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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

You're the Problem

Alumni Arena's maximum capacity is currently 6,100 seats. The average attendance this season for men's basketball games is currently 1,499 people per game.

One word comes to mind when seeing that number – embarrassing.

Not every city is lucky enough to have a Division 1-A basketball team that is competitive almost every year and plays in such an accessible location. I can't think of a city that is as hungry for success in athletic competition as Buffalo is, and yet fans continue to ignore the team that, in my opinion, gives them the best shot for a championship.

Bulls head coach Reggie Witherspoon is a local guy who has proven time and time again that all he does is win. Since the 2003-04 season, Witherspoon has only failed to reach 17 wins twice, and in that same stretch he has taken the Bulls to the Mid-American Conference Championship game twice.

I know what you're thinking: "They lost both times." Well, guess what. Look around the country at successful college basketball programs, and I'll bet they come equipped with a huge fan base that affects the outcome of every home game they play.

Basketball, more than any other sport, can be affected one way or another by fan involvement. Being so close to the action allows fans to let the opposing team hear them and hear exactly what they're saying throughout the game.

I'll tell you right now that the fans that attend Bulls home games do their job and cheer on the team from whistle to whistle. But 1,499 fans only makes for 25 percent of what the building can hold, and that just isn't cutting it.

To the student body, what are you doing? Are you that busy that you can't sacrifice two hours of your time to come out and support your school's team? And it's not like the football season – sorry head coach Jeff Quinn. The basketball team is good and they're fun to watch.

The freshman class is chock-full of talent, and freshman forward Javon McCrea alone is worth the price of admission, which for students is free. This team plays shut-down defense, blocks shots, shoots the three, and throws down vicious slam-dunks on a nightly basis. If that doesn't sound like something to invest your time in, then I guess college basketball in Buffalo is a lost cause.

The Bulls put a beat down on local rival Niagara on Wednesday night, and Purple Eagles head coach Joe Mihalich called the Bulls one of the best defensive teams his squad would play all season. And that is one coach that has seen his fair share of good basketball teams.

Coming into the season, the Bulls were predicted to finish toward the bottom of the MAC, yet they have looked like one of the best Bulls teams since the 2005 team that made it to the MAC Championship.

The Bulls lead the MAC in blocks per game (5.75), opposing field goal percentage (39), and scoring margin (+9.1), and they are second in the MAC in scoring defense (62.8), field goal percentage (46), 3-point percentage (35), and steals (10 per game).

Led by senior guard Byron Mulkey, the Bulls have a player that every fan, student, or otherwise can appreciate. The kid came to UB on an academic scholarship and is the definition of work ethic.

Mulkey is leading the nation in steals with 4.14 per game this season, and he is imploring fans to come out and support the Bulls.

"We've been doing a pretty good job [this season] on our home floor and we really want people to come out and be a part if it," Mulkey said. "We continue to work hard day in and day out in practice so we can go out in the games and give people a glimpse of what we do every day…We work hard and enjoy each other, and I think the fans can feel that. I just encourage them to keep coming out."

Your next chance to come out and get a look at the Bulls is on Saturday, when they host Wisconsin-Green Bay (4-5, 1-1 Horizon League) at 2 p.m. Other games over break include No. 18 nationally ranked Brigham Young University (9-0) on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. and the start of conference play on Saturday, Jan. 8 against Bowling Green (1-8).

If you read this whole column and still don't want to support this team, don't complain about teams at UB "sucking," because you're the reason why.

E-mail: matthew.parrino@ubspectrum.com


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