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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
#21/22 Massachusetts (6-0) at Eastern Michigan (5-1)
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.
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.
Vin Parise (@VinParise) from CollegeBasketballTalk caught up with UMass head coach Derek Kellogg, who sits at 6-0 this season with a win in the Charleston Classic.
CBT: If I would have looked into a crystal ball in October and told you that UMass would be Top 25 before Thanksgiving; would you have believed it?
Kellogg: I knew we had some strong pieces in place and we would be better but I am a little surprised, in a very good way, that we are playing this well so early. I knew Chaz Williams would be our leader, but our other guys have been just as great.
CBT: When did it hit home that you guys could be a really good basketball team?
Kellogg: When we beat #19 New Mexico, I started to look at this group a little different. The way we had our press going and the way we played offensively - I felt we had the ability to play a high level of basketball. I'd love to be able to bottle that up now for the rest of the season.
Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) of CBS Sports.com spoke with Derek Kellogg on Monday about his time in Amherst as the head coach of the Minutemen and what's his six years have been like thus far.
Here's an excerpt from the article...
Which brings me to UMass.
Good luck telling UMass that rankings don't matter.
"It's been great," UMass coach Derek Kellogg told me late Monday, a few hours after the Minutemen officially entered the Associated Press poll for the first time in 15 years. "My phone -- text messages, emails, calls -- has been going all day. It's just been crazy."
So, yeah, the rankings matter.
But I'm not here to hammer that point again, at least not now, because I'd rather spend the rest of this column writing about UMass and Kellogg and how, sometimes, patience pays off.
That's the lesson here, right?
UMass hired Kellogg in 2008 to replace Travis Ford, and, honestly, it was a no-brainer move. Kellogg was a former UMass player who graduated from the school in 1995, and a hotshot assistant who had been working under his former coach, John Calipari, at Memphis. I'm not sure if anybody else was even considered, but, if so, it was a waste of time. Kellogg seemed like the right guy for a variety of reasons. He deserved the job and he got the job.
Then the process of rebuilding UMass began.
It hasn't been simple.
Click the link below to read the entire article...
UMass claimed the Charleston Classic title last night with a 62-56 win over Clemson. Cady Lalanne was a beast all week and earned Most Valuable Player honors after he posted two double-doubles and averaged 15.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. The Minutemen are off for a week until traveling to Eastern Michigan next Tuesday, Dec. 3.
UMass and Clemson will meet at 9 pm tonight in the finals of the Charleston Classic. The Minutemen will bring their high-scoring game to the table, while the Tigers have a very strong defense that will lock down on UMass.
Massachusetts (5-0) vs. Clemson (5-0)
Sunday, Nov. 24 at 9:00 p.m. (EST)
Charleston, S.C. | TD Arena
843-953-2632 | Ticket Info ($100 for all 6 sessions/$20 per 2-game session)
UMass used a couple of big runs, including a game-ending 20-4 stretch over the final 7:54 to upset No. 19/20 New Mexico in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic. The Minutemen wore down the tired legs of the Lobos after they had played a very physical double-overtime game with UAB just 24 hours earlier. It was P.A.I.N. at its finest.
UMass is now 5-0 and will face 5-0 Clemson in the championship game on Sunday night at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
UMass held off a late charge from Nebraska to improve to 4-0 on the season and earn a spot in the Charleston Classic winner's bracket where it will face No. 19/20 New Mexico on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Fans unable to attend the game can watch on ESPN2, online at ESPN3/the Watch ESPN app, or listen to the radio call on the UMass Sports Network.
UMass has averaged 89.8 points and scored at least 85 points in all four contests this season. The Minutemen have averaged 49.3 ppg in the second half and gone over 50 points three times.
UMass is averaging 13.3 offensive rebounds and 15.7 second-chance points per game, compared to just 10.3 second-chance points for its opponents.
All five starters are averaging double-figures in scoring for UMass, with the fifth-highest at 11.3 ppg.
UMass has handed each of its last three opponents their first loss of the season
SERIES HISTORY WITH NEW MEXICO & MOUNTAIN WEST
UMass and New Mexico will be meeting for the first time in men's hoops on Friday.
The Minutemen have faced five current Mountain West members, compiling a 2-4 record against Air Force (0-1), Colorado State (0-1), Fresno State (0-2), Hawaii (1-0) and Wyoming (1-0). Ironically though, none of those meetings have come since the league broke away from the WAC in the late 1990s.
The Minutemen's only two games against an active MWC member at the time of the contest were a 69-53 loss to Utah in the 2002 Maui Invitational and a 67-48 win over TCU in the title game of the 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Springfield.
AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
UMass is 31-76 all-time vs. AP Top-25 teams with five wins since 2004. The Minutemen went 0-2 against ranked foes last season - losing to No. 6/6 NC State in the Puerto Rico Tip Off and No. 25/22 VCU in the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals. Their last win over a ranked team came against No. 21 Temple in the 2012 A-10 quarterfinals.
Derek Kellogg is 2-10 against Top 25 teams (wins over No. 25 Kansas in Kansas City on 12/25/09 and No. 21 Temple in Atlantic City on 3/9/12).
UMASS LEFTOVERS FROM THE NEBRASKA GAME
UMass improved to 4-0 on the season for the third time in the last four years (2010-11 & 2011-12). UMass has opened the season scoring at least 80 points in each of it's first four games for the first time in school history.
Massachusetts scored on 20 of its first 26 possessions of the second half en route to shooting 58.6 percent after halftime.
The Minutemen had 40-plus rebounds for the fourth-straight game and had the edge on the glass for the third time. They also turned 17 offensive boards into 17 second-chance points.
UMass set season highs in free throws made, attempted and pct. - 33-of-43 for .767.
UMass has handed each of its last three opponents their first loss of the season.
Nebraska allowed a season-high 96 points and trailed for much of the game. UN entered with a 53.0 scoring defense and had only trailed for 62 seconds all season.
UMass recorded an opponent team high for Nebraska in every offensive stats except 3-pointers made, attempted and percentage.
Six players scored in double figures for the first time since seven did so at Jacksonville State on Nov. 25, 2006.
Sophomore G Derrick Gordon had a team-high 22 points - 15 after halftime - after opening his UMass career with 7, 8 & 9-point outings. This is his second time at the Charleston Classic after he totaled 19 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists two years ago in three losses as a freshman at Western Kentucky. Gordon also drew his third charge of the season - all coming in the past three games.
Junior C Cady Lalanne finished with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 9 boards in 31 minutes before fouling out for the second time this season.
Senior F Sampson Carter continued his strong play this season with 16 points to post his career-best fourth-consecutive double-figure scoring game. He is averaging 16.0 points and 6.3 rebounds after entering with career averages of 6.1 and 4.0.
Junior F Maxie Esho had a season-high 13 points to go along with six boards off the bench.
The Minutemen had 40-plus rebounds for the fourth-straight game and had the edge on the glass for the third time. They also turned 17 offensive boards into 17 second-chance points
UMass outlasted a late rally from Nebraska to advance to the winner's side of the Charleston Classic. Gordon ended the game with 22 points and five rebounds as he showed the fans what his game is all about. He was just three shy of his career-high of 25 from his Western Kentucky days. The Minutemen also got solid scoring from the other four starters and Maxie Esho joined the group of six in double figures. Before we get to any of the previews for the game with New Mexico, here are some recaps and thoughts on yesterday's action.
UMass beat writer Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a nice piece on freshman Demetrius Dyson and his emergence into the rotation for the Minutemen.
AMHERST -- Demetrius Dyson said he wasn't nervous when Derek Kellogg sent him into the game with 9 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half of Sunday's win over Youngstown State.
The University of Massachusetts freshman immediately drew the assignment of guarding Kendrick Perry, the Penguins' leading scorer.
Seven minutes later, Dyson came out of the game. He wasn't perfect. He missed two 3-pointers and cut the wrong way leading to a Chaz Williams turnover. But Perry didn't score during that stretch.
"I'm trying to come in and play defense. I wasn't focused on scoring, I was just focused making sure he didn't score and hurt us," Dyson said. "I knew Chaz and Cady (Lalanne) were having great games. I wasn't coming in trying to be a superstar, just to fulfill my role and lock this person down."
Every weekday, Andy Katz and a group of college hoops experts from ESPN discuss the comings and goings of the hoops world. Wednesday's installment contains some thoughts on the Charleston Classic from Katz, Dana O'Neil and Myron Medcalf and how they think things could shake out for the Minutemen.
3. Which team -- New Mexico, UMass, Nebraska, Georgia, Clemson, Davidson, Temple or UAB -- has the most to gain in the Charleston Classic beginning Thursday?
Andy Katz: UMass. The Minutemen are off to a terrific start and wins over Nebraska and New Mexico to get to a final where they should be favored will land the Minutemen in the Top 25 and on their way toward building an NCAA tournament résumé.
Dana O'Neil: This is big for UMass. This is the year it's supposed to come together for Derek Kellogg's team, but the Minutemen need some good quality wins out of conference to prove their worth. Playing against this field allows it. Chaz Williams could turn some heads in Charleston.
Myron Medcalf: I think it's UMass because the Minutemen began the year with three wins, including a victory over SEC sleeper LSU. In the second round of the Charleston Classic, UMass might get a shot at New Mexico. A win over the Lobos would boost UMass' NCAA tourney résumé and push the program into the Top 25, assuming they win the tournament's championship too.
