UMass Athletics:

August 2013 Archives

Previews Of UMass At No. 23 Wisconsin

Here's a look at several previews of tomorrow's game between UMass and No. 23 Wisconsin. 

Kick-off is set for 12 PM EST and the game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Fans can also listen on 105.5 FM WEEI in Springfield or follow along on the live blog at

Telegram: Molnar hopes for major improvement

Jackson Alexander of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has a look at the improvement of the UMass football program through preseason camp and what areas coach Charley Molnar hopes to see progress in.

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on UMass football coach Charley Molnar and his excited at getting to see the Minutemen in action tomorrow afternoon at Wisconsin.

Republican: UMass football vs. Wisconsin - Where to catch the game

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a breakdown of where you can watch and listen to Saturday's game at Wisconsin.

Gazette: UMass set for Wisconsin, 80,000 in attendance

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a preview of the season-opener at Wisconsin and how playing at Michigan last year will prepare the team for the rowdy crowd of 80,000 at Camp Randall.

Gazette: Molnar excited for Camp Randall

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on the excitement of UMass' season-opener at Wisconsin and the personal excitement of head coach Charley Molnar on playing at Camp Randall Stadium.

Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule Reaction

We announced the non-conference portion of the men's basketball schedule on Tuesday and the reaction has been very positive. There are some exciting games and a lot of weekend action in the Commonwealth which should make road trips much more accommodating for those not close to campus or who may live in Eastern Mass.

Just to recap, we've got an exhibition against AIC on Nov. 5, the opener against BC in the Garden on Nov. 10 (Recap of the last game here), LSU in the Tip Off Marathon two days later at 11 am (Recap of last year's Tip Off game with Harvard here), a trip to the Charleston Classic with some potentially big opponents and an old rival, some neutral site games with BYU and Florida State that could give us some postseason cache, the return of Providence to the schedule and a game at Elon who won 21 games a year ago.

Weekend in-state games include BC (Sunday), Youngstown State (Sunday), BYU (Saturday), Northern Illinois (Saturday), Providence (Saturday) and Miami (Ohio) (Saturday).

BYU, Florida State, LSU, Ohio and Providence (along with possibly Davidson (future A-10 member), New Mexico and Temple) were all top 100 RPI teams last season. The A-10 folks have said they are shooting for sometime in the next two weeks to announce the league schedule.

I know the fall sports have started but this is getting me excited for hoops. Practice officially begins in four weeks!

Jonathan Quick Attends Team USA Orientation Camp

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USA Hockey wrapped up its U.S. Men's National Team Orientation Camp in Arlington, Va., at which former UMass goaltender Jonathan Quick was in attendance. Many members of the media have dubbed Quick the favorite to be the starting netminder for Team USA at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Feb. 7-23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Quick was mentioned by several media outlets in their coverage of the camp, including the Associated Press. had this video interview with Quick from camp:

Quick was also mentioned by Nate Ewell in this piece on the College Hockey Inc. website: Seven Thoughts from U.S. Olympic Camp

Former UMass men's lacrosse goalkeeper Tim McCormack (2008-12) recently accepted a position as an assistant coach with the seven-time NCAA Champion Northwestern University women's lacrosse program. McCormack was a three-year starter for the Minutemen, totaling 474 stops and a .559 save percentage in goal while earning USILA All-America, NEILA All-New England and All-CAA awards.

"I am thrilled for Tim McCormack and the Northwestern women's lacrosse program," said Massachusetts head coach Greg Cannella, now entering his 20th season in charge of the Minutemen. "He is an outstanding young man and coach. His tremendous leadership ability, loyalty and commitment to excellence will serve him well in Kelley Amonte Hiller's one-of-a-kind program. Tim lives and believes in the standards set by Coach Amonte Hiller and the great tradition of success she has established at Northwestern University."

More information on Northwestern women's lacrosse, including the entire announcement, is available here. Fans of UMass can stay up-to-date with the Minutemen and Minutewomen through the official UMass Athletic Department website.
Marc Bertrand of 98.5 FM The Sports Hub begin his first weekly interview of the season with UMass football coach Charley Molnar.

"We are so much better right now; hopefully internally and externally you'll be able to see the difference on the field," Molnar told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Marc Bertrand in the first of their weekly chats this season. "I can't say we'll go undefeated or play in a major bowl, but its going to be a much-improved performance by the Minutemen this year. Guys are bigger, faster, stronger and know their assignments better. It's a tough group of guys and we're really anxious to get out there and show what we can do."

Boston Globe: With transfers, UMass football hoping to go places

Emily Kaplan of the Boston Globe has a feature on UMass' three fifth-year transfers in Ricardo Miller, David Osei, and Justin Anderson. The trio joined the Minutemen during the offseason and will make a big impact on the team this season. Last year, UMass also had three transfers in Michael Cox, Hafis Williams and Deion Walker. Cox was drafted following the season by the New York Giants.

