December 2013 Archives
UMass pulled out a thrilling 69-67 overtime win against Providence on Saturday, delighting the sellout crowd of 9,493 as it improved to 11-1 on the season.
UMass women's soccer senior Grace Coombs has rejoined Charlton Athletic Women, the team she played with prior to her three collegiate seasons with the Minutewomen. The club's website announced the signing:
"The Charlton women's team are delighted to confirm the re-signing of midfielder Grace Coombs, who returns from a spell at the University of Massachusetts.
Grace re-joined the club before the Christmas break and will be available for the second half of the season, starting on 5 January away to West Ham United.
And the versatile 23-year-old, who can also play at centre back, is looking forward to getting back out on the field and playing with old friends.
On her return to Sparrow's Lane, she said: "It was always going to happen, really. I wasn't ever looking anywhere else. My best friends play for this team, so it just made sense [to come back].
"It will be different at first but I am sure I will adjust. I still know the majority of the team so hopefully I know how they play so I can fit in quickly.
Read more: Grace looking forward to making her Addicks return
UMass hockey opens the second half of its season at the UConn Classic tomorrow afternoon in Hartford vs. #8 Quinnipiac. Nick Canelas has a preview:
"The tale of the first half of the Massachusetts hockey team's season could be told in three very unique chapters.
In the first chapter, the Minutemen were an every-other-weekend team over four weeks. They went winless in the first and third weekends of the season, while earning points in both games of the second and fourth weeks. In that time, they got major production from the power play while freshmen Steven Iacobellis and Ray Pigozzi quickly emerged as immediate impact players alongside veteran Troy Power on the second line.
The second chapter - the longest of all - was easily the most forgettable of UMass' season thus far. The Minutemen went winless in eight straight games from November into early December, and lost goaltender Steve Mastalerz due to injury for three of those games.
The third is one UMass probably wishes was a little longer. The Minutemen won three of their last four games before the holiday break, including a weekend sweep at Colgate, and got its best penalty killing performance of the season in that stretch."
UMass hockey kicks off second half at UConn Hockey Classic
The Los Angeles Times had this update today on former UMass goaltender Jonathan Quick who has been out of the L.A. Kings' lineup for the past six weeks with a groin injury:
It is not a 100% return to health -- not that any NHL team is ever completely without issues -- but the Kings are inching toward that elusive goal.
On hand Friday in practice for Saturday's game at Nashville were defenseman Willie Mitchell and goalie Jonathan Quick. It is the first trip Quick has taken with his teammates since he suffered a strained groin at Buffalo on Nov. 12. Mitchell suffered an upper-body injury at Ottawa on the Kings' last trip.
Quick's presence is a definite sign of progress, considering Coach Darryl Sutter had indicated recently he did not think Quick would make this trip. General Manager Dean Lombardi said before the holiday break that Quick might be able to return the first week of January.
Read more: Jonathan Quick, Willie Mitchell return to Kings practice
A few years ago ESPN developed the BPI, which is a lot like the RPI but also takes margin of victory into account, among other items. In the latest BPI release, UMass is No. 5 with the second most difficult schedule nationally. Here's what Ryan Feldman of ESPN.com had to say about the consistent play of the Minutemen.
UMass stays consistent
Massachusetts lost to Florida State on Saturday, but the Minutemen -- ranked No. 2 in BPI entering Saturday's game -- are still No. 5 in BPI.
The Minutemen have played the second-toughest schedule according to BPI, and they've been quite successful against that schedule. They're 7-1 against the BPI top 100, including 4-1 against the top 50. Only Wisconsin has more top-50 wins this season, with five.
UMass has faced three teams outside the BPI top 100, each of which ranks between 150 and 200, and has defeated each of those teams by at least 13 points.
UMass ranks as the fourth-most consistent team in the country in terms of variance, in relation to variance in BPI game score.
Read the full ESPN Insider article here...
CBS Sports analyst Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops
) has put out his initial list of the nation's top seniors, "not based on their pro potential, but their current abilities. If you want to read about who's got next, read it elsewhere. I prefer to talk about who's got now." He lists Chaz at number six this week.
6. Chaz Williams, 5-9 guard, UMass
Last week: 11 points, 11 assists vs. Ohio; 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists vs. Florida State
f you haven't seen this little dude in action, do it soon. Williams has incredible quickness and a wonderful long-range touch (41.5 percent from three), but the best thing about him is his feel for the game. He knows how to change speeds, manage the offense and set up his teammates. The only reason I have him this low is because he did not have a good week.
Daily Hampshire Gazette
photographer Kevin Gutting stopped by the UMass women's basketball game against Northeastern on Saturday, Dec. 22 and compiled a photo gallery following the game.
Check out his photos of the contest and a brief recap of the game here
. More information on the Minutewomen can be found through UMassAthletics.com
UMass suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday, a 60-55 defeat to Florida State in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. The Minutemen had season lows for points (55), field goal percentage (.333), 3-pointers made (1), 3-point field goal percentage (.067) and assists (8). Florida State wasn't much better statistically as it also produced season lows in points (60), field goal percentage (.369), 3-pointers made (1), 3-point field goal percentage (.143), free throws made (11) and free throw percentage (.611).
In a quick check of the various RPI numbers this morning, shows UMass is still No. 2 in ESPN and CBS, 18 in Sagarin and 22 in KenPom. The RPIForecast (live-rpi.com) site also has the Minutemen No. 2 as well.
Today marks the final game before the holiday break and its a big one. UMass and Florida State for the seventh time in history and the second time in the last three years. UMass has its game plan for FSU's height and length. FSU has its plan for UMass' speed and pressure. This should be one of the more exciting games of the day nationally.
Florida State will be wearing turquoise uniforms in an effort to raise awareness for bringing sport to Native American and Aboriginal youth. UMass will be in maroon.
Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe paid a visit to western Massachusetts last week and spent some time with head coach Derek Kellogg and senior G Chaz Williams. Both mention the disappointment of missing the NCAA Tournament last season and how that has served as one of the motivating factors for this season's team and goals.
Joe Dzuback (@vbtnBlog
) is the Rush The Court correspondent for the Atlantic 10 and he posted his thoughts on the season and a few all-conference teams at this point in the season.
Dealing With Expectations
Forgive me if six weeks and 10 games (more or less) into this season I am a little dizzy from all the twists and turns. Most understood Massachusetts would be good, especially with Chaz Williams' decision to take his last season of eligibility in Springfield, but undefeated? VCU would be nicked in the non-conference schedule -- that much was a given -- but three losses that include a 14-point loss to Florida State on a neutral court and a loss to Northern Iowa? That is a surprise.
He has Chaz, Dwayne Evans, Tyreek Duren, Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic on his first team.
Read about those five and all of his A-10 thoughts by clicking the link below...
Inside Lacrosse released its 2013 Face-Off Yearbook preview for the Colonial Athletic Association on the organization's website with two Minutemen earning praise via the Coaches' Preseason All-Conference listing. Senior faceoff specialist and Joe Calvello and midfielder Ryan Izzo were tabbed on the preseason all-conference team while the Minutemen were picked to tie for fourth in the league with Hofstra.
Check out the entire release on InsideLacrosse.com
here. More information on UMass men's lacrosse can be found through the UMassAthletics.com website
Chaz Williams was a guest on Friday's ESPNU College Basketball Podcast with Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz
) and Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops
). They both had some nice things to say about Chaz during and after the interview on twitter. The interview with Chaz begins about the 22 minute mark. Ohio State head coach Thad Matta was also on the show.
Matt Vautour talked to defenseman Oleg Yevenko about his trip to Switzerland to play for his native Belarus in the Arosa Cup:
While most of his University of Massachusetts hockey teammates head home for holiday activities and get away from hockey for a few days, junior defenseman Oleg Yevenko will head home to Belarus and compete for his country's national team.
After UMass' loss to Denver on Tuesday, Yevenko flew to Switzerland and will be in uniform for the four-team Arosa Challenge. Belarus will face Slovakia on Friday, and either Switzerland of Norway on Saturday. The event will give the 6-foot-7 defenseman a chance to impress his country's governing body and improve his chances of making the national team that will play in next summer's IIHF World Championship, which Bealrus is hosting in Minsk.
"I'm really excited. It'll be a great experience I think," Yevenko said. "Where I come from, it's the No. 1 sport in my country. With the world championship in my hometown, if I'm able to make the team, that'd be great. My family is really excited, especially my dad, who is a big fan of the national team."
Read more: UMass defenseman Oleg Yevenko to play for Belarus national team
Here's an update on former Minuteman Jonathan Quick and the status of his return to the ice from the Los Angeles Times:
From star goaltender Jonathan Quick to goalie coach Bill Ranford to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, the message has been consistent about Quick's recovery from a strained groin.
The Kings are not going to rush the process.
Quick suffered the injury Nov. 12 at Buffalo, a grade two strain. Lombardi said Wednesday afternoon that Quick's return might come during the first week of January.
After Christmas, the Kings leave on a four-game trip that starts Dec. 28 in Nashville and concludes Jan. 2 at St. Louis. Although Quick has been on the ice since last week, and worked with Ranford the last two days, Coach Darryl Sutter did not sound as if the goalie would be accompanying the team on the trip.
"No, until he's full practice ... I thought he'd be closer than he was and we'll just keep going," Sutter said. "... He's got a long ways to go."
Read More: Kings won't rush Jonathan Quick's return
Nick Canelas takes a look at the play of UMass' line of Michael Pereira, Branden Gracel and Conor Sheary in his column for the Daily Collegian today:
It was a 3-1 game. Denver had snatched momentum from the Massachusetts hockey team with a pair of goals in the second period, and seemed well on its way to snapping the Minutemen's three-game winning streak.
Then The Big Three stepped onto the ice.
Branden Gracel made a play down low to get the puck to Michael Pereira in the faceoff circle. Pereira shot but didn't get a full piece of the puck. It was deflected and landed right in front for Conor Sheary to come in and finish the play to cut the UMass deficit to 3-2 16 minutes, 44 seconds into the second period.
Read more - Canelas: Play of top line essential to UMass hockey's success
Maxie Esho had a career game and seemed to be everywhere, while Chaz Williams posted another double-digit assist performance as UMass was in total control for nearly the entire game in a 83-71 win at Ohio. The Minutemen are 10-0 for the fourth time in school history and head down to the Sunshine State for a Saturday contest with a big, physical Florida State team on Saturday. As some have learned, the game will be on NESN in New England, along with a number of FOX Sports affiliates. We'll have that release later this morning. For now, enjoy reading about win number 10.
Mike DeCourcy (@tsnmike
) of the Sporting News also has a countdown for unbeaten men's basketball teams.
Here's what he wrote about UMass...
Best wins to date: LSU, vs. New Mexico, vs. BYU
Next big challenge: Saturday vs. Florida State in Sunrise, Fla.
Streak ends here: vs. Florida State
Breakdown: The Minutemen adapted quickly to the NCAA's new emphasis on eliminating hand-checks. Point guard Chaz Williams would be tough enough to defend if tackling were permitted, but trying to stay in front of him simply by moving one's feet nearly is impossible. That said, Florida State is the nation's No. 24 defense. The Seminoles will be closer to home and should be able to make that matter.
This is a slide show on their site so you'll have to click through to get to the Minutemen...
Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello
) of CBS Sports.com has a breakdown of the 13 remaining undefeated teams in Division I men's hoops. It's a weekly feature of his called, "Last of the Unbeatens."
