Published March 23, 2019
Susan and William Styborski had two items on their bucket list for retirement: a trip to Iceland, and to watch as many UB Bulls basketball games as possible.
The recent retirees were among the many Bulls fans who travelled to Cleveland to watch the men’s and women’s basketball teams compete in the MAC tournaments. And although they didn’t travel to Oklahoma or Connecticut for the NCAA tournaments, they were able to cheer on their teams with hundreds of Bulls fans at the Bulls’ official watch parties at Santora’s Pizza Pub & Grill on Transit Road and Millersport Highway.
Both Santora’s locations were filled to max capacity yesterday with fans from across Western New York, all wearing UB blue in support of the men’s basketball team’s matchup against the Arizona State Sun Devils and the women’s bout with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Energy reverberated through the room as fans cheered every Bulls score or block. Many longtime fans were thrilled with the public’s embrace of the UB basketball teams.
“I’ve worked at UB for 20 years, so being in this moment after all these years is unreal and you can’t explain it. I have goosebumps and it’s super exciting from someone who’s been around when we had 100 people at a game to now,” said Phyllis Floro, director of student engagement.
Susan Styborski agrees, crediting the Bulls’ rise to being the teams to beat in the MAC and their recognition as being among the best basketball programs in the country.
“I think it’s taken people who aren’t just UB graduates and opened up the UB Bulls experience to people that are in Buffalo or the surrounding area,” said Styborski, who with her husband, a UB alum, regularly travels an hour from home to watch Bulls basketball games.
“Before people didn’t really realize where UB was. Now, I tell my friends I’m going to the MAC tournament and my one girlfriend asks, ‘Are you going to see the Bulls play?’ That level of awareness has really been heightened; the whole experience is exponentially expanding.”
The games even drew the support of potential new fans.
“I am not a UB Bulls follower, but I couldn’t think of a better place to be than to bask in the enthusiasm here watching the UB Bulls game,” said UB alum Alan Laville.
Santora’s erupted in celebration when the men’s team defeated ASU, 91-74, and the women triumphed over Rutgers, 82-71.
“As a member of the Western New York community, I’m just so proud of the Bulls. It’s bringing us all together. We’re all UB fans at this time and I hope this continues,” said Patricia Starr, assistant director for alumni services in the UB Office of Alumni Engagement.
The men’s team will face Texas Tech University in the second round at 6:10 p.m. Sunday, while the women will take on the University of Connecticut at 7 p.m.
“Win or lose, however they do in NCAA, we’ll be back in the fall watching these guys,” said Styborski.
Ask Styborski what she values most, a trip to Iceland or the UB Bulls teams becoming national champions, and she’ll tell you a Bulls victory. Without hesitation.