UMass Athletics:

August 2011 Archives

The Bud Light UMass Football Radio Show returns to the airwaves for its season premiere this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Join us at the Hangar Pub & Grill for great food and football talk with Head Coach Kevin Morris and show host Josh Maurer. 

The show will normally be held on Thursday nights throughout the season, but is moved to Tuesday this week because of Thursday night's season opener. All shows air live on 100.9 FM WRNX and here on UMassAthletics.com. Many shows will also air on AM 1510 (WWZN) in Boston.

Boston Herald: Five questions facing UMass Football

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John Connolly of the Boston Herald has a story today on five questions facing the UMass football team which previews the upcoming year for the Minutemen.

Next year at this time, the University of Massachusetts will begin its tenure in the Mid-Atlantic Conference of the Football Bowl Subdivision, a status that will result in games at Gillette Stadium and a huge upgrade for the program.  

So this marks a sort of watershed moment for the Minutemen, who despite being ranked in some polls this season, will not be eligible for postseason play in the Football Championship Series due to NCAA regulation.  

"We are the state school in Massachusetts and we want to be truly the state team in Massachusetts," said UMass coach Kevin Morris. "We're looking to rally the whole state, and not just the UMass alumni group, to really back up the program in the coming years. None of that will affect this year's team. As in every year, you have a one-shot-only team. You only have one shot to get it right and that's 2011 and that's where we're at right now."
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has an in-depth piece looking at the upcoming year with Athletic Director John McCutcheon and several major projects being undertaken by the UMass Athletic Department.

Fall officially arrived for John McCutcheon last week as he had the Game Tracker for the University of Massachusetts women's soccer team's 2-1 win over New Hampshire open on his computer as he worked in his office.  

"It got my blood flowing a little bit," McCutcheon said.  

After a tough year for the department in 2010-11, the University of Massachusetts athletic director was glad to have 2011-12 under way.  

"I can't wait. I think we have improved. We want to see the effects of that on the court, on the field and on the ice. I think the coaches are excited about it, too," he said. "A lot of things probably didn't go the way they wanted it to last year and they probably have a bad taste in their mouths and they can't wait to get it out of there. I think everybody is looking forward to getting this year started."
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story today profiling Brandon Hill who was named the starting quarterback yesterday for the Holy Cross game on Thursday night.

When Brandon Hill was deciding where to sign during his senior year of high school in Audubon, N.J., one of his reasons for choosing the University of Massachusetts was the potential to become the starting quarterback early in his career.  

Hill knew that if he redshirted in 2010, he would have a chance to win the starting job after Kyle Havens graduated.  

That plan is on track as Minuteman coach Kevin Morris on Monday named Hill, a redshirt freshman, his starting quarterback for the UMass season opener at Holy Cross at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Photo: UMass names redshirt freshman starting QB
Jeff Thomas has a story in the Springfield Republican today on yesterday's announcement that Brandon Hill will be the starting quarterback on Thursday night at Holy Cross.

The University of Massachusetts quarterback sweepstakes goes to redshirt freshman Brandon Hill. 

The 6-foot-5 right-hander out of Audubon, N.J., beat out redshirt sophomore Kellen Pagel to earn the starting job for the Minutemen, who open the season Thursday at Holy Cross in Worcester. 

"In the offseason, I worked hard and I've been working toward this for my entire life," Hill said Monday. "I know Kellen worked hard, too. What won it for me? I don't know. I worked hard and did everything I could, tried to learn as much as I could. 

"Kellen's a great quarterback and it was a good competition and I learned a lot from him as well," Hill said.

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Check out the latest entry of the UMass women's soccer video blog, Preseason Playback, hosted by seniors Meghan Collins and Lindsey DiOrio. Missed the earlier entries? You can watch those here.

Torra Now 4-1 With Durham Bulls

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Former UMass hurler Matt Torra pitched six shutout innings and struck out three in game two of a doubleheader against the Charlotte Knights yesterday.

The Bulls swept the Knights Sunday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, winning 4-3 in eight innings and then 3-0 in the nightcap in front of 10,015. Durham (77-57) reduced its magic number in the South Division to five and extended its lead to 3.5 games over Gwinnett, which comes to the DBAP Monday for a two-game series.

Torra started the year in Reno, where he had a 6.07 ERA before being traded to Tampa. He had a 6.86 ERA in his first four starts in Durham, but the 27-year-old righty has given up just nine runs in his last 39.2 innings and is 4-0 in his last six starts.

Torra credited pitching coach Neil Allen for making some mechanical adjustments, including moving him from the third-base side to the first-base side of the rubber and getting him more upright in his delivery. He gave up just four hits and no walks Sunday to lower his ERA to 3.81.

Read more of the recap from the Herald-Sun.

Check out Dick Baker's great preview of the UMass field hockey season from over the weekend in the Springfield Republican and MassLive.com. Baker looks at how new head coach Carla Tagliente is taking over a program that has had recent success, but is implementing a new system and the squad must adjust to the loss of three key senior starters from last season's team. Baker also points out that senior All-American goalie Alesha Widdall will play an integral role for the Minutewomen in 2011.

UMass, after dropping its opener on Saturday to Boston College, looks to rebound today with a 2 p.m. game at Vermont. There will be free live video of the game online.

Together We're One Tour Heads To Tewksbury

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UMass football head coach Kevin Morris will be on hand to speak with UMass fans on Sept. 8 as the Together We're One Tour heads to the 99 Restaurant in Tewksbury. The event is being held in conjunction with the Merrimack Valley Alumni Club and UMass Athletics.

The event begins at 6 PM with Coach Morris scheduled to speak at 7 PM followed by a Q&A session. The events from the summer were outstanding and a great time was had by all!

To register for the free event, click here. At the 99 Restaurant, the event will be held in a private room, so look for the UMass Banners.

Holy Cross-UMass Football Game Day Information

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Just three days from today and the 2011 football season officially gets underway as the No. 25 Minutemen head to Holy Cross for the first-ever night game at Fitton Field. Kick-off is set for 8 PM and the game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network (formerly CBS College Sports).

Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican previews the 2011 football season taking a look at the offense, defense and special teams and the meaning the team has found in the transition to the FBS.

What's in a transitional year? That's a good question for the University of Massachusetts football team. 

The 2011 season will be the last for the Minutemen in the Colonial Athletic Association and the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision as they transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Mid-American Conference. 

UMass will play 11 games this season, no more and no less. There will be no CAA championship to play for, there will be no FCS playoffs as a goal.

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Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette takes a look at the UMass offense and the role tailback Jonathan Hernandez will play in the upcoming season.

Morris has pledged that Jonathan Hernandez will be the feature back this season after gaining 938 yards and nine touchdowns on 219 carries last year. UMass will try to use the ground game to take pressure off its inexperienced quarterback.


Photo: UMass' plan of attack
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette takes a look at the UMass defense focusing on the new 3-4 alignment.

The University of Massachusetts football team's defense will feature a new look with a lot of familiar faces.  

Under new defensive coordinator Frank Forcucci, who replaced Maryland-bound Keith Dudzinski, UMass is moving from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4.  

But the Minutemen bring back 13 players that started at least one game last year and most of those players had multiple starts.

Photo: Taking a look at new-look team
Kerri Fleming of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has a story today on the mindset of the UMass football team going into its final season as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision and the CAA.