Now that we are about a third of the way into the season, with most teams playing at least nine or 10 games, it's time to start keeping an eye on some of the various trends around the country.
Moreover, we're at that sweet spot when it comes to unbeaten teams. We're far enough into the season where there is an intriguing group of lossless teams - without having too many undefeateds on which to keep tabs.
With that in mind, we're going to start a weekly feature here - "Last of the Unbeatens." It will run through each unbeaten team every Wednesday, looking at why they still don't have a loss, and when that first defeat might occur.
Let's get it going.
Here's what he wrote about the Minutemen...
What they've done so far: Chaz Williams is one of the most exciting players to watch, and the Minutemen are one of the most exciting teams to watch. They haven't looked back after beating Boston College and LSU to start the season, with wins over Nebraska, New Mexico, Clemson and BYU.
Next game: Dec. 18 at Ohio
Next possible loss: Dec. 18 at Ohio
Let's go out and stay unbeaten after tonight!
Here's the full article...
ESPN.com writer Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN
) spent a couple of days embedded with the men's basketball program prior to their game with BYU. He wrote the following piece on senior G Chaz Williams.
Former UMass hockey standout Casey Wellman has returned to the NHL after being recalled by the Washington Capitals yesterday from Hershey.
Wellman joins former Minutemen Justin Braun, Matt Irwin, Michael Kostka and Jonathan Quick as the fifth UMass hockey alum currently on NHL rosters.
The Washington Post had coverage of the transaction.
Senior defenseman Joel Hanley's stick save that preserved UMass' 2-0 shutout at Colgate earned a spot in the NCAA's Top 5 Plays of the Week on Tuesday:
UMass will face a tough Ohio squad that is hosting a ranked non-conference opponent for the first time in 16 years on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The game isn't televised but is a live video stream available for free from Ohio, using the link below. You can also listen to the UMass Sports Network call at one of their three stations across the state, online at WEEI.com/umass
or on the TuneIn App for Mobile Devices.
The New York Giants announced today that former UMass standout Julian Talley has been signed to the active roster for this week. Talley has been on the Giants' practice squad for the bulk fo the season. That puts three former Minutemen on the current New York active roster: Talley, Victor Cruz, and Michael Cox.
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi
) has UMass in his latest Field of 68 that was released today. He also offers that the Minutemen have one of the best NCAA Tournament resumes to this point in the season.
Conference play has already begun in the ACC, and it won't be long before we see head-to-head encounters in the Big Ten (Dec. 31), Big East (Dec. 31), AAC (Jan. 1), Pac-12 (Jan. 2) and the remainder of the multibid leagues. For potential NCAA tournament teams in these leagues, conference record is the most important at-large criterion.
There are always exceptions, of course. Usually those are teams among the fortunate few whose nonconference résumés are so strong that they could withstand a league finish in the .500 range. Which teams fit that description as we close out nonconference play?
Massachusetts Minutemen (9-0)
The Minutemen have scheduled and performed brilliantly. They are 4-0 against the NCAA consideration board -- a home win over LSU (40) and neutral-site victories over New Mexico (28), Clemson (74) and BYU (39) -- and will be favored in two more pre-league tests against Florida State (43) and Providence (89). Even better, the Minutemen have just one game apiece against Atlantic 10 contenders VCU (34), Saint Louis (38) and Dayton (36), with the first two of those three at home. Look for UMass to post a very gaudy record and roll into its first NCAA tournament since 1998. I'm not sure what's harder to believe, the record UMass is compiling or that it would be 16 years since its last NCAA appearance.
Click below to read the entire article as an ESPN Insider...
UMass put five scorers in double figures again on Saturday in a 80-54 win over Northern Illinois. It wasn't the usual collection as freshman Clyde Santee made the most of his 5-plus minutes on the floor.
Lauren Rose previews the Minutemen's weekend matchups at Colgate with UMass head coach John Michleletto.
Check out the UMass women's basketball team as they wish a happy holiday season to all of MinuteFan Nation!
Dick Baker of the Springfield Republican has a preview of UMass' weekend series at Colgate starting on Saturday afternoon. The Minutemen are coming off a split weekend at Notre Dame.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on how UMass' freshmen are hoping to see action in Saturday's match-up against Northern Illinois.
Today at 3 p.m. the UMass men's basketball team will play its first game as a ranked team in Amherst in more than 15 seasons when Northern Illinois comes to town. Before you head over to the Mullins Center for the game, read up on the teams and see how the Minutemen have been preparing during finals week.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who hasn't played since he strained a groin muscle on Nov. 12, remains on pace to play for the U.S. Olympic team at the Sochi Games.
David Poile, Team USA's general manager, said Thursday he had been told by Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi that Quick is expected to return within a few weeks. That would leave time for him to regain top form before the U.S. opens against Slovakia on Feb. 13. Quick was the third U.S. goalie at the Vancouver Olympics, where the U.S. won a silver medal.
Quick is among several U.S. Olympic hopefuls who are injured; others include Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik (concussion) and New York Rangers forward Ryan Callahan (sprained knee). Poile cited Quick as an example of how Team USA executives will handle those uncertainties.
Read more: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is on pace to play for U.S. at Olympics
Nick Canelas previewed UMass' weekend matchups at Colgate this Saturday and Sunday:
The Massachusetts hockey team had little time to relish in its victory over Notre Dame on Saturday - its first win in over a month - because its next big test was only a couple days away.
Final exam week.
It's a particularly stressful time for students. Late nights studying and 10-page papers lead to little sleep over the course of the week, and the only thing keeping them sane is the five-week break that follows.
Student-athletes are no exception, and it has made for a particularly big challenge for UMass coach John Micheletto as his team tries to prepare for its weekend series at Colgate.
