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UB all-time leading scorer Young coaching in HS state title game Sunday

By Keith McShea

GLENS FALLS -- In Western New York, Rasaun Young is known as one of the best basketball players to suit up for the University at Buffalo.

But back home in New Rochelle, it’s just “Crabby.”

Reporters looking for the coach of New Rochelle High School team ask for “Crabby.” Assistant coaches ask “Where’s Crabby?”

The nickname is one that has stuck with Young since he was 9 years old. He decided to imitate a “Little Rascals” scene, one in which they referred to their teacher, Miss Crabtree, in a more familiar way.

“I said ‘Hey Crabby’ to the teacher,” said Young. “I said it and I got in a little trouble. Ever since then, they started calling me ‘Crabby.’ … But it never made it up there [to Buffalo]."

Crabby is making quite a name for himself in his first year as coach of his alma mater, as Young and New Rochelle will play for the for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship at 3:15 p.m. Sunday.

The championship berth marks the continuation of a fantastic season for New Rochelle, which had its struggles during what is now a 16-9 campaign before receiving national attention after an amazing three-quarter court buzzer-beater by senior Khalil Edney beat Mount Vernon in the Section I (Westchester County) championship.

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More reaction to Witherspoon firing

---Below are thoughts from Mark Bortz and Calvin Cage, two of Reggie Witherspoon's former players, on the news Friday that Witherspoon's 14-year era at UB had come to an end. Cage's comments are from his Facebook page while Bortz's are part of an email he sent to me at 3 a.m. Saturday morning:

Mark Bortz, Class of 2005:

I was in the middle of a store when I received the news and was in complete shock.  I wandered around the store for several minutes in a daze before I came to my senses and rushed to be with my family, my UB family.  I was in disbelief only hours after watching UB in a hard-fought battle against rival Kent St. in the MAC Tournament.

I could not believe that the man who brought UB out of the basement of the MAC had been fired.  The same man that made UB a championship contender on a yearly basis, took his teams to two MAC Championship games, groomed multiple MAC Player of the Year winners, won multiple Coach of the Year awards, took the school to its first ever post-season appearances and won a share of the MAC regular season title in a year they were picked to finish last!

How quickly we forget the past and take for granted what we have.  As I sat in silence, I thought about all of the experiences I had on the court with Coach Witherspoon, but equally about our times off the court, especially since I graduated in 2005.  I thought about the basketball family that Coach “Spoon” had created.  What the public doesn’t get to see is how much Coach really cared for his players beyond points, assists and rebounds.  He cares about making his players into men and believed in the importance of education.  Coach Witherspoon helped to mold me into the man I am today and I credit much of my success as a professional basketball player and in life to his mentorship. 

****

Calvin Cage, Class of 2006

11 years ago a 17 yr. old kid sat in Bladensburg High at press conference on national signing day. Several high major offers I sign to go to Buffalo, everyone is (upset)!! The Washington Post my coach, a few teammates, at the time I was turning pro at 19 regardless, I get on campus meet Reggie Witherspoon and he's KILLING me from day 1!!! Tells me that until I mature I won't play. We won only 5 games that yr., but I’m forever grateful to this man because this guy made me a MAN!! I'm not person, friend, son, father boyfriend that I am if it wasn't for Reg. Coming from DC I was homesick the 1st day I stepped on campus, his family excepted me like I was their own, the ENTIRE family!! I'm hurt to hear this news my brother (Turner Battle) is there coaching also like I know I’ll (probably) never be in Buffalo again, my ties to the university are done.

---Rodney McKissic

At the MAC

CLEVELAND -- It'll be a tall order for the UB women in this afternoon's quarterfinals at the Q. Akron, the No. 3 seed, went 21-8 and swept the season series with a pair of convincing victories. The Zips have the MAC Player of the Year in 6-1 redshirt junior Rachel Tecca and the nation's assist leader in Kacie Cassell.

UB got 24 points out of guard Mackenzie Loesing in Wednesday's win over Miami -- the highest point total by a Bull this season and the most by a UB freshman since Heather Turner's 24 against Miami in 2005. Loesing has hit double figure in eight straight. Sophomore Christa Baccas also had a big game against the RedHawks, tying her career high with 15 boards while facing the conference's leading rebounder in Kirsten Olowinski.

