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With TBT championship in hand, UB's Blue Collar U sets sights on home-court advantage in 2023

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Blue Collar U

Blue Collar U players celebrate their victory.

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DAYTON, Ohio – CJ Massinburg cradled his newborn son in his arms at center court of the University of Dayton Arena, and contemplated everything that had brought him and Blue Collar U to winning The Basketball Tournament championship and a $1 million prize.

Massinburg doesn’t expect much to change for Blue Collar U, either. After an 89-67 win over Americana for Autism in the final, Massinburg vowed that the core of this year’s team of University at Buffalo men’s basketball alumni will return for TBT 2023.

“Blue Collar U, we’ll be back next year, defending our crown,” Massinburg said.

It felt good for Massinburg to say that. It also means the future of the field is on notice. Blue Collar U reached TBT’s semifinals in 2021, and after winning the 64-team tournament Tuesday, the UB alumni team could aim to make its third consecutive lengthy TBT run.

Blue Collar U also hopes to gain a home-court advantage. After the championship game Tuesday night, Blue Collar U coach Adam Bauman lobbied for TBT to make Buffalo a tournament site for 2023, an effort that is already underway.

“Personally, I believe and I think they deserve to do it in Buffalo,” said Bauman, a former UB director of basketball operations who is now the director of scouting and analytics on Nate Oats’ staff at Alabama. “So, whatever needs to be done, to have these guys play in Alumni Arena, to have a curtain call and everything they’ve done for the University at Buffalo, for the city of Buffalo, and that program, these guys deserve to play one or two or three more games in there, and I hope we can get that done.”

If that comes to fruition, it’s a move that would help UB’s athletic program and campus community gain more visibility, as TBT is a nationally televised event.

The optimal site for TBT would be UB’s Alumni Arena, which has a capacity of 6,700, and Blue Collar U held its training camp at UB’s basketball facilities. However, there are several logistical on-site issues that need to be examined and upgraded, including the fact that Alumni Arena does not have air conditioning.

Blue Collar U’s players, though, welcome the idea of being able to play on what was once their home court.

“That would be tough,” Massinburg said of Buffalo hosting a TBT regional. “The city has to come out now. Hopefully, we can make the accommodations needed to host TBT next year, but Blue Collar U, we’ll be back next year.”

Wes Clark, who scored 17 points in Blue Collar U’s win against Americana for Autism, hopes that his performance will help re-ignite his professional basketball career. He said that he was bought out of his contract with Happy Casa Brindisi after he sustained an unspecified injury this season, and he has yet to get a contract offer from a professional basketball team for the upcoming season.

“It’s a big-time tournament,” Clark said. “It’s on ESPN, there’s a lot of people that watch this tournament and a lot of high-level players. If someone can give me a shot from playing against some of these guys, it may help.”

Blue Collar U player Wes Clark speaks to reporters.

Massinburg will take the next two weeks off and spend time with his family in Buffalo, including his wife, Malayah, and his newborn son, Chace Joel. Then he will head to Italy to begin his fourth season of playing professional basketball.

He already has his eye on the future of Blue Collar U in TBT.

“There’s something special at UB,” Massinburg said. “There’s something special with this group of guys, and this is not the last of us.”

Bauman shares that sentiment.

“This group is definitely coming back, I hope,” Blue Collar U’s coach said. “I’ll talk to the guys, and I think they’re looking at their bank accounts now, and they’re definitely thinking, ‘Let’s run it back and see if we can do this again.’ ”

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