Published March 20, 2015
Despite the loss, Buffalo’s Bulls pride was on full display at watch parties across the nation.
Hundreds of fans from the Buffalo and UB community packed into the Student Union for the university’s official watch party. And although one would never mistake the building for a basketball arena, the atmosphere was certainly electric.
Fans erupted after every Bulls score, children competed in halftime jumpshot contests and an emcee rallied the crowd during the final minutes.
In restaurants, taverns and homes throughout Buffalo, in Columbus and around the world, the enthusiasm for the UB Bulls reverberated.
“The pride that is shown is why you have college athletics,” said Provost Charles Zukoski. “It brings the community together and it gives us all a tremendous amount of pride in our institution.”
All of Buffalo came together to support the Bulls in their first game in college basketball’s biggest tournament: from diehard Bulls fans to those who hardly knew the rules of the game.
Kevin House, a Western New York fan who watched the game at Santora’s Bar and Grill with a crowd of 200, said, “The team has brought people together. I was hugging people I don’t know.”
UB pride is what led Kim Crooks, a 1985 alumna, to fly more than 2,500 miles to Columbus to watch her alma matter play in the Big Dance.
“We wouldn’t miss this. It’s a huge deal,” said Crooks, who now lives in Los Angeles and reunited with UB fans at the R Bar in Columbus, which hosted an alumni watch party. “I feel like I’m back in Buffalo. It reminds me of when the Bills went to the Super Bowl.”
For UB engineering professor James Jensen, the game reminded him of his days at the University at North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Jensen began his graduate program the same year as NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan arrived for his freshman year, and later watched the team win the 1982 NCAA championship.
“This is great for the advancement of the program,” said Kevin Thompson, director of facilities’ planning and design, as he nervously stroked his mustache in the first half. “They’ve got to keep building.”
The Bulls fell to West Virginia, 68-62, in the final minutes of a closely played game. The loss was disheartening, but the community believes this is only the beginning for the Bulls.
“It was a tough loss, but I think they played bravely and with heart,” said Letitia Thomas, associate vice provost and director of UB Cora P. Maloney College. “This team will definitely be back.”