"There's really nothing that needs to be said. Everybody's on the same page. We all know what this year means to the university. It's a big transition year. It's a big year to leave the CAA on a good note," said defensive lineman Brandon Potvin, a redshirt sophomore and former Holy Name star from Worcester.

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Coverage Of Hockey's Frozen Fenway 2012 Announcement

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Last Friday's announcement of the Hockey East double header, Frozen Fenway 2012, and New England Hockey Day in Boston sparked tons of excitement throughout the region. Here's all the coverage from the press conference:

Daily Hampshire Gazette: Minutemen to play in Frozen Fenway game

The Hockey East press conference scheduled for 2 PM today at Fenway Park will be streamed live through www.RedSox.com - Be sure to log-in to see what all the talk is about!
Several years before Mike Flanagan won his Cy Young Award with the Orioles in 1979, he was a riveting figure to watch on a baseball diamond.

As a student at the University of Massachusetts, I watched the Minutemen play a typically chilly April game against Maine in 1973. It was apparent that nobody really wanted to hit in the raw weather, and hardly anybody did.

Flanagan was running a 102 temperature with the flu but pitched anyway. He struck out 10 and allowed just two hits. But that wasn't the story.

Continue reading Remembering Flanagan's Glory Days, written by UMass alum Tom FitzGerald from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Eagle Tribune: Baseball Bond Runs Deep For Gedmans

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The two men stood side by side just in front of the Lowell Spinners dugout, longtime Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman resting his hand on the shoulder of son Matt as he passed along a few words of advice.

"It feels like old times," said Rich Gedman. "I use to drag him to the ballpark and throw him pitches, and watched all of his Little League games. Now he is following his dream."

At 22 years old and now noticeably taller than his dad, Matt Gedman still listened closely to his father's advice, just as he has done his entire baseball life.

"On the field he is coach," said Matt. "But off the field he is just dad. To see him every day, to be around him is amazing. He's been working with me since I was a little kid."

Little League has now been replaced by professional baseball, but the two Gedmans again find themselves in the same dugout, father and son donning the uniform of the Lowell Spinners.

Read more of Baseball Bond Runs Deep For Gedmans from the Eagle Tribune.

UMass Soccer Opens Season At Delaware Friday (1 PM)

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The UMass soccer team heads to Delaware today to face the Blue Hens in the season-opener for both teams. Kick-off is slated for 1 PM and Live Stats are available. Click here for the 2011 Quick Facts on the UMass soccer team.

This will be just the second meeting all-time between the two programs on the pitch. UMass won the game against the Blue Hens back in 1989.
Kerri Fleming of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has a feature story on Jonathan Hernandez and his role as the No. 1 tailback for the UMass football team this season.

The word Jonathan Hernandez uses when he talks about playing for the University of Massachusetts football team is "honor."   

Being recruited to UMass in 2007 after a stellar career at Leominster High was an honor. Becoming the latest in a long line of outstanding running backs for the Minutemen was an honor. And being scouted and recruited by then coach Don Brown and then running game coordinator Brian Picucci was an honor.   

"He and Coach Brown recruited me, so that's an honor to me. I'm honored to play for him now," Hernandez said of fellow Leominster native Picucci. "We do connect because we're from the same town." 

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Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story today on the UMass football team switching from training camp mode to game-week mode as the season opener at Holy Cross is just six days away.

A day off Wednesday and the beginning of actual game preparation brought a little added energy in University of Massachusetts practice Thursday as the Minutemen put training camp in the rearview mirror and began preparation for their Sept. 1 opener at Holy Cross.

"We just got out of camp. Our legs are fresh off the break. Everybody is excited for game week No. 1," senior captain Tyler Holmes said. "I'm very excited to get into game week."

Junior center Quinton Sales agreed.

"It'll be good to face some different colored jerseys," he said. "When you get closer to a game, you can see the light. It's exciting, there's a little more energy."

Neil Carroll of ESPNBoston.com has a story on former All-American defensive lineman Valdamar Brower who is now in his fourth year as head coach at Central High School in Springfield.

As a senior at UMass Amherst in 2003, Valdamar Brower was selected as an All-Atlantic 10 defensive lineman. It's not a surprise that it was tough for him to simplify his football mindset when he became a high school coach.   

"Coming out of UMass I knew too much as far as defense and trying to implement new things," Brower said. "I was trying to do too many things. I had to slow it down, and kind of go back to when I was in high school."   

Now in his fourth year as head coach at Central High School in Springfield, Brower is drawing upon his experiences playing at Northampton High School under the late coach Frank Tudryn to help him start his coaching career. 

MassLive: Koch Still Wears His Collar Blue

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"It's the 20th year at the University of Massachusetts for men's soccer coach Sam Koch, and most of the changes have been off the field.



"I wasn't married then, I didn't have kids and my hair is a lot grayer now," said Koch, who has four children. "But as far as soccer goes, I'm old school. We had blue collar kids then and we have blue collar kids now."



And it's almost been forgotten that Koch was the head coach at Stanford for six years before taking the top spot at UMass. Overall, he has recorded 262 wins against 192 losses and 51 ties. At UMass, he's 204-139-56, including a trip to the NCAA Division I semifinals in 2007, so here's a guy that has some perspective on the game. 

Read more of Dick Baker's Two decades of UMass soccer; men's coach Sam Koch still wears his collar blue

Remembering Mike Flanagan

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The news of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt's recent diagnosis of early onset dementia shocked and saddened the sports world, including UMass women's coach Sharon Dawley. Dawley, who considers Summitt a role model, gave her reaction to Tricia Taskey of ABC 40:

UMass Hall Of Fame Pitcher Mike Flanagan Passes Away

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The UMass community was saddened to learn this evening of the passing of UMass Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Flanagan. He was 59.

Flanagan lettered for the UMass baseball team in 1972 and 1973, earning first team All-Yankee Conference and first team All-New England honors in 1973 before turning professional. Flanagan went 9-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 1973, to lead the team in all three categories. His nine wins and .900 winning percentage set school single season records at the time. He received the E. Joseph Thompson Memorial Trophy as the team's MVP in 1973, after leading the team to an overall record of 21-9-1, including a trip to the NCAA Tournament and the Yankee Conference championship.

Flanagan had a career ERA of 1.19 and a career winning percentage of .923 (12-1), which are both still the best marks in school history. He also played in the outfield while at UMass, hitting .320 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 128 career at-bats.

After he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1973, Flanagan went on to pitch 18 seasons in the major leagues with the Orioles (1975-1987, 1991-1992) and Toronto Blue Jays (1987-1990). He had a career record of 167-143 with 1,491 strikeouts and a 3.89 ERA in 2,770 innings pitched, and won the 1979 American League Cy Young Award for the Orioles, going 23-9 with 190 strikeouts and a 3.08 ERA in 265-2/3 innings. Flanagan pitched over 200 innings seven times in his major league career, including four straight years from 1977-1980. He won 12 or more games in a season eight times during his major league career, struck out 100 or more batters six times, and was a member of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Championship team.

A native of Manchester, N.H., Flanagan received his degree from the UMass School of Education in 1975, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Since 2010, Flanagan had served as a color analyst on Orioles telecasts for Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Field Hockey Tops In "Receiving Votes"

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The National Field Hockey Coaches Association released its Top 20 Preseason Poll on Tuesday with UMass finishing just out of the top 20. The Minutewomen are the top "receiving votes" team, coming in with 98.