[Charley] Molnar is trying to build a culture. It's a culture Miller, Osei, and Anderson are already familiar with.

"The guys on our team right now only have one year of 1-A experience under their belt," Molnar said. "The transfers have four years of experience. They've been there, done that."

They've played meaningful games in big stadiums. They've also all earned degrees.

"The three are leaders," Molnar said. "And add a maturity level to our team as we continue to grow."

Blanchflower To Miss Season-Opener At Wisconsin

Charley Molnar said Monday after practice that tight end Rob Blanchflower will miss the season-opener at Wisconsin. Michigan transfer Ricardo Miller is expected to make his first collegiate start in place of Blanchflower.

Daily Collegian: Breaking Down The Tight Ends

Photo by Maria Uminski/Collegian

Cameron McDonough of the Daily Collegian takes a look at UMass' tight ends which will be a much deeper position group this year than last year for the Minutemen.

UMass Field Hockey Alum Kate Heineman Joins Dartmouth Staff

Former UMass field hockey student-athlete Kate Heineman (2009-12) joined the coaching ranks recently as Dartmouth College announced the Massachusetts graduate as the newest addition to their 2013 staff. Heineman completed her playing career in 2012 by helping the Minutewomen to the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Ellicott City, Md., native tallied 29 career points for UMass on seven goals and 15 assists. Heineman had her best individual season as a senior, producing 14 points on two goals and 10 assists while adding a trio of defensive saves.

Read the full release from Dartmouth Athletics here.

The University of Massachusetts Minutewomen will begin their A-10 title defense against Maine on Aug. 30 and Michigan the following day as part of the University of Maine Invitational. The Maroon and White will complete their first home contest of the year against UMass-Lowell on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 5 p.m. Admission to all of UMass' home field hockey games will be free of charge. A full schedule is available here.

Heineman is the second member of her graduating class to earn a NCAA Division I coaching position this summer, joining Callie Sweigart, who was hired by the Minutewomen in July.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature story on Mike Wegzyn and his growth from 2012 to now. Wegzyn's offseason included time in the weight and film rooms which have prepared him better for the upcoming season.

Wegzyn said last year's struggles have both motivated and educated him.

"It was good to see I've improved. I spent more time in the film room than a lot of people would have liked. I'm glad I can see improvement from it and know that I'm getting stuff out of what I'm doing. That just makes me want to continue on that path and keep moving forward," he said. Coming off last year, there's a bad taste in everybody's mouth. We're going to hit the field running. Last year doesn't reflect how I, or anyone on the team, can, will and should play. Success isn't sweet without failure. If there's not something bad, you wouldn't know how good something is."

Daily Collegian: Breaking Down The Offensive LIne

Photo by Maria Uminski/Collegian

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian takes a look at the UMass offensive line which will be anchored this season by Outland Trophy candidate Anthony Dima and features several talented newcomers.

Daily Collegian: Breaking Down The Defensive Backs

Photo by Maria Uminski/Collegian

Patrick Strohecker of the Daily Collegian takes a look at UMass' defensive backs - a unit that is young, but experienced with three starters returning from 2012.

VIDEO: UMass Football Offensive Line Breakdown

Offensive line coach Dave Johnson mic'd up as the UMass Sport Network previews the 2013 Minutemen front five.

Gazette: Center Matt Sparks hoping to help lead the UMass offense

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature on center Matt Sparks and how he has improved from last season to now. After playing as a guard in 2012, Sparks will start at center for the Minutemen.

Daily Collegian: Breaking Down The Linebackers

Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian takes a look at the UMass linebacking corps which is full of promising talent after several then-true freshman racked up tons of experience in 2012.

Republican: Minutemen shift their focus to game week


Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a look at how UMass has transitioned from preseason camp to official game week preparations for the trip to Wisconsin next Saturday.

Daily Collegian: Breaking Down The Defensive Line

Photo by Jeff Bernstein/For the Collegian

Cameron McDonough continues the Daily Collegian's breakdown series with a look at the UMass football team's defensive line - one of the more veteran position's on the team.

Maroon Musket: Offensive Line Deeper, But Still Young

Massachusetts Minutemen

Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket has a look at the offensive line which he says is deeper than last year, but still youthful in certain areas. Outland Trophy candidate Anthony Dima along with Matt Sparks are the two returning starters, while Rutgers transfer David Osei and fifth-year senior Vincent Westcarr should provide veteran leadership as well.

Republican: Charley Molnar offers a rough preseason depth chart


Dan Malone has a notebook on who to expect on the field next Saturday when UMass takes the field at Wisconsin. The rough depth chart gives fans a chance to see which names will be making an impact in the game.

Daily Collegian: Breaking Down The Specialists

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian will break down each position group of the UMass football team starting with special teams - one of the overall best units this year in the MAC.