Chaz Williams and Cady Lalanne both posted double-doubles as a quartet of UMass players reached double figures in scoring. UMass fought through a tight first half to take an eight-point lead at the break. The Minutemen extended the margin to as many as 18 at one point before cling with a 16-point win.
UMass is now 3-0 for the third time in the last four seasons and has scored at least 85 points in all three games. The last time a UMass team opened a season with three games of 80 or more was the 1991-92 season. It is also just the fourth time that has happened in school history.
Steve Richards of ESPNBoston.com spent some one-on-one time with Sampson Carter following the win over LSU on Tuesday. He touched on the redshirt senior's improved bill of health after surgery from two years ago left lingering pain in Carter's body.
AMHERST, Mass. -- A frequent topic of conversation in the first days of the college basketball season is a rules change essentially directing officials to give offenses more room to maneuver and defenses a little less leeway.
The change coincided with the University of Massachusetts getting to the free throw line 40 times in its 92-90 win over LSU in a Tuesday morning game pitting teams on the NCAA tournament bubble in early projections.
On the surface, UMass' Sampson Carter seemingly was a primary beneficiary, getting to the line 15 times and hitting 11, both career highs. But most of the calls would have been made regardless of any adjustment to the rules. Carter was aggressive to the basket from the start despite the presence of a solid LSU front line. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound senior finished with 17 points, matching his career best. That came on the heels of a 12-point effort that including a personal 7-0 outburst that sparked an 86-73 win over Boston College on Sunday.
"As you all can see, I'm really not as athletic as [teammate Raphiael Putney] or Maxie Esho," Carter said. "All my life when I have to play with these type of guys, I have to do the grunt work, using ball fakes, using my body. I knew what I had to do coming into the game. That's just the player I am."
More than just a mindset, Carter's early success also can be attributed to his health.
Read the entire article by clicking the link below...
Erika Leigh of the Springfield Republican caught up Gary Forbes as he settled in to his new surroundings with the Springfield Armour of the NBA D League. Here's some of what the former UMass star had to say.
SPRINGFIELD - Returning to Western Massachusetts is a homecoming of sorts for former UMass basketball standout Gary Forbes.
The 28-year-old will be joining the Springfield Armor, the NBA development league (D-League) affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets, for their fifth season.
Forbes was waived by the Nets after signing in September and joined the Armor as one of two affiliate players for d-League training camp.
"It almost feels like home, even though it's not," Forbes said at Armor Media Day on Wednesday. "I'm just happy to be a part of a team and excited to play basketball."
Forbes might be excited to return to a city just a short ride from his alma mater, but don't be deceived. Like every D-League player, the center is motivated to play in the NBA.
Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) posted his latest Triple Threat article and lists UMass among three teams that have impressed him early.
Here is the chunk on the Minutemen...
Derek Kellogg told me over the summer that this is the year he believes he can lead his alma mater back to the NCAA Tournament and he's certainly got them headed in that direction. The Minutemen had a tremendous second-half comeback against Boston College on Sunday and then beat a very talented LSU team Tuesday in Amherst. Chaz Williams looks like the best guard in the Atlantic 10 and big man Cady Lalanne has also emerged. Noticeably more svelte than he was a year ago, Lalanne is averaging 21 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks through UMass' first two games.
Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) from Yahoo! Sports offered up his winners and losers from Tuesday's 24-hour Tip Off Marathon. UMass was listed as a winner and here's what Jeff had to say about the Minutemen...
Of the 37 teams who have started 2-0 so far, none has two better victories than UMass. Two days after dispatching in-state foe Boston College on a neutral floor, the Minutemen survived a late comeback bid to topple rapidly improving LSU 92-90. Granted UMass faded after a strong start last season, but two early resumé wins are noteworthy for a Minutemen program trying to make the NCAA tournament after two straight NIT bids. Even more promising, A-10 player of the year candidate Chaz Williams has more help this season than he did a year ago. Oh sure, Williams is averaging 22 points in the two UMass victories, but the frontcourt is also blossoming. Now fully healthy and in better shape, 6-foot-10 Cady Lalanne has scored 43 points on 20 of 25 shooting in two games and had a huge second half to propel the Minutemen past LSU on Tuesday. Forwards Sampson Carter and Raphiael Putney have also been active on the glass and in the paint. If that continues and Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon continues to shake off the rust, UMass has the potential to challenge VCU, Saint Louis and La Salle in the Atlantic 10.
UMass put on a nice show in its second game of the season, defeating LSU 92-90 in front of more than 5,000 fans on Tuesday morning. The crowd was rockin' and so were the Minutemen, who debuted new gray jerseys for their second-consecutive ESPN Tip Off Marathon game.