UMass, under first-year head coach Carla Tagliente will face a tough schedule in 2011. The Minutewomen will face three of the top five teams in the preseason poll, including No. 1 Maryland, who comes to Garber Field on Sept. 18. The Minutewomen will face six teams of the top 20 teams in the preseason poll and seven more that received votes, accounting for 13 of the 18 regular season games.

The Minutewomen open the season this weekend with a pair of games in Burlington, Vt. On Saturday, UMass takes on No. 14 Boston College at 3 p.m., and then on Sunday faces Vermont at 3 p.m.

UMass opens at home on Sept. 10 against Harvard.

Happy Birthday: August 24- Glen Misho

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Happy birthday to Glen Misho of UMass Baseball!

Glen Misho

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette looks at the leadership role of Darren Thellen among the defensive backs. He also has a feature on transfer running back Chris Burns.

A year ago, as he prepared to begin his first full season as a starter, Darren Thellen talked about wanting to live up to the high standard set by the University of Massachusetts safeties who'd preceded him.  

A year later, he's the one setting the standard.  

At practice Monday, Thellen marvelled at the speed of his role transition.

Photo: Maintaining a high safety standard

Republican: UMass Football Breaks Preseason Camp

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Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican checks in with Emil Igwenagu and Tyler Holmes as the UMass football team finished preseason camp yesterday before taking off Wednesday. Then it is back to work as the Minutemen prepare for Holy Cross.

And on the 20th day of preseason camp, the University of Massachusetts football team rested. 

Nineteen straight days of running, blocking, throwing, catching, hitting, kicking and tackling each other has earned the Minutemen a well-deserved day of rest Wednesday as camp came to a close Tuesday. 

"It went pretty good, the team obviously bonded well and all the practices went well and we built on everything," senior tight end and captain Emil Igwenagu said. "It is nice to finally get a day off to get our legs back, get treatment and take care of our bodies."

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Glen Farley has a story in the Enterprise about former UMass offensive lineman Greg Niland with the Detroit Lions preparing to face the New England Patriots.

John and Beth Niland face an interesting dilemma this weekend. The East Bridgewater couple are long-time New England Patriots season ticket holders. Their son, Greg, is a rookie with the Detroit Lions.   

The Lions host the Patriots in a nationally televised game at Ford Field this Saturday night.  

So, whom do the Nilands root for?  

"That's a good question," Greg Niland laughed during a telephone interview from the Lions' training facility in Allen Park, Mich. "I'm going to have to ask them."

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Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has an update on the quarterback competition heading into the close of UMass' preseason camp. He also has a football notebook at the bottom of his story covering several topics.

The University of Massachusetts' quarterback competition may be drawing to a close as the Minutemen will complete preseason training camp today. After an off day Wednesday, UMass will move into full preparation Thursday for the team's Sept. 1 opener at Holy Cross.  

"It could go all the way up to game time, but then we'd be splitting too many reps going into game week," UMass coach Kevin Morris said. "They say if you have more than one quarterback you have none. That's a cliche that has merit. We're probably going to get this thing done as soon as we can."

Photo: UMass' QB situation remains unsettled
Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican has a feature on the UMass football special teams and the competition for the punting and kicking positions following the loss of Caleb Viollette for the season.

When Brendon Levengood and Jeff Strait reported for preseason camp at the University of Massachusetts, they expected to be competing against the heir apparent in punting and kicking. 

While every position is an open competition at UMass, the loss of Caleb Violette before the first practice took last year's punter and placekicker out of the mix.

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Boston Herald: Ihedigbo defines special

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Ron Borges of the Boston Herald has a lengthy feature on the newest New England Patriot - former UMass standout James Ihedigbo of Amherst.

Even when James Ihedigbo didn't have a job he always had HOPE. Because of that, so do a lot of struggling kids from Africa who want the same thing he hopes to find in New England -- a chance to prosper.  

Not a week goes by, it seems, that the excesses of big-time sports aren't in the headlines -- greedy owners, amoral and sometimes immoral players, cheating, law breaking, rude behavior, slovenly disregard for their blessings and their talents. It happens so often there are websites that keep track of how many days it's been since a professional athlete was last arrested, a sad reality that can blind us to other things.  

Ihedigbo, the newly signed safety and special teams maven formerly of the hated Jets, is a shining example of those other things. Although obsessively dedicated to his trade -- which is the sledge hammer side of football -- he is a guy who long ago was taught to see a world exists beyond the end zone, a world where much can be done if one man is willing to try.

LOCAL FAVORITE: James Ihedigbo has...

Worcester T&G: Big Chance For Koepplin

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Rich Garven of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has a feature on former UMass kicker Chris Koepplin who is fighting for a spot with the New England Patriots. 

While he knows the chance of the Patriots carrying two kickers is slim, Koepplin says the experience is a great opportunity.

"I'm getting some film out there," Koepplin said today while standing in front of his metal locker, a temporary one that will soon be taken away and placed in storage until next year. "I'm doing whatever they're asking of me -- right now, it's kicking off -- and it's just been a great learning experience."

Matt Anderson Re-Signs With Albany Devils

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The AHL Albany Devils announced signing 12 players for the upcoming 2011-12 season including UMass alum Matt Anderson. Anderson led the team in scoring last year with 55 points on 23 goals and a team-best 32 assists earning a spot in the All-Star Classic.

Anderson, 28, enters his second season with the organization after leading Albany (AHL) with 32 assists and 55 points last season, while finishing second with 23 goals.  He also represented the team at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic.  The 5-11, 195-lb. forward originally signed with the club on July 21, 2010 after spending the previous three-plus seasons with Chicago (AHL).  Anderson was a member of the Wolves' 2008 Calder Cup Championship team.  Born October 31, 1982, the native of West Islip, NY signed with Chicago as a free agent on March 30, 2007.  He also saw action in 37 games with Gwinnett (ECHL) in 2007-08.  Anderson played four seasons at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (HE) between 2002-03 and 2006-07.

MassLive: Transfer And Freshmen Talent Converge At UMass

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"The University of Massachusetts women's soccer team opens its season Tuesday at the University of New Hampshire, and knowing the opposition isn't the problem. 



It's getting to know each other. 



The Minutewomen, under second-year head coach Ed Matz, have 16 newcomers along with 10 returnees as they try to build upon the progress of last year's 8-11, 5-4 Atlantic 10 campaign, which marked their highest win total since 2007. 



And has Matz ever been recruiting. He's taking talent from near (eight of the 10 freshmen are from Massachusetts) and far (freshman Moa Mattson is from Sweden, while sophomore Grace Coombs hails from Kent, United Kingdom)."

Read more of Dick Baker's Transfer and freshmen talent converge at UMass: Women's soccer in second year of rebuilding program

Vote For Matt Gedman: Favorite Spinner Video Campaign

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Make sure to head over to the Lowell Spinners' YouTube page and vote for former Minuteman Matt Gedman in the "2011 Favorite Spinner Election". Check out Matt's campaign video:

Women's Soccer Season Preview

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We caught up with head coach Ed Matz this afternoon for a little season preview. Watch the video and make sure to follow the action tomorrow when the Minutewomen open up at New Hampshire.

Check out the latest entry of the UMass women's soccer video blog, Preseason Playback, hosted by seniors Meghan Collins and Lindsey DiOrio. Missed the earlier entries? You can watch those here.

Minutemen To Open Against FSU In Bahamas

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The tournament bracket for the Battle 4 Atlantis has been released. UMass will face Florida State in an opening round game on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, at 4:30 p.m. ET. The eight-team basketball tournament will be played at Imperial Arena at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas on Nov. 24-27. The tournament field includes regional teams Harvard and National Champion Connecticut.
 

