However, Buffalo returns a strong nucleus of five seniors this season who will be counted on to replace the departed statistical production, as well as to lead the younger players.
“Our seniors will be big for us this year,” said head coach Scott Miller. “Although we do not have a lot of returning experience, this group of seniors has laid the foundation for our younger players, and they have really stepped up in practice and have been great vocal leaders. I expect them to continue this and we will continue to grow and get better as the season progresses.”
The seniors that Coach Miller is referring to include Bradley Jones, Dalton Winkler, Calvin Dryer (the top returning scorer at 8 points per game), Austin Woods, and Dakota McGuire. Juniors Ryan West and Austin Potter also will be key contributors, as will sophomore Dallas McGuire.
“The key to our success this season lies with our executing on both ends of the floor,” said Miller. “We will need to be patient on offense and take the best shots that we want rather than the shots that the defense allows us to take. On defense, we will need to communicate with one another and trust each other, which are the foundations of any good man-to-man defensive team.”
Although the Bison lack size, they do have a bevy of quick, sharpshooting guards.
“Our team’s strength is in our guard play,” added Miller. “We have a good group of senior guards that are good shooters, have good speed and quickness, and can create offense through their defense. We do not have a lot of size, but I feel that we can create problems for opposing teams with our guards breaking down defenses and creating good looks for our post players.”
With no player on the Buffalo roster taller than 6-4, it will take a team effort to combat the size that many opponents will put on the floor against the Bison.
“Our team’s weakness is our size,” said Miller. “We will play a lot of teams that are taller than us, especially once we get into conference play. We will really have to stress the importance of team rebounding and only allowing teams to take one shot against us each possession. We will also need to increase our number of 50-50 balls that we get. Anything we can do to end the opposing team’s possessions and increase our possessions on offense. This will help negate a size advantage by most teams.”
The Bison will open the season on Nov. 20 with a trip to Pleasant Hope before playing hosts at the annual Buffalo Tournament, which begins on Nov. 26 and runs through Dec. 1. Buffalo will also participate in the annual Blue & Gold Tournament the week after Christmas.
“We have been telling our guys since this summer that we want to establish a new identity for Bison basketball,” said Miller. “We have put in numerous hours in the gym this summer and in the weight room this fall to change the perceptions people may have about our program. I think we have a great group of seniors that have bought into this mindset and have begun to lay the foundation for this new identity. We will continue to build upon this as the season progresses.