Frontcourt Frenzy! (Blog Post: 1/14/2012)
by SportsTime Ohio's/ESPN Cleveland's Michael Reghi
The activity around the rims in Millett Hall on Saturday night as Buffalo's Bulls roll into Oxford to battle the Miami RedHawks will not be for the mild, meek, or faint of heart! Both squads feature talented performers, who have shown they can readily take over games, and have become focal points for their respective offenses. The impact they make goes far greater than the numbers they post!
Let's examine, as I salivate over the prospects of what can transpire for you, the viewers. 3 of the top 6 point producers in the MAC will be on the floor, starting with Miami's talented senior, Julian Mavunga. While the numbers do indeed pop out at you, 19.3 points per game, 10.4 rebounds per game, which lead the MAC in both categories, the game extremely versatile, with the abilities to produce points with his back to the basket, while improving the range on his jump shot, it's his desire to lead a young and sometimes struggling basketball team that might be the most impressive quality Mavunga maintains. With that comes sacrifices for premier players, many times at the expense of their individual game. Mavunga has completely embraced the role, making certain that his young freshman and sophomore teammates are understanding of the correct way to play the game, in hopes the 'big picture' for Miami basketball will be in place far after his playing days are done. You have to root for young men like this. Mavunga, on the floor for head coach Charlie Coles 38 minutes per night, and looking for Miami's first MAC win after dropping tight verdicts to both Akron and Kent State to begin conference play.
Buffalo's tandem of 6-10 Mitchell Watt, and 6-7 Javon McRea will offer Mavunga and his Miami cohorts an extreme challenge! McRea, the reigning MAC freshman of the year, has been tremendous, averaging 16.8 points per game, third in the MAC, while leading the league in field goal percentage at 59 per cent, and grabbing 7.4 rebounds per game. Over the top passing skills, while being an excellent opportunity offensive player has McRea on a fast track to becoming one of the finest frontcourt players the MAC has produced.
I dubbed Watt, Mitchell 'Swat' last season, and with prime reason! The young man changes and alters shots around the rim with great regularity, causing major headaches for opposing coaches. His game has evolved beautifully, the senior 'big' gives head coach Reggie Witherspoon 15.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.5 block shots per game, and in tandem with McRea, gives the Bulls the most potent front court duo in the MAC. Need more evidence? Buffalo tops the MAC st 76 points per game, while shooting 46 per cent from the floor, and leading the league in rebounding. It's why I have good reason to believe the Buffalo fans could be doing plenty of shouting in downtown Cleveland come MAC Tournament time.
Can Buffalo parlay the skills of Watt and McRea, and the MAC best 3 point shooting of Zach Filzen into a road win in Oxford? After the loss Wednesday night in Ohio's Convocation Center, the Bulls need it. Won't come easy, as Miami has dropped a pair by a total of 9 points. The RedHawks can make a case the should have one win, if not 2. Makes for a strong Saturday night of MAC hoop viewing. Join Steve Mix and me on Sportstime Ohio at 6pm. Make sure you keep your eyes feasted on the action around the rims. It'll will decide your winner, as Mavunga, Watt, and McRea are are as good as it gets in MAC frontcourts!