Maroon Musket: Joe Tyo Not Your Ordinary Walk-On

Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket has a feature profile on freshman defensive lineman Joe Tyo who is a walk-on with the Minutemen. Tyo is a special story in that despite his size and strength, he has only played two years of football before coming to UMass.

"The kid has only played two years of high school football, and for him to do some of the things that he's doing already is really outstanding. He's just another great kid that comes out here with a blue-collar work ethic every single day," said defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo. "I like him a lot. He's doing a good job, and he's going to be a big boy. He's already standing out, and he's showing a lot as a walk-on coming into camp."

Herald: Randall Jette can't wait to soar higher at UMass

John Connolly of the Boston Herald has a feature story on UMass sophomore cornerback Randall Jette and how he felt he has improved along with the rest of the Minutemen since last season.

"As a team, we're still young. We're still recruiting. We still have young guys coming in and trying to make an impact on the team somewhat like (last year's freshmen) did. That experience of me, Trey Dudley-Giles, Khary Bailey-Smith, D'Metrius (Williams), all playing as true freshmen, that can only help us for this year. I mean, we're all coming back. We're all healthy. We definitely learned from our experiences, whether it was at Michigan, at Vanderbilt. We're ready for it. We know what to expect and that helps our practice habits."

VIDEO: UMass Athletics at the Special Olympics

Members from several UMass teams showed their support for the Massachusetts' Special Olympics. The athletes ran with the torch and joined the participants at the Opening Ceremony Dance.

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a feature on UMass long-snapper Vance Barton who is one of the key's to the Minutemen's strong special team's play.

"With my job, I know I'm doing good when I don't get noticed," Barton said Tuesday at UMass' 2013 football media day. "When I get noticed, it's either because I had a tackle or messed up on a snap."

Fortunately for UMass, it's been rarely the latter with the redshirt senior.

While punter Colter Johnson and kicker Blake Lucas have, deservedly, garnered most of the praise on a special teams unit that has quickly become one of the team's strongest, Barton is the spark plug that drives the kicking game. Without his laser snaps to Johnson or perfect placement on PAT and field goal snaps to holder Jeff Strait, none of those kicks would get off the ground.

Nick O'Malley of the Springfield Republican has a story on the UMass football program and how Charley Molnar and his staff are working to build a strong foundation in the beginning of the FBS transition to ensure a prosperous future.

"When I'm practicing, I look at that building," sophomore cornerback Randall Jette said, pointing towards the construction. "You know you're working hard for something. You know there's a bright future. You see the stadium under construction every day when you're out here working, so it's a little motivation every day."

Matt Stewart of the Sentinel & Enterprise has a story on Rob Blanchflower who is being held out of practice for the remainder of training camp due to injury. It is still possible for him to play in the Wisconsin game.

"I hope to perform greater than I did last year," Blanchflower said. "It was sort of a breakthrough season for me, but I know I can perform at the level of the Central Michigan game every week. Last year I wasn't consistent every week, and I'd like to be more consistent this year."


Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story today on Rob Blanchflower who was named to the 2014 Senior Bowl Watch List earlier this week. 

Should Blanchflower make the 65th-annual all-star game in Mobile, Ala., he would become just seventh player in school history to do so, joining a list that includes Milt Morin (1966), John Hulecki (1972), Ed McAleney (1976), James Files (1976), Vladimir Ducasse (2010) and Emil Igwenagu (2012).

Gazette: Freshman LB Shane Huber happy to be a Minuteman

University of Massachusetts freshman linebacker Shane Huber (8) jokes with teammates including Jaurice Jones, third from left, and Derek Beck (89) while waiting to have pictures taken at media day Tuesday at McGuirk Stadium.

Matt Vautour has a story on Shane Huber and his path to UMass as a highly touted recruit. Huber will move to outside linebacker for the Minutemen after playing mostly inside linebacker in high school.

Nick O'Malley of the Springfield Republican has a story from media day on UMass quarterback Mike Wegzyn and how he and his receivers are working together this season.

Telegram: Rob Blanchflower has Gronk-like production

Jackson Alexander has a look at Rob Blanchflower and his popular nickname and comparison to New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Matt Stewart of the Sentinel & Enterprise has a feature on Leominster native Rob Blanchflower and his development into one of the top tight ends in the Mid-American Conference. Blanchflower was also surprised at Media Day to find his jersey will have the letter 'C' on it to denote his status as team captain.

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on the UMass defense and how it hopes to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2013.

The story includes quotes from defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo who has one of the oldest and most veteran position groups on the team.

"It's really hard to get sacks nowadays because they get rid of the ball so quick," Sollazzo said. "So we grade other stats as well - hurries, pressures, knockdowns. It's anything, really, to help make the quarterback throw where he doesn't wanna throw or get rid of the ball sooner than he wants to get rid of it."

Boston Herald: Charley Molnar spreads the word

Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald looks at the summer promotional activities of football head coach Charley Molnar as he toured the state and headed up various initiatives to energize the UMass fan base.

