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Preseason Preview: Buffalo

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(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Buffalo Bulls
17-18 Record: 27-9 (15-3 MAC)
Postseason?: Got a 13 seed as the autobid from the MAC. Embarrassed 4 seed Arizona before getting crushed by 5 seed Kentucky
17-18 KenPom: 67
Date: December 21, 2019
Location: Fiserv Forum
Coach: Nate Oats (4th season)
Projected KenPom Range: 30-60
Projected Conference Finish: 1/12 in the MAC

Departures from 17-18
Wes Clark: Starting PG: 29.9 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2.3 tpg, .477 FG%, .400 3P% (Graduated)
Ikenna Smart: 4th Man off the Bench: 12.2 mpg, 3.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .677 FG%, .000 3P% (Grad transferred to Wake Forest)
James Reese: 5th Man off the Bench: 7.9 mpg, 2.4 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.4 tpg, .317 FG%, .195 3P% (Transferred to Odessa College)
Gabe Agorioge: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 13 games (Graduated)
James Jones: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (Transferred to Williston State College)
19% of scoring, 15% of rebounding, 27% of assists, 20% of steals, 15% of blocks, 17% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Jeenathan Williams: 4-star SG, ranked #131 by 247 Composite
Tra’Von Fagan: JUCO Transfer SF from Florida Southwestern Junior College
Ronaldo Segu: 3-star PG, ranked #233 by 247 Composite
Giambattista Davis: Walk-on SF
Patrick Moore: Walk-on SG
Jamon Bivens: Walk-on SG

Probable Starters:
PG: Davonta Jordan: 6’2” 187 lb JR: 25.2 mpg, 6.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.3 tpg, .467 FG%, .297 3P%
SG: Dontay Caruthers: 6’1” 191 lb RSSR: 18.0 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.4 tpg, .598 FG%, .467 3P%
SF: CJ Massinburg: 6’3” 194 lb SR: 33.9 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.6 tpg, .468 FG%, .405 3P%
PF: Jeremy Harris: 6’7” 176 lb SR: 33.3 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.7 bpg, 1.3 tpg, .471 FG%, .418 3P%
C: Nick Perkins: 6’8” 250 lb SR: 27.5 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.6 bpg, 2.0 tpg, .474 FG%, .319 3P%

Probable Bench:
Jayvon Graves: 6’3” 193 lb SO PG
Jeenathan Williams: 6’5” 203 lb FR SG
Montell McRae: 6’10” 198 lb SR PF
Tra’Von Fagan: 6’8” 200 lb RSSO SF
Brock Bertram: 6’11” 249 lb RSSO C

Probable Benchwarmers:
Ronaldo Segu: 6’0” 160 lb FR PG
Dominic Johnson: 6’5” 230 lb RSSO PF
Colby Moultrie: 6’3” 190 lb SO SG
Giambattista Davis: 6’3” 203 lb RSSR SF
Patrick Moore: 6’3 210 lb JR SG
Jamon Bivens: 6’3” 190 lb RSSO SG
Antwain Johnson: 6’2” 197 lb SR PG (redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)
Gabe Grant: 6’6” 220 lb JR SF (redshirting due to NCAA transfer rules)

Notes:

