Republican: UMass Hopes To Deliver Slow & Steady Results - UMass Athletics

Republican: UMass Hopes To Deliver Slow & Steady Results

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The Springfield Republican has a feature on the UMass basketball team as the Minutemen are installing a new slower and steady style of play.

Gary Correia knows time is running out. "I haven't beaten Xavier yet. This is personal for me,'' the University of Masschusetts senior point guard said as his team headed to Cincinnati for a difficult Atlantic 10 Conference game.

A little momentum follows the Minutemen (9-5, 1-0 A-10), who outlasted Dayton 55-50 Sunday. Doing it with defense and ball control, UMass neutralized its flaws, most of which can be traced to the offense.

"We ran down the shot clock a few times. Sometimes we went a little overboard on that, but at least we weren't firing up shots in the first four seconds,'' UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

UMass basketball team hopes a slow and steady pace delivers more results

Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 9:44 AM     Updated: Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 11:36 AM
Ron Chimelis, The Republican By Ron Chimelis, The Republican 
Umass vs Dayton in Men's College BasketballUniversity of Massachusetts forward Sampson Carter is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game for the Minutemen, who play at Xavier Wednesday night.

AMHERST - Gary Correia knows time is running out.

"I haven't beaten Xavier yet. This is personal for me,'' the University of Masschusetts senior point guard said as his team headed to Cincinnati for a difficult Atlantic 10 Conference game.

A little momentum follows the Minutemen (9-5, 1-0 A-10), who outlasted Dayton 55-50 Sunday. Doing it with defense and ball control, UMass neutralized its flaws, most of which can be traced to the offense.

"We ran down the shot clock a few times. Sometimes we went a little overboard on that, but at least we weren't firing up shots in the first four seconds,'' UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

Scoring at the end of a long possession can deflate an opponent. For a team that managed only 12 field goals against Dayton, UMass did that a few times.

"We've been on the other end of that at times this year,'' Kellogg said.

Nothing could test this approach more than Wednesday's game at Xavier, which is also 9-5 and 1-0. The Musketeers are 6-1 at home, they have beaten UMass five straight times, and they have a big-time impact player in point guard Tu Holloway (20.1 points, 5.3 assists per game).

Defensively, Xavier held Rhode Island to 24.6 percent shooting, and 3-for-27 misfiring on 3-pointers, in a 72-45 road win Sunday.

If UMass tries 27 three-pointers, something will be wrong. The Minutemen are a frigid 27.9 percent from long range.

But the win over Dayton was a reminder that if the Minutemen don't beat themselves with careless or sloppy play, they have a chance.

"We're still in the process of becoming more consistent. That's what we're working on,'' senior guard Anthony Gurley said.

Correia returned Sunday after missing three games with a stomach ailment. He was Exhibit A for not judging a basketball player by the box score.

He shot 0-for-4, scored five points on free throws, and had three assists with two turnovers in 27 minutes.

That did not reflect his ability to restore order to an offense that had been scrambling with quick, inexperienced freshman Daryl Traynham at the point, or trying to work with Javorn Farrell, who is more suited to the wing.

"With Gary back, it was the first time in awhile the guys weren't looking over to me for the plays,'' coach Derek Kellogg said.

"One of the best parts was that Javorn could play off the ball. We only needed him for 13 minutes at the point.''

Traynham was indefinitely suspended last week. With point guard options scarce, Correia was encouraged that he could play as much as he did, and as well.

"I didn't know how much I'd play. I was tired, and a little out of shape, but I thought I played well.''

Even with only 12 field goals, an all-time UMass low at the Mullins Center, the Minutemen had eight assists. They committed a manageable 12 turnovers.

That was a lot better than the two-assist, 22-turnover nightmare in last week's 29-point loss at Central Connecticut.

Initially, the UMass plan was to create transition with pressure defense all over the floor. That could still happen in spots, but the nature of this team looks more suited to a controlled tempo with patient, methodical offensive possessions.

That style is well suited to Correia, a player of modest speed and athleticism, but one whose strength is an understanding of the game.

It also works well for forward Terrell Vinson, who had seven points and six rebounds Sunday. Getting Vinson untracked has been a focal point for the Minutemen this season.

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