Daily Hampshire Gazette: UMass men's basketball opens against Florida State in the Bahamas
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Battle 4 Atlantis Schedule

Marvin Pave of the Boston Globe has a story on Emil Igwenagu, a native of Boylston, and his return this season after missing parts of last year with injury. For the second year in a row, he will serve as team co-captain alongside Tyler Holmes.

"He did his best to help us out, practicing every day and taking as many reps as he could. It was disappointing for us and heartbreaking for him. But he's looked great in preseason camp,'' added head coach Kevin Morris.  

He considers Igwenagu a valuable weapon. "Emil is one of the better players in our league and he can do a lot of things for us and create a lot of mismatches for the opposing defense,'' Morris said. "We'll also use him in short-yardage situations because he was such a great tailback in high school.''  

Igwenagu said he's feeling positive about the upcoming season.  

"The seniors were asked if they wanted new captains and they said they liked things the way they were,'' with Igwenagu and linebacker Tyler Holmes leading the team. "That was reassuring and a great honor,'' he said.

Berkshire Eagle: Correia trades court for gridiron

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Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle has a story on Gary Correia's transition for the hardwood to the gridiron this fall.

"The structure is a little bit different," said Correia. "In basketball, there's more running and being up and down. The conditioning is a little bit different. This game is a little more physical.  

"Other than that, being a part of a team and part of a group, that's all the same."  

It is often said that once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you don't forget it. Is it the same if you haven't played football since 2007? Correia laughed and said no.  

"Not at all. It was like trying to drive a Mack truck," the former guard said with a smile. "It was like something I'd never done before. It was a little bit crazy."
Former UMass lacrosse head coach Ted Garber has been named head coach of the Ohio Machine which will begin its inaugural season in Major League Lacrosse next spring.

Currently the head boys varsity lacrosse coach at Loomis Chaffee, this will be Garber's second stint as a head coach in the MLL.


UMass All-Access catches up with a trio of wide receivers in Jarvis Bentley, Elgin Long and Julian Talley along with fullback Thad McCummings who were Thursday's Blueshirt MVP honorees.

Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican looks at the UMass secondary, the experience returning at the positions and what the young group must do to improve in 2011.

The University of Massachusetts defensive secondary was young and pretty good last year. 

This year it is still young, but looking to make the leap to exceptional. 

"We're young but very talented in the defensive backfield," redshirt junior Darren Thellen said. "Even though we're young we've got a lot of game experience in us and that's going to help us out this year."

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James Ihedigbo Signs With New England Patriots

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It was announced last night that James Ihedigbo has signed with the New England Patriots after playing three seasons for the New York Jets. That places two former UMass players on the Pats current roster as Chris Koepplin has been handling the kick-off duties this preseason for New England.

Here are the headlines on Ihedigbo's signing:
Patriots Web Site: Patriots sign safety James Ihedigbo 
Boston Globe: Ihedigbo says he's a Patriot
Boston Herald: Patriots sign former Jets safety James Ihedigbo, a UMass product
ESPNBoston: Pats sign former UMass safety Ihedigbo
NESN: Former UMass Star James Ihedigbo Signs With Patriots
Newsday: Ihedigbo signs with Patriots
BleacherReport: New England Patriots Sign James Ihedigbo

Also, here is a feature written on Ihedigbo earlier for the Amherst Bulletin by Matt Vautour:


New York Jets safety James Ihedigbo celebrates afterPhoto: How pro football player James Ihedigbo of Amherst is realizing thePhoto: How pro football player James Ihedigbo of Amherst is realizing thePhoto: How pro football player James Ihedigbo of Amherst is realizing the
Photo: How pro football player James Ihedigbo of Amherst is realizing thePhoto: How pro football player James Ihedigbo of Amherst is realizing the

Clegg Earns Win Out Of Pen For P-Nats

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Former UMass left-hander Mitchell Clegg picked up the win out of the bullpen for the Potomac Nationals last night, a 4-3 victory over the Winston-Salem Dash. 

Clegg allowed one run on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 2.2 innings of work. He is currently 4-5 on the season with a 5.22 earned run average over 79.1 innings in 25 appearances with 25 walks to 36 strikeouts.

The UMass men's soccer team came away with a 1-0 exhibition match win at Providence this afternoon thanks to a goal from freshman Josh Schwartz that was assisted by Hellah Sidibe. Brian Frame and Shane Curran-Hays each played a half in goal for the win.

UMass All-Access caught up with team captains Bryant Craft and David Key on Thursday to speak about the upcoming season.


UMass All-Access catches up with UMass Football Blueshirt MVP's Darren Thellen and Rob Blanchflower from Monday's practice and Julian Talley from Wednesday's practice session.



ABC40 Previews Upcoming Football Season

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Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican has a story today on the quarterback competition between Brandon Hill and Kellen Pagel for the starting spot.

Sophomore Kellen Pagel or redshirt freshman Brandon Hill will win the job in a matter of days, if not sooner as the Minutemen are less than a week from getting into game practice. 

Hill appears to be getting more reps with the first team, but coach Kevin Morris says it is still a competition. 

"Those guys are in the top two right now fighting for the job," Morris said. "Mike Wegzyn who is a true freshman that we brought in, he's done very well and Ray Pendagrast who has gotten taken away from the quarterback competition a little bit and into the punter competition and he's really getting focused on that."

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Fitchburg S&E: Minutemen Ready For Jump To FBS

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Matt Stewart of the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise has a feature on the UMass football team previewing the 2011 season while also looking ahead to next year's move to FBS and the Mid-American Conference.

Senior tailback Jonathan Hernandez will have one of the team goals his senior season altered. Because of the move to the FBS, the 2011 season will be a transition period, in which the Minutemen will play a full FCS schedule, but will not be elligible for postseason play.  

"I'm excited for the younger kids, because they are moving on to the MAC," Hernandez said. "I'm really excited for them, but I'm just excited to play this season. I don't think that affects any of us on the team at all. We like to compete and Coach Morris stresses that all the time. We're taking every game like its our last game."

"I came here to get a natinoal championship ring," Leominster native Rob Blanchflower said. "Now that we're moving up, I don't have that opportunity but I do have the opportunity to play in a bowl game. Being in a bowl game, playing in front of bigger crowds, that's pretty incredible."
Matt Stewart of the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise has a feature on Jonathan Hernandez entering the 2011 season as UMass' featured running back.

Former Leominster High star tailback Jonathan Hernandez is expected to make a major impact in this his red-shirt senior season at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. With the departure of Oakmont Regional grad John Griffin to the NFL, Hernandez is expected to carry the brunt of the load of the Minutemen rushing attack in 2011.  

Hernandez and the rest of the Minutemen participated in UMass Football Media Day Wednesday afternoon at McGuirk Stadium.  

"I think Hernandez is going to be the feature back but we had a couple of other backs that stepped up this preseason," UMass head coach Kevin Morris said. "Jamar Smith whose been waiting in the wings. And also Alan Williams, those guys have had an outstanding preseason for us and they'll be able to take some of the load off of Jon.
Rachel Roberts of MassLive.com has a story up on the make-up and team chemistry of this year's UMass football team.

With only two weeks separating preseason camp from their opener at Holy Cross, the University of Massachusetts football team is geared up and ready to showcase their talent; both young and old. 

