Men’s basketball debut was excellent, means little in big picture

tom-1-1
The Spectrum

A 97-50 basketball win is always a reason for celebration for UB sports fans. Buffalo looked great against Daemon Friday night in what would be the Bulls’ season debut at Alumni Arena. The Bulls even scored 55 in the second half alone and six players had double-digit scoring games.

All the returning names looked in top form with senior forward Jeremy Harris pushing a double-double with 11 points and 9 rebounds and senior forward Nick Perkins having 11 points and 8 rebounds. Senior guard Dontay Caruthers looked unblockable, marching through the paint shooting 5-of-6 with 10 points. Senior guard CJ Massinburg did it all on the court with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. That's not even including the strong performances from the freshmen and sophomore guard Jayvon Graves.

There is just one asterisk to all this; the Daemen Wildcats. 

Division II Daemen knew what it came there to do; get trampled by the Bulls. It happened, but who wasn’t expecting it? We should be happy that despite a low shooting performance from three of 24 percent, the Bulls still looked unbeatable on offense and defense. Just remember, anything else should be considered a red flag.

Head coach Nate Oats commented on the poor shooting but praised everything else about Buffalo’s performance. It’s due praise too, with the Bulls showing a variety of skills on both ends of the court.

Freshman guard Ronaldo Segu had one of the best Bulls debuts in recent memory. In Segu’s first game with the team, he led in scoring and passing with 14 points and 7 assists. ‘Rondo’s’ ball control and shooting were on full display as Daemon looked helpless to the double-threat. 

He led in minutes and distributed the ball well with whatever unit he was on the floor with. Segu shot 6-of-11 and 40 percent from three-point range, looking comfortable with his jump shot already. It will be something to keep an eye on as Buffalo’s quality of opponents increases.

If there was one unexpected positive takeaway for Buffalo, it's that Segu is already looking ready to play at the Division I level, all this while he didn’t even start.

It made the Bulls look like a deep team at home with a six-player unit that could all have big games. Harris, Graves, Massinburg, Perkins, Segu and Caruthers present a dangerous attacking unit, one that could be one of the NCAA’s best if its three shooting comes together.

That unit could only get deeper with senior forward Montell McRae looking like a reliable passing option in the paint for Bull’s deep guard roster. McRae was given several alley-oops Friday to a mixed result. If Buffalo can get the timing down, McRae could be essential to the offense.

Freshman forward Jeenathan Williams had a solid night with 11 points, but shot 4-of-12 for the night. It didn’t help either that he led the team with 3 turnovers and shot 25 percent from three. Williams could be a solid scorer off the bench early this season. 

One of the bigger surprises of the night was sophomore center Brock Bertman. Bertman gives the Bulls some much-needed size, being the only true big-man on the team. Bertman had 9 points, shooting 4-of-4. He had 6 rebounds on the day and looked comfortable blocking by the rim. Still Bertman had troubles on defense with shooters and quicker opponents. Bertman also shot 1-of-4 for free throws, something a player who occupies the rim has to do better at. That said, his performance is mostly a positive with great improvement shown by Buffalo’s only center.

UB is one game in and there is no need to panic. With games against the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Syracuse Orange around the corner, Friday’s game is a positive sign that Buffalo looks sharp early this season. Still, with it being an exhibition game against a jobber, the expectation should be Buffalo finding a similar result when it takes on the St. Francis Red Flash in the regular season opener on Nov. 6 at Alumni Arena.

Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @Thomas_Spectrum