Behind the strength of a 33-9 run in the second half and a large majority of the more than 6,000 in attendance at the Garden cheering for the state's flagship basketball program, UMass defeated Boston College in the Inaugural Coaches vs. Cancer Massachusetts Tripleheader on Sunday.
Cady Lalanne had a career game with 27 points and 12 rebounds for his seventh career double-double, Chaz Williams had 20 points and was perfect from outside, making all five 3-pointers and UMass got strong play from up and down the bench.
It's here! It's finally here! Time to throw the ball up for real and get the 2013-14 season going. UMass will learn a lot about itself in the next three days, facing Boston College today at 3 pm at the TD Garden and LSU on Tuesday at 11 am in Amherst. We've got everything you need to know in the links below to get you ready for the game with the Eagles.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette looks at the expectations that Derrick Gordon has following a season of hype during his redshirt year as a transfer student.
The guy sitting out always seems to take on mythic status.
Reports and rumors always had Gary Forbes, Luke Bonner, Rashaun Freeman, Shannon Crooks, Donta Bright and Chaz Williams dominating practice or pickup games the year before each was eligible to suit up.
The latest sitting-out standout was Derrick Gordon.
The combo guard from New Jersey drew rave reviews for his practice play last year as he sat out under NCAA rules after transferring from Western Kentucky, where he led the Hilltoppers in scoring and rebounding en route to the NCAA tournament. His addition to an already strong nucleus has helped feed UMass' high expectations.
"It's hard to put expectations on a guy who's sat out a year. I think there's going to be some rust," said UMass coach Derek Kellogg, who was the source of some of last year's raves about Gordon's practice. "But I expect him to be a guy that helps us win. He has an opportunity to be in the starting lineup and get integrated into a good team and good program. I expect him to be a guy that comes every day and competes at a high level, puts the ball in the basket in transition, gets to the free throw line quite a bit and comes up with those big game-winning plays."
Read the complete article by clicking the link below...
ESPN.com contributor Donald Hunt spent a few minutes with Chaz Williams and talked to the senior about the season in a blog post promoting the Charleston Classic, which begins in 14 days.
If you watch 5-9 point guard Chaz Williams play for Massachusetts, the first thing you might notice is his size and ability to break his man down in the open court. The Minutemen's diminutive senior is one of the most explosive players in the Atlantic 10 Conference, leading UMass in scoring last year at 15.5 points a game.
But when UMass plays in the Charleston Classic presented by Gildan (Nov. 21-24 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.), the Brooklyn native will also showcase his ball handling talents, too. A year ago, he averaged 7.3 assists a game, tops in the A-10.
And, while people are starting to take notice, Williams stays humble. "Coach (Derek Kellogg) did a great job this year setting up our schedule. We have a tough schedule from early on, so from game one we have to get out and understand everything coach wants us to do right away. We don't have much time for room for error because we're playing much better teams."
The accolades continue to pour down for Williams. He was recently named as a candidate for the Bob Cousy Award that was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, one of 46 players from Division I on the list.
"I'm blessed and honored to be mentioned," says Williams. "It's a great feeling to be recognized as one of the better point guards in the country. Whatever I can do to make my team better is what I go out to do. Plus, my teammates do a great job of making shots and getting ball screens for me."
The weekend many fans have been waiting for is almost here... the start of the 2013-14 college basketball season. The women start things off at the Mullins Center on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, while the men will be in Boston on Sunday for their season-opener. We present the hoops preview issue from the Daily Collegian.
Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian spent some time with junior center Cady Lalanne and talked about the expectations the 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man has for the 2013-14 season.
Cady Lalanne receives a bounce pass from point guard Chaz Williams in the post, standing with his back to the basket on the left block.
Williams' pass is threaded dangerously, reaching around a defender as he practically shovels the ball through a congested paint area where Lalanne is waiting. The ball is swallowed up in one swift motion, Lalanne gathers, spins into the lane and takes just a single step, finishing on the opposite side of the basket. On this occasion, he finishes with a layup. Plenty of other times in practice, he's delivered a dunk so thunderous that it's shaken the base of the standalone hoop inside Curry Hicks Cage.
Just a few plays later, Lalanne stands at midcourt as the team practices its full court defensive pressure, barking out commands and demonstratively signaling to other members on his team.
It's a simple practice on Halloween, yet another intrasquad scrimmage for a team anxiously awaiting its season opener on Nov. 10 against Boston College. But if you look closely, the evolution of a center is at work.
Lalanne's the first to tell you this year is different.
Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian spent some time with Raphiael Putney and talked to the fifth-year senior about how his time with Athletes In Action this past summer helped refocus his energy on making his senior season his best at UMass.
Raphiael Putney is a seafood guy.
Apart of the program Athletes in Action this summer, a religious-based basketball retreat, Putney traveled to Spain for a two-week stint and participated in the program's basketball tour while also finding time to enjoy the delicacies of overseas travel.