Head coach Kevin Morris leads a team with 40 percent of its players and staff brand new, but he's ready to display what his squad will bring to their last season in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Rachel Roberts of MassLive.com has a story and video up today on the quarterback competition between Brandon Hill and Kellen Pagel.

With only two weeks to go before the University of Massachusetts football team's season opener against Holy Cross, the battle for starting quarterback is still too close to call. 

Coach Kevin Morris identified sophomore transfer Kellen Pagel and sophomore Brandon Hill as the top two candidates for the job at the annual preseason Media Day at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Wednesday.

 
Chris Koepplin again handled the kick-off duties for the New England Patriots as the Pats won their second preseason game last night at Tampa Bay.

Koepplin gets a shot  Rookie Chris Koepplin, a UMass product, handled the kickoffs for New England. His first, to open the game, went nine yards deep in the end zone. His second sailed over the end zone. Koepplin has had some struggles with field-goal kicking in camp as he has gotten a lot of work with Stephen Gostkowski slowly being worked back from injury, but has shown a powerful leg throughout.  

Koepplin's first three kicks were touchbacks before the Bucs were able to return the fourth when it went only two yards deep in the end zone.

Dick Baker's MassLive.com Hockey Blog

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In his MassLive.com Hockey Blog, Dick Baker looks at the success Quinnipiac has had under coach Rand Pecknold and some of the recent meetings between the Bobcats and Minutemen over the last two years. UMass won 5-2 last year thanks to a pair of Adam Phillips goals.
Following a terrific collegiate hockey career at UMass, goalie Paul Dainton was announced to have signed a contract with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL yesterday afternoon. Dainton joined the club at the end of last season following the end of the Minutemen's campaign. He finished his career at UMass as one of the all-time great goalies in program history.

Dainton concluded last season with the Falcons after finishing his four-year collegiate career with UMass-Amherst.  The Sudbury, Ontario native made his AHL debut on March 23, 2011 at Hartford stopping 31 of 34 shots.  He earned his first AHL win on March 26, 2011 at Worcester turning aside 39 of 41 shots on goal.    

In four seasons with the Minutemen, Dainton played in 123 games posting a record of 69-61-12 with a 2.78 goals against average and .908 save percentage.  Dainton served as a captain of UMass-Amherst during the 2010-11 campaign.         
Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican has a piece on UMass football tailback Jonathan Hernandez and his importance as the feature running back this season.

University of Massachusetts football fans know former Minuteman running back John Griffin is battling for a job with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

They might not realize that the best UMass runner is still on campus. 

Jonathan Hernandez, who led the Minutemen in rushing yards and touchdowns, is back for his senior year and ready to carry the load for the run game as UMass prepares for its final season of Football Championship Subdivision play.

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Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story and notebook in today's paper following Media Day on how Courtney Jackson and Shane Viveiros have acclimated to new roles in UMass' 3-4 defensive scheme. Jackson, formerly a defensive end, and Viveiros, formerly a safety, are both now linebackers.

"At first during the spring it was a little shaky," Jackson said. "Now that I've gotten used to it, I like it a lot."  

"There's a lot more opportunities to run free," he added. "It's a chance to make plays. That's what I'm here to do. Pass rushing is fun. It's definitely where I get my excitement from."  

Viveiros agreed.  

"I'm excited for it. It's a chance to be in the box more and make more plays. They moved me because I have the ability to play in coverage as well as play in the box," said Viveiros, who added a few pounds in the off-season to prepare for the move. "As long as I can hit somebody. The best part about it is I get to rush, so there's an opportunity to get sacks."

Photo: Defense front and center for UM

WWLP: UMass Football Moving Up A Division

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Berkshire Eagle: Plenty of change for UMass football

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Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle has a story following yesterday's Media Day focusing on the change surrounding the program: new defense, new quarterback, and next year a new division.

"For a lot of seniors, this could be our last time ever playing the game," said linebacker Tyler Holmes, a preseason All-America selection and the CAA preseason defensive player of the year. "Our attitude is positive, regardless of postseason play or anything like that. We've had great energy in preseason, and I'm just very excited waiting for the season."

Kevin Burns Named Head Coach At Bellarmine

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It was announced yesterday that UMass lacrosse assistant coach Kevin Burns has been named the new head coach at Bellarmine University.

• Bellarmine Athletics - BU names Burns as new head lacrosse coach
• Louisville Courier-Journal - UMass aide to coach Bellarmine lacrosse

Coach Burns Head shot
Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican has a notebook on football today looking at UMass being ranked 25th in The Sports Network Preseason Poll, the naming of Tyler Holmes and Emil Igwenagu as team captains, and the hosting of Media Day on Wednesday.
Freshman tailback Brian Dowling of the football team is profiled on MSGVarsity.com coming in as the No. 16 ranked New Jersey athlete from 2010-11. As a senior at St. Wayne Hills', Dowling went for 1,804 yards and 34 touchdowns. For his prep career, he notched 5,554 all-purpose yards and 74 career touchdowns.

No. 16: Wayne Hills' Brian Dowling

The kid did everything.

Literally.

Wayne Hills' multi-faceted superstar Brian Dowling was everywhere on the football field; he was the team's running back, kick returner and defensive back. If you were going to watch Dowling's Patriots, chances were you would witness him being a game-changer in at least one aspect.

In turn, the magical and historic football career for Dowling lands him at No.16 in MSG Varsity's Top 31 New Jersey athletes countdown.

It was an amazing season for Dowling in 2010-2011. He broke three school records by tallying 74 career TDs, 5,554 career all-purpose yards and 46 carries in a game.

The contest in which he had 46 carries came against Ramapo, when he went for 326 yards and three scores in a winning effort.

His stats from this past season alone saw Dowling go for 1,804 yards, and 34 touchdowns. Most importantly, he steered the ship for Wayne Hills in winning the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 crown. The UMass-bound Dowling will get to continue wearing the maroon and white as he takes his talents from Wayne to Amherst come the fall.

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Women's Basketball Takes Part In Ropes Course

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The UMass women's basketball team recently made a trip off campus to take part in a ropes course here in Amherst. Check out the video of the experience: 


Forbes Drops 78 Points In Pro-Am

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Former UMass star and current Denver Nugget Gary Forbes had quite a night at the Hartford Pro-Am, pouring in 78 points with 13 3-pointers. Though high scoring totals aren't uncommon in summer pro-ams, Forbes' night was one for the ages as his Sparks Auto Body Naughty Boys defeated the Springfield Slamm 136-132. 

Check out the story from SLAM Online including a highlight video.

Field Hockey Preseason Underway

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The defending A-10 champion Minutewomen field hockey team has begun its first preseason camp under Head Coach Carla Tagliente. Check out the video from the first day of practice.
  

Hoops To Face Siena In Springfield

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame officially announced on Monday the lineup for the inaugural Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase. The event, which will be a tripleheader spanning all three NCAA Divisions, will be played at the MassMutual Center on Dec. 9 with the Minutemen taking on Siena in the 8 p.m. nightcap.

Springfield College and Trinity will lead things off with a 4 p.m. Division III game before American International and Philadelphia University meet in a 6 p.m. Division II game, all leading up to the UMass/Siena game.

Tickets will go on sale shortly at HoopHall.com and Ticketmaster.

