Daily Collegian Coverage Of Basketball Team - UMass Athletics

Daily Collegian Coverage Of Basketball Team

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Check out these two stories from the Daily Collegian about the UMass basketball team. 

Men's basketball face off against rival Spiders

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

On Saturday, the Massachusetts men's basketball team will have another opportunity to knock off a top Atlantic 10 opponent when it returns to the Mullins Center for a contest against Richmond.

The Minutemen (11-6, 3-1 A-10) return to their home court to take on the Spiders (14-5, 3-1 A-10) after winning three of their last four contests. With a heavy amount of momentum behind them, UMass will take on a Richmond team that isn't going to offer the Maroon and White an easy battle.

"I think it's a big game," senior guard Gary Correia said. "[Wednesday's] game was huge for us, but going into this game being 3-1 instead of 2-2. I mean, we have a chance to knock off someone that's been at the top of our league year-in and year-out. I think it's going to be a tough one."

The Spiders haven't had an easy schedule on their way to the Mullins Center, but have done well through their first 19 games of the season with wins against No. 11 Purdue, Wake Forest, Seton Hall (who defeated UMass, 104-79 earlier in the season) and George Washington. With wins against these top teams, a close game is surely on the horizon for these two squads.

While the Minutemen are coming off a 73-54 victory over Charlotte, which showcased Freddie Riley scoring 18 points and Anthony Gurley scoring 17 of his own, Richmond is coming off its own high-scoring affair against GW.

Prolific scorers Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson combined for 50 points against the Colonials (10-8, 3-1 A-10), with Harper's 30 points being a career-high. With these two players on the Minutemen's radar, Correia explained that UMass needs to do what it has done with recent A-10 opponents - adjust to its opponent's offense.

"I think we adjusted to who we were playing and how we were going to play," Correia said. "We need to defend as a group and not try to defend as individuals."

While the Minutemen defense will try to hold off Harper and Anderson, the UMass offense will also be looking to shake things up and adjust to the Spiders' confusing defense.

"I feel like at the same time this is another game where we need to pick up the pace a little bit because they slow it down if they matchup zone in the half court which confuses a lot of people," Correia said.

Since they began A-10 play, the Minutemen have adopted a style of play that allows Gurley to play within the team rather than be the driving force. This gameplay style allows players like Riley, Correia and Javorn Farrell to raise their game and score for the Minutemen.

These aforementioned players have found ways to the hoop off the dribble-drive offense, and even more so by speeding up their transition.

Correia, who leads the team from the point position, cited the last two contests as the way the team needs to compete.

"Our last two games, we kind of sped it up and we wanted to get in on the transition," Correia said. "So if we can get the game in transition ... then that'll be our best shot."

Coming back from the game against the 49ers, the Minutemen were looking to readjust to the game plan to match that of the Spiders contest coming on Saturday.

"We're going to listen to our coaches and figure out the best way to get a win," Correia said.

The Spiders arrived in Amherst on Thursday night because of upcoming weather conditions. The two sides will compete on Saturday at noon at the Mullins Center.

UM men's basketball team starting to shine

While the strength of the Massachusetts men's basketball team may lay in the backcourt, Terrell Vinson and Sean Carter are proving in the conference schedule that the team's big men should not be overlooked.

Both Vinson and Carter have picked up their play in games against Atlantic 10 opponents, helping the Minutemen to a 3-1 league record and an 11-6 mark overall. Though it's been the guards, mainly Anthony Gurley, doing the majority of the scoring, Vinson and Carter have added another element with their post offense and rebounding.

Vinson is averaging seven points and just over five rebounds per game in the past four contests, whereas Carter is averaging seven boards and over nine points, tying him with guard Javorn Farrell as the second leading scorer in A-10 play behind Gurley.

For Carter, getting back into form was more about being confident and aggressive.

"I'm just getting in the gym mostly and just focusing, asserting myself more in the game, doing what I know I can do," Carter said. "I got my confidence back so I'm doing good now. That's how I feel every game."

Not only is Carter scoring more against conference foes, but he is doing it at an efficient clip. His shooting percentage is just under 70 percent from the field in the four-game stretch, placing him second in the A-10 behind David Pellom of George Washington (.714).

"My teammates are putting me in good position to score, giving me open shots," Carter said. "I catch the ball right around the front of the rim so it's much easier to make shots. I'm in good positions which the coaches are putting me in to make plays for the team."

Both Carter and Vinson have improved throughout the course of the season, a far cry from the beginning of the year when UMass relied heavily on forward Sampson Carter to provide some sort of an inside presence while Vinson and Carter were struggling.

After entering his freshman season as the top recruit of the 2009 class, Vinson had a strong rookie campaign, ranking third on the Minutemen in points per game (9.6). Expectations were raised heading into his second year as many predicted he would make a leap. Vinson, however, eased into the season and has started to look more comfortable on the court in the past month.

Carter, on the other hand, has had a roller coaster year in his third season with UMass. After beginning the year as a starter, he was moved to the bench in an effort by Kellogg to get him going offensively. The move paid dividends as the center came off the bench to score 12 points, grab seven rebounds and block three shots in 21 minutes in the victory against Holy Cross on Nov. 11. At the time, Kellogg called Carter's performance the "best of his career."

Regardless of any struggles earlier in the year, Carter is focused on the conference schedule, something which adds extra motivation in terms of reaching the postseason.

"All of the games are important but the A-10 is really important, especially for us," he said. "If we can't make the tournament we can win the conference and that's a big deal for us."

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