This will be a weekly feature published every Sunday on From the 300 Level and will include recaps, podcasts and any other additional Big 4 Basketball content we can think of. You can follow Mike Bundt on Twitter @Mike_Bundt.
It was another exciting week for Buffalo hoops! UB moved up to No. 22/25 in the nation (Updated rankings are released on Monday) and displayed why voters are so high on them in pair of dominating victories over Dartmouth and Marist.
However, It wasn’t as nice of a picture for the rest of the Big 4. Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure combined to go winless (0-9) over the past seven days as they all struggled through a trio of early season tournaments.
With that said, here’s our second edition of Stock Up, Stock Down!
#22/25 Buffalo: (5-0), Last Week: Wins over Dartmouth and Marist
It was a relatively stress-free week for Buffalo on the court although that wasn’t the case off of it. The Bulls were without star guard CJ Massinburg Wednesday evening against Dartmouth after he sprained his knee during practice earlier in the week.
Turns out, they didn’t need him. At least, not against Dartmouth! UB tied a school record scoring 110 points in a 39-point beatdown of the Big Green.
Four days later, Massinburg surprisingly returned to the lineup against Marist, scoring a game-high 21 points off the bench as Buffalo improved to 5-0 for the first time since the 1986-87 season when they were still in Division 3.
They’re one of 29 teams across the country that were still undefeated as of Saturday evening according to the UB athletic department.
They’re now at the portion of their schedule where they should continue stacking up wins. Buffalo is set up to possibly get to 10-0 heading into their matchup at Syracuse on December 18th. That’s going to be a huge game for the Bulls!
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. This week, they head overseas to Northern Ireland on Monday where they’ll be taking part in the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic.
They’ll be playing their next two games there, their first against Milwaukee on Friday before concluding their trip the next day against either Stephen F. Austin or San Francisco.
UB should move up at least a few spots in both polls with a decent amount of schools ahead of them losing last week. I’d expect Buffalo to come in around No. 20 in the AP Poll and in the low 20’s in the Coaches Poll.
- Buffalo is off to their first 5-0 start since 1986-87 when they were in Division 3.
- With his 18 points against Dartmouth on Wednesday, Nick Perkins is now 12th on UB’s all-time scoring list with 1,230 points, 14 points shy of Calvin Cage (2002-06) for 11th place.
- The Bulls No. 22 ranking in the AP Poll is the highest a MAC team has been ranked since Ball State was No. 15 in 2001-02.
- Buffalo defeated Dartmouth 110-71 on Wednesday night, tying a school record for points scored in a game against a Division I opponent (Eastern Illinois, 2/27/95 & Chicago State, 2/24/98).
- Their 39-point victory over the Big Green was UB’s largest against a Division I opponent since defeating Navy 88-46 to open the 2010-11 season.
Next Week: Belfast Hall of Fame Classic, vs. Milwaukee, vs. San Francisco/Stephen F. Austin
St. Bonaventure: (1-5), Last Week: Losses to Georgia State, Boise State and Akron
St. Bonaventure has struggled out of the gates this season due to key injuries and a lack of depth. That was highlighted last week in the Cayman Islands Classic with the Bonnies looking out of sync with Courtney Stockard and LaDarien Griffin out of their lineup.
Without them, St. Bonaventure is too young and inexperienced to compete against the majority of teams on their schedule.
And SBU isn’t just shorthanded, they’re VERY shorthanded, playing with only seven scholarship players during the three-day tournament.
The good news for the Bonnies is that UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser has really stepped up as a scoring option averaging 17.7 points per game. Additionally, freshman Kyle Lofton has had a terrific start to his college career, averaging 14.5 points per game on 46.9% shooting from the field.
The big question for St. Bonaventure two weeks into their season is what type of impact Stockard and Griffin will have when they return to the Bonnies lineup?
I bring this up because I recently wrote an article about St. Bonaventure rebuilding this season. Many fans on the Bona Bandwagon message board didn’t agree with my assessment which is perfectly fine, I like a good debate.
A few people claimed they were reloading, not rebuilding. Another few chimed in that their injuries were the main reason for the Bonnies struggles.
I’m not sure I see it the same way.
