Gazette Previews UMass-Dayton Game - UMass Athletics

Gazette Previews UMass-Dayton Game

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The Daily Hampshire Gazette has a preview of the UMass-Dayton game on Sunday at 2 p.m.

After the toughest week of the season so far, University of Massachusetts senior guard Anthony Gurley knows little is expected of the Minutemen as they start Atlantic 10 play at the Mullins Center.

"We know we're pretty much all we got. No one's really expecting us to do much in conference play. But we're going to go out there and surprise some people this year," Gurley said. "I think everyone has a chip on their shoulder. We're all kind of embarrassed about what happened the other night. That was uncharacteristic of us. We still think we have a lot to prove."

UMass faces big challenge in Atlantic 10 opener against Dayton on Sunday

Photo: UMass faces big challenge in Atlantic 10 opener
AP PHOTO
Chris Wright, right, of Dayton heads to the basket past Rob Loe of Saint Louis on Wednesday in St. Louis. The University of Massachusetts opens Atlantic 10 play against Dayton at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mullins Center.

AMHERST - After the toughest week of the season so far, University of Massachusetts senior guard Anthony Gurley knows little is expected of the Minutemen as they start Atlantic 10 play at 2 p.m. Sunday against Dayton at the Mullins Center.

The Minutemen (8-5) are not only coming off Monday's 92-63 loss to Central Connecticut, but starting point guard Daryl Traynham is suspended indefinitely.

"We know we're pretty much all we got. No one's really expecting us to do much in conference play. But we're going to go out there and surprise some people this year," Gurley said. "I think everyone has a chip on their shoulder. We're all kind of embarrassed about what happened the other night. That was uncharacteristic of us. We still think we have a lot to prove."

Gurley said despite the setbacks, the team's attitude hasn't waned.

"Myself and my teammates, we're all still in high spirits. We all still believe that we can make a run at this thing. We're 8-5. We've been in worse positions before going into conference play," Gurley said. "The preseason is over with. Now is the real season. It starts on Sunday. We have a fresh start and we're ready for Sunday. It's not going to be easy, but I think we're going to be very prepared and I have a feeling we're going to come out and play very well."

Dayton would be a difficult task even if the Minutemen were at full strength. The Flyers, who won the National Invitation Tournament last year, are 13-3 and have won six straight, including Wednesday's 60-50 win over Saint Louis.

"They're only 13-3," UMass coach Derek Kellogg joked. "They won the NIT last year and they just built on that. They're a program that's in a really good position and they're a good team, an NCAA Tournament-level team. They have a great team. It'll be interesting to see how we compete against one of the top teams in the league at home."

Chris Wright figures to be one of the leading candidates for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. The senior big man is averaging 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Junior wing Chris Johnson continues to build off of last year's breakout season. He's averaging 12.4 points and 6.5 rebounds. Freshman point guard Juwan Staten is among the nation's leaders in assists at 6.7 per game.

"Staten is very good," Kellogg said. "They felt like he was a guy who could take them to the next level and he's done a great job."


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