The Minutemen held all optional practices this week, and as of Wednesday had yet to have full participation on the ice. But through years as a coach and as an educator, Micheletto knew he had to plan ahead.
"I guess we're just trying to deal with it head on," he said. "My experience over the years is it's gonna be different so you better embrace it and talk about it and understand what the difficulties and obstacles are gonna be. That's how we've dealt with it and are gonna continue to deal with it."
Read more: UMass hockey battles finals, Colgate this week
Luke Winn (@lukewinn)
of Sports Illustrated posted his top 16 power rankings and the Minutemen came in at No. 16. The web team at cnnsi.com put together some cool mini-infographics and they have some You Tube clips of some teams as well. It's definitely a site worth taking just a minute to look over. Here's what he had to say on UMass...
UMass' win over BYU on Saturday was a 105-96 offensive bonanza -- one in which Chaz Williams went off for 32 points and 15 assists, while committing just one turnover. It's the best single-game performance of the season, and it will be difficult to trump. I charted out Williams' game and credited him with ending or assisting on 33 possessions, which resulted on an incredible 66 points.
Just because the printed version of the Daily Collegian is done for the semester doesn't mean the staff isn't covering the basketball and hockey programs. Mark Chiarelli of the DC is still at practice and on Thursday has an article all about the offense.
Scott Coen of the Springfield Republican spent some time with Derek Kellogg this week and found out the coach's thoughts on his feelings towards Springfield basketball, the play of Chaz Williams and the fact that the season is only 25 percent complete, with a lot of work left to do before the calendar turns to March.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette examines the P.A.I.N. concept of the 2013-14 men's basketball team. Read the article and then let us know your favorite part of P.A.I.N.? Tweet us @UMassAthletics
and let us know which part and why.
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com has a list of 10 potential National Player of the Year candidates which includes UMass' Chaz Williams at No. 4 in the group.
ESPN Insider writer John Gasaway posted his Top 5 mid-major teams and has UMass at number two behind Wichita State.
With conference realignment now an established fact, many of the usual suspects from past lists of "top mid-majors" are nowhere to be found. Butler, Creighton and Xavier are all in the Big East, while Memphis and Temple now do what they do in the American.
If you scanned that list of heavy hitters and wondered who's left to carry the mid-major flag, fear not. The "small" schools are well represented with big talent in 2013-14.
And his part about the Minutemen...
2. UMass Minutemen
There are few -- if any -- teams nationally that have exceeded expectations to the degree that UMass has this season, with exhibit A being a perfect 4-0 record against major-conference opponents (Boston College, LSU, Nebraska, Clemson). You've heard of Chaz Williams, the Minutemen's 5-foot-9 senior point guard, and rightfully so. Williams has lowered his turnover rate and increased the number of fouls that he draws, while maintaining his high level of accuracy (80 percent) at the line.
But unless you're a hard-core fan, you probably aren't giving the proper amount of credit to Cady Lalanne. The 6-10 junior is one of the nation's most effective offensive rebounders, and his 10 offensive boards against New Mexico (to go along with four blocks) were just a taste of what's in store for A-10 rivals.
In recent seasons, the Minutemen have been known for coach Derek Kellogg's accelerated tempo, and this season his men are playing as fast as ever. What's changed is that now UMass is getting good looks in transition without allowing those same opportunities to opponents. With the Minutemen, VCU, Saint Louis, Dayton and George Washington all looking strong, it's shaping up to be a fun and highly competitive season in the A-10.
ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg has offered up his Top 10 matchup nightmares. He lists Chaz Williams as number 9 on his list. Here's what he had to say in Wednesday's ESPN Insider article.
Matchup nightmares come in all sizes and positions. You don't have to be an elite scorer or fill the stat sheet on a nightly basis to be one, but you do have to be a player who affects a coach's preparation or someone who makes his teammates better.
Who are the toughest individuals in college basketball to game plan for? We'll continue to update this ranking throughout the season, but here is our top 10 through the first month or so of the 2013 season.
And here's the part on Chaz...
Massachusetts is off to its best start since the glory days of John Calipari, and the reason is point guard Williams. He enables the Minutemen to play at what coach Derek Kellogg calls "UMass tempo" and average 82 points a game. What makes Williams so difficult to game plan for is that he attacks the defense on makes and misses in transition. He brings the ball at the defense at warp speed and, in essence, is a one-man fast break.
Williams can both finish at the rim and shoot the 3-pointer. Coming off ball screens, he is a threat to turn the corner, step back or find the open man. He sees the defense in rotation and makes the scoring pass. He averages 7.6 assists per game while shooting 43.6 percent from long range. What people don't realize is that his penetration forces defenses into rotation, giving frontcourt players angles to get to the glass. Cady Lalanne averages seven offensive rebounds a game, many of them off Williams' penetration.
In case you missed Monday's UMass Basketball Radio Show, the podcast is now available as Josh Maurer, Coach Kellogg and Trey Davis break down the BYU win in Springfield and look ahead to Saturday's game against Northern Illinois.
Senior Branden Gracel's goal from UMass' 3-2 win at #13/11 Notre Dame last weekend was selected for the NCAA Hockey Top 5 Plays Of The Week, coming in at #5. The goal is the third by a member of the Minutemen to be tabbed a national Play of the Week this season.
Check out the Plays of the Week, courtesy of NCAA.com:
Chalk another weekly honor up for Chaz Williams this week as he has been named the Westwood One Sports Radio AutoZone "In The Zone" College Basketball Player of the Week.
WestwoodOne NCAA Basketball host Jason Horowitz filed this report:
"UMass hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1998, but the Minutemen will get there this season, and they'll get there with a guy who plays fast. Chaz Williams is one of the best point guards in the nation, and had a massive game against BYU to earn this week's honor. The fifth-year senior scored 32 points against the Cougars while dishing out 15 assists in leading UMass to a win and an 8-0 start - its best since 1995, when UMass went on to make the Final Four. With five quality wins on the season already, this team is well on its way to the field of 68 come March, and Williams will be a major factor in the race for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year."