On the men's side, UB gets its third crack at Kent State (19-12) at 6:30 tonight. The Flashes pulled away late to win 80-68 in Buffalo Jan. 16 and got a buzzer-beating basket from all-MAC forward Chris Evans to score an 83-81 OT victory on Feb. 27. UB's fate could be determined by its ability to contain Randal Holt. The senior guard is 11 of 14 from three against them this year.

UB's coming off a 76-61 conquest of Ball State, a comeback victory fueled by Will Regan's 36-point outburst. That's the eighth-highest single-game point total in tourney history.

This is where fatigue can start to become an issue for both UB teams. The women are playing their third game in six days, the men their third in four days. Meanwhile, both their opponents have had
at least six days off.

-- Bob DiCesare

UB-Ball State Game Wrap

MAC Tournament
Second Round
At Quicken Loans Arena
UB 76, Ball State 61

How UB Won: By playing its most dominant 20 minutes of basketball this season. The Bulls had little going in the first half. They shot 28 percent and got killed on the boards. Only a 12 of 13 effort at the free throw line had them in reasonable contention. And then they went to the locker room and came out wearing capes, outscoring the Cardinals 46-25.

Player of the Game: Will Regan was one of the Bulls targetted in Ball State's defensive game plan. They didn't defend him quite like they intended. Regan went off for a career-high 36, 25 of those in the second half. He was 11 of 17 on FGs, 5 of 7 from three and 9 of 9 from the line. He has 51 points in two tourney games after playing just 20 minutes and going scoreless in the season finale at Bowling Green.

Top Supporting Role: Tony Watson scored just five points but went for eight assists, four of UB's 13 steals and played a major part in keeping Ball State's Jauwan Scaife in check while the game turned decidedly in UB's favor.

Best Performance (Losing Effort): Jauwan Scaife scored 28 points in his final college game but just 11 came in the second half and most of those late.

Double Trouble: Javon McCrea's 18 points and 11 boards made for his 11th double-double on the season. He needs two points to break the school single-season record of 592 set by Calvin Cage in 2006.

What It Means: UB advanced to the quarterfinals at 6:30 Thursday night where the Bulls will get a third shot at Kent State. The Golden Flashes used a late run to win at Alumni Arena and survived in OT at Kent.

Stat Check: Watson played 39 of 40 minutes, coming out of a game for the first time since the Feb. 23 BracketBuster against Manhattan.

Stat Check II: UB shot better than 60 percent in the second half for the second time this month. They also did it while snapping Akron's 19-game winning streak.

Stat Check III: Regan went 9 of 16 from three in two games against Ball State. He set his career high of 4 in the first meeting.

Select Company: Regan's 36 points are a UB MAC tourney record and the effort ranks eighth overall in tourney history.

Depth Charge: Raphell Thomas-Edwards played 31 minutes -- his career high by 12 -- as Auraum Nuiriankh hit early foul trouble. RTE responded with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. In two tourney games he's totaled 18 points and seven rebounds. He sat out the last three weeks of February with an upper body injury.

They Said It:

Tony Watson on the halftime turnaround: "What they were doing had nothing to do what what we were doing, We had to play Buffalo basketball. . . . It started on defense. We made them take tougher shots. We started rebounding the ball a lot better. And it translated to our offense and we were taking good shots.

Ball State Coach Billy Taylor: "The second half we didn't make all the plays we needed to make defensively. It seemed like every time we made a mistake defensively they capitalized. . . . It's hard to win when a team's clicking that well offensively."

-- Bob DiCesare

Canisius accepts invitation to CIT

---Canisius College has officially accepted an invitation to participate in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), ending the program’s 17-year postseason drought. The Golden Griffins’ first-round game will be played next Wednesday at the Koessler Athletic Center against an opponent to be determined.

This is the program’s first postseason game since playing Utah on March 14, 1996, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Utes were national runner-up to Kentucky. It will be Canisius’ first home postseason game since March 23, 1995, when the team defeated Washington State at the Aud for a berth into the NIT Final Four.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Atlantic members Rider and Loyola (Md.) have also been invited to the CIT.

---Rodney McKissic

Postseason Hoops Honors

Catching up on some postseason honors that have been doled out while awaiting the start of the UB women's second-round MAC Tournament game against Miami here in Cleveland:

Ohio senior guard D.J. Cooper was named MAC Player of the Year today and Akron's Keith Dambrot was named Coach of the Year. I voted for both of them.

