Q/A with Buffalo Bulls Play by Play Broadcaster, Josh Whetzel
1. Josh, first and foremost, how long have you been the Play by Play for Buffalo, and what are the perks of this job?
JOSH: I’ve been broadcasting the men’s games at UB since 2006. The best perks of the job are getting a great seat to watch some really talented basketball players perform at a high level. Plus, the Bulls have played at some great venues during my time doing their games such as Rupp Arena, Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Carrier Dome and others. They also have taken some great trips to some cool tournaments in places like Hawaii, Alaska, the Cayman Islands and—this year—Belfast, Northern Ireland. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to tag along to all those places to call the games. Beyond that, broadcasting is something I have always had a passion for and the challenge of trying to describe the action of a basketball game in way that is creative, informative and entertaining is a constant motivation for me.
2. It’s easy to tell that these team has had a lot of recent positives. What can you make of that?
JOSH: I don’t think it’s a surprise right now to see how the team is doing although I don’t know that anyone would have predicted they would be ranked #17 in the country after only about a month of the season. The vast majority of the players are the same ones who won 27 games last year and stomped Arizona in the NCAA tournament. The exciting thing for Bulls fans—I think—is that as impressive as the start of the season appears, I don’t think people close to the program think the team has truly clicked on all cylinders yet this year.
3. When you look at this year’s team in general, what are it’s strengths? What are it’s weaknesses?
JOSH: As far as strengths of the team are concerned, I think you have start in general just with experience. Six of the top seven scorers are back including two 1stteam All MAC players (C.J. Massinburg and Nick Perkins) and a 2nd team All MAC pick (Jeremy Harris.) The team plays with a ton of athleticism, intensity and aggressiveness and yet they are able to do that without playing out of control. Led by Dontay Carruthers and Davonta Jordan, they play really impressive perimeter defense which really makes it tough for other teams to do what they want offensively. I don’t think the team has any glaring weakness right now although—other than Massinburg—the team hasn’t shot consistently well from three point range. At times, they have also given up a few too many offensive rebounds as well.
4. If there’s one thing you think this team needs to work on come March, what would it be?
JOSH: Staying healthy! In all honesty, I think that is one of the biggest things for the Bulls that you can’t ever predict. Although Buffalo is a deep team, they certainly want to keep their best players healthy if at all possible. Playing a complete 40 minutes of basketball game in and game out both offensively and defensively is something I think they really are striving to do as well. It’s also inevitable that they will face some adversity at some point this season as every team does so it is will important how they react to that. They generally have a very mature, experienced group of players though so I think the coaches are optimistic that they can handle any sort of hurdles that may come their way.
5. There’s still a ton of time in the season, but how far do you see this team going in the postseason?
JOSH: I think there is still way too much time to predict something like that. Plus, once a team reaches the tournament, it is so important who you wind up matching up against. Having said that, UB made it to the round of 32 last year and has almost everyone back. I think if you were to ask the team, their goal would be to advance even further than they did this past March.
6. Finally, what advice can you give to younger kids with a dream of being on air?
JOSH: If someone truly wishes to pursue a career in broadcasting, they had better have a ton of passion for it. If someone is wishy-washy or not 100% committed to broadcasting as a career, chances are things will not work out for them. They have to be almost completely immersed in it. Try to become an expert—or as much of an expert as you can—of the sport(s) you are covering AND of the broadcasting business in general. If you get the chance to do something on the air, take it. The only way to get better on the air is—just like anything else—to do it over and over and over again. And if you do get on the air, make sure you record it so you can go back and honestly critique yourself about areas in which you can improve. I would also recommend trying to get as varied background as possible to give yourself as many options as you can when it comes to joining the workforce. You never know where an opportunity will come from and the future of broadcasting is very unpredictable so having the ability to adapt and morph your career into different directions could prove to be very important.