Extra points from the University at Buffalo’s 74-61 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday:
x-Central Michigan was the preseason favorite to win the Mid-American Conference but don’t count on it happening. The Chippewas are not good enough on defense to make it through the MAC Tournament. They’re 11th in points allowed, 12th in field-goal percentage allowed and last in forcing turnovers. In fact, they’re 337th in the nation in forcing turnovers. The Chips beat Akron last week due to the fact Akron had a ton of foul trouble. But Akron is better than Central Michigan.
x-With Lamonte Bearden out (ankle), senior Jarryn Skeete played mostly point for UB and had 13 points.
UB coach Nate Oats: “Playing Skeete at the point, he might have to move over and play more point. He had 12 assists and only two turnovers. I thought he really controlled the game. I thought it starts with our defense. We still turned the ball over 18 times, which is way too many for a Division I basketball team. But the fact we played so hard on the defensive end kind of negated all that.”
x-Oats on his team’s fine defensive effort: “We contested a lot. Kosinski didn’t get very many after the first few minutes he didn’t get too many open looks. Skeete chased down about four loose balls that were big. Blake dove on the floor for a loose ball late in the game. We took a couple charges. Stuff that we need to be doing that we hadn’t really been doing – we brought it tonight. That’s what I talked to the guys there’s no reason this effort can’t come every single night out. If it did we might be 4-0 right now leading the league. So we have to figure out how to get this every night out.”
x-More Oats on Skeete: “Me and Jarryn sat down when I got this job. I made a decision with him not to really recruit a point guard. CJ was more of a combo. Just because I wanted Jarryn to be able to handle the ball a lot his senior year. That’s something he wanted to do. I was confident in Jarryn. You know what? When Monte comes back Jarryn might keep handling the ball a lot. He’s got 12 assists and two turnovers. Monte can score, too. A little bit different than Jarryn, not as much shooting as driving. Monte can play off the ball too. So we may have to look at some different stuff when Monte comes back.”
x-Nikola Rakicevic, the 6-5 freshman from Serbia, played 15 minutes and scored eight points. He made four turnovers, but it was a good overall performance.
Oats on why Rakicevic got more minutes: “One is Monte was out, so it opened some minutes up. I felt like he could guard. And he’s been playing better offensively. You saw he can make shots. He was 2 for 4 from three. He had the turnovers with the travels which aren’t good. But the ball moves better when he’s in at the 4. We knew Blake was going to have to play more 3. So that was going to open up more minutes at the 4. He’s starting to come around. He just had to learn to play hard all the time. The pace of the game is a little bit different than it is in Europe. It’s a little faster, more physical. You’ve got to play harder. So he’s starting to figure that all out. He’s skilled. He can shoot, pass, handle it. He’ll probably be getting more minutes, to be honest.”
x-Skeete on playing the point: “I would just say I went back to the basics man. I did it all my first year. It kind of reminded me of when I was playing for coach Spoon. I think Oats puts me in a better system, so you get to see what I can really do when I’m behind the one. And also you gotta trust your teammates to finish the play when I give it to them.”
“Guys were making reads. We spent a few days in practice making reads off the ball screen. Guys usually expect me to shoot. So a lot of times they’re really focused on me coming off the screen to shoot, and I was just finding the open guy.”
x-With 6:30 to go, Skeete stole a pass near the top of the key and was going in for a wide-open dunk. Inexplicably, the play was whistled dead. What happened? Skeete: “He said it was a kicked ball. I said if I can get my leg that high, that’s crazy.”
Oats said the official acknowledged he blew the call.
x-Skeete on the wide-open nature of the MAC: “I thought since the first game in the conference against Akron that we could play with and beat anybody in the league. So when they beat Akron, we played Akron so close. Then Eastern beat them. I kind of knew the league was up for grabs. I take it game by game. This is my fourth year so I know at the end of the day, as long as you make the tournament, anyone can win.”
x-Central coach Keno Davis on UB’s good defense of point guard Chris Fowler, whose game is driving to the basket: “Normally with those same drives, he’s going to get to the line 12 or 14 times, so credit Buffalo with playing as physical as the officials would allow them to. That’s something we didn’t do a good job adapting to. Chris is as good in this league at being able to initiate contact and force the defense to foul him as anybody.”
UB shot 23 free throws. Central shot 8. But aside from Fowler, most of Central's guys are stand-still shooters who don't draw a lot of fouls. Clearly, Davis wanted more fouls called on UB.