I agree with those posters that their intentions going into this season were to reload, try to win now while developing their talented group of freshmen.
Where I disagree is that many Bona fans still have high expectations for this season. I have no issues with them thinking highly of their favorite program. However, no one outside of St. Bonaventure and their fanbase share that optimism.
This is not a NCAA Tournament or NIT caliber team this season. Their only hope is getting hot in March and winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
That would be a tremendous accomplishment for this Bonnies squad but very unlikely at that. I have my doubts that they’ll even be .500 in conference play.
St. Bonaventure has a bright future but I think we’ll have to wait a little while before we see it.
St. Bonaventure will have their second Big 4 test of the season on Wednesday when they host Canisius (1-5) at the Reilly Center. It’ll be a battle of two local teams off to disappointing starts. Just like the Bonnies, the Griffs were winless last week, going 0-4 in the AdvoCare Invitational.
- Freshman guard Alpha Okoli posted a career high 10 points against Georgia State
- The Bonnies (1-5) are off to their worst start to a season since 2004-05 when they opened up 0-10 under Anthony Solomon. They finished 2-26 that season.
- Jalen Poyser was named to the Cayman Islands Classic All-Tournament Team.
Next Week: vs. Canisius, vs. Delaware State
Canisius: (1-5), Last Week: Losses to #14 Florida State, Villanova, Memphis and UAB
It was a long, difficult week for Canisius.
Faced with the task of taking on some of the top teams in the country, it played out exactly how many would’ve expected for the Golden Griffins.
They opened the week taking on No. 14 Florida State in Tallahassee. The Seminoles length was too much as they dominated on the boards and inside the paint.
That was the theme for the majority of the week. Canisius just couldn’t compete down low with Villanova and Memphis. Simultaneously, the Griffs were struggling from the field.
Isaiah Reese and Takal Molson were inconsistent during the four-game stretch. Both showed positive glimpses but didn’t have the standout performances needed to help a MAAC school like Canisius compete against the top dogs across the country.
Digging deeper, Reese has seen his scoring decline early on this season. He’s averaging just 12.5 points per game on 34.5% shooting, down from 16.9 points per game on 46.3% shooting last year. Molson on the other hand has seen his scoring go up. The Buffalo native is now averaging 17.8 points per game.
Malik Johnson is another player to look out for. He had 20 points in the Griffs loss to Florida State.
- With his 15 points against UAB, Takal Molson extended his streak of double-digit scoring to nine games.
- Johnson’s three assists on Sunday gives him 315 in his career, which ties him with former guard Binky Johnson for 14th in program history.
Next Week: at St. Bonaventure
Niagara: (2-3), Last Week: Losses vs. Grambling State and St. Francis (Brooklyn)
Just when I thought the Purple Eagles might be better than advertised, they responded by losing a pair of games to Grambling State and St. Francis (Brooklyn)… Sigh!
That’s not good at all.
Niagara got off to a slow start against Grambling State as they spent most of the second half trying to trim their deficit.
Marvin Prochet added yet another double-double (23 pts, 12 rebs), his fourth of the season but it wasn’t enough.
Dominic Robb was also strong offensively in the loss, posting 15 points and 10 rebounds. He was forced to take on a larger role in Saturday’s loss with Prochet missing the game due to a toe injury.
With their leading scorer out, Niagara struggled to generate any offense against Saint Francis, shooting only 35.7% from the field. Simultaneously, the Purple Eagles struggled to defend the Terriers from behind the arc, allowing Saint Francis to hit 13 three’s on the night.
Niagara has a quiet week coming up with their only game on the road against Saint Francis (PA) on Thursday.
Prochet is day-to-day with a toe injury according to coach Chris Casey. Niagara Gazette Sports Editor Mike Meiler tweeted that he will be evaluated before the Purple Eagles return to practice on Monday.
- After being scoreless in the first four games of the season, Greg Kuakumensah poured in 10 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double
- Dominic Robb had his 25th career 3-plus block game and fourth this season. Robb is now tied for third on the career blocks list with 177.
- Marvin Prochet missed his first career game at Niagara, snapping a streak of 102 straight appearances.
Next Week: at St. Francis (PA)
Notes courtesy of UB, St. Bonaventure, Canisius and Niagara athletic departments.