Chaz Williams was definitely "In the Zone" and he's our AutoZone College Basketball Player of the Week
After missing 24 games with a foot injury, former Minuteman Michael Kostka was back in action for the Blackhawks on Tuesday night and helped Chicago to a 6-2 victory on the road against the Dallas Stars with his first multi-point game of his NHL career, tallying a goal and an assist in the contest. Kostka has three points (2g, 1a) in just three games with the Blackhawks and scored his first NHL goal back on Oct. 19.
Here's video of Kostka's goal last night from NHL.com
The Chicago Tribune had coverage of Kostka's return: Kostka returns to Hawks, makes presence felt
A panel of USA Today sports writers picked which teams they thought were the most surprising ones after the first month of the 2013-14 college basketball season.
The group picked four teams which included Villanova, Wisconsin, North Carolina and UMass.
Paul Gotham, Pickin Splinters.com: At 8-0 the UMass Minutemen are the most surprising team in college basketball this season simply because most fans will be surprised by their record. The Minutemen have won 20 or more games in each of the last two seasons, but the strength-of-schedule card was played as the reason why UMass didn't get a spot in the NCAA tournament. Derek Kellogg and his staff have put together an ambitious schedule with what will be six games, before conference games begin, against schools from "power" conferences. Not to mention the Minutemen have also beaten New Mexico and BYU. It won't be long before the country gets its introduction to Chaz Williams. The 5-9 point guard is like Barry Sanders on hardwood bobbing and weaving, switching directions and finding daylight where others would swear there is nothing but darkness. Add in Cady Lalanne averaging a double-double, Sampson Carter getting it done around the basket, and the Minutemen will dance their way into living rooms across America in March.
Meet University of Massachusetts basketball junior center Cady Lalanne and find out why he's been so successful over the first month of the season from head coach Derek Kellogg.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on freshman Seth Berger who is hoping to get extra work on the court during the winter session break to help prepare for the second half of the season.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on how Derek Kellogg and the men's basketball team are balancing game prep and exams this week as the Minutemen prepare for Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Chaz Williams was named the ECAC Player of the Week for the New England region this week.
Here's the except on Chaz from the announcement...
A Brooklyn, N.Y. native, Williams averaged a double-double with 22.0 points and 11.5 assists in UMass' wins at Eastern Michigan and No. 9 RPI-ranked BYU - the Minutemen's first games as a ranked team in 15 years. He netted 12 points and eight assists in the game at EMU, in UMass' first true road game of the year. Williams came back on Saturday and had a phenomenal game, posting career-highs in points (32) and assists (15), while committing just one turnover. His 32 points are the second-most in the A-10 this season, while his 15 assists tied the school record and are the fourth-most in league history. His assist-to-turnover ratio for the week was 7.7. He shot 52 percent from the floor, 46 percent from outside and was 14-of-15 from the foul line. Williams is the first Division I player with at least 32 points and 15 assists in a non-OT game in the last 15 seasons. The only other player to reach those totals in a game in that span was Antawn Dobie (LIU) in 2003 in a double-overtime win versus St. Francis (NY).
Last month, former UMass basketball great Tony Barbee was among those to be inducted into the upcoming class of the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame. On Tuesday, it was announced that he is among 18 members of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame 2014 Men's Silver Anniversary Team.
As a senior at North Central High School in Indianapolis, he averaged 26 points and 7.8 rebounds and shot 53 percent. He was a first team All-Indianapolis and honorable mention all-state before he finished his prep career with 1,197 points and 400 rebounds.
From the Indiana HOF web site (hoopshall.com)...
Eighteen men have been named to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame's 2014 Silver Anniversary Team, based on outstanding accomplishments as a senior basketball player 25 years ago.
The team includes 13 members of the 1989 Indiana All-Star squad. Five other all-state players are included to recognize the top of Indiana's high school class of 1989.
1989 Indiana All-Stars include Mr. Basketball Pat Graham of Floyd Central, as well as Calbert Cheaney, Greg Graham, Rodney Holmes, Chris Lawson, Jamie Matthews, Tony McGee, Rich Mount, Matt Petty, Matt Painter, Kenny Rowan, Casey Schmidt and Nate Tubbs.
The remaining five, named to various all-state teams are: David Anderson, Tony Barbee, David Hinton, Scott Matthews and Mickey McPherson.
All Mens Silver Anniversary Team members will be honored at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame's Annual Men's Banquet on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.
Like CBS Sports.com earlier in the day, NBC Sports.com has followed suit with writer Rob Dauster naming Chaz Williams as its National Player of the Week.
Here's what he wrote on the Brooklyn native...
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chaz Williams, UMass
UMass has been one of the nation's most impressive teams this season, and the reason has been the emergence of guys like Raphiael Putney, Cady Lalanne and Sampson Carter. As good as those three have played, the MVP of this UMass team has been dynamic point guard Chaz Williams, a 5-foot-9 dynamo that ended the season's first month averaging 17.5 points and 7.6 assists while shooting 43.6% from three and operating as the engine that drives the Minutemen's high-octane offense.
Never was that on display more than it was on Saturday, as Williams went for 32 points and 15 assists -- while committing just a single turnover and shooting 9-for-14 from the floor and 5-for-7 from three -- in a 105-96 win over BYU. Williams' 15 assists led directly to 35 points, meaning that Williams was responsible for 67 points in 34 minutes. There's a chance that the Minutemen could end up being the best team in the A-10 this season, and while it's ridiculous to expect Williams to play like he did on Saturday all season long, the fact that he's able to produce like that on a given night should help Derek Kellogg sleep easy at night.
