Among the items Matt Vautour touches on are the Hall of Fame Tip-Off schedule, MISSION 1000, an update on Daryl Traynham, Maxie Esho and the women's basketball schedule.
Tipoff Classic schedule is released
SPRINGFIELD - After much movement since the event was originally announced, the schedule for the new Tipoff Classic in Springfield was officially released Wednesday at a press conference at the Basketball Hall of Fame.
University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Derek Kellogg and Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno were among the featured speakers at a press conference announcing the event.
UMass will play four games in the Tipoff Classic. There are two at the Mullins Center - Rider (Nov. 12, 7 p.m.) and American International College (Nov. 24, 7 p.m.) - and two at the MassMutual Center - New Mexico State (Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m.) and Texas Christian (Nov. 22, 8 p.m.).
UMass' participation in the MassMutual Center games was originally part of a traditional bracketed tournament with semifinals and finals. But under the current format, the event is not actually a tournament as all games are scheduled and no champion will be crowned.
The change prevents a matchup between UMass and Southern California, the most recognizable team in the event. New Mexico State is the only Division I team in the Tipoff to play in the NCAA Tournament last year.
Unable to fill the 12-team field with Division I teams, Division II Dowling (New York), AIC and LeMoyne (New York) and Division III Springfield College and Lyndon State (Vt.) will also participate. AIC is UMass' only non-Division I opponent.
The Tipoff is expected to be an annual event, but won't always be in Springfield.
"We're going to play this event here numerous times in the future. We're also going to move it around the region," said Scott Zuffelato, the Hall of Fame's vice president for advancement, who listed Boston and Connecticut as likely venues. "We don't know the frequency yet, but Springfield will be a significant player in the rotation."
A location for 2011 has yet to be determined.
"We'll make that decision soon. Probably before the Tipoff," Zuffelato said.
TRAYNHAM CLEARED, ESHO WAITING - UMass point guard Daryl Traynham has been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse and is eligible to play as a freshman.
Fellow freshman Maxie Esho's status has yet to be determined. Because of recent eligibility issues nationally, the NCAA is taking longer to clear some players, especially those who attended multiple high schools as both Traynham and Esho did.
If Esho isn't cleared, he'd be forced to sit out his freshman season as an academic nonqualifier.
Kellogg declined to comment on Esho until the 6-foot-8 forward's status is resolved, but praised his 5-foot-9 point guard from Upper Marlboro, Md.
"Daryl is doing a good job. He was a little behind schedule because it took him a little bit longer to get cleared," Kellogg said. "He's putting in a good effort. He's tough and the one thing about him is he competes. I want this program to compete on every possession, every play and Daryl is a guy who is going to exemplify what I'm talking about."
The players are in the midst of individual workouts which allow players to work with coaches in short periods before full practices begins on Oct. 15.
Kellogg said he's encouraged by what he's seen so far.
"Things are going well. Guys have really matured. They seem like they're more focused," he said. "They're playing with a higher level of intensity. They're bodies look better. I'm enthused about where this season could go if everything falls into place the way it needs to."
SEASON TICKET PUSH - At the Hall of Fame press conference, UMass launched Mission 1000, a push to sell 1,000 more season tickets before the start of the 2010-11 season. The project is aimed at businesses and people purchasing four or more seats. Package prices range from $1,100 to $10,000 based on number of seats, location and other perks, which include Mullins Center advertising for businesses.
Associate Athletic Director Tim Kenney said that UMass had "about 2,500" season ticket holders prior to the start of the promotion.
FORBES INVITED TO NUGGETS CAMP - Former Minuteman swingman Gary Forbes, who has played overseas in several countries since his UMass career ended in 2008, has been invited to Denver Nuggets training camp which begins next month.
WOMEN'S HOOP SCHEDULE - UMass released its 2010-11 women's basketball slate Wednesday for the first season of the Sharon Dawley Era.
After opening the season at home against George Mason on Nov. 12 at 5 p.m., the new coach won't see her home gym for a while as the Minutewomen will spend most of November on the road. They'll play in the Anaconda Sports "The Rock" Classic at Seton Hall on Nov. 19 (Louisiana State) and 21 (Seton Hall), then head to Greenville, N.C. for the East Carolina Thanksgiving Tournament for games against Maryland (Nov. 27) and ECU (Nov. 29).
A Dec. 5 game against Boston College (2 p.m.) highlights the home portion of the nonconference schedule. League play begins Jan. 8 at Rhode Island.
The 2011 Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Tournament is in Massachusetts this year. It will be played at Tsongas Arena in Lowell from March 4-7.
"I think our schedule is set up nicely, there is good balance during the Atlantic 10 portion in that we are not home or away for long stretches," Dawley said in a statement released by the athletic department. "The strength of our nonconference schedule will prepare us well for the strong and experienced A-10 opponents we will be facing come January and February."