The UB men’s basketball team is coming off consecutive losses — one to Ohio in the Mid-American Conference Tournament and the other to Colorado State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
This year’s Bulls roster will feature multiple returning upperclassmen from last season. Senior forwards Jeenathan Williams and Josh Mballa, senior guard Ronaldo Segu and graduate center Brock Bertram all return to UB after playing significant roles in 2020-21.
Led by Williams (17.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season) and Segu (13.3 points and 4.3 assists per game a year ago), head coach Jim Whitesell says his team is replete with veteran leadership.
“They’ve [Williams and Segu] both really improved compared to where they were at last year,” Whitesell said. “That’s always a good sign when two of your better players are getting better. I think our strength is we’ve got a good group of kids back who finished the season really well. Now, we need to build off that.”
The leaders have paved the way for a group of promising freshmen consisting of guards Curtis Jones and Kidtrell Blocker and forwards Zaakir Williamson and Kuluel Mading.
Whitesell mentioned the impact former Bulls such as C.J. Massinburg and Nick Perkins had on Segu and Williams during the 2018-19 season. He now wants Segu, Williams and the other upperclassmen to return the favor to the freshman set to make their UB debuts this season.
“I’m happy with those young guys, but I keep reminding our older guys, it’s what you guys bring to the table in showing them the way,” Whitesell said. “Just like our program’s been in the past, our older guys have helped them get in the right direction.”
After falling in the MAC Championship Game last season, Williams says he sees a different spark in this season’s squad.
The Bulls understand the challenge at hand and say they have the experience necessary to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.
“We all just want to win, and that’s why I love this team,” Williams said. “We’ve all bought into what the coaches want us to do and what we want to do, that’s what really matters because we’re the ones on the floor. So everyone has bought in and as of now we’ve been doing a phenomenal job of just working hard every day, bringing the intensity every day and getting better 1% every day.”
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m.