Rob Dauster (@RobDauster
) of College Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com has posted a list of the 20 most improved players in the country. UMass junior Cady Lalanne was on his list, which is listed alphabetically. While many would argue Sampson Carter should be on the list, Cady has made steady strides over the past two seasons and is a well-deserved inclusion.
His numbers from last season to this season are:
Year Pts. FG% Reb. Blk.
2012-13 8.4 .554 7.4 1.4
2013-14 15.0 .614 10.4 2.6
Here's what Rob wrote on Cady...
Cady Lalanne, UMass: Lalanne is finally living up to his talent this season, averaging 15.0 points and 10.4 boards as the Minutemen's best interior presence. His emergence is a major reason why UMass will compete for the Atlantic 10 title.
Join us tonight at The Rumbleseat Bar & Grille in Chicopee tonight at 7 PM for the Bud Light UMass Basketball Radio Show with Derek Kellogg. Voice of the Minutemen Josh Maurer will be joined by Coach Kellogg, sophomore guard Trey Davis and Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics.
You can listen to the show live on 105.5 FM WEEI in Springfield, online at http://www.weei.com/umass
, or on your mobile device using the TuneIn App.
ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla has released a list of the top seniors in the country and he has Chaz Williams ranked at No. 4 out of 16 (plus some extras receiving votes).
It's an ESPN Insider article but here is what the piece on Chaz says...
Williams may be just 5-foot-9, but if he played for a blueblood school like Kentucky or Duke, he would be a household name among college basketball fans. In addition to being one of the country's best passers and quickest players, he can get his own shot anytime he wants. And while his numbers are about the same as those he posted last season, he has led the Minutemen to a perfect 8-0 start. His 32-point, 15-assist game on Saturday against BYU was one of the early season's great performances.
Read the full article here...
CBS Sports writer Gary Parrish has announced the UMass senior Chaz Williams has been named the CBS Sports National Player of the Week.
Here's what he had to say in the article...
There are more than 12,000 Division I college basketball games played each season and more than 120,000 played every decade, which I hope highlights the greatness of the weekend Chaz Williams just enjoyed.
The UMass point guard finished with 32 points and 15 assists in a win over BYU.
No player had produced those numbers in more than 10 years.
"Chaz Williams ... attacks and gets wherever he wants," BYU's Tyler Haws told reporters after the up-and-down affair. "He was kind of doing it all for them."
Yes, he was.
Consequently, Williams is the CBSSports.com National Player of the Week despite the fact that his other game in the week was mostly forgettable. The 5-foot-9 senior finished with 12 points and eight assists in last Tuesday night's win over Eastern Michigan. So Williams ended up averaging 22.0 points and 11.5 assists in two victories that pushed the Minutemen to an 8-0 record and a No. 21 ranking in the latest Top 25 (and one).
This represents UMass' longest winning streak since 1998.
It's the best start to a season for the Minutemen since the 1995-96 season.
Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops
) loves Chaz Williams. He all but says so in his latest Hoop Thoughts article on si.com.
Here's what he had to write about Chaz...
I have a soft spot in my heart for Chaz Williams, UMass' 5-9 senior point guard, because we see eye to eye. If you haven't seen him in action yet, do it soon. On Saturday, Williams turned in one of the great individual performances of the season when he had 32 points, 15 assists and just one turnover in the Minutemen's 105-96 win over BYU in Springfield. And here's something that doesn't show up on the stat sheet: A big reason why UMass is such a good offensive rebounding team (33rd nationally in offensive rebound percentage, per kenpom.com) is because Williams' slashing drives creates defensive rotations, which opens opportunities for his teammates on the glass.
ESPN's Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz
) made mention of the strong play of both UMass and George Washington in Monday's 3-Point Shot video segment. He was in attendance at the game on Saturday and no doubt was impressed with what the team did. He mentions Chaz's great game and you can watch his clip below.
Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) of CBS Sports mentioned the Minutemen again in this week's Monday Morning Notebook.
Here was his part about UMass...
2. UMASS SHOULDN'T BE REFERRED TO AS "THIS YEAR'S LA SALLE"
And that doesn't mean that the Minutemen can't reach the Sweet 16 or beyond like the Explorers did last March. The reason why UMass shouldn't be considered this year's La Salle is because with the rate they're going, they won't be playing in the First Four -- they'll be in one of the other 64 slots in the NCAA Tournament. Derek Kellogg's team is playing as well as anyone to start the season and already has wins over LSU, New Mexico, BYU, Nebraska, Boston College and Clemson. In Saturday's win over BYU, Chaz Williams had 32 points, 15 assists, and just one turnover. If he isn't the favorite for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, I don't know who is.
Read his entire notebook here...
In this week's edition of the UMass Sports Insider, we profile men's basketball center Cady Lalanne and head coach Derek Kellogg breaks down the junior's dominant first month of the season. Plus, take a look back at basketball's success in Springfield over the years and a big win in early December at Eastern Michigan. We'll also look back at men's basketball putting on a clinic at the Basketball Hall of Fame over the summer and find out what UMass student-athletes think is the worst part about being a freshman.
Check out the fast paced highlights from No. 21 UMass' 105-96 win over BYU on Saturday at the sold out Mass Mutual Center in Springfield.
Check out the highlights from UMass' 3-2 win at Notre Dame on Saturday including Adam Phillips' game-winning goal late in the 3rd period.
Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a story today on UMass hockey's win over No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday night. Adam Phillips scored the game-winning goal with less that three minutes left in the 3rd period.
Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian has a story today on Chaz Williams' signature performance in Saturday's win over BYU to keep UMass unbeaten this year at 8-0.
Patrick Strohecker of the Daily Collegian has a recap of UMass' 105-96 win over BYU on Saturday at the Mass Mutual Center.
