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BYE WEEKS DON'T SIT WELL WITH BENGALS COACH BOYES

Jerry Boyes doesn't care for having a week off during football season, so the prospect of having two is particularly galling to the Buffalo State coach.

But Boyes' Bengals will be idle Saturday for the second time in four weeks.

"Saturdays are meant to be playing somebody," he said. "And it doesn't make any difference who it is."

The problem has been finding opponents. There are 13 other Division III programs in upstate New York, but Buffalo State has never played more than five in a season. Curiously, Ithaca, Cortland State, Brockport, St. John Fisher and the University of Rochester have been the only teams able -- or willing -- to find a spot for the Bengals on their schedule in recent years.

As a result, Boyes has been forced to travel to New Jersey and Pennsylvania for games, even if it means facing teams in a higher division.

"It's frustrating when you look at our open dates and see other teams in New York State idle at the same time," Boyes said. "On our first open date, Union, Hartwick, RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute) and St. Lawrence were open at the same time. St. Lawrence is open this week, too.

"Maybe it's a compliment, but it's a little confusing to me. When I first arrived at Buffalo State, we had everyone calling us."

Some in-state Division III schools claim that their schedules are made up years in advance. Others say conference affiliations limit openings or that a trip to Buffalo is too long.

Boyes has heard all the excuses, although it's doubtful he buys any of them. Perhaps the real reason for the snubs is the Bengals have built a program that is respected nationally. Upstate teams may be more interested in sure wins, something Buffalo State is not.

"I think one of the things that the playoffs have wrought is that teams are scheduling to make the playoffs," Boyes said. "I totally disagree with that. I think Buffalo State has been a pretty good example of where strength of schedule means something. If we make the playoffs, we want to earn that right by playing the best teams we can find."

Since attempts to join a conference have also been rebuffed, Boyes said the next step is forming a new league that would include fellow Division III independents Ithaca, St. John Fisher, Brockport and Cortland State.

"We play all those teams anyway," he said. "St. John Fisher has to get on with Cortland State and if they do, we'll have the avenue to start to create a league. With that, you can have a league championship, all-star teams and something to put out there as a carrot for your team. So many good things can come from that."

Cirbus welcomes week off

After a sixth consecutive loss and increasing scrutiny, a bye week was just what the University at Buffalo's football team needed.

The football season is a long grind and since the Bulls (2-7) have endured several physical and emotional bruises, they can use a week off to get well.

"It's a good time for us to regroup and refocus our efforts as players and coaches," head coach Craig Cirbus said. "It's been a tough year, but we are not discouraged one bit."

UB will need that kind of optimism once the team returns to action. With Maine and top-ranked Villanova coming up, the odds of the Bulls winning one more game are very slim.

Bengals are SUNYAC favorites

Buffalo State, which captured the State University of New York Athletic Conference men's basketball title last season, has been picked to do it again by the 11 head coaches.

The Bengals, winners of 16 SUNYAC titles overall and eight in the past 10 years, received six first-place votes for a total of 111 points. Utica/Rome grabbed three No. 1 votes and 100 points.

Fredonia got one first-place vote, but finished sixth in the balloting.

Buffalo State's women are picked to finish fifth, while Fredonia is expected to finish last.

Bengals host hockey tourney

Buffalo State makes its home hockey debut tonight against Villanova in the first round of the fourth-annual All-Sport Invitational at 7. Hobart meets Findlay at 4.

The tournament will be a stern test for the Bengals, who opened the season with two losses. Villanova competes in the ECAC South conference. Findlay is an NCAA Division II independent. Buffalo State and Hobart are Division III programs.

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