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UB celebrates trips to the ‘big dance’

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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The University at Buffalo held a rally Tuesday to celebrate its men's and women's basketball teams for their successful seasons. WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says the teams were honored for winning the Mid-American Conference Championship games and a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

It was UB’s own version of ‘March Madness’ with a celebration on the North Campus inside the Student Center. It featured the well-known UB cowbell and plenty of Bulls excitement.

Both teams were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round, but UB officials say they are grateful to the talented teams elevating the university's sports success. Players from the men's and women's teams took to the stage with their coaches and UB President Satish Tripathi.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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UB’s Women’s Basketball Head Coach Felisah Legette Jack fired up the crowd during Tuesday's rally.

UB’s Women’s Basketball Head Coach Felisah Legette Jack fired up the crowd and thanked Tripathi for taking a chance on her talents.

“He believed in me when nobody else would, so I would like to thank you president for giving me an opportunity to be your head coach,” said Legette Jack.

Legette Jack also shouted from the stage about the growing success of UB’s sports program. “We’re not just trying to win a championship people, we’re trying to build a density!” she exclaimed.

UB men's basketball head coach Nate Oats congratulated the women’s team for its success, saying the women "set the bar" for providing inspiration. From the stage, Oats talked about the team’s future.

“We’ve got just about everybody coming back, so we’re expected to do another one of these,” said Oats, who thanking the community for its support. 

UB Men's Basketball Head Coach Nate Oats talks with reporters following the rally.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

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“It’s great to see us get some support. Hopefully we can translate that into more season tickets, more people in the stands next year,” said Oats. 

WBFO News asked Oats what lessons were learned this past season.

“I think one that we talked about – getting there is great, we had to overcome quite a few trials – you’ve just got to keep fighting every day, take it a day at a time. Next year we’re going to try to have a little bit better regular season,” responded Oats.

UB Bull Willie Connors is a junior and is excited about playing next season with an experienced team.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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UB Bulls Willie Connors is a junior and is excited about playing next season with an experience team.

“We gave it everything we had. I can’t ask for anything more,” said Connors. “I think they notice us a little more. Now when we go out or hang out – a lot of people recognize me – and tell us thank you for what we did for Buffalo.”  

Women's point guard Stephanie Reid told reporters the team's success has not sunk in yet.

“We’re trying to build a village and it just takes one person to join and then everyone else will,” said Reid.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Women's Point Guard Stephanie Reid talked with reporters after the rally.

“Buffalo has really supported us, especially toward the end of the season. Our support has really grown and we appreciate that. We really appreciate our fans. We love our fans. 

UB players, leaders and fans say they are looking ahead to next season with high hopes of returning to the 'big dance.'

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