  • Springfield Republican: UMass men's basketball team will play Siena in Springfield
  • Albany Times-Union: Siena-UMass highlights Dec. 9 tripleheader in Springfield
  • Fox 23 News: Siena to face UMass in Holiday Hall of Fame Classic
  • UMass All-Access checks in with three blueshirt MVP's from Sunday's practice: linebacker Chad Hunte, defensive back Mike Lee and offensive lineman Stephane Milhim. Also head coach Kevin Morris talks about the offensive and defensive lines along with an update on Monday night's practice.

    Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican looks at the quarterback situation for UMass with Kellen Pagel and Brandon Hill leading the charge as the top two signal callers.

    Of the four candidates, sophomore transfer Kellen Pagel and redshirt freshman Brandon Hill appear to be the frontrunners as they have taken the most snaps with the first team in practice. 

    Sophomore Ray Pendagast, who is also competing for the starting punter job, and true freshman Mike Wegzyn are in the mix as well.

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    Gazette: UMass ranked 25th in preseason poll for FCS

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    Matt Vautour has a football notebook up today mentioning UMass being ranked No. 25 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 preseason Poll, Tyler Holmes and Emil Igwenagu being named team captains once again and a recap of several alums from NFL preseason training camps.

    In its last season playing in the Championship Subdivision, the University of Massachusetts football team was ranked No. 25 in the Sports Network FCS Top 25 preseason poll, which was released Monday.  

    The Minutemen were one of seven Colonial Athletic Association teams ranked. They were picked fifth in the CAA preseason poll. Villanova and Richmond, which were ranked lower in the CAA poll, were above UMass in the national poll.  

    Two more CAA teams - Rhode Island and Maine - as well as Central Connecticut State, which UMass faces in nonconference play, were among the teams "also-receiving votes."
    Over the weekend, Dick Baker led off his Local College notebook with a piece on the newest addition to the UMass women's basketball team, Kiara Bomben.

     

    "University of Massachusetts women's basketball head coach Sharon Dawley took over last year, promising to build the program for the future. 
And she's already starting on the 2012-13 season. 

    Dawley has signed an interesting recruit in 5-11 forward Kiara Bomben from Australia, who is transferring in from Florida Gulf Coast University, a team which boasted a 28-4 record last season."

    Read more of Baker's notebook on MassLive.com.


    Lasme Signs With Spanish Team

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    Stephane Lasme joins Obradoiro CAB

    Former UMass basketball bigman Stephane Lasme signed a pro contract last week to play for Obradoiro CAB in Spain. The native of Gabon played part of last season with the Maine Red Claws of the NBDL, averaging 7.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 10 games, after trying to make the Celtics roster. Lasme has also played professionally overseas in Israel, Russia, and Serbia.


    Check out coverage of the signing below.
    Sportando.net
    You First Sports
    MLB Basket

    Bobianski: Ironman Of The Beach

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    Ryan Bobianski

    The 37th Annual Cape Cod Livesaving Competition was held last Wednesday at Nauset Beach. The lifeguarding competition is held each year as an opportunity for the lifesavers of Cape Cod to show off their skills as well as keep those skills sharp. As is often the case, a UMass swimmer was leading the way, this time it was incoming freshman Ryan Bobianski, who for the second year in a row took the Ironman title as well as a first place finish in the co-ed run paddle to lead the home Nauset Beach team to victory.

    Bobianski joins Russ Yarworth's squad in 2011-12 as an IMer and fly specialist. A native of East Longmeadow, he owns five individual high school records and is the 2011 Mass. Division 2 State Champion in the 200 IM.

    Sunday's UMass Football Training Camp Update

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    Jonathan Hernandez was a practice MVP for the third consecutive time on Saturday earning him the Green Jersey in Sunday's practice. Galen Clemons was also named an MVP after a great training camp effort on the defensive line. Head coach Kevin Morris updates you on the team's depth and progress following Sunday's practice and one week of training camp.


    Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette looks at the pivotal role tailback Jonathan Hernandez will play for the UMass offense this season.

    The University of Massachusetts coaches thought they had a potential recruiting steal when they signed the undersized, under-recruited running back from Leominster, a perennial central Massachusetts powerhouse. He was fast and he was strong.  

    But it wasn't until they saw him every day in practice that they realized just how tough Jonathan Hernandez is.  

    "He's a tough nut. There's no question about that. He brings it every play. He's got skills and speed. Add toughness on top and that's what you want from your tailback spots," UMass coach Kevin Morris said. "He was an under-recruited player. We knew he had potential, but there's a lot of potential out there. We haven't been disappointed."

    Photo: UMass counting tough running back

    Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on Emil Igwenagu looking to have a big season for the UMass football team after suffering an injury-plagued 2010 campaign.

    Things were lining up for Emil Igwenagu to have a big year in 2010. Not only had he but voted captain of the University of Massachusetts football team as a junior, but he was set to have a big role in the Minuteman offense.  

    UMass coach Kevin Morris planned to use him a lot as plays were drawn up that had Igwenagu lined up as a tight end, a tailback and a fullback.  

    But in the season opener, he suffered an ankle injury and was never really healthy again the rest of the year. Igwenagu missed three games, but even in the eight he did play, he was never close to 100 percent. He finished with just 12 catches for 142 yards.

    Photo: After frustrating 2010, Emil Igwenagu expects to play key role for UMass this year

    Happy birthday wishes to Adam Phillips of UMass hockey and Michelle Jenssen of women's track and field!

    Adam PhillipsMichelle Jenssen

    Ricky Harris Signs With German Team

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    About a month after Tony Gaffney signed with a team in Germany, his former UMass teammate, Ricky Harris signed with a team in Wuerzberg, Germany yesterday. Lots of German outlets reported the news as well, including The Main Post.
      

    The third-leading scorer in UMass history played professionally last season in Lithuania and the Ukraine.

    Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette also had a great feature on Tom Gilson today featuring the redshirt senior's perseverance in going from walk-on to starter over the course of his career.

    About 20 minutes after the rest of his University of Massachusetts football teammates were showering, changing or enjoying their post-practice Gatorade and popsicles, Tom Gilson was still working out near the visitors sideline in the noon heat that approached 90 degrees at McGuirk Stadium.  

    A manager fed ball after ball into the Juggs machine firing rapid-fire passes at him.  

    Gilson, a Mansfield native, caught one high, one low, extending and contorting his arms to secure each ball before tossing it aside to prepare for the next.  

    "I had a couple drops. I was really upset with myself," Gilson said.  

    As he caught his breath, sweat made his shirt stick to the new praying-hands tattoo on his left arm with the words "Blessed is he who perseveres through the trial."

    Photo: From walk-on to projected starter in 4 years
    Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette looks at the UMass wide receiving corps today with a focus on Julian Talley's experience being crucial. The preseason All-CAA pick is the lone returning wideout with significant career receiving numbers. Jesse Julmiste and Tom Gilson are expected to push for starting roles as well.

    Vautour also rounds up several other key positions on the offense including the running back spot to back up Jonathan Hernandez.

    Photo: There's some catching up to do

    The Atlantic 10 released its 2011 Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll yesterday with the Minutemen predicted to finish 9th among the 14 teams in the league. Charlotte was picked to win the league.

    London never foggy when running assignments

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    Andrew Soong of The Suburban, an English paper in Quebec, has a short feature on Brandon London who has been enjoying a strong start with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.

    Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger has a feature today on Vladimir Ducasse and the upside of his career with the New York Jets.

    "In the future, Vlad is going to be a much better football player than me," Matt Slauson said last week at Jets camp. "God-gifted, just a freak. If he knew the in's and out's of the playbook like (a veteran), he'd be an All Pro."