Paul Bowker of the Springfield Republican has a recap of hockey's 3-2 win at No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday night in the second game of the weekend. The Friday/Saturday split was the first-ever meeting between the two schools as Hockey East foes.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story today on how Chaz Williams' mix-up with BYU's 6-foot-10 center Eric Mika in defense of one of his teammates motivated the Minutemen in Saturday's win over the Cougars.
Wow, what a great day Saturday was for basketball in Springfield. From the sellout crowd of 7,331 to Chaz Williams' record-setting day and a national TV audience, just about everything went right for the Minutemen as they improved to 8-0 for the first time since 1995-96. Enjoy your Sunday and have a read at some of the stories below and don't forget about next Saturday's game with Northern Illinois. It's a 3 p.m. tip in the Mullins Center. Get your tickets here
Also, the Bud Light UMass Basketball Show will be live from The Rumbleseat Bar & Grille (482 Springfield Street) in Chicopee Monday night from 7-8 p.m. You can submit your question for coach Kellogg via the Ask the Coach
feature at UMassAthletics.com or via twitter to @UMassSportsNet
Recaps from BYU media
One of the most exciting match-ups on today's college basketball schedule is finally here... No. 21/22 UMass hosting BYU at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. We've got all the coverage from the Pioneer Valley to the Wasatch Mountains for this one. Make sure you remember to stay safe on the roads after last night's snowfall.
And if you haven't gotten your tickets, hurry up because there aren't many remaining. Also, phone and Ticketmaster online sales will end at 10:30 am today. At that point everything will have to be at the MassMutual Center Box Office.
The Daily Collegian had a preview and a pair of columns in advance of UMass' Hockey East pair at No. 13/11 Notre Dame this weekend:
The atmosphere was energetic before Massachusetts hockey practice this Tuesday. Music was blaring, players were engaged in highly competitive games of ping-pong and even UMass coach John Micheletto was cracking jokes. It looked like a team ready for a fresh start.
The Minutemen just endured their worst month in the Micheletto era in November. They went 1-6-2 for the month, capped off by a seven-game winless streak that included a 9-0 beatdown at the hands of New Hampshire on home ice Nov. 9 and Saturday's 6-1 loss at Quinnipiac, where they were held to just 10 shots on goal.
But that's in the past now. The calendar has flipped, the Movember mustaches have been shaved off and UMass is looking for a more positive December.
"The start of the new month kind of gives us a fresh page, clear consciences, we got rid of our mustaches, it's a new beginning for us so we gotta leave (November) behind us," senior forward Conor Sheary said.
Read more: UMass hockey looks for fresh start at Notre Dame this weekend
Canelas: UMass-Notre Dame series a statement weekend for both teams
UMass hockey searching for answers on offense
Matt Vautour had this preview of UMass' first Hockey East games versus Notre Dame in today's Daily Hampshire Gazette:
After going 1-6-2 in November, the University of Massachusetts hockey team is hoping a new month, a new league rival and renewed attention to detail leads to improved results when the Minutemen face Notre Dame for the first time since the Fighting Irish joined Hockey East.
The teams will play Friday at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Both games are in South Bend, Ind., and on the NBC Sports Network.
Senior Branden Gracel thought the team was getting closer to turning things around.
"Each player tries to simplify their game and get back to basics. A lot of times players will try to do too much and that drags the slump a little bit longer," Gracel said. "If everybody gets back to what they're good at and plays their own game, I think that helps the whole team get out of their slump.
Read more: UMass looks to break slump with two-game hockey series at No. 13 Notre Dame
Dick Baker spoke to UMass hockey sophomore forward Shane Walsh this week ahead of the Minutemen's first Hockey East trip to Notre Dame:
His Irish eyes are smiling.
University of Massachusetts sophomore forward Shane Walsh says he's just about all Irish, so he's looking forward to the weekend set at Notre Dame.
"My parents are both Irish, and maybe I've got a little bit of Welsh in me," Walsh said.
The Minutemen and Fighting Irish meet Friday night at 7:35, and Saturday night at 6:35 at the Family Compton Ice Arena.
Read more: Shane Walsh of UMass Hockey brings his Irish roots to Notre Dame
UMass basketball coach Derek Kellogg will be a guest on BYU Sports Nation today. BYU Sports Nation is a daily national sports talk radio show focused on BYU Sports. It is broadcast on BYU Radio, SiriusXM Channel 143. Listen online here
at byuradio.org. The show airs from Noon-1 pm Eastern. You can also join the conversation on Twitter by contacting them at @BYUSportsNation
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican and masslive.com wrote a Friday piece that touches on how UMass fared in its first game as 'the hunted' team thanks to its recent top 25 ranking. He quotes Derek Kellogg on his belief that Saturday's game with BYU is a matchup of two teams that are highly regarded nationally and both sport top 10 RPI numbers.
Don't forget you can purchase tickets online
at UMassAthletics.com or over the phone by calling 1-866-UMASS-TIX and pressing '6' when prompted by the recording.
Read the entire article by clicking the link below...
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette spent some time with Trey Davis on Thursday and talked about his importance to the win over Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
The shot and the subsequent free throw both went in, giving Davis a rare four-point play that stretched UMass' lead from seven to 11 points with just under two minutes left, essentially icing their 69-57 win Tuesday.
"That was a good shot," Davis said after Thursday's practice. "I felt good when I hit that. When I fell, I felt Coach hit me on the head so I knew it went in."
UMass coach Derek Kellogg has had plenty of reasons to praise his sophomore point guard this season. Davis' play Tuesday was especially critical.
"In the second half he was really good for us. In the first half, he forced some plays, but I thought he gave us a nice boost off the bench and made some nice plays on the offensive end," Kellogg said. "He played better defense than he's been playing. He made defensive plays that led to transition on offense."
The four-point play took the air out of an Eastern Michigan crowd still hoping to see the Eagles upset the 21st-ranked team.
