Also on the news front related to the Horned Frogs, TCU moved to 3-1 in handing Bradley its first loss of the season with a 74-68 decision on Sunday. Read more about the game in the Springfield Republican.
UMass will try to build on a good thing against TCU in the Tip-Off
Published: Sunday, November 21, 2010, 7:22 PM Updated: Sunday, November 21, 2010, 7:33 PM
SPRINGFIELD - Any good act calls for a rousing encore.
How the University of Massachusettsmen's basketball team responds against Texas Christian Monday night will determine whether Saturday's solid win was a harbinger or an exception.
"Last year, we had a big win over Memphis, then a letdown against Boston College,'' senior guard Anthony Gurley said as UMass prepared for its next Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament test at the MassMutual Center.
"The win (over New Mexico State) was definitely a confidence boost. Following it up is very important.''
It won't be easy. Texas Christian is 3-1 after Sunday's 74-68 win over previously unbeaten Bradley.
So far, the Tip-Off has been a positive experience for UMass, which routed New Mexico State 71-57 Saturday.
Earlier, the Minutemen had rallied to beat Rider in a Tip-Off game at Amherst. That win took on more meaning after Rider won by 20 Southern California, and beat Texas Christian 76-61 at the MassMutual Center Saturday.
Later that night, UMass improved to 3-0 with a masterful win over New Mexico State.
"It was nice to come back to Springfield, my hometown, and play the way UMass is supposed to play,'' UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.
The task now is for the Minutemen to build on it.
"We'll see how mature we are, but I think we're somewhat focussed,'' Kellogg said.
Last year, UMass beat Memphis in a last-second thriller in Boston.
It looked like a breakthrough game, but the Minutemen could not sustain the momentum. Their next game was a 12-point loss at Boston College.
After playing TCU Monday, UMass meets American International College Wednesday at the Mullins Center.
Winning both would let the Minutemen claim the very unofficial title of Tip-Off champion, as the only Division I team in the field to go unbeaten in the tournament.
That would never show up in a record book, for this event does not crown a champion. It would supply more proof that UMass has a good thing going.
Against New Mexico State, UMass ran off to a 22-point first-half lead. The Aggies were playing less than 48 hours after losing at Arizona, then taking a cross-country flight.
UMass could have an edge Monday, too. Texas Christian will play its third game in three nights, the Tip-Off's only Division I team to do it.
Whatever shape the Horned Frogs are in, this is an important test for UMass. Kellogg wants UMass to be more than team, but a brand.
He wants a "UMass basketball'' attitude, complete with grit, defense and rebounding. Scoring is nice, and UMass shot 54.2 percent Saturday, but work ethic is his priority.
Against New Mexico State, the Minutemen had it, far more consistently than in their first two games.
"Their defense caught us off-guard. We had not seen that on tape (of earlier UMass games), only in spurts,'' New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said.
Kellogg likens Texas Christian's program to his own. The Horned Frogs, who rely on quickness, were 13-19 last year - but hope to move up the ladder in the Mountain West Conference, a league comparable to the Atlantic 10.
Junior guard Ronnie Moss was TCU's leading scorer last year. He led the Horned Frogs with 15 points against Rider.