Observations from UB’s 106-87 Win at Niagara
by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page
I love basketball. I coach it, play (much slower pace these days), and enjoy watching the sport. After golf, it’s my favorite sport to announce. I was not announcing Tuesday night in Lewiston, but brought my notebook with me for the UB visit to Niagara.
–Gallagher Center. Niagara University has the best venue for college basketball in all of WNY, and that is saying something. The Koessler Center at Canisius has many positives, while Alumni Arena (should be named the Bull Pen) and the Reilly Center are rocking during most games. The Gallagher Center has old school charm. It’s a little darker, cozier, and it’s impossible to find a bad seat. The court is on the second floor, with the lounge and dining options below in the basement. It’s a cool place.
–UB is good. Dynamite observation Kevin! The Bulls displayed athleticism, depth, and a team confidence that could be felt. There wasn’t a moment in the game where UB coach Nate Oats could have felt his team might not win the game. They controlled play from the first minute. Perhaps most impressive is how they were able to score in every manner possible; the 3 point shot, driving to the bucket, in transition, and the low post. That will serve them well this year once conference play begins.
–Niagara will win some games. Chris Casey’s team already one a big one in early November down in Olean against St. Bonaventure, but might be feeling a bit down getting blown out by the Bulls on their home floor. They shouldn’t be. The Purple Eagles scored 87 points, led by Senior guards Matt Scott and Kahlil Dukes with 29 and 28 respectively. Those kind of numbers will win conference games come January. Defense does need to be addressed. There were times it was non-existent vs UB, as they watch an opponent reach triple digits for the third time this season (they’ve also given up 90 or more three times). The Purple Eagles really need to be better on the perimeter and contest three point shots, which they did not do well against UB.
–Students. It was great to see students from both schools passionately cheer on their teams. It’s a big part of what makes college sports great. And it’s even better when you see players talking with friends and classmates on the court after the game.
–Matt Scott. The Niagara SR. Guard just knows how to score. He’s most effective driving to the basket and working the baseline. The lefty has great timing, and needs to take the offense over early in games this season.
–Kahlil Dukes. UB did a great job defending him early in the game, but he showed his ability to score in the second half. When he gets going, he’s a treat to watch. His pull up jumper can be deadly.
–CJ Massingburg and Jeremy Harris. The UB guards took turns making buckets all night for UB. Each player surpassed the 20 point mark early in the second half. They will do damage in the MAC, especially from beyond the arc.
–Dontay Caruthers. His ability to penetrate the paint is at time awe inspiring. He was extremely quick vs Niagara, and gives the Bulls instant energy off the bench.
-Nick Perkins. The Bulls Jr. forward is a load at 6-8 250 lbs. He displayed a nice touch outside, but I think he could be a bigger force down low. He had a great second half, but it seemed to come after the game had been decided. He has a ton of talent, and if the Bulls are able to repeat as MAC Champions, I think he’ll be the reason.
I look forward to seeing how both teams progress this season, and catching more of the games in person.