I was extremely high on UB's Javon McCrea but when the Bulls failed to finish .500 in conference I couldn't bring myself to cast the vote. And Cooper won me over with that go-ahead 3 he hit from Getzville in Ohio's 72-69 win at Alumni on March 5. Plus, Cooper will go down as one of the best guards in MAC history. It seemed kind of crazy he might leave never having won the award. So I'll admit it. Career achievement factored into my vote.

As for Dambrot, when you win the conference and put together a 19-game winning streak you don't leave much room for debate. Plus, I admired the way he responded to the Alex Abreu arrest that's probably going to cost the Zips an at-large if they don't win it all here.

The All-MAC first team consists of McCrea, Cooper, Akron center Zeke Marshall, Kent State forward Chris Evans and Toledo guard Rian Pearson. I believe that's exactly how I had it on my preseason ballot although ultimately Evans didn't make the preseason first-team.

UB's Jarryn Skeete was on the all-freshman team.

On the women's side, UB had two players receive honorable mention: freshman Mackenzie Loesing and sophomore Christa Baccas. Loesing also mad the all-freshman team.

* * * * *

In the MAAC, Coach of the Year Joe Mihalich is one of 20 finalists for the Skip Prosser Award given by collegeinsider.com. The award was initiated in 2008 and goes to a coach who achieves success on the court and demonstrates moral integrity off the court.
Western New York native and former ECC and Canisius coach John Beilein of Michigan also is a finalist.

Also from collegeinsider.com, Niagara's Juan'ya Green and Billy Baron of Canisius were tabbed as MAAC co-MVPs.

-- Bob DiCesare

WNY College Sports Chat - 1 p.m.

Mihalich named Prosser Award finalist

---Niagara's Joe Mihalich has been named a finalist for the 2013 Skip Prosser Man of the Year award.

Mihalich earned his third MAAC Coach of the Year award after guiding the Purple Eagles to the regular-season and an automatic berth into the NIT. CollegeInsider.com named Mihalich as the coach of the year in the MAAC on March 11.

The Skip Prosser Award was established in 2008 to honor those who not only achieve success on the basketball court but who display moral integrity off of it as well. Other finalists include Michigan coach John Beilein, the former Canisius coach, and Loyola (Md.) Jimmy Patsos.

---Rodney McKissic

Inge hired at Indiana

William Inge, the former Buffalo Bills and University at Buffalo assistant coach, has been hired as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Indiana.

Inge was the Bills assistant defensive line coach under Chan Gailey last season after spending two seasons as the defensive coordinator with Jeff Quinn at UB.

Inge's previous stops were all at the collegiate level including Cincinnati, San Diego State, Colorado and Northern Iowa.

Central Michigan-UB game analysis

Game analysis: UB usually finds a way to lose close games but on Monday in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament it found a way to win. Actually, it was more like an escape. Central Michigan rallied from a seven-point deficit to send the game into overtime and had a chance to win but Kyle Randall's 3-pointer bounced off the backboard and the Bulls won, 74-72, to advance to the tournament's second round against Ball State.

How UB won: Javon McCrea who earned first-team All-MAC honors earlier in the day controlled the paint while Will Regan kept some of the pressure off McCrea inside by hitting 3 of 6 3-pointers. Randall went nuts after halftime, but the Bulls came up with a huge defensive stop to win the game.

Turning Point: McCrea gave the Bulls a four-point advantage in overtime when he drove right and flushed in a left-handed dunk with 2:59 left in the game. Central Michigan pulled within a point on a Randall free throw but Watson made 1 of 2 free throws with 3.4 seconds left.

Player of the Game: Randall had three points at halftime but finished with a game-high 31.

Who is that guy?: Raphell Thomas-Edwards career at UB has been nondescript to say the least but he scored a career best 10 points in the first half, all off the bench. Coming into the game, he made a grand total of 10 field goals this season.

Key stat: Watson was 1 of 10 from downtown.

What It Means: UB advances to Cleveland for the 10th consecutive season.

In the House: 2,309 at Alumni Arena.

He said it: "Partly why we didn't want to play Buffalo was because of Javon McCrea. We don't have anybody that can defend him. We have undersized post guys in there as freshman so we were going to try to be as physical with him as possible and limit his touches he got. As special of a player as he is, he kept working and kept fighting." - Central Michigan coach Keno Davis.

Up next: vs. Ball State at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Cleveland

---Rodney McKissic

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.

@RodneyMcKissic | rmckissic@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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