"So we really tried to spread the message to as many people as we could," Molnar said. "I'm a firm believer that you don't have to be a UMass grad to be a UMass football fan. I liken it very similar to Ohio State or to Penn State, where they've got some rabid fans who never attended college. There's no reason why we can't be the college football team for the state of Massachusetts."

Boston Globe: Football coach Charley Molnar ready to build at UMass

Emily Kaplan of the Boston Globe takes a look at the long-term goals for Charley Molnar and the UMass football program as the Minutemen enter year two in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Boston Globe: Football coach Charley Molnar ready to build at UMass

Emily Kaplan of the Boston Globe takes a look at the long-term goals for Charley Molnar and the UMass football program as the Minutemen enter year two in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Former UMass field hockey standout Jill Powers was recently named the head coach at Becker College in Leicester, Mass. Powers recorded 64 points during four years of collegiate field hockey, playing the 2006-07 seasons at Rhode Island before joining the Minutewomen for 2008-09. Powers best individual season came in 2008, when the Leominster, Mass., native recorded 21 points on nine goals and three assists while helping UMass to an NCAA Tournament appearance.

The official Becker College release is available here while Chad Garner reported on the hiring for the Sentinel & Enterprise here.

UMass field hockey opens its season with a contest at the University of Maine on Friday, Aug. 30 at 1 p.m. The home-opener is set for Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 5 p.m., when the Minutewomen host UMass-Lowell. More information on the upcoming campaign can be found through the UMass Athletic Department website here.

Stories & Statements On Elaine Sortino Passing Away

Republican: Devin Brown finding himself right at home at safety

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on senior Devin Brown who is pushing for a job at starting safety. Charley Molnar says Brown, how joined the Minutemen last season, is one of the most improved players on the team and is playing a more natural position for him instead of cornerback.

Republican: Tyshon Henderson projects as big piece of the offense


Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a look at lineman Tyshon Henderson who looks to make a difference on offense this year as a true freshman. 

Maroon Musket: UMass' New Gunslinger

Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket has a feature piece on freshman quarterback Todd Stafford who was the first commitment to the program for this year's freshman class.

VIDEO: Feature On UMass' Wide Receivers

Wide receivers coach Allen Suber mic'd up at University of Massachusetts football practice on Friday, August 16, 2013.

Gazette: Stacey Bedell taking advantage of time for UMass football

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette takes a look at the increased worked load and opportunity Stacey Bedell had at the end of last week's practices with Jordan Broadnax being held out due to injury. Bedell himself is coming back after an injury cut short his 2012 freshman campaign.

Photo by Maria Uminski/Collegian

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a look at the AP preseason Top 25 poll which was just released. UMass' season-opening opponent Wisconsin checks in at No. 23 - the same as in the earlier-released Coaches Poll, while, Kansas State, Vanderbilt and Northern Illinois are all receiving votes.

Republican: Stacey Bedell making up for lost time in starting role


Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on Stacey Bedell who has gotten more reps in training camp after Jordan Broadnax was sidelined with an injury earlier this week. Bedell missed the bulk of 2012 with an injury and having him back in the offensive line-up will be key in 2013.

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a feature on Kassan Messiah and how he has improved from his true freshman year to now. Messiah credits the off-season work out regimen with strength coach Mike Golden for preparing him to enter preseason camp in the best shape of his life.

Jimmy Kelley of writes that the UMass offense has plenty of weapons and more confidence entering 2013 which should translate into improved performances and the ability to move the chains consistently.

Notable Football Tweets From MinuteFan Nation

Maroon Musket: Depth At Tight End A Boon For UMass

Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket takes a look at the UMass tight ends and how the position has changed in terms of depth from last year - something that should help out the Minutemen on offense.

Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel has a feature on former UMass standout offensive lineman Josh Samuda who is now fighting for a starting spot with the Miami Dolphins in just his second season in the NFL.

ABC40 has a story on how UMass is utilizing the new Guardian Cap to help prevent concussions during football practice. The cap is a soft shell with padding and air pockets which fits over the top of helmets and absorbs and deflects the force of a blow better to prevent injury due to repeated impact.

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a look at the UMass offense and what can be done this year to generate more big plays to help sustain drives. Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe says a balanced run game will help the Minutemen set-up the pass better in 2013.

Photo by Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a story on which players will play leadership roles on the defensive side of the ball after losing Darren Thellen and Perry McIntyre from last season.

Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian takes a look at some of the freshmen who have impressed the coaching staff during training camp so far.

When Massachusetts football coach Charley Molnar referred to the 2013 recruiting class as the best in UMass history, these are the kind of conversations he was probably hoping to have.

Molnar highlighted a handful of rookies on both sides of the ball that have impressed him through the first week and a half of camp and said that each of these players will play this year.

