Leaving a legacy

The graduating seniors leave an incredible mark on UB basketball

Howard Simon
March 25, 2019 - 3:21 pm

Photo: Ken Blaze - USA TODAY Sports

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There are times when talking sports in Buffalo for a living can be very depressing. There are too many Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres seasons for me to list. So when a winning team or season comes around you don't want the feeling to end.  

That was what made Sunday's NCAA tournament loss by the University at Buffalo so sad. It wasn't the fact that the Bulls fell short of their stated goal of reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. It was the fact that we won't ever see that group of players together again.

Buffalo is a pro sports town. It hasn't been a college sports town since the heyday of the Little Three. UB basketball is turning Buffalo into a college town. Standing room only crowds became the norm at Alumni Arena this season. The place was packed even when the students were still on break because the community was all in on their unbelievable ride.  

Credit can be spread all around from the administration to the coaching staff to the players. Sadly, the loss to Texas Tech brought an end to the UB careers of a very special group of seniors. CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins, Dontay Caruthers, Jeremy Harris and Montell McRae have all left their mark on the program to varying degrees.

It's the winningest senior class in UB hoops history, and their 59 wins over the last two years are the most ever in a two-year period for a Mid-American Conference program.

The two leaders of the group were Massinburg and Perkins. It's been an absolute joy to have watched both of them over the last four years, to see where they were as freshmen and to watch their games improve over time. I'm sure both will see their name and number hanging from the rafters of the arena some day. Massinburg will leave as the second leading scorer in school history, and Perkins departs fifth on the all-time points list and fifth in rebounding.  

Nate Oats and his staff are tremendous recruiters and have had to replace key components off NCAA teams in the past like Blake Hamilton, Willie Conner and Wes Clark. They will have their hands full when it comes to replacing Massinburg and Perkins.

In addition to their leadership, both filled so many roles on the court. Massinburg could knock down threes in bunches or beat players to the basket one-on-one. Massinburg was a good ball handler and was able to play point guard if/when needed. Even though he was a guard, he was always one of the Bulls' best rebounders. Massinburg was also strong on defense, which you have to be to play for Oats.

Perkins matured as a player and as a person during his four years in Amherst. He had the ability to be a post presence and the strength to out-fight guys one-on-one down low, but he had the versatility to step outside and drop a three. Perkins embraced his role as a sixth man and won the MAC Sixth Man of the Year award an unprecedented three straight seasons.

The final game for the five seniors did not go well, but hopefully they'll remember how magical this season was and not how it ended. This is what the seniors should remember:

  • School record 32 wins
  • School record 16 MAC wins
  • AP Top-25 ranking for 19 straight weeks
  • Highest ever NCAA seed (sixth) in school history

The seniors helped take the program to a level where it had never been. That is their legacy with UB basketball.

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