First year head coach Bobby Hurley had no problems showing the MAC who was boss in his first season. The Bulls, lead by Javon McCrea a.k.a "The Kraken", surprised the MAC, and most of the Mid-Major nation with their surprising resurgence this season. The Bulls were coming off of a 12-20 season ( 7-9 MAC), and expectations in the preseason were not particularly high. But Buffalo captured the MAC East, supplanting Ohio and Akron as the top team in the division.
The Bulls were coming off of a 12-win season, and were trying out a brand new head coach in Hurley. To begin the season fans would have been happy with a record above .500, however as the year progressed fans not only saw their team compete for the MAC regular season title, but also saw it rise into the Top 20 of the Mid Major Poll.
The Bulls finished with an impressive 19-10 record. UB had great senior leadership, and Hurley did a fantastic job of keeping them focused all year long. McCrea was named AP All America Honorable Mention after the season, and averaged 18.5 points per game, and 9.9 rebounds per game. He was MAC East player of the week three times, and became UB's all time leading scorer.
The Bulls were 13-2 at home and secured a first and second round bye in the MAC Tournament by winning five of their final six regular season games, and claiming the East division title.
Buffalo really struggled on the road. A 6-6 road record featuring losses at Ball State, Canisius, Niagara and BGSU hurt the Bulls' overall RPI which finished at 106. The lowest blow for the Bulls this year was a quarterfinals exit against EMU in the MAC Tournament. In His final game as a senior McCrea was bottled up all night. He finished the game with a putrid 2-of-13 from the field for seven points. The loss knocked the Bulls out of the MAC Tournament in their first game. A few days later we'd find out the athletic department declined to pursue a postseason tournament, ending McCrea's career on a sour note.
Who's Out, Who's In:
UB loses Jarod Oldham, McCrea, Josh Freelove, Auraum Nuiriankh, and Corey Raley-Ross to graduation. The good news for the Bulls is the recruiting class this season that coach Hurley has put together is excellent. Top 100 point guard Lamonte Beardon has been paired with 6' 10'' center Ikenna Smart, as well as shooting guard Mory Diane, and center Raheem Johnson.
The Bulls had a lot of senior leadership and relied heavily upon their starters to carry them this season. McCrea did most of the damage night in and night out on his way to becoming the Bulls' All-Time Leading Scorer. Will Regan was a great support for McCrea, but the question will be weather he can carry the team on his back or weather one of the younger guys can step up and fill the void left by McCrea. Hurley will have this team focused and ready to compete for a deeper run in the MAC Tournament next season
Final Grade: B
The Bulls had a midseason grade of a B+, and while they finished the season strong, winning 5-of-6 to end the regular season, an early exit in the MAC Tournament against Eastern Michigan brought an end to what looked like such a promising year. If they were able to win even one game they would have maintained their B+ midseason rank, but with 5 days to prepare for the Eagles and still losing 69-64 loss, the final result checks in at a flat out B.