BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — March Madness is a month away.
Now that the Bills are done playing and the Sabres are going on break, college basketball season comes into focus in Western New York.
Entering February, an inflection point on the postseason march, here’s a glance at how the local Division I teams have fared so far.
Record: 10-12, 4-5 MAC
Leaders: Curtis Jones (15.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG), Zid Powell (13.7 PPG, 2.9 APG)
Bulls have had big scoring nights, but struggling to find consistency with few holdovers from coach Jim Whitesell’s first three years. Played toughest non-conference schedule in the MAC. Seventh in the standings entering February, with past two losses coming against top-tier Kent State and Akron. A losing record at season’s end would be program’s first in 10 years.
Record: 8-9, 3-5 MAC
Leaders: Zakiyah Winfield (14.6 PPG, 10.6 RPG), Re’Shawna Stone (14.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
New coach Becky Burke is building from the ground up, after Felisha Legette-Jack went to Syracuse and most of the players followed. Winfield, a graduate transfer from the D-II national champions, is top 15 in the country in rebounding. Bulls have battled more often than not with a short bench. Four starters playing heaving minutes in seven-player rotation of late, and fatigue has factored in fourth quarters. Lost four straight after 7-1 stretch. Beat Niagara and St. Bonaventure after losing opener at Canisius.
Record: 5-15, 3-8 MAAC
Leaders: Jordan Henderson (13.9 PPG, 2.9 REB), Tahj Staveskie (11.5 PPG, 2.9 REB)
On way to fourth losing season in coach Reggie Witherspoon’s seventh year, with a roster that features eight players in their first year with the program, Golden Griffins have the worst overall record in the MAAC. Seven losses by seven points or fewer, five in MAAC. Didn’t play a home game over 54-day stretch, longest in school history. The bright spot has been freshman guard Staveskie.
Record: 6-14, 3-8 MAAC
Leaders: Dani Haskell (12.6 PPG, 3.9 REB), Vannessa Garrelts (10.6 PPG, 3.7 REB)
The rebuild continues in Sahar Nusseibeh’s second season at the helm. Griffs are one victory away from the program’s winningest season since the 2019. Haskell is a former Franklinville star, and WNY’s all-time leading scorer. Host rival Purple Eagles on Feb. 15.
Record: 11-9, 6-5 MAAC
Leaders: Noah Thomasson (18.4 PPG, 3.7 REB), Aaron Gray (12.4 PPG, 4.9 REB)
Featuring the MAAC’s leading scorer in Thomasson, a senior guard, the Purple Eagles have over-performed expectations, sitting in fifth after being picked eighth in the preseason poll in coach Greg Paulus’ fourth season. They are 6-2 at the Gallagher Center, where they host rival Canisius on Friday night.
Record: 10-9, 9-2 MAAC
Leaders: Angel Parker (16.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.1 SPG), Aaliyah Parker (16.5 PPG, 7.8 REB, 3.9 SPG)
The Purple Eagles are off to their best MAAC start in history, leading the nation in steals and forced turnovers. They are second in the conference standings, one game behind Iona, who visits Monteagle Ridge on Thursday. The Parker sisters are second and third in the MAAC in scoring, while both ranking among the top 15 nationally in steals. They are two of five O’Hara grads on the roster.
St. Bonaventure men
Record: 11-11, 5-4 Atlantic 10
Leaders: Daryl Banks III (16.0 PPG, 3.2 RPB), Kyrell Luc (12.3 PPG, 4.5 APG)
Mark Schmidt has kept Bona competitive after transfer portal turned over the entire roster following one of the best two-year runs in program history. Tough to beat (9-2) at Reilly Center, Bonnies got first true road win Saturday at VCU, one of the top teams in the A-10, and are sixth in the conference standings. Have gone 42-14 in February over past six seasons. Banks, a transfer from Cinderella darling Saint Peter’s, is shooting 37% on 3s.
St. Bonaventure women
Record: 4-20, 1-8 A-10
Leaders: I’yanna Lops (11.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG), Nadechka Laccen (9.3 PPG, 2.9 APG)
Dismissed coach Jesse Fleming in middle of January with a 53-135 record in seven seasons. Won first game under interim coach Erica Morrow, a former Syracuse player, before dropping three in a row. O’Hara grad James Ewing has taken on more assistant coaching duties in reshuffle. Hard times for program that had six 20-win seasons and two NCAA tournament trips under previous coach Jim Crowley, now at Providence.
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Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.