The folks at the scorer's table have been kept busy keeping track of Tim Cohane's constant substitutions this season. It's a task that doesn't figure to change any time soon as the University at Buffalo coach meshes six newcomers into his basketball program.
"The old adage is that the five best players often aren't the best team on the floor," Cohane said Monday. "I'm trying to find the best unit and that will take time."
With the graduation of old reliables like Rasaun Young and Mike Martinho, Bulls fans will see a new-look group tonight when UB hosts Canisius in its home opener at Alumni Arena (7:30, Radio 1520). The Bulls are 1-2, sandwiching losses at Niagara and Duquesne around a one-point win at Cornell. Canisius (1-0) pulled out a 61-58 thriller Saturday night at St. Bonaventure.
Also tonight, St. Bonaventure (1-1) has a tough non-conference game at Siena (7; Empire, Radio 95.7 FM). Siena, picked to finish second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is 2-0 and hit a school-record 16 three-pointers in Saturday's 86-67 win at Hartford.
UB is only 13 of 52 from long range thus far, just one of its early-season statistics that need improvement. The Bulls are shooting 35.7 percent from the field, averaging 19 turnovers and being outrebounded by nearly 14 boards per contest.
Cohane has used 10 different starters in the three games, and sophomore guards Ryan Peterson and Louis Campbell are the only players averaging more than 25 minutes. Five UB players have scored in double figures, but none has done it more than once.
Freshman guard Koran Godwin of Roselle, N.J., leads UB in scoring at only nine points per game. Freshman guard Alexei Vasiliev of St. Petersburg, Russia, is at 8.3. So is rapidly improving 6-8 sophomore Maliso Libomi of Malakoff, France. Another newcomer, sophomore Will Campbell of Elmira, is the leading rebounder at 5.3, while Libomi is at 4.7.
Peterson and Louis Campbell are the only players close to being regular starters. Cohane even threw his team a change-up in Saturday's 75-56 loss at Duquesne by keeping Peterson off the floor the entire first half.
Cohane insisted it was not a benching (unlikely since Peterson had 12 assists the first two games), nor a discipline suspension. Instead, he wanted to use a bigger lineup against an Atlantic 10 opponent and see how his team fared without its 5-foot-11 point guard. He found out the hard way -- the Bulls hit just 7 of 26 shots and trailed at halftime, 30-19.
"I wanted to play three 6-3 guys on the perimeter," Cohane said, referring to Louis Campbell, Godwin and Vasiliev. "I wanted to see a scoring perimeter against good competition, but they missed Ryan. He's really the glue."
Peterson -- who led Division I in assists for freshmen last year at 5.9 per game -- has 13 assists but 13 turnovers in the three games.
"I know him so well and have a really good bond with him," Cohane said. "I know (center) Nikolai Alexeev, (forwards) Nate Johnson and Jon Kleidon, too. I really have a feel for their games. I don't know anything about the other guys yet and I've wanted to use everybody."
Duquesne outrebounded UB, 44-27, and it won't be easy to improve those numbers against a Canisius team that rode the leadership of three seniors (forward Jamie Cammaert and guards Keith Lambkin and Kevin Worley) to Saturday's win over an archrival.
"Their system really works," Cohane said. "They know what they're doing, they don't beat themselves and those three seniors are solid players. The fact they could go into a first game in that environment (Bona's Reilly Center) and win says a lot."
The Griffs took last year's game at Alumni Arena, 70-57.