny "hustle" Gilbert is always a factor in the game, as is the unheralded "Hot" Rod Middleton.

Bortz and Idbihi are always ready to slam one home or draw their defenders out to the perimeter, creating mismatches all over the court.

And then if you pay too much attention to any of the aforementioned players, the sweet-cornrowed Mario Jordan or the sweet-shooting Jason Bird will scorch you inside and out.

Make no mistake about it, this is a basketball team. There is no one player who dominates the ball, the Bulls are constantly looking for the open man, constantly passing the ball around to free up an open look, constantly trying their hardest to win basketball games.

They don't care about individual stats. They care about winning basketball games. And that's why the this startlingly impressive 2004 edition of the Buffalo Bulls may be coming to an NCAA Tournament near you.