Bengals looks to make SUNYAC run


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Lovell Smith, 35, scored his 1,000th point in his Bengal career this season alongside his teammate Nico McLean.

Jahvon Graham, Staff Writer

At the beginning of the every season every team has the same goal: win a championship. For some, that goal quickly becomes far fetched; for others it is very much a reality. Some, you can tell right away they are going to be in the hunt other teams take awhile before they start to show their true colors.

For the Buffalo State men’s basketball team, they are right there waiting to seize their opportunity.

“I feel we’re right where we’re suppose to be to reach the next level. We have yet to reach our potential,” Nico McLean said.

The Bengals have their fair share of play makers. The offense is not an issue for them. Just recently the Bengals had two players go over the 1000-point plateau for their career, senior guards Nico Mclean and Lovell Smith.

“Those two guys are extremely important to our team,” back court teammate Jordan Glover said. “Nico is like my right-hand man, my back court running mate and we are the two who runs the whole show.”

While 1000 points is a great accomplishment, McLean is focused on bigger things.

“It means nothing to me, I’m aiming for something greater than that and that’s a SUNYAC Championship,” McLean said. “Like coach always says, the cause is greater than the individual.

The last time Buffalo State won the SUNYAC Championship was the 2010-2011 season and McLean was a part of that team. With having the experience of being on a championship team, McLean holds something that nobody else on the team does.

“The experience does help to be honest,” McLean said. “I have an idea of how the competition is going to be and there’s a lot of things that needs to be corrected before we can get there.”

One of those things would be the defense. The defense has not been there on a consistent basis, although the Bengals hold a 13-6 record. One night they can allow over 100 points; the next game they hold their opponent to 70, then they give up 90 the next game and so on. Yes, it can be due to the level of competition, but if they want to be great they have to dictate the pace of the game and bring effort on defense every night.

“It isn’t so much of us not wanting to play defense it’s just some of the mental breakdowns that we have throughout a game that becomes costly towards the end of the game,” Glover said.

That is very true, a couple points here and a couple points there can be the difference between winning and losing. The Bengals have had losses by one point twice this season and two more times by five points. Those are game that instead of being L’s could have been W’s.

The old adage says, “offense wins games but defense wins championships.” That still holds true. The players know how important defense is and with five games left in the season, all of which are conference games. The time is now to tighten up that part of their game.

“Its definitely something that we put emphasis on in practice, it’s one of our main focuses but it’s up to us to take more pride in it,” Glover said.

With their goals still attainable, the stretch run is going to be key. Players need to take care of their bodies and need to be ready to lay it all on the line the last three weeks of the season.   It has been a wonderful season so far, but it’s time to take it up a notch.

“It’s been a solid season. A couple games we let slip away but everything happens for a reason,” McLean added. “By all means I think we have the deepest team and a team that can win the SUNYAC Championship.”

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