UB sweeps top MAC awards

Oats scores re­peat, Mass­in­burg is POY

The Buffalo News - - COLLEGES - By Rachel Lenzi

CLEVE­LAND – The Univer­sity at Buf­falo men’s bas­ket­ball team clinched two more tro­phies, a day be­fore the Bulls set foot on the court in the MAC Tour­na­ment.

The MAC on Wed­nes­day an­nounced Nate Oats as the MAC coach of the year, and CJ Mass­in­burg as the con­fer­ence player of the year.

In Oats’ fourth sea­son at the helm at UB, the Bulls are 28-3 and won the reg­u­lar-sea­son con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship. Top-seeded UB opens the MAC Tour­na­ment at noon Thurs­day against No. 8 Akron.

Oats earned his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive coach of the year honor, only the sixth time in league his­tory that a coach has re­peated as its coach of the year. UB set a pro­gram record for wins with 28 and a MAC record with 16 and has been ranked for 18 con­sec­u­tive weeks, the most for a MAC school.

“It’s great to be hon­ored for coach of the year, but I’m go­ing to tell you, there’s been other years we didn’t do nearly as well that we worked a lot harder at coach­ing the team,” Oats said. “I had to work at it this year, but it al­most feels like a well-oiled ma­chine, with how good some of these kids are.”

Mass­in­burg led UB in scor­ing at 18.5 points per game and scored in dou­ble fig­ures in all but one game. He was sec­ond on the team in re­bound­ing with 6.4 per game.

He en­ters the con­fer­ence tour­na­ment with 1,910 ca­reer points, sec­ond in school his­tory.

“It’s hard to keep (stan­dards) at a high level, when every­body’s gun­ning for you every night out, and I think it speaks to where the pro­gram’s got­ten it­self to,” Oats said. “It speaks to the staff, and our staff chem­istry is at an all-time high. Every­body is com­fort­able and knows their jobs.

“It’s the play­ers, too. Our play­ers have, ob­vi­ously, out­per­formed their re­cruit­ment.”

Oats might not be done col­lect­ing post­sea­son hon­ors as he is a semi­fi­nal­ist for the Nai­smith Na­tional Coach of the Year and a fi­nal­ist for the Skip Prosser Award, which rec­og­nizes suc­cess on the court and in­tegrity off the court among Di­vi­sion I men’s bas­ket­ball coaches.

The awards cap a week in which Oats is also in the process of ne­go­ti­at­ing an­other con­tract ex­ten­sion.

Oats said he doesn’t have a dead­line for a con­tract ex­ten­sion or terms, but told the News he is “100 per­cent con­fi­dent that we’ll get some­thing done here, shortly. I just don’t know when or what ex­actly it will be, but I’m not stress­ing over it. I’m con­cen­trat­ing on try­ing to coach the team.”

“Last year, they had it done be­fore the MAC Tour­na­ment was done and if they can come to an agree­ment with all the de­tails, I’ll sign it be­fore then,” Oats said. “I’m not in a rush. I’m not go­ing to talk to any­body else about any­thing un­til the sea­son’s over. But it’d be nice if I don’t have to talk to any­body.”

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