Only one Mid-American Conference men's basketball team made it to the NCAA Tournament this season. Recently, however, there have been rumors that the conference is looking to spice things up, hoping to have two teams get bids in the future. Andy Katz of ESPN reported that Temple University and Western Kentucky may become the 13th and 14th teams of the MAC. Temple is currently in the Atlantic 10 Conference and Western Kentucky competes in the Sun Belt Conference. Both teams are historically successful basketball programs. Still, the addition of these teams remains hearsay at this point. "The topic of expansion is one that the conference and its member institutions and affiliate members will continue to discuss internally," said Ken Mather, assistant commissioner of media and public relations for the MAC. "Any other comment on expansion, number of sports, divisional alignment, etc. would be pure speculation at this point." According to Mather, there are signs that the two teams are interested in the conference, which has 12 members for all sports. Temple is currently an affiliate member for football only. Temple joined the MAC in 2007. Since then, the Owls have brought excitement to the conference: the team tied for first place in the MAC East in '09, and many remember the Bulls' last-second Hail Mary that won Buffalo the game on Sept. 13, 2008 against Temple. The addition of these two teams would create the largest conference in college football and could also help resolve some scheduling conflicts. Currently, the MAC has an uneven amount of teams (13), making scheduling difficult and team distribution between the two divisions uneven. Aside from making the football conference larger, the addition would add depth and skill to the basketball league, too. WKU has been to two of the last three NCAA Tournaments, and Temple is coming off its third-straight Atlantic 10 Tournament championship. The Owls won 29 games this season and were rewarded with a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. If Temple and WKU joined the MAC, this would make the MAC men's basketball regular season more competitive and would also open the doors for Buffalo to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Officals from Temple and WKU did not return phone calls to The Spectrum. Stay with The Spectrum for updates on the possible expansion of the MAC. E-mail: email@example.com
On the heels of St. Patrick's Day, the softball team needed to borrow some luck from the Irish to capture a win down in Myrtle Beach, S.C. at the Coastal Carolina Classic. In the first of five games at the Classic, the Bulls (8-16) needed a little help from their opponent to squeak past Oakland (8-18), 6-5, in extra innings. Buffalo's luck ran out in the next game as the Bulls fell behind early to Coastal Carolina (12-13) and dropped the contest 9-1. Buffalo and Oakland battled back and forth for six innings until Oakland put together a rally in the top of the sixth inning. Two Golden Grizzlies reached base and both advanced on a fielder's choice. Junior outfielder Alyssa Deacon stepped up and knocked an RBI double to left centerfield to break the tie and put Oakland ahead 5-4 with just two innings to play. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bulls comeback began as freshman outfielder Taylor Franich turned on the jets to get Buffalo over the hump. Franich didn't let a strikeout lower her awareness; she noticed a passed ball and took first base. While on first, the freshman utilized her speed, stealing second and then taking third base on a wild pitch. A few pitches later, with two outs on the board, Franich scurried home on a passed ball to tie the game at five runs apiece. In the first extra frame, the Bulls capitalized on sloppy pitching by Oakland to secure their eighth win of the season. Senior Jaime Sheffler led off the inning with a single and advanced to second base on a throwing error. Sheffler made her way home after pitches hit a series of Buffalo batters, ultimately giving Buffalo the 6-5 win. Senior Sharon Barr threw a complete game in the win, striking out six while only giving up four earned runs. It wasn't Barr's best outing this season, but her eight strong innings got the job done for the Bulls. The Classic continued, but game two ended without another Bulls victory. Buffalo sent junior pitcher Kate Kraus to the mound in game two against host school Coastal Carolina to make the first Division 1-A start of her career. Kraus struggled in the debut outing and yielded six earned runs in just four innings of work. The Chanticleers feasted off Buffalo pitching, accumulating 13 hits on their way to the 9-1 win. Coastal Carolina exemplified a balanced effort as each Chanticleer in the starting lineup accumulated at least one hit. Franich went 1-for-3 in the game and recorded the Bulls' lone RBI. The rest of the Buffalo offense was stagnant all game, collecting only five hits in the loss. Buffalo continued play at the Classic against Sacred Heart (8-8) and Houston Baptist (7-14). For coverage of these games, check Wednesday's edition of The Spectrum. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Buffalo's very own Steve Mesler made Western New York and the United States of America proud when he won a gold medal in the four-man bobsled. A City Honors School graduate and former decathlete at the University of Florida, Mesler pursued a bobsledding career after college and didn't look back until he was on top of the podium. His team beat out Germany's silver medalists by just 0.39 seconds to bring home the USA's first gold medal in the event since 1948. Mesler arrived home in true Buffalo fashion, throwing a party that was open to the public at the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery. During the party, Assistant Sports Editor Luke Hammill got the opportunity to take Mesler away from the crowd for a few minutes and sit down for an interview. The Spectrum: What made you decide to leave the warm weather as a track and field athlete at the University of Florida and come back to the cold climate to compete as a bobsledder? Steve Mesler: That's a good question. I wasn't ready to be done yet. My track career hadn't gone where I wanted it to go — I had injury after injury after injury. I finished up with Tommy John surgery as a senior [in college], and I wasn't ready to accept that I had peaked when I was 17 years old at high school nationals, so I was just looking for something else. S: Your bobsled team went into Vancouver as the defending world champions from the 2009 competitions. Would anything less than a gold medal have been a disappointment? SM: I would have liked to have said "no," that simply medaling would have been fine, but the only 100 percent satisfaction would have been what's sitting right here [points to his Olympic gold medal]. S: You competed at one of the last events in the Olympics. Did that leave you with any time to absorb the entire Olympic experience? SM: No, you absorb it a little bit at the beginning, but then for the rest of the time you just go back to work. If you're sitting there and absorbing it, then you're thinking about it all the time and you're feeling too much, so you go to work. You absorb things when you can, but it's two weeks of work for us. S: Was the training from your track and field career similar to your training now as a bobsledder, or is it totally different? SM: It was very similar. It crossed over really easily for me. It's a lot of sprinting — all short sprinting, under 90 meters (30, 60, 90 meters). It's a lot of lifting, a lot of [plyometrics], a lot of bounding, hurdle hops, cleans, RDLs [Romanian dead lifts], stuff like that. S: After the initial push and hop into the sled, what was your job while the driver guided the speeding bobsled down the track? SM: Our job in the sled is: we have different aerodynamic positions that we put ourselves in on the way down. You have to flow with the sled as you go around turns — the best analogy is being in a car and you're in the passenger seat. If someone takes a hard left-hand turn, you get pushed into the right side door. Well, if that happens in a sled and the driver takes a left-hand turn and you all crash into the right side of the sled, you're going to skid because you're on the ice and lose time from the skidding. So we actually have to flow with the sled as it goes around the turns. S: Were you worried at all after seeing the unfortunate death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in a crash? SM: No, it was just sad to see. We weren't worried about that. From our standpoint, you can't think about it. You mourn it for a day and then you have to put it out of your head. S: Now that you're back, what's it been like? You dropped the puck at the Sabres game on March 10. SM: It has been fun. The Sabres game thing is something I've always wanted to do since I was a kid, so it was very cool. Hopefully I got some good pictures. We went down in the locker room afterward and met the players — they had a day off the next day … it was a good time. S: I'll get you out of here with this question: What's next? Thinking about a repeat in 2014? SM: For the first time in my life, I actually don't have to look four years down the road. I don't have to look ahead; I can just enjoy what I've done and not really worry about down the road yet. E-mail: email@example.com
Though the Florida weather was a nice change of pace for the men's tennis team, the stiff competition served as a wakeup call for the Bulls. Buffalo (6-4) went 1-2 in three matches in Boca Raton, FL, falling to Florida Atlantic, beating Southern Illinois and losing to Troy. It returned to the North with two matches left before heading into Mid-American Conference play. The Bulls knew this would be their last chance to get in-game practice before facing their MAC foes and took advantage of the opportunity as they defeated both Robert Morris and Duquesne. "As conference play approaches, our main goal is to make the doubles play more solid[ly]," said head coach Lee Nickell. "The spring break trip was meant for us to play against really good competition