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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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).
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.
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.
"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.
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:
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
"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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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."
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.
"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)."
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.
"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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
"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."
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,"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.