Charley Molnar highlights freshmen that have stood out through camp | Daily Collegian Sports

Maroon Musket: A Look At How The Press Box Is Coming Down

Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket has a story on the process of taking down the McGuirk Stadium Press Box will unfold. Workers began the initial phases of prepping the box for removal on Thursday and will utilize a robotic jackhammer to cut the facility into chucks which will then be removed by a crane.

Keep an eye on Chaz Williams

VIDEO: UMass Football Scrimmage Highlights

Highlights and comments from head coach Charley Molnar and quarterback Mike Wegzyn following UMass football's intersquad scrimmage on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.

VIDEO: A Look At The UMass Football Defensive Line

A spotlight on UMass football's defensive line at practice on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 featuring coach Dave Sollazzo and transfer defensive end Justin Anderson.

Notable Football Tweets From MinuteFan Nation

Gazette: Michigan transfer Ricardo Miller anxious to play for UMass

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature today focused on Ricardo Miller who joins UMass this year after playing three years at Michigan and graduating last Spring.

Jeff Moeller has a feature story on Michael Cox who was taken in the 7th round of the NFL Draft and how he has been fighting for a spot on the New York Giants active roster during preseason camp. So far during camp, Cox, who is one of three former Minutemen with the Giants currently, has drawn positive reviews from the New York coaching staff and media.
Jimmy Kelley of Hustle Belt has a story today on Tyshon Henderson and how several newcomers will mix in with veteran players on the offensive line this season for the Minutemen.

Gazette: D'Metrius Williams 2.0 - Still fun, more focused

Matt Vautour has a blog entry on the Daily Hampshire Gazette which centers on D'Metrius Williams and his growth from 2012 as a freshman to his upcoming sophomore year.

Gary Forbes To Work Out For Lakers, Knicks

Unrestricted free agent Gary Forbes is expected to work out for the Knicks next week, after working out for the Lakers today, according to Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype. Both teams only have minimum-salary slots to offer free agents, so if either team were to bring Forbes aboard, it would have to be for the veteran's minimum or on a training-camp invite.

Forbes, 28, spent two seasons in the NBA, playing for the Nuggets in 2010-11 and the Raptors in 2011-12. In 111 career games, the 6-7 forward averaged 5.8 PPG and 2.0 RPG to go along with a decent 12.4 PER in 13.5 minutes per contest.

Forbes was sent to Houston by Toronto in the deal that netted the Raptors Kyle Lowry, and was released by the Rockets before spending the 2012-13 season playing international ball. He averaged 28.4 PPG and 7.8 RPG in 27 games for China's Zhejiang Guangsha Lions.

Video: The Minuteman March At Gillette Stadium

UMass football head coach Charley Molnar talks about the importance of the Minuteman March. A ritual of UMass Football, walking through the fans before every game at Gillette Stadium. Fans gather in the Patriot Place Plaza every Saturday to display their passion for UMass Football.

Video: Get To Know Offensive Line Coach Dave Johnson

University of Massachusetts offensive line coach Dave Johnson comes to Amherst in 2013 having gone to 16 straight bowl games.

Gazette: UMass' cornerbacks ready to benefit from experience

University of Massachusetts sophomore defensive back Trey Dudley-Giles practices Wednesday, August 7, at McGuirk Stadium.

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a look at the defensive secondary and how young cornerbacks like Randall Jette, Trey Dudley-Giles and D'Metrius Williams are now more experienced players after last season.

Republican: Khary Bailey-Smith a key cog in growing secondary

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican takes a look at the UMass secondary focusing on Khary Bailey-Smith and the safeties.

Maroon Musket: Blake Lucas Ready to Play

Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket has a feature profile of Blake Lucas and his progression from last season to know as UMass' place kicker.

Republican: Charley Molnar practice soundbites, Aug. 12

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has soundbites from UMass football head coach Charley Molnar following practice on Monday. Molnar spoke about where the team was progress-wise, on the increased size of the wide receiver corps, on kicker Blake Lucas, on tailback Jordan Broadnax and on freshman quarterback Todd Stafford.

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican also had a story on Shakur Nesmith whose performance on Monday at training camp caught the eye of all in attendance.

Republican: 10 players to watch in 2013, Part II

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican finished his 10 players to watch series in this piece. He has Rob Blanchflower as his No. 3 player to watch, while quarterback Mike Wegzyn takes the No. 1 spot.

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a piece on freshman wide receiver Shakur Nesmith who had a stand out performance on Monday in training camp.

UMass Rowing Boathouse Introduction Open To Public

The UMass rowing program will debut its boathouse on Sunday, Sept. 8, with the ceremony open to the public. Fans and alumni are invited to participate in the event at the Sportsman Marina in Hadley, Mass., beginning at 1 p.m. A for-purchase barbeque will be available during the event at $16 for adults and $8 for children.

