Published March 22, 2016
It’s an exciting time to be a Bulls basketball fan. The UB community came out to congratulate the two teams responsible for that excitement at a rally in the Student Union this afternoon.
The UB men’s and women’s basketball teams both won their respective Mid-American Conference tournament championships and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. It was the women’s program’s first-ever appearance, while the men went for the second straight season. The men lost to Miami on Thursday and the women fell to Ohio State on Friday.
Today was all about celebrating two monumental seasons. Paul Peck, the voice of the Bulls, served as master of ceremonies for the event. He called March 12 — the day both teams won their MAC tournament titles in dramatic fashion — one of the biggest sports days in Buffalo’s history.
Fans cheered as players and coaches from both teams were introduced, one by one, and brought up on a stage set up in the Student Union. President Satish K. Tripathi congratulated each player and coach. Highlights from both programs’ conference tournament championship games were shown on a television screen.
Both coaches thanked the UB faithful for their support this season and expressed their optimism for next season. “We’re not just trying to win a championship. We’re trying to build a dynasty,” UB women’s coach Felisha Legette-Jack said, adding that every athletic program at the university is working to win for the fans. “We are going to work tirelessly to make sure you get your money’s worth every single day. Buffalo is on the rise, baby.”
Legette-Jack said this season was “like a dream coming to fruition. This is something we saw four years ago when we took this opportunity. We saw this day coming. This is just the beginning, people.”
“It’s been crazy since we got back from the tournament,” said sophomore Stephanie Reid, whose buzzer-beater sent the UB women to their first-ever Big Dance. “Everybody knows our names now. People told me it’d be different and it has been in a really good way.”
Men’s coach Nate Oats said his team is already excited to get back to work for next season. “We’ve got just about everybody coming back, so we’re expecting to do another one of these (rallies), and we’re expecting to win a couple games in the tournament next year,” said Oats, who finished his first season as head coach after serving as an assistant last year.
The UB men became the first team to win back-to-back MAC championships since Kent State in 2000-01 and 2001-02. Oats also noted the Bulls had the toughest schedule in the conference, and that three teams UB played earlier in the year all advanced to the Sweet 16.
“Thanks to all the fans who came out to our home games. We had the student section packed — True Blue, thank you,” Oats said. “Congratulations to the women. They set the bar for us on that (MAC championship) Saturday.”