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    UMass lacrosse alum Brian Jacovina was officially announced on Wednesday as the offensive coordinator at Rutgers. He had spent the previous four seasons at St. John's.


    Happy Birthday: August 10- Dorothy Polatin

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    Happy birthday to Dorothy Polatin of women's swimming and diving!

    Dorothy Polatin

    Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican has a piece on the change to a 3-4 defense by the UMass football team.

    New defensive coordinator Frank Forcucci says "We can put speed on the field, which has always been a premium at UMass, and it allows us to be flexible with how we line up and what types of blitzes and what types of coverages we do,"

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    Tuesday was the first day of full-pad practice for the UMass football team. Afternoon showers kept things cool as the Minutemen continued their preseason camp at McGuirk Stadium. Wednesday will bring the first two-a-day practices of the year with a morning and evening session.

    Monday's team MVP's went to tailback Alan Williams, wide receiver Jesse Julmiste and defensive back Antoine Tharpe. Tharpe earned his second MVP of the season. A third MVP honor gets him "the Money Jersey" which is green.


    Things will get going early in Hockey East action as the UMass hockey team opens the season at Northeastern on Oct. 7. Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican looks at the proposed schedule which has five of the first seven conference games coming on the road - an early challenge for the Minutemen.

    UMass Hockey vs Boston University

    Cruz Making Headlines At Giants Camp

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    Former UMass wide receiver Victor Cruz continues to get a lot of attention at New York Giants training camp. Cruz is competing for the No. 3 wideout spot in addition to a place on the active roster, but as you can read in the links below, he continues to impress his coaches.


    New York Daily News: Victor Cruz off to a fast start in Giants camp
    BigBlueView.com: "Victor Cruz is probably a sure thing."
    NorthJersey.com: Paterson's Victor Cruz ready for more with the Giants

    Training Camp News On Minutemen In The NFL

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    Several stories today on Minutemen around the NFL.

    • Arrowhead Pride predicts Jeremy Horne to be among the top-five receivers for the Kansas City Chiefs this season.
    • Jeromy Miles is in the hunt for one of five safety positions according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
    • John Griffin is the 16th photo in a slide show from Bengals Training Camp. He is also shown in the 20th photo.
    • According to the Jets Insider, Vladimir Ducasse will be switched to tackle this year after getting most of his reps at guard last season. That is reflected in a preseason depth chart on New York Sports Today which lists Ducasse as the No. 2 left tackle.


    Happy Birthday: August 9- Nicole Pompei

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    Happy birthday to Nicole Pompei of UMass Track & Field!

    Nicole Pompei

    Football Preseason: Monday Recap & Sunday MVP's

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    The Minutemen held a spirited and intense practice on Monday afternoon at McGuirk that saw a little extra pop on the defensive side of things. Head Coach Kevin Morris talks about the intensity and the competition that has been building up.

    Sunday's team MVP's were Jamar Smith from the offense and Ed Saint-Vil from the defense.

     
    Matt Vautour has an interesting look at the transition facing three of the most prominent positions in UMass sports - quaterback for football, point guard for men's basketball and goalie for hockey.

    They are the three most noticed, scrutinized and often most important positions in the University of Massachusetts' three highest profile sports - quarterback of the football team, point guard for the men's basketball team and goalie for the hockey team.  

    In the 2011-12 school year, all three spots will be manned by newcomers and all three will be counted on heavily right away.

    Gazette: Pagel, Hill Front-Runners For QB Spot

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    Matt Vautour has a story today on who will take over at quaterback for UMass following the graduation of Kyle Havens last year. Kellen Pagel is a red-shirt sophomore transfer from Bowling Green, while Brandon Hill is a redshirt freshman.

    Morris said leadership would be a key factor in his decision.  

    "I think it's the leadership first. The team has to respond to him. Both offense and defense. If you can get your defense playing for your quarterback, that's huge," Morris said. "So that would be No. 1. From there it's who's making the plays. You want to take the guy who is going to produce the most and usually that goes hand in hand with the leadership piece."


    Happy belated birthday wishes to Ali Houlis of women's lacrosse and football's Igor Garcia! The two celebrated their birthday on August 4. Happy belated birthday to K.R. Jurgelevich of men's lacrosse who celebrated his birthday on August 5! Happy belated birthday to Michael McDonough of men's track! Michael celebrated his birthday on August 6. Happy belated birthday to football's Ryan Carter and field hockey's Nicole Cordero! Both, Ryan and Nicole celebrated their birthday on August 7. 

    Ali HoulisIgor GarciaK.R. JurgelevichMichael McDonoughRyan CarterNicole Cordero

    Video Recaps Of First 3 Football Practices

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    Be sure to check Training Camp Central for all the latest videos, photos, and news from football preseason!

    Cruz Battles For No. 3 Spot With Giants

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    Despite a crowded wide receiver situation at New York Giants training camp, former Minuteman Victor Cruz continues to impress coaches and teammates as the No. 3 receiver position, or slot receiver, job is up for grabs. ESPN New York writes that Cruz is in the mix for the job.

     

    "He's a baller," Mario Manningham said. "He fits right in with our receiver group. He's not tall, but he's big and strong, he's got good hands, he's quick and he's fast."

     

    "I think I'm understanding coverages better and reads as far as route running," Cruz said. "I think it's coming together for me a little better this year, and hopefully I can get that third spot."



    Dick Baker Previews Field Hockey

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    Alexa Sikalis was named Most Outstanding Player at last season's A-10 Championship

    Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican in his Local College Notebook talks about UMass field hockey getting ready to begin its first preseason under new head coach Carla Tagliente. Baker points out that the A-10 regular season title could come down to the final conference game of the year, an Oct. 28 meeting between the Minutewomen and Richmond at Garber Field.

     

    UMass was picked first in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll, ahead of Richmond, Temple, and Lock Haven.

    Football Preseason Underway

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    The 2011 UMass football season officially began on Friday with the first day of preseason practices for the Minutemen. Check out the stories below covering the first day of practice.

    UMass Training Camp Central.


    Daily Hampshire Gazette: Former UMass PG Correia turn to gridiron
    Daily Hampshire Gazette: Broken foot shelves Violette, Thompson at full speed
    Springfield Republican: UMass football turns attention to 2011 season

    Also, check out the photo galleries from the first two days of practice (Friday & Saturday).

    Day 1 Photo Gallery
    Day 2 Photo Gallery

    Brandon Collier Signs With Eagles

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    Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican reports this morning on the Philadelphia Eagles signing former UMass defensive tackle Brandon Collier. The Eagles, who have made plenty of news with big free agent signings in the last couple weeks, have seen their defensive line decimated by injuries already in training camp, creating a good opportunity for Collier, who last played at UMass in 2009.

    Gazette: Jets Not Bringing Back Ihedigbo

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    The Hampshire Daily Gazette and the Springfield Republican report this morning that an AP source with knowledge of the situation says that former UMass safety James Ihedigbo will not be resigning with the New York Jets. The Amherst product has been with Gang Green since 2007, but will be looking for a new team for 2011.

    Ihedigbo led the Jets with 27 special teams tackles in 2010.

    Brandon Collier Signs WIth Eagles

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    Brandon Collier and UMass will host at least three TV games in 2009.

    Make it one more UMass football alum at an NFL training camp this summer. The Philadelphia Eagles have signed former Minuteman defensive tackle Brandon Collier. CSN Philadelphia reports that due to injuries, the Eagles had just one healthy defensive tackle in camp, leading to the signings of Collier and Charlie Noonan as undrafted free agents.