UMass rowing will also host an event for returning alumni and fans of the program at the Amherst Brewing Company in Amherst, Mass., on Saturday, Sept. 7, beginning at 7 p.m. All interested are invited to attend.

The UMass rowing team has been the most successful program in the history of the Atlantic 10 Conference, winning 13 of 16 league championships. The new structure will become the first permanent home for the program in the history of its existence as a varsity team.

More information on the event and program can be found here, including a boathouse ceremony brochure and a UMass rowing pledge form.
Former UMass tailback Michael Cox continues to impress the New York Giants after Saturday's preseason game against Pittsburgh. Cox is fighting for the No. 3 tailback spot after being drafted in the 7th round.

Messiah Looking To Build Off Freshman Year

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Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket has a feature on sophomore linebacker Kassan Messiah who turned heads last year as a true freshman and one of the top defensive players for the Minutemen.

UMass Trio Help Giants To Preseason Win Over Steelers

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A trio of Minutemen saw action last night for the New York Giants as Victor Cruz, Julian Talley and Michael Cox each played in the preseason game at Pittsburgh.

Cruz finished the game with one catch for 57 yards and a touchdown, while Talley had one catch for 29 yards. Cox was the team's top rusher with 33 yards on 9 carries including a long run of 12 yards.

Coverage From First Week Of Football Training Camp

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Lots of coverage from the first week of preseason training camp. The Minutemen held their first two-a-day session on Saturday with a scrimmage during the afternoon practice.

The team had Sunday off with the exception of meetings in the afternoon and evening. UMass will hold another two-a-day on Monday as the work week begins again.

You know it's basketball season when Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) is visiting teams around the country and throwing out the facts that make fan bases excited, angry or even both. Well, in his latest update on the college scene has some info on his recent trip to Hawk Hill and a visit with Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli.

You have to scroll down near the bottom of the article where Jon wrote the following about UMass...

Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli believes UMass is more than just a team to watch in the Atlantic 10. "They're being underrated nationally," Martelli said of the Minutemen, who have reached the NIT in each of the past two seasons. "If college basketball is about the point guard position, they have one of the best in Chaz Williams. They also have a transfer in Derrick Gordon (Western Kentucky) that's capable of being a first-team all-league player. He's that good." UMass has been projected as one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10, and they'll have plenty of early opportunities on their schedule to make statements nationally. The Minutemen play Boston College at TD Garden on 11/10 and then host LSU in Amherst on 11/12.

Yes, it is early and there is a lot of time between now and the start of the season, but whenever coaches are complimentary of your skills and team, that is usually a good thing. They know what they are talking about, especially someone who has been in the business for more than 30 years and spent the last 18 watching A-10 hoops.

Oberst finds adventure on UMass rowing team

Landon Kafka of the Polk County Itemizer-Observer in Oregon caught up with UMass rowing's Carla Oberst, a Monmouth, Ore., native, to talk about her experience as a Division I collegiate student-athlete recently. Oberst is entering her sophomore year at the University of Massachusetts and is set to begin her second season competing with the rowing program.

MONMOUTH - If a student-athlete from Polk County was recruited by Roy Williams to play basketball at North Carolina, people would probably think that is a pretty big deal.

For Carla Oberst, it wasn't exactly a recruitment, but the pursuit of a suggestion made at a college interview: try out for the rowing team if she went to the University of Massachusetts...

Check out the full story here.

Minutemen In Major League Lacrosse Update (Aug. 7)

Five former UMass men's lacrosse stand-outs were active in Major League Lacrosse since the previous alumni update on June 26. Below is a full list of those competing in MLL and how they and their teams have performed as of late...

Jim Connolly (2006-09) recorded one goal for Ohio during its 16-11 victory at Boston on Aug. 3. Connolly now owns 38 career points over 20 games, including 32 goals and six assists.

Diogo Godoi (2006-10) rotated in on defense for Ohio during a 12-10 loss to Charlotte (July 27) and at Boston during the squad's 16-11 victory on Aug. 3. Godoi has six groundballs in nine appearances this season and has played in 28 career games with Chicago (2010), Rochester (2011-12) and Ohio (2013-present).

Kevin Leveille (2000-03) owns eight points over his previous four games, including a five-point performance against New York during a 12-10 win on June 30. Leveille has a goal and a groundball in Rochester's most recent game, a 12-7 loss at Chesapeake on Aug. 3. Overall, Leveille has 19 points (13 goals, six assists) in 12 games this season and has 332 points for his career through 256 goals and 74 assists.

Will Manny (2010-13) produced a hat trick against Ohio with three goals and an assist in a 16-11 loss to Ohio on Aug. 3. Manny owns 16 points over his previous five games played, including five vs. Charlotte in a 17-14 Boston Cannons victory. Through the first nine games of his professional career, Manny has earned 26 points on 14 goals and 12 assists.

Jack Reid (2003-06) has played in 10 games for the New York Lizards this season. Reid scooped up one groundball during the team's most recent contest, a 13-10 loss to Denver on Aug. 4.