outdoors. Now, it is on us to prove ourselves." Robert Morris The men's tennis team had to rebound quickly on Thursday when it returned from a three-day event in Florida to take on Robert Morris at home. The Bulls showed no signs of fatigue in their fourth match in five days when they beat the Colonials, 7-0, at the Miller Tennis Center. Wasting no time, Buffalo stormed out in the match when the No. 1 doubles pairing of sophomore Wojciech Starakiewicz and senior Kirill Kolomyts shut down their competition. The duo is ranked 10th in the Northeast Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and they showed why against Robert Morris team David Pinto and Igor Neves. The Bulls won the doubles point 8-0 to give the team a confidence boost early in the match. In their first pairing of the spring, junior Mitch Zenaty and senior Eric Rothstein clinched a point by defeating the Colonial pair of Grigory Sovko and Andre Coiro, 8-1. Once Buffalo clinched the doubles point in the No. 3 doubles spot, the No. 2 match was stopped as the Bulls led 5-3. Starakiewicz continued to impress when he took the court for his singles match as the sophomore downed Sovko in just over a half hour. "[Starakiewicz] stepped up after the road trip and said, ‘I want to play,'" Nickell said in a press release. "The rest of the team followed his lead." The Bulls sent out junior Marcelo Mazzetto and Kolomyts in singles action to secure the victory for Buffalo as both men notched 6-0 wins to clinch the match. The Bulls mixed up the bottom half of their lineup to give others a chance to compete at a higher seed. Nickell moved freshman Vusa Hove to the No. 4 singles spot and sophomore Kristof Custers was placed in the No. 6 spot. Sophomore Alex Kalinin stayed at his original place in the No. 5 position. Even with the changes by Nickell, all three men won in straight sets. Starakiewicz, Mazzetto and Kalinin are all tied with 11 singles wins, which are tops on the team this season. "I didn't do us any favors by scheduling this match," Nickell said. " Our team stepped up big after just having a match in Florida in the last 24 hours. I was very pleased." Duquesne Two days off served the men's tennis team well, as they were able to take fresh legs into their Saturday contest in Monroeville, Pa. The Bulls won their second straight match, 6-1, over Duquesne (7-7) in their last match before the start of Mid-American Conference play. Starakiewicz and Kolomyts shone once again when they disposed of Duquesne's duo of Steve Herchko and Mark Maciuch, 8-3. The Bulls, however, would lose their other two doubles matches to give the opening point to Duquesne. After losing the point in doubles competition, it appeared as though the Bulls were headed for a disappointing end to their spring break. Buffalo responded, however, winning all six singles matches on the day. The play of Starakiewicz and Kolomyts continued to carry the Bulls after the two picked up victories in their singles matches in straight sets. Starakiewicz, the No. 3 ranked singles player in the Northeast, defeated Duquesne senior Jeremy McClelland 6-3, 6-4, in the No. 1 position. Kolomyts defeated sophomore Aram Abgaryan 6-4, 7-5 after an intense second set. Freshman George Tibil and Kalinin each won in straight sets as well. Mazzetto defeated Duquesne's senior Gustavo Villares 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. Freshman Vusa Hove also defeated Maciuch 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in his first start in the No. 5 spot all season. With the victory, Buffalo snapped Duquesne's four-game winning streak and ended its travel-heavy spring break with a 3-2 record. The Bulls went 1-2 in Florida, before gaining victories against Robert Morris in Buffalo and in Saturday's match in Western Pennsylvania. Nickell acknowledged the importance of this spring break campaign for Buffalo. "This has been a good spring break for us," Nickell said. "We learned a lot and fought through adversity today against a good Duquesne team. We came out flat in doubles, but came together in singles to give a complete team effort. We are very excited to start conference match play in two weeks." Buffalo will rest up before starting conference play on Saturday, March 27 against Toledo (7-9). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Still shaking off the rust from a long winter, the baseball team was busy over spring break as the team grinded through a ten-game road trip. While the Bulls (6-7) won six of 10 games, head coach Ron Torgalski is looking for steadier play from his team. "We just haven't been consistent yet," Torgalski said. "I have seen improvement. The pitching has improved and we're the type of team that will only be successful if we throw strikes and make plays. We're not going to strike guys out [consistently]." In a four-game series against Morehead State (8-10), the Bulls won three out of four games, including a 26-run explosion on 23 hits in game two for a 26-17 victory. Senior second baseman Brad Agustin spearheaded the Bulls attack. He went 4-for-7 from the plate