What An Opportunity

UB sports outlook: what to expect for the blue and white in Fall 2012

In Sports on June 26, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I’m a total homer, a Buffalo kid who loves the University at Buffalo Bulls. I grew up high-fiving Victor E. Bull.

But these days I’m the editor in chief of the UB’s school paper, The Spectrum, so I’m obligated to provide objective coverage of the school’s sports teams, because, you know, that’s how journalism works. I still follow the teams fairly religiously.

Here’s the low-down — the things that won’t go in print — about what is to come for Bulls fans next year.

Football: The Bulls have gone 5-19 since Jeff Quinn took over as head coach, and there’s no question he’s on the hot seat. Buffalo’s schedule this year is murderous, including games against Georgia, Pittsburgh, and UConn. Branden Oliver (tailback), Khalil Mack (linebacker), and Alex Neutz (wide receiver) are the only real stars to show up so far on the roster. The rest of the squad is young and unproven.

Former AD Warde Manuel, who hired Quinn, was a big Quinn-believer, but Manuel has since bolted to work at UConn. He told me before he left that Quinn had a minimum of three or four years to prove himself.

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New Athletic Director: We’ll see if new AD Danny White, who was hired in May and comes from Mississippi, will have as much patience with Quinn. I sat down with White last week and got to know him a bit. A full profile is coming in The Spectrum in August, but here are the basics:

1. White, 32, is the youngest Division I athletic director. He’s never been intimidated by being young but being the boss. He’s incredibly charismatic and confident, which you would expect considering he’s a 32-year-old big-time athletic director.

2. He’s a family man and he adores his wife and three kids. Important fact: He also enjoys Diet Pepsi.

3. He was a walk-on basketball player at Notre Dame under coach Mike Brey, but said he doesn’t play pick-up any more. He enjoys jogging for exercise.

4. He recently bought a house in Clarence, N.Y., a beautiful, affluent suburb of Buffalo, though for now he’s living in an off-campus apartment.

5. His father is the AD at Duke.

6. People have already started asking how long he’ll be around, since he’s young and successful and young up-and-comers typically bolt from mid-major schools. He said it’s no secret that he wants to rise to the top of his profession, but he believes he can do that at UB.

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Men’s Soccer: UB’s men’s soccer team was really solid last year. The Bulls knocked off a top-25 team (No. 18 Northern Illinois), and almost did so again in the MAC tournament, eventually falling 1-0 to NIU in the semifinals. The team is young, with only one senior on board, but the group owns mighty potential. The Bulls should hang around the upper-half of the MAC this year.

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Women’s Soccer: This team is the one you want to keep an eye on. Ainsley Wheldon is an absolute monster in net, one of the best keepers in the country, and the Bulls made the biggest turnaround in Division I last year (finishing 12-5-4 after going 1-16-2 in fall 2010). Buffalo has a real shot to win the conference this year. But whenever I say that, I’m wrong, so let’s pretend I didn’t type that last sentence.

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Volleyball: Last year was a disaster. From what I know, head coach Todd Kress is an incredible guy, but his team dreadfully underperformed last year (11-19 after going 18-16 the year before). This team is packed full of sophomores and juniors, so we’ll see if their experience last year will translate into a better finish this year. The squad needs to get back to the days when it was a feared, up-and-coming MAC opponent.

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That’s about all there is to it — if I missed anything, be sure to shoot me an email at eic@ubspectrum.com or just drop me a line on Twitter @aaroncmansfield.

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