More information on the UMass men's lacrosse program is available through the team's website. Fans of Major League Lacrosse can find more information on the league here.

Chaz Williams: A Mid-Major Star and an Underrated Guard

These are things many around the Massachusetts basketball program know to be true. Now the rest of the country can see for themselves what Chaz brings to the table as the folks over at Bleacher Report have put together a few more top lists of various categories. Two of their latest center around college basketball's top mid-major stars and the most underrated guards in the game today.

Here's what they had to say about Chaz, who came in at No. 8 among the Mid-Major Stars...
UMass point guard Chaz Williams needs an NCAA tournament appearance to make himself a household name. The 5'9" speedster has established himself as a force much bigger than his physical stature.
Only one player in America has more assists than Williams over the past two seasons. Williams' 473 dimes equate to a 6.8 per game average, and he's on pace to break the school's all-time record of 678.
Not bad for a guy who spent his first year of eligibility at Hofstra. The Minutemen had some solid secondary options last season, so Williams was able to focus more on distributing the ball. He still led the team at 15.5 points per game, fifth in the Atlantic 10. He may be forced to shoot more with three of those secondary options gone.
Williams occasionally struggled against NCAA tournament teams, averaging 13.2 points, 7.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 10 such games. (Everyone should struggle like that, eh?) Either way, the departures of conference rivals like Butler, Temple and Xavier should open the field slightly for Williams to enjoy a dominant senior season.

And his No. 9 ranking among the top 10 Most Underrated Guards...
UMass' Chaz Williams can pretty much do it all.
He is a two-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 selection.
Last year, the 5'9" PG averaged 15.5 points, 7.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game, all of which led the Minutemen in the 2012-13 season.
Williams is an excellent penetrator and passer, the perfect fit for UMass' up-tempo style and dribble-drive offense. He enters his senior season as the school's all-time assists-per-game and steals-per-game leader.

ESPN Summer Shootaround: Atlantic 10

ESPN writers Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) and Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) provided various opinions and other factoids on the 13-team Atlantic 10 for the 2013-14 season. There is also an ESPN Insider column by Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) where he lists his power rankings for the league.

Eamonn provided his 'Best' and 'Worst' scenarios for each school and here's what he had to say about the Minutemen:
Best case: UMass loved to run these past two seasons, which made sense, given the quick-twitch skills of generously listed 5-foot-9 point guard Chaz Williams. Expect more of the same this season, minus senior forward Terrell Vinson. If lanky 6-9 junior Raphiael Putney puts it together, the Minutemen might turn their preference to play as fast as any team in the country into a decided strategic advantage.
Worst case: At the end of the day, if you finish ranked 82nd in points per possession and 115th against (as UMass did in 2012-13, per Pomeroy), hitting the 70 possessions per game mark is less a tactic than a stylistic preference.

And here is Jeff Goodman's take on the Minutemen, who he ranks fourth in the A-10 Power Rankings, behind VCU, Saint Louis and La Salle.
The Atlantic 10 was all-powerful a year ago after commissioner Bernadette McGlade added VCU and Butler. Now, one season later, it's not quite as top heavy after the departure of the Bulldogs, Xavier, Temple and Charlotte. However there's still plenty of quality depth in the league, which now totals 13 teams after the addition of George Mason.

4. Massachusetts Minutemen
Derek Kellogg returns one of the league's top players in diminutive point guard Chaz Williams, and he also adds a proven piece in transfer scoring guard Derrick Gordon. The former Western Kentucky Hilltopper averaged 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Hilltoppers as a freshman two seasons ago. The key for the Minutemen could be the play of 6-foot-10 junior Cady Lalanne, who needs to become more consistent. That's three frontline guys, with quality veteran role players such as Sampson Carter and Raphiael Putney returning to the mix.

Note: The link is only complete for ESPN Insider subscribers but I've included the info about UMass here as a bonus.

Prince's Goal Achieved at Junior World Cup

UMass field hockey senior Hannah Prince was one of three Minutewomen in action at the 2013 Field Hockey Junior World Cup, held from July 27-Aug. 4, in Mochengladbach, Germany. Recently, Prince sat down with to discuss through a Q&A segment what it meant to her to be able to represent the United States internationally.

Over the duration of four years Hannah Prince, a rising senior at University of Massachusetts, read the word 'no' as 'try again.' Prince, a Junior and Senior High Performance athlete, has been vying for an opportunity to compete on an international tour since 2009. Although it has been within her grasp, Prince has never made a roster to represent the United States abroad at the Under-21 level...

Read the Q&A session with Hannah through the Team USA website here.

Thoughts From The Junior World Cup (Aug. 4)

UMass field hockey senior Hannah Prince and sophomore Sam Carlino completed their competition with the United States U-21 National Team at the Junior World Cup on Sunday as the squad earned a seventh place finish. Below are Carlino and Prince's thoughts on their time with the U.S. U-21 Team...

