Roving reporter Jackie O’Brien, BA ’05, offers a quick take on athletics at UB
As the fall 2005 athletic season gets under way, Bulls fans may spot two new members of the coaching staff on and off the court.
With more than 30 years of coaching experience, including three years in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) under her belt, Linda Hill-MacDonald has been named head coach of the University at Buffalo women’s basketball team. Hill-MacDonald was most recently at the University of South Carolina, where she spent four of the past five seasons as an assistant coach for the Gamecocks in the highly competitive Southeast Conference (SEC). Because of her success at the collegiate level, in 1997 the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers introduced her as their first-ever head coach. Hill-MacDonald led the Rockers to the 1998 Eastern Conference Championship title.
Another new face is Jim Lodes, head volleyball coach. Lodes comes to Buffalo via Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) power North Carolina, where he had been an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the past three seasons; he helped lead the Tar Heels to an overall record of 71-31.
Before landing the job at North Carolina, Lodes served as head coach at Division II Lees McRae College and Division III Rochester Institute of Technology and Brockport.
Bulls eye the big league
Former Bulls Joe Mihalics and Mark Bortz, BS ’05, made history over the summer when they entered the professional ranks of their respective sports.
Mihalics, a former infielder on the UB baseball team, was selected by the New York Mets in the 34th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Mihalics made history by being the first University at Buffalo baseball player to be drafted since UB baseball was reinstated at the Division I level in 2001. He was also the first position player to enter a draft since shortstop Paul Daddario was drafted in 1983. At press time, Mihalics had just been promoted to Class A ball with the Hagerstown (Maryland) Suns.
Bortz, a basketball standout, joined Mihalics on the professional scene. The Bulls’ steady big man was signed by the Los Angeles Clippers’ summer league team. After participating with that team this summer, he signed with the Scarlet Vilvoorde, a professional basketball team in Belgium.
Bortz became the first Buffalo player to join an NBA team since the 1991–92 season when UB made the transition to Division I competition. Winner of the Mid-American Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2005, Bortz helped lead the Bulls to their memorable first MAC championship game.
Best and brightest
A pair of UB athletes, basketball player Turner Battle, BA ’05, and track and field athlete Faith Thompson, BA ’04, became just the second and third Academic All-Americans since UB’s return to Division I athletics.
Battle, the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, was also named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American, while earning Academic All-American honors from ESPN the Magazine. Battle joined Wake Forest’s Chris Paul as the only basketball players in the nation to earn both academic and athletic All-American status. Battle had a 3.53 GPA in communication.
Thompson, meanwhile, was the MAC champion in the hammer throw—smashing the all-time conference mark—and went on to finish 15th in the nation at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, California. The holder of three UB track and field records, Thompson, a past winner of the Clifford C. Furnas Postgraduate Scholarship Award, had a 3.97 grade point average as an undergraduate, while earning a degree in psychology.
Over the past year, UB Stadium has undergone numerous upgrades and improvements—most notably the installation of Sportexe 46, a new surface on the football field.
An artificial turf similar to the surface used by the Baltimore Ravens, Sportexe’s “Momentum 46” turf combines 70 percent rubber and 30 percent sand to form the base of a multilayered surface. In addition to football games, it will be used by the men’s and women’s soccer teams.
Jackie O’Brien, BA ’05, was a two-sport student-athlete at UB (cross country and softball) and also former senior sports editor at the Spectrum.