and scored five runs. Trailing 11-2 through three innings, the Bulls started their comeback effort in the top of the fourth as they chipped away at the Eagles' advantage. Senior catcher Brad Cochrane blasted one of his two doubles on the day to lead off the inning for the Bulls. The rest of the team put together five hits in the inning and scored five runs to close the gap to 11-7 going into the bottom of the inning. The two teams continued to trade runs but Buffalo took a 16-12 lead after an explosive seven-run eighth inning. The Bulls weren't complacent with a four-run lead and rattled off 10 runs in the top of the ninth inning to seal the win. Seniors Jacob Rosenbeck and Rob Lawler, as well as freshman Tom Murphy, went yard in the commanding victory. In the only Bulls loss against the Eagles, senior ace Pierre Miville-Deschenes struggled in his second outing of the season and lasted only three innings. Miville-Deschenes allowed 13 runs – eight earned – on eight hits while walking eight batters and striking out four in a 17-3 defeat. The Bulls had a quick turnaround and played a mid-week two-game set against Georgetown College (4-12). Buffalo continued to play great baseball, winning the first game, 14-4, and taking the second, 8-6, against the Tigers. Cochrane continued his strong play at the plate for the Bulls as he totaled four hits in the two-game set. He recorded two RBIs, and his six doubles on the year leads the Bulls. Freshman second baseman Alex Baldock blasted his first-career home run in the opening game against the Tigers. The freshman is tied with Augustin for the team lead in batting average (.340). The bats have been hot and cold this season, but it's expected as the Bulls continue to see different pitchers and get more comfortable behind the plate. "At times we've swung the bats ok but we have a few guys in the lineup that have been struggling," Torgalski said. "I'm waiting for a few seniors to break out and start producing for us and I know they will so I'm not worried about it." Everything wasn't perfect for the Bulls over the break as they ran into some trouble against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (8-8), dropping 3-of-4 games. The lone victory came in the second game of a double header on Saturday when Miville-Deschenes turned in his best performance of the season in a 9-3 Bulls win. Miville-Deschenes pitched a complete game for the Bulls and allowed only three runs on five hits and struck out seven Golden Eagles. Miville-Deschenes earned MAC East Player of the Week honors as the most outstanding pitcher for his performance against the Georgetown College. Torgalski still hopes to see improvement from his number one starter going forward. "He was MAC [East] Player of the Week but he went out in the first inning and walked the bases loaded," Torgalski said. "He was able to get out of the jam and settled in after that but he wasn't sharp early. That has been a problem [in] his last couple of starts." Cochrane was a one-man force in the game for the Bulls, driving in six runs on two hits. One of his shots was a grand slam home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. He provides an excellent third power hitter in the middle of the Bulls' lineup. "Brad [Cochrane] put up pretty good numbers last year," Torgalski said. "He's a little guy but surprises people with the power. He has good bat speed, he's a strong kid and it's nice to have another guy in the middle of the lineup that can drive runs in." In the first game of the series, Tennessee Tech blanked the Bulls, 9-0. Despite its patience at the plate – drawing six walks – the offense couldn't get it going. Senior lefty Chaz Mye struggled in the game, allowing seven of the nine runs on 12 hits. Mye dropped to 1-2 on the season but leads the team in innings pitched with 17 and a third. Agustin struggled at the plate for the Bulls in the series, striking out six times and earning only one walk and four hits in the leadoff spot. But Agustin has been a monster behind the plate so far this year, leading the team in home runs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and batting average. His play and leadership is an important ingredient to the Bulls' success. The Bulls will once again hit the road this week for a three-game series with the Butler Bulldogs (4-6). First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday at Bulldog Park in Indianapolis, Ind. E-mail: email@example.com
On a Thursday filled with outstanding individual performances in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament, the men's basketball team needed a special performance from any individual to top Miami (Ohio) if it hoped to advance.No such performance was found.Despite overcoming an 18-point first half deficit, the Bulls (18-12, 9-7 MAC) ran out of gas down the stretch and fell to the RedHawks (14-17, 9-7 MAC), 73-59, ending their season well short of a MAC Championship appearance.Miami (Ohio) torched the Bulls from the field connecting on 22-of-38 shot attempts and also went 22-of-30 from the free-throw line.