Read the entire article by clicking the link below...
Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald authored an article in Friday's edition about the return of the Minutemen basketball program to the national landscape. He talks about how Chaz Williams met a fan at a mini golf course and Derrick Gordon's new nickname.
ESPN Senior Writer Andy Katz offers up his take on prepping the Minutemen for dealing with the expectations and hype that come with being ranked in the national polls. The schedule is very strong and coach Kellogg is on record with his belief that his year's non-conference schedule is built on getting the team in position to have an NCAA-caliber resume at the end of the year.
Read the Weekend Homework by clicking on this link...
Longtime UMass journalist Marty Dobrow stopped by practice last weekend and spend some time with Derek Kellogg and a few of the student-athletes to discuss the state of UMass basketball.
Here's an excerpt from the piece:
It is heady stuff for a program that has been in hoop hibernation for a decade and a half. As senior Sampson Carter ambled out of the locker room onto the court on Sunday, he admitted that the feeling was sweet, indeed.
"This is definitely where I wanted to be," he said. "I actually dreamed this and imagined this spot for a long time. To finally be here is a great feeling."
UMass hasn't exactly come from nowhere. Sixth-year head coach Derek Kellogg has built the program back to respectability in recent years (25 wins in 2011-12, 21 last year, both ending in the NIT). This year, though, the Minutemen felt primed for another level and have let it be known that nothing short of a return to the NCAA tournament would be acceptable. After preseason workouts, reputed to be especially intense this year, star senior point guard Chaz Williams said the team was ready to pounce. "It was like, 'Let us out of the cage, let us out of the cage!'" he said.
Read the entire article by clicking the link below...
Catch UMass men's basketball coach Derek Kellogg on the Average Joes Show tonight at 6:15 p.m.
Longtime Springfield Republican
writer and UMass follower Ron Chimelis (@ronchimelis
) published a column on Derek Kellogg and how his program has turned the corner. He mentions that the patience has paid off for MinuteFan Nation and how fans need to remember that a quick fix isn't always an overnight process.
Read the entire article by clicking the link below...
UMass won its first road game of the season, 69-57, over a tough Eastern Michigan group on Tuesday night. The Minutemen played strong defense and got a balanced scoring night from across the roster. Once again, five players hit for double figures in scoring, while Cady Lalanne had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Raphiael Putney finished with a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds.
Join us tonight at 7 p.m. at The Blue Room in Chicopee (139 Broadway St.)
for the Bud Light UMass Hockey Show. If you can't make it out to The Blue Room, listen in the Pioneer Valley on WHMP (AM 1400/1240, FM 96.9)
, or on the TuneIn Radio
app. Submit your questions for head coach John Micheletto by tweeting them @UMassSportsNet
or clicking here
After eight days to rest and recharge, its finally time to play another game. No. 21/22 UMass will face Eastern Michigan at the EMU Convocation Center tonight at 7 p.m. It should be a good game with two teams that will get after each other on both ends of the floor.
Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN
) posted a list of the seven surprise teams of the college basketball season thus far. He's got UMass and Dayton on the list so here's his intro paragraph and the section on the Minutemen. It's an ESPN Insider article so you'll need to use those account credentials or ask a friend to read for their's to see the entire list.
We all knew Michigan State would be a national title contender when Gary Harris and Adreian Payne returned. We also knew that Kentucky and Kansas -- with loaded freshman classes -- would be among the elite teams in the country.
But who has surprised thus far? Here are seven teams that weren't expected to be where they are right now. But can they keep it up?
4. Massachusetts Minutemen
Derek Kellogg's Minutemen have put themselves in a position to earn an at-large berth and get to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1998. Chaz Williams is one of the most underrated point guards in the nation and brings a level of toughness to the team, but the key has been the emergence of big man Cady Lalanne, who leads the club in scoring (17.8), rebounding (11.3) and blocks (2.7). Kellogg also has gotten good production out of Sampson Carter, Raphiael Putney and Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon, who all are averaging double figures in scoring.
Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein
) of CBS Sports mentioned the Minutemen a couple of times in his Monday Morning Notebook. He praised the play of Dayton and the Flyers' performance in the Maui Invitational, saying UD "belongs in the conversation with VCU, Saint Louis and UMass atop the Atlantic 10 standings."
He also said the following about UMass...
UMass coach Derek Kellogg told me that he's very happy with the Minutemen's 6-0 start, but feels that in order for them to legitimately have a chance to win the Atlantic 10 they need to find a quality eighth or ninth man in their rotation.
"That could be the difference between being a good team and a great team," Kellogg said in reference to expanding his team's depth. "We need someone else to add something to our top seven."
The two top candidates for UMass to fill those roles are rugged sophomore forward Tyler Bergantino and 6-foot-5 freshman guard Demetrius Dyson. UMass is at Eastern Michigan on Tuesday and hosts BYU on Saturday on CBS Sports Network (1:30 PM ET).
Dan Malone of Masslive.com caught up with freshman Zach Coleman and spoke with the freshman from Dallas about his recovery from a left leg injury. Coleman mentioned that he hopes to be back soon but coach Kellogg will be extra cautious about his return.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on the return of Zach Coleman to practice for the Minutemen after missing time with a stress fracture.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story today on the Minutemen coming back after more than a week between games and some time off for Thanksgiving.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican talks to Derek Kellogg about how the team deals with success and national prominence as the Minutemen prepare for Eastern Michigan.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette writes that UMass' leadership this year on the hardwood is a major reason in early season success.
As the team makes its way to Ypsilanti, Mich. for Tuesday's game at Eastern Michigan
, we've got a few of the stories that have been written over the last four days on the men's basketball team, including some more on the expectations that will come with being ranked in the Top 25. And when the polls come out, we'll be sure to update where the Minutemen stand this week.