Considering UMass: I saw UMass in person Wednesday night as they pummeled St. Joe's. A reasonable goal for this team is to get a home game for the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, then win to advance to the quarterfinals in Atlantic City.
The record is better than last season, there is improvement, but what about the future?
I realize my observations come the day after UMass played well against a bad team but I think there's a reason for optimism. IT it revolves around four players, sophomores Javorn Farrell, Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson and redshirt freshman Raphial Putney. Farrell has the makings of a excellent slashing scorer. Riley didn't play Wednesday night but he's a legit 3-point threat. Putney is really intriguing, a stick figure in basketball shorts who has 3-point range on his outside shot and long, long arms that can be used effectively at both ends of the court. I think he's got all sorts of potential. Vinson is a riddle. He has to become an assertive inside player and he can do it. Not sure he will though.
The obvious question here: where will the guard play come from? The answer was sitting on the bench in 5-foot-9-inch point guard Chazz Williams. Williams played at Hofstra in 2009-2010 and was all-rookie in the CAA after averaging 7.1 ppg and 4.2 apg. He's actually just what the other four players need, someone who can facilitate.
So I say, have hope, UMass fans. And how about showing up for the games? The Sign Man is getting lonely.
Interesting reflection: UMass absolutely pounded St. Joe's on the glass, 45-24. The Hawks need some inside players. Sitting out right now is another Hofstra transfer, 6-8 forward Halil Kanacevic, who was also on the All-CAA rookie team after averaging 8.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg. Phil Martelli will be ecstatic to have a player who will attack the glass on the defensive end. Both players left Hofstra when Tom Pecora moved over to coach Fordham. Pecora, winless in the Atlantic 10, could have used both players at Rose Hill.