The National Invitation Tournament semifinal game against Stanford was a competition, but the trip to New York was also a culmination - a celebration of a better season than anticipated.
Even a season-ending 74-64 loss to Stanford could not dampen the enthusiasm in UMass basketball this season has regenerated.
Typical of its season, UMass went down battling. The Minutemen overcame an early 12-point deficit to lead briefly in the second half, but a late Stanford run settled the issue.
"This team has just been so much fun to watch,'' said Mike Levine, a 1987 UMass graduate who was on hand at Madison Square Garden.