UB Men’s Basketball opens up season with first practice

Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The two-time defending MAC Champion UB Men’s Basketball team returned to the court on Sunday afternoon for the first practice of the 2019-2020 season. But this team is going to look a little different than UB teams in the past few years.

After graduating five seniors that saw a lot of success with the Bulls, this will be more of a transition year for UB, starting at the top with first year head coach Jim Whitesell.

“I said this a couple days ago, somebody asked me and I said it seems like Christmas in September,” UB Head Coach Jim Whitesell said. “I’m incredibly excited and grateful and happy that I got this opportunity with these guys. I’m thrilled to be coaching these kids.”

“It’s a good group of guys, they’re much younger and I’ll have to keep working with them on that in terms of how we do practice compared to maybe what we did last year with our veteran group, but that’s the challenge, it’s the fun of it, and there’s a lot of good potential out there,” Whitesell said.

“I love the way Coach Whitesell coaches, I just love him. I’ve been here for three years and he’s been my coach ever since then, so nothing changes,” senior guard Devonta Jordan said. “I love when Coach Whitesell coaches, he’s more of a guy that makes sure you get the techniques and make sure you get everything that you need to know to understand before we just get out there and start running, so he’s going to sit down and teach you stuff before he just throws you out in the water.”

“We did a lot more defense than usual, but we expect that because Coach Whitesell is a really good defensive coach,” redshirt junior Brock Bertram said.

“It’s very beneficial because we didn’t have to start a couple feet back, so we’re right on course, just getting straight to it, so that right there is a major key to what we’re getting ready to do,” Jordan said.

“It’s very beneficial because we didn’t have to start a couple feet back, so we’re right on course, just getting straight to it, so that right there is a major key to what we’re getting ready to do,” Jordan said.

The first few practices of the season are important for the Bulls to figure out who will fill the shoes of the five graduated seniors from last season.

“Everyone has to step up, we lost five seniors and it’s going to be a big part of this year, I think we have the guys to do it, we’ve been working really hard this whole offseason to really fill in those shoes,” Bertram said.

“There’s some really good talent in these guys, part of it is you just need that experience. I keep reminding myself, first, and my staff that Nick Perkins and CJ Massimer, they didn’t start as freshmen. They played a lot, but they came along,” Coach Whitesell said.

“I think what we have to do is bring our guys along. Devonta Jordan and Jayvon Graves are two guys that were on really an excellent team last year. Gabe Grant is a guy that played at Houston, so he’s been at this level. Antwain Johnson transferred from Middle Tennessee State, he’s been at this level. Jeenathan Williams and Ronaldo Segu really played big for us down the stretch last year. Brock Bertram is a guy that knows this program.

“So we’ve got some good experience back, but what’s being asked of them is different from what was asked of them last year, so we all have to adjust to that and make a jump up, but I think they’re capable of doing that. Along with it, I think we need to bring our new guys along,” Coach Whitesell said.

This was the first of about 30 practices the Bulls will have before the take the court for the first time this season in their first exhibition game against Daeman College on October 24th.

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