Griffs and Bulls prepare for rivalry match up

Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Canisius Golden Griffins and the Buffalo Bulls meet in the great Big 4 rivalry match up on Wednesday night at Alumni Arena.

“Going into this home stand, we’ve got all our Big 4 games, which are always great rivalry games, and I think they do help you for January and February,” UB head coach Jim Whitesell said. “I think they’re really good for the community, they’re good for basketball, college basketball in our area, I think there’s a lot of good basketball here.”

“Over the summer, we play these guys in pickup, we know we’re going to play each year,” Canisius senior Malik Johnson said. “It’s kind of one of those things where you win and you have bragging rights, but you also want to win because you’re one of the main schools in Buffalo.”

The UB-Canisius rivalry has had some fantastic games over the last few years. The Griffs are looking for their first win in the series since 2016 when they downed the Bulls 94-87. Since then, UB won the next two meetings by 5 and 15 points. But the best thing about this rivalry is that it’s unofficially here to determine who’s Buffalo’s Best.

“It’s really fun, it brings out a lot of fans, it brings out a lot of people that don’t come out a lot of occasions all the time, and it just brings out the dog in players,” UB senior Davonta Jordan said. “We’re playing against some people in our own area kinda. It just shows who runs New York basically.”

“This will be my first experience in the Buffalo-Canisius battle, but I did experience the St. Bonaventure one. I know that the crowd is going to be intense, players are going to be intense, it’s about who has the heart to win the game,” Canisius freshman Armon Harried said. “Man vs. man, who’s going to outwork you? We’re just coming in like it’s another game, I know it’s a rivalry, but we’re another Buffalo team like you are, we’re going to come in here and beat you. We’re coming in with that attitude.”

“It’s really big because the whole city is involved, we’re both from Buffalo, so we just want to come out, play with a lot of energy, get up and down and win this game,” UB sophomore Jeenathan Williams said.

“We try to stay real level headed, take each game one at a time, we don’t take any opponent lighter or more serious that any other opponent,” Johnson said. “We’re coming in with the same mindset, come in, watch film, see what they do, see if we can stop what they do, see what we can do against them, same approach. Being that they’re 20 minutes down the road, that rivalry still is there, and we’d like to win this game.”

For two teams that are located just seven miles down the road from one another, and two teams that play each other every season, both Canisius and UB know what to expect of their opponent on the court.

“A scrappy team, they have some good pieces, they’re athletic and long, we know that they’re going to press us, we’ve got to be precise and persistent and just stay with it,” Williams said.

“They’re a really good team. They get out and run, their transition is excellent, they rebound the ball well, and it’ll be a big challenge for us but one we’re looking forward to,” Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon said.

“Tough basketball, a little trash talk, but physical and a good game, a fast paced game, and a game we’re looking forward to playing,” Jordan said.

“I think both teams play hard, and we hang our hats on playing hard,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely going to be a battle there, and we’re going to be the team that plays the hardest. I think that’s their mindset too, so we know that going into the game, and we can’t get outworked.”

Canisius and UB tip off in the Big 4 Rivalry game at Alumni Arena at 6 pm.

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