"My favorite part of Spain, it was the food," Putney said. "I'm a seafood type of guy so I love seafood.
"And also, just being around a group of guys from different college teams, there's a lot of players around the nation and you don't get a chance to meet them."
Putney's trip overseas offered more than the typical basketball tour.
Athletes in Action is deeply rooted in faith. As its website states, "Athletes in Action has been using sports as a platform to help people answer questions of faith and to point them to Jesus." For Putney, it was the perfect fit.
Read the entire story by clicking on the link below...
Patrick Strohecker of the Daily Collegian has a preview piece on senior guard Chaz Williams and what he hopes to accomplish in his final season with the Minutemen.
When you think of Massachusetts men's basketball legends, the names of Julius Erving, Lou Roe and Marcus Camby are the first ones to come to mind.
Chaz Williams has a chance to be viewed in the same light.
A redshirt senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., Williams has restored UMass basketball, putting it back in the national spotlight in only two seasons as the team's point guard. He's become one of the best players in the Atlantic 10, with his up-tempo style of play and his ability to seemingly make something happen out of virtually nothing.
Entering his final college season, his hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. Much like the Minutemen's lofty expectations, he has garnered many of his own. He was named to the preseason All-Atlantic 10 first team and was recently named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list for the second straight year, an annual award given to the nation's top point guard.
The Massachusetts men's basketball team gave fans their first look at the 2013-14 edition in Tuesday night's exhitibion. As with most exhibitions, there were some bright spots and some not so bright spots. Sampson Carter's 20 points in 20 minutes was solid. Derrick Gordon showed off some of his fast break moves to the basket that fans have been waiting for since her transferred from Western Kentucky. Cady Lalanne and Maxie Esho combined for 24 points, 16 rebounds and three dunks.
In regards to the tighter hand-checking and block/charge calls with the rules changes, there were 37 fouls and 49 free throws taken, so we didn't have one of the games that have been popping up around the country with 80 fouls and a matching number of freebies, so that was nice. I think most fans will agree that it was a good first game and the coaching staff has some things to work on before, and after, the season-opener with Boston College on Sunday. It is early and the team will improve as the season progresses.
The UMass basketball team will welcome Springfield-based American International to the Mullins Center for an exhibition game tonight, beginning at 7:00 p.m. This will mark the first chance for the Minutemen faithful to get a look at the 2013-14 squad before Sunday's official opener against Boston College in the Coaches vs. Cancer Boston Tip Off at the TD Garden.
The doors will open at 6:00 p.m. tonight. Please remember to make sure you include the bar code on the bottom portion of your season ticket. Mullins Militia members can get in at 5:45 p.m. via the South entrance when they show their current membership card.
There has been a decent amount of talk lately about the rules changes coming this season on the men's basketball front. UMass men's basketball beat writer from MassLive Dan Malone (@Daniel_Malone) spent some time discussing the rules with head coach Derek Kellogg. The most obvious changes fans and players will see are in the form of hand-checking and the always controversial block/charge calls. In an attempt to increase scoring and freedom of movement (that's a term the officials are using now), defending players will not be allowed to put hands or arm-bars on an offensive player. Additionally, once an offensive player has started his upward move to pass or shoot, a defensive player cannot draw a charge unless already set.
Below is a chunk of what he wrote...
AMHERST - College basketball fans who like high-scoring games look like they could be in for a treat this season.
New for 2013-14 is a set of defensive hand-checking rules put into effect by NCAA to do just that -- limit physical play, especially on the perimeter, and help generate more offense.
Specified tactics under the new rules that will draw automatic fouls from officials include putting two hands on an opponent, keeping one hand or forearm in extended contact with an opponent, jabbing at an opponent with an extended hand or forearm and using an arm bar to block an opponent from moving.
The rule changes, not surprisingly, have coaches across American divided, some supportive and others skeptical. While higher point totals would likely lead to increased interest and better, more exciting games, many coaches are concerned about the potential for trigger-happy referees sending their star players to the bench earlier in games with foul trouble.
"The best way to increase scoring and make the game better is to create situations to get more shots," Kansas coach Bill Self told ESPN. "More free throws doesn't make the game better."
Still, others are cautiously optimistic about the new rules.
"I think it's good for the game," Kentucky coach John Calipari told reporters in early October. "But we're all wondering whether they will make the same calls in January, February and March that they make in November and December. I think they are convinced they are."
University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Derek Kellogg was somewhere in between.
Greg Cameron of the Springfield Republican has a story on former UMass standout Gary Forbes who has been invited to the Springfield Armor's training camp later this month. Forbes had previously spent the NBA preseason with the Brooklyn Nets.