    Collier was an All-CAA defensive tackle as a senior in 2009, recording 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 8.5 TFLs.

    Hoops Team Attends Court Dedication & Barbecue

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    The UMass men's basketball team and coaching staff were out in the community on Tuesday night when they attended the renovated basketball court dedication and barbecue at St. Brigid's Church in Amherst. The event, which was open to the public, was hosted by Fr. John Smegal and gave the local kids a chance to meet the 2011-12 Minutemen. Check out the video below.

    Koepplin Report From Patriots Camp

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    New England Patriots Day One 7/28/11

    Former UMass kicker Chris Koepplin (2) continues to handle most of the kicking duties at New England Patriots training camp as Pro Bowler Stephen Gostkowski recovers from a torn quadriceps that ended his 2010 campaign.


    The Boston Globe, The Kings Park Patch, and WEEI.com all report on Koepplin at training camp.
    Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that former UMass guard Greg Niland, who was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, was released earlier this week but was scooped up quickly by the Detroit Lions.


    The Pride of Detroit reports on Niland's signing as well.

    New York Jets GM and UMass alum Mike Tannenbaum was on Ruocco and Lundberg on ESPN Radio 1050 in New York on Tuesday talking about Jets training camp and several player personnel topics. Among those, Tannenbaum pointed out former UMass lineman Vladimir Ducasse as someone that could surprise everyone this season and also spoke about the contract situation with former Minuteman and free agent safety James Ihedigbo. Follow the link above and go to the 8:00 mark for Ducasse and 8:45 for Ihedigbo.

    Victor Cruz Talk From Giants Camp

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    Former UMass wide receiver and current New York Giant Victor Cruz has been in the news lately as the Giants' wide receiver situation begins to work itself out. After a breakout preseason last year, Cruz missed most of the season on injured reserve. This year, he is competing for a spot in a crowded corps. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham appear to be the starters, but with Steve Smith still unsigned and recovering from an injury, the No.3/slot position is up for grabs as well as the remaining wideout roster spots. Those competing with Cruz are Dominek Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, Devin Thomas, Ramses Barden, and the newly signed Michael Clayton. Check out the stories below.

  • The Bleacher Report
  • ESPN New York
  • NorthJersey.com
  • Happy belated birthday wishes to Terrell Vinson of men's basketball and football's D.J. Adeoba!

    Terrell VinsonD.J. Adeoba

    Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican touches on a variety of UMass football topics in today's edition. He covers John Griffin catching his coach's eye at Bengals training camp, James Ihedigbo reported nearing a deal with the Jets, Chris Koepplin at Patriots camp, and tickets going on sale for the Colonial Clash on Oct. 22 at Gillette Stadium.
    Photo: Patriots kick-start former UMass player's career
    Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette as a nice feature today on former UMass kicker Chris Koepplin and his efforts at Patriots training camp to make the roster. It also points out that Koepplin's path to the NFL was not he traditional route, as his final season at UMass was 2007 and, after playing two seasons in the Arena 2 league, did not kick professionally last season.

    Koepplin says of when he got the news the Patriots wanted him, "I was in my car. It was a surprise, a happy surprise," said Koepplin, who immediately called his parents and tweeted "Today Was A Good Day... #understatement."

    Copa Off To Hot Start As A Pro

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    In limited action since signing a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last month, UMass baseball alum Peter Copa has hit safely in all three games he has appeared in with the Arizona League Angels.

    This past Sunday against the Rangers, he had his first career multi-hit game as a pro, going 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk, a stolen base and a run scored.

    Copa is currently hitting .364 (4-for-11) wth an RBI and three runs scored.

    Matt Gedman Promoted To Short Season A Lowell

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    Congratulations to our own Matt Gedman, who was promoted from the Gulf Coast League Red Sox at the end of last week to the Short Season A Lowell Spinners of the New York Penn League. In 31 games in the Gulf Coast League, he hit .282 with five doubles, a triple, two home runs, 15 RBI and 14 runs scored.

    Gedman, who is now playing for his father, former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman who is the Spinners' batting coach, has played in three games since joining the team. He logged his first hit last night against the State College Spikes.

    Another former Minuteman, Matt's brother Mike, was in action with his team, the Worcester Tornadoes last night, as well. Mike threw a perfect inning of relief, but the Tornadoes came up short against the Rockland Boulders, 8-2.

    Join The Minutemen For BBQ At St. Brigid's Today

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    Don't forget, today from 5-7 p.m. the UMass men's basketball team will be attending the parish center rededication and barbecue at St. Brigid's Church on North Pleasant Street in Amherst. The parish center, including its basketball court, just went through major renovations and Fr. Smegal and the UMass team want you to come and join in the celebration which is free and open to all. So come on out, enjoy some good food and meet your 2011-12 Minutemen!

    Connecticut men's basketball released its non-conference schedule for the coming season which includes a trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis, a tournament field that includes the Minutemen. The Nov. 24-26 event at the Atlantis Resort also includes Harvard, Florida State, Utah, College of Charleston, Central Florida, and UNC-Asheville.

     

    The Hartford Courant, TheDay.com, Norwich Bulletin, and The UConn Blog all have coverage.

    Ihedigbo Remains Unsigned By Jets

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    ESPN.com reports that former Minuteman and New York Jet James Ihedigbo remains an unsigned free agent.

     

    NBC New York speculates that money the Jets saved by losing out on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha not only allowed them to resign Antonio Cromartie, but could allow them to resign players such as Ihedigbo.

    Griffin Impresses Cincy Coach

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    Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton (14) Hands

    Former UMass running back John Griffin, who was signed last week as an undrafted free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals, has taken advantage of his early opportunities at training camp. According to CincyJungle.com, he has gotten the attention of Head Coach Marvin Lewis.

     

    "(Williams and Griffin) both guys caught my eye in what they were doing," Lewis said.

    Happy Birthday: August 1- Deanna Colarossi

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    Happy birthday to Deanna Colarossi of women's soccer!

    Deanna Colarossi

    Happy belated birthday wishes to Nina Sarcona of women's lacrosse and Shyrone Chatman of men's basketball who celebrated their birthday on July 31!

    Nina SarconaShyrone Chatman

    Minutewomen In Action With Brakettes

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    Well the Stratford Brakettes softball team is up to its old tricks again, posting a 55-0 record so far this summer with the season winding down to the Women's Major Softball National Championship on Aug. 4-7.

    This year's squad features three former Minutewomen, Brandice Balschmiter, Denise Denis, and Carly Normandin, and one current player, two-time All-American Sara Plourde.

    The Brakettes swept a pair of doubleheaders over the weekend from the Rhode Island Thunder, 2-0 and 6-0 on Saturday, and 16-0 and 11-0 on Sunday.

    Balschmiter picked up a win each on Saturday and Sunday, while Denis and Normandin each homered in game one on Sunday.

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    Former UMass kicker Chris Koepplin continued to handle most of the kicking duties at New England Patriots training camp over the weekend as Pro Bowler Stephen Gostkowski is out with an injury. Reports from camp on Sunday said Koepplin had a couple struggles early, but redeemed himself with a strong showing late. Check out coverage below.

  • ESPN Boston Sunday: Patriots Practice 7 Observations
  • ESPN BostonSaturday: Patriots Practice 5 Observations
  • PatsFans.com: Sunday News And Notes
  • Patriots.com: Sunday afternoon practice notes
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