• Buffalo is quite literally the highest quality buy game that money can buy going into next season. The Bulls finished last season ranked in the top 75 of KenPom and top 30 of RPI. They had some close losses to quality teams in the non-conference before running roughshod through the MAC and capping the season off with an NCAA tournament upset of 4 seeded Arizona. From that team they only lose Wes Clark, starting PG and former Mizzou Tiger, and a few back of the rotation players while adding a 4-star freshman (who was also a Marquette target). Buffalo should repeat their dominance of the MAC again this season. Last year they only lost three conference games by a combined eight points. Of their 18 conference wins, only three were single digit victories, the rest were all double-digit blowouts. It would not be surprising to see Buffalo go undefeated in MAC play and challenge for an at large bid. This game will do wonders for Marquette’s computer numbers.
• The player at the top of the Buffalo scouting report is CJ Massinburg. The native Texan has started every year of his career and was nigh unstoppable this past season. He is a lights out shooter from deep and a crafty slasher. Those two skills combined netted him an impressive eFG% of 57.4%. His scoring did not just come against small time opponents as he lit up the likes of Cincinnati, St. Bonaventure, Texas A&M, Arizona, and Kentucky for above his season scoring average. As impressive as his scoring is his rebounding. 7.3 rebounds a game at 6’3” is not an easy task even in the MAC. How Massingburg scores is a good indicator of what the final score will be. He was only held to single digit scoring in three games during conference play and all three of Buffalo’s losses came in those four poor performances.
• Like many mid-major programs, Buffalo hurts for size. They will only feature two players taller than 6’8” next season, and both look like back of the rotation players at best. Instead, Buffalo relies on Nick Perkins, a short but wide post presence with soft hands and a sweet looking stroke. The Ypsilanti native has been a mainstay in the Bulls lineup since he turned down local Eastern Michigan for their conference rival. Perkins has the girth of a traditional big man but at only 6’8 he has to get creative in the post. While he has some nice back to the basket moves, his bread and butter is facing the basket. He was second on the team in both points and rebounds but his true value may come from his ability to stretch the floor. He’s not a prolific outside shooter but with over 90 career 3PMs, he can pull opposing big men out of the paint, clearing the way for slashers like Massinburg to take advantage.
• Coach Oates made a huge recruiting coup last season when he pulled in JUCO All American Jeremy Harris. Harris was rated as 2017’s #2 JUCO per JUCOrecruiting.com and was an absolute beast for Gulf Coast State. Despite the massive jump in competition, Harris put up almost the same numbers in his first year at Buffalo that he was doing at the JUCO level. In a perfect world, Harris would play on the wing but he mostly served as a stretch 4 for the Bulls. His 92 3PM led the team and he managed it with 42% accuracy. He is a prolific three-point shooter but he is far from a one trick pony. He has plenty of mobility and a nice a little mid-range game. Combined with Perkins and Massinburg, Harris provides the Bulls with a frightening trio of scorers.
• While Buffalo does return most of its scoring, the departure of Wes Clark does leave some points and assists needing to be made up. Sliding over to the PG position will be last year’s starting SG, Davonta Jordan. Jordan will be the only non-senior in the starting lineup and he will have the enviable task of feeding the Bulls’ trio of scorers. As the SG/second PG last season he averaged 4.0 assists a game. His distribution will be needed to fill in for the departing Clark. The likely candidate to make up for Clark’s scoring is 5th year senior Dontay Caruthurs. He was the first man off the bench last season and managed an impressive 6.7 points a game in only 18 minutes of work. He missed 11 games in the middle of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot and that likely impacted his minutes. In addition to his scoring ability, Caruthers was also the MAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. Consistency is what Caruthers will need to develop to take the next step in his career. He had the tendency to explode in one game (19 points vs. Ohio) only to disappear in the next (2 points vs. Akron 3 days later).
• One name familiar to the more rabid Marquette fans may be Jeenathan Williams. Williams is the gem of Coach Oates’ 2018 class and was once a target for Coach Wojo. Williams was even once quoted as saying that Marquette was working harder than any other school to get him. Williams finished as a top 150 player per the 247Composite, but despite being recruited by the likes of Marquette and Syracuse (Williams is from Syracuse, NY) he ended up at Buffalo. It did seem like Marquette stopped their recruitment after picking up Greg Elliott’s commitment. Williams figures to have a significant role as a freshman and it will be fun to see him in action and wonder how he would have fit at Marquette.

Prediction:
• This game will be uncomfortably close for Marquette fans. Buffalo features fou senior starters and another senior coming off the bench. There is no other buy game that can claim to be a tougher out on anyone’s schedule. To make it even more challenging, the Bulls will be very hungry to win this game. Playing in the MAC, the only chance they will have to make the tournament as an at large will be to win non-conference road games at high majors. The Bulls will want this one bad. Still, Marquette is the better team and will be playing at home. Chartouny slows down Massinburg, Sammy holds Harris in check, and Marquette uses its superior size to bully Perkins into early foul trouble. It is a single digit game coast to coast with Buffalo taking the occasional lead, but Marquette pulls out a 5-8 point victory.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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