Matt Vautour (@GazetteUMass) of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature piece on sophomore guard Trey Davis. Here's an excerpt from the story and you can read the entire piece by clicking on the link below.
AMHERST -- After starting last year playing behind a guy who wasn't coming off the floor much, Trey Davis finished the year proving he could be more than just Chaz Williams' backup.
As he gets set to begin his sophomore year at the University of Massachusetts, Davis is more comfortable, confident and ready to contribute more. He'll get the chance. In addition to being the Minutemen's No. 2 point guard, Davis figures to spell Derrick Gordon at shooting guard and play alongside him in three-guard sets.
"Our best lineup might have Chaz, D.G. and Trey on the floor together," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. "The more Trey keeps improving and elevating his play in terms of taking care of the ball and making the right decisions, I think he'll be playing more and more. He'll back up Chaz at point. Whether he comes off the bench or starts at that two spot remains to be seen. I'm comfortable either way."
Jeff Eisernberg (@JeffEisenberg) of Yahoo! Sports spent some time talking with senior guard Chaz Williams and his mother in the past couple of weeks and wrote the following article that appeared on the web site Tuesday.
Shortly before boarding a flight to Los Angeles in early August for the Adidas Nations Camp, UMass point guard Chaz Williams received a call he wasn't expecting.
A representative from a Turkish pro team offered Williams the chance to skip his senior year with the Minutemen and begin his pro career overseas. Some brief negotiations soon yielded Williams a contract offer worth $150,000 and an agreement that the team would pay for his mother Diane and three-year-old daughter Cheree to join him in Istanbul as well.
"It seemed like everything he asked for they kept giving to him," Diane Williams said. "He told them, 'My mom and my daughter need to come out here too.' They were like, 'Alright, we'll get plane tickets. He said, 'But where are we going to live?' They said, 'We'll hook your family up with their own flat and they'll have their own personal car.' When he told me all of that, I was like, 'Oh wow.' That was a pretty great offer out of the gate."
Mark Chiareli of the Daily Collegian has a check-up on how the freshman class of men's basketball has been doing thus far. Quotes from head coach Derek Kellogg and fifth-year senior Sampson Carter provide a glimpse into how the six newcomers (4 freshmen, 1 transfer and 1 redshirting transfer) have been working with the seven returning letter winners.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette wrote a piece on the adjustment UMass' four freshman are undergoing during the early part of the preseason as they get acclimated to the speed and power of the Division I basketball.
Stephen Hewitt has joined the Maroon Musket writing corps and stopped by men's basketball practice last week to interview Seth Berger. The timing seemed to work out as it goes perfect with the first release of our Getting To Know... series for hoops. Here's a portion of the article and you can read it in it's entirety on their web site.
This summer, Seth Berger put on the "freshman 15" in a different way.
Commonly, the term - whether you want to believe it or not - refers to the 15 pounds that a college freshman will put on during their first year of college, and the causes no doubt vary from individual to individual, college to college.
And Berger's cause surely varies.
From the beginning of July to mid-August this summer, the Massachusetts men's basketball team was together for a six-week strength and conditioning program at UMass. Berger, a freshman forward, took advantage, and added 15 pounds to his originally 195-pound frame, thanks to the help of Rich Hogans, also known as "Big Rich," the Minutemen's strength and conditioning coach.
"Big Rich can work some wonders," Berger said. "Being here for six weeks with the dieting and the workouts and stuff, it was tough, but it makes quite a difference."
While there's no perfect formula for predicting how a player will perform in a new league or on a new team, many believe that UMass sophomore transfer Derrick Gordon could be an X-factor in helping UMass return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Count Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) among the believers. He listed the Plainfield, N.J. native among his '20 under-the-radar transfers' for this season.
Derrick Gordon, UMass: This 6-3 combo guard led Western Kentucky in both scoring and rebounding as the Hilltoppers advanced to the 2012 NCAA tournament. His presence next to Chaz Williams in the Minuteman backcourt has people in Amherst believing this will be the season that Derek Kellogg takes his alma mater to the field of 68.
There are a number of players on teams that appear on the Minutemen's schedule this year, including Gilvydas Biruta (Rhode Island), Alex Dragicevich (Boston College), Tyler Harris (Providence) and Jordan Sibert (Dayton).
With college basketball practices underway across the country, web sites and magazines have been releasing their team rankings and conference predictions in anticipation of the season. It seems the consensus among the outlets listed below and a half-dozen hoops magazines is that UMass should be in the top four of the Atlantic 10 race, along with defending champion Saint Louis, VCU and La Salle.
ESPN's Jordan Brenner wrote the team preview that appears for ESPN Insider subscribers. He has UMass finishing fourth in the Atlantic 10.