The 2013 Junior World Cup was an amazing experience! It was the first time playing on the U.S. Under-21 National Team for both of us. We are so proud to have been able to wear 'USA' across our jerseys and represent not just our country but also the University of Massachusetts and the Minutewomen field hockey program.

We finished the tournament in seventh place among 16 participating teams and defeated South Africa, 4-2 in our final game this morning. After all our hard work throughout the tournament and leading up to it, we truly stepped up today to take the early lead. Putting the ball in the back of the goal was something our team struggled with at times during this tournament, so having that ability today really showed our teamwork and discipline.

Tomorrow we travel back to the United States eager to get back out on the field for our preseason with our UMass teammates and start off this year stronger than ever! - Hannah & Sam

For more information of the U.S. Under-21 National Team and its performance at the Junior World Cup, check out the International Hockey Federation's event webpage, which holds team results and recaps as well as photo galleries and general tournament information.

UMass field hockey begins the 2013 season with a pair of games at the University of Maine Invitational from Aug. 30-31. The Minutewomen will host UMass-Lowell for their home-opener on Tuesday, Sept. 3. More information on the program can be found through the official UMass Athletics website here.
Despite having to go through a second round of chemotherapy relating to the sinus cancer that arrived initially last summer, UMass men's soccer coach Sam Koch has continued to battle through and put a premium on family life and relationships. Koch spent an afternoon with Daily Hampshire Gazette writer Matt Vautour (@GazetteUMass) last week as the two discussed the past year and what lies ahead.

Sam Koch's legs hurt and he couldn't have been much happier about it.

After spending the majority of the last 13 months in varying states of discomfort battling sinus cancer, the fact that the origin of his soreness is the natural result of a 58-year-old returning to running is reason to embrace the pain.

"I went for a run yesterday. My legs are sore today, which is the best feeling ever," the longtime University of Massachusetts men's soccer coach said Monday, sitting in his Boyden office.

UMass assistant coach walks in support of Elaine Sortino

Throughout the past two seasons, supporters of the UMass softball program have written letters, created rubber bracelets and attended games in support of longtime head coach Elaine Sortino and her battle with cancer. But associate head coach Kristi Stefanoni took on a personal challenge of participating in a 3-day, 60-mile walk to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  Daily Hampshire Gazette writer Matt Vautour (@GazetteUMass) recently spoke with Stefanoni and Sortino about the latest gesture to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

Sure it was a long walk. But still it was just a walk, Kristi Stefanoni reasoned. The University of Massachusetts assistant softball coach was a 29-year-old lifelong athlete in terrific shape. She's run in races before. How tough could a walk be?

Late on day two of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, a 60-mile walk to raise money for breast cancer research, Stefanoni had a new respect for walking as her legs and feet screamed at her.

"The muscles and ligaments were getting pretty sore. People were really starting to suffer. We walked 21 miles on day two," she said. "As in shape as I am, you're body is not meant to walk 20 miles a day for three days in a row."

Every time the pain threatened to get the best of her, she thought of coach Elaine Sortino, her boss, mentor and friend, who is in the middle of her own cancer fight.

"I thought of Elaine and what she goes through every day," Stefanoni said. "That's why I pushed through this walk."

On Saturday morning, head women's swimming & diving coach Bob Newcomb and riding partner Eric Heller will begin the final leg of their bicycle ride across america - Coast To Coast To Cure Cancer (C2C2C2 | Coast to Coast to Cure Cancer). Daily Hampshire Gazette writer Matt Vautour (@GazetteUMass) caught up with Bob earlier this week and talked to him about the journey.

For many of the over 5,000 riders who will get on their bikes Saturday afternoon in Sturbridge for the Pan-Mass Challenge, the 200-mile two-day ride will be the longest they've ever done.

For University of Massachusetts women's swimming coach Bob Newcomb, it's the climax of a summer filled with similar rides.

Newcomb and Eric Heller, the deputy director of UMass' Donahue Institute, have spent the summer biking across America, a journey they dubbed "Coast to Coast to Cure Cancer" or C2C2C2. They began in the sand of the Pacific Ocean overlooking the town of Seaside, Ore., and will complete their trek Sunday afternoon when they dip their bikes into the Atlantic Ocean in Provincetown.

Marcus Camby Returns To Rockets

Former UMass standout Marcus Camby has signed a one-year contract with the Houston Rockets after being traded to Toronto and released.

Camby, 39, signed a one-year, veteran's minimum contract with the Rockets in part for the chance to return home. After agreeing to a $3.4 million buyout with the Toronto Raptors, he will earn roughly $1.4 million from his Rockets contract, $884,293 paid by the Rockets.

Chad Ford of rated the NBA teams and their offseason moves, giving the Rockets an 'A' for their decisions, highlighted by bringing Dwight Howard and Marcus Camby to the Space City.