With Chaz Williams, UMass always has a chance. The 5-foot-9 senior is back for one more season after his sterling play (15.5 points, 7.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds per game) earned him all-conference honors in 2012-13. "He's done a real good job solidifying our program," coach Derek Kellogg says.
Williams, certainly, would love to finish his career with an NCAA bid. To do that, though, will require improvements from the guys around him. Most critically, Williams' ability to create for others won't matter if they can't knock down shots. And UMass has a serious lack of 3-point shooters. Raphiael Putney, a versatile 6-9 senior, hit 28 treys a season ago, but those came on 100 attempts. No other returning player hit more than a dozen. So Kellogg hopes that sophomore Trey Davis can contribute and that transfer Derrick Gordon, who averaged 11.8 PPG at Western Kentucky, can expand his range. Otherwise, he'll need a freshman -- perhaps Clyde Santee -- to help replace departed seniors Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson, as well as Jesse Morgan, who was dismissed from the program.
If the outside shooting doesn't surface, UMass will have to rely on its press to create offense. Gordon, with his athleticism and aggressiveness, should be a great fit for the system, just like Putney. But when teams break the press, a second weakness is exposed -- UMass' half-court defense.
The Minutemen allowed 103 points per 100 possessions in conference games last season (ninth). "That's going to be a focus from Day 1," Kellogg says. "We're going to have some tough defensive practices and we really need to work on our defensive rebounding." Indeed, UMass allowed conference foes to rebound 33.2 percent of their own misses (10th). To change that, Cady Lalanne (8.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG) will need to become a more consistent inside presence. And a healthier Sampson Carter -- he averaged 6.4 PPG and 4.3 RPG after returning from hip surgery -- will provide a boost, too.
If UMass can improve its D, a shooter or two emerges and Lalanne becomes the all-conference center Kellogg thinks he can be, this team has enough talent to reach the NCAA tournament. But the Minutemen are still a step behind the likes of St. Louis and VCU to contend for the conference crown.
Below are the predictions for the A-10 as supplied by the six national writers for CBS Sports. Here is the link for the entire article which shows their choices for some of the larger leagues around the country.
Writers Chris DiSano and Ian Nolan at College Chalk Talk provided their take on the Atlantic 10 and felt UMass would come in as the fourth place team. Their 140 character synopsis reads... UMass - Yes, Chaz Williams is still in school but the NCAA drought remains, now at 15 long years for the Minutemen. The senior could lead them back as his final act.
They also have Chaz as a first team all-conference choice and Derrick Gordon as one of their three impact transfers.
The duo also feels the Minutemen will make their return to the NCAA tournament, along with VCU, Saint Louis and La Salle.
Dan Malone spoke with Derek Kellogg about the ability to leave wins and losses in the rear-view mirror while focusing on the next game or task in front of you.
"Every season, whether it's a success or whatever it is, we quickly turn the page," Kellogg said. "For me it's always what's next. We look back to make sure any pitfalls don't happen again and any good stuff we try to replicate and duplicate. But, really, as soon as the game ends, guys are home for a while and we started working again for this season."
Dan Malone has an article on the start of men's basketball practice and how the earlier start date adjusts how head coach Derek Kellogg and his staff approach the six weeks of workouts leading up to the Nov. 10 season-opener with Boston College.
Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg spent Thursday at the TD Garden talking about the newly announced Coaches vs. Cancer Boston Tip-Off and the 2013-14 basketball season. He was joined by the other six Division I head coaches in the Commonwealth and select student-athletes from each of the institutions. UMass was represented by it's senior trio of Sampson Carter, Raphiael Putney and Chaz Williams.
The event was held in conjunction with the Coaches vs. Cancer Breakfast, hosted by ESPN.com writer Jeff Goodman and featuring Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and the seven D-I coaches.
Kellogg offered some insight into what NBA executives and coaches are looking for when it comes to making it in the league.
"NBA teams are looking for guys that can help them win," he said. "They love rebounders and players who specialize on a specific craft. Every team has their superstars, but it's these guys who can help make a difference coming off the bench."
Wes Popolizio of the Bleacher Report posted what he believes are the 5 Biggest Games of the 2013-14 season for the UMass men's basketball team.
The release of the college basketball schedule at the end of summer is one of the most exciting events all year for followers of the sport. Players, fans and media invariably focus on a select few games, circling them on the calendar to highlight their significance.
College basketball teams can make or break their season based on how they perform in their five or six biggest games. They are afforded only so many opportunities to impress the selection committee, and it is imperative to make the most of those opportunities.
Unfortunately, the 2012-13 UMass Minutemen whiffed on each of their best chances to pick up a signature win. They lost at VCU and Saint Louis, not to mention at home against Temple, Butler and Miami. Winning any two of those games would have gone a long way towards helping UMass slip into the tournament.
Thanks to strong scheduling by the athletic department, the 2013-14 Minutemen will have a handful of opportunities to show the college basketball world what they are capable of accomplishing. Without further ado, here are UMass' five biggest games of 2013-14.
He lists the top five games as: 5. Florida State, 4. Boston College, 3. Nebraska, 2. Saint Louis and 1. VCU. He also lists the LSU and La Salle contests as big ones, awarding them honorable mention status.
Read about each of those five by clicking the story link below.
Below are a few articles that do a very nice job of remembering former UMass baseball and basketball standout Ray Ellerbrook, who passed away on Wednesday. He was a star in both sports, leading each team to one of the more significant athletic achievements in their history - the first College World Series and first NIT appearance. He played freshman and varsity ball from 1967-70 during the end of one of the most successful decades in UMass history.
Calling hours will be Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. at Czelusniak Funeral Home, 173 North St. in Northampton. A celebration of Ellerbrook's life will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at the Ray Ellerbrook Athletic Field at 48 Burts Pit Road.
Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Memphis Grizzlies have invited UMass basketball alum Tony Gaffney to their training camp. They are taking their camp on the road this season in an attempt to expand their fan base outside of western Tennessee. The squad will workout at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gymnasium from Oct. 1-5. Media Day is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 30 in Memphis.
Hearing: With only 13 guaranteed deals, Grizzlies will bring vet forward Tony Gaffney to training camp to give him a shot at a roster spot
The UMass men's basketball team chalked up another strong showing at the Big E on Saturday. A couple of basketball goals were set-up un front of the Massachusetts Building once again as fair-goers were invited to play basketball with the Minutemen. A few brave souls even went one-on-one with Raphiael Putney and Cady Lalanne at times.
The players signed autographs visited some vendors and sampled some of the numerous food options at the sixth-largest fair in the country. We followed some of the guys around and got their opinions on their favorite fair food, including Derrick Gordon who seemed quite fond of the fried Oreos.
We also had a visit from Elizabeth Roman (@Lizro27) of the Springfield Republican. Elizabeth is living in a trailer on the Eastern States Exposition grounds during the Big E and was kind enough to stop by and hang out with the team for a bit. Her story is below and you can read her daily updates as an embedded reporter here. Feel free to follow her on twitter via the link above.
WEST SPRINGFIELD -- University of Massachusetts Basketball players spent Saturday afternoon at the Big E in front of the Massachusetts House.
"This is a day for us to come out to the community and do an informal basketball clinic," said Derek Kellogg, head coach of the team.
"It gives kids the chance to meet some college athletes," he said.
Players interacted with kids, mostly boys under the age of 12, playing two-on-two games and teaching them a few tricks.
College senior Chaz Williams, a UMass point guard, said he enjoys participating every year.
"It's a great event, I always like giving back to the community. They come out to support us at games, and it's only right for us to support other community events," he said.
Senior Sampson Carter, the small forward, said he has done the clinic for three years.
"I try to have fun and interact with the kids, maybe they can learn something from us," he said.
The team's season kicks off in November. The Minutemen will play Boston College.
With former Massachusetts basketball player Rick Pitino ('74) being enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this past weekend, here is an article from Mike Moran of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. He played for legendary UMass head coach Jack Leaman before going into a coaching career himself. He credits Leaman, a Boston University alum, for allowing him to get his first head coaching post at BU.
Pitino joins Julius Erving as UMass players in the Hall of Fame. Erving is one of only six players in NCAA history to average 20 points and 20 rebounds per game. He was inducted in 1993.
A portion of the article is below...
Prior to Saturday's event, Pitino reconnected with Leaman's wife, Rita, and daughter, Laurie, for the first time in a long time.
"It meant an awful lot to me," Pitino said of the meeting. "Jack was a tough, hard-nosed coach and it was interesting because I wouldn't be here today, probably, if he didn't make a phone call. He's the reason I got the Boston University job. He was a great player at BU, he recommended me, they took his advice and I was hired when I probably shouldn't have been hired."
Pitino was 24 when he took the job in Boston. He had spent a few seasons in Hawaii then one in Syracuse under Jim Boeheim.
Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican wrote a piece on Rick Pitino, UMass Class of 1974, and his induction this weekend into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In the early 1970s, Rick Pitino was a flashy guard for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team.
Four decades later, he will be enshrined as a basketball immortal, just down the highway from his alma mater.
The coach of Louisville's reigning NCAA champions will join 11 other members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013 at Sunday's induction ceremony.
Enshrinement at Springfield Symphony Hall will take place at 2 p.m. The weekend's events begin Friday night with an induction celebration and ring ceremony at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
An auction, autograph session, press conference and a dinner for past and 2013 Hall of Famers will make up a full day of Saturday events at the Hall of Fame.
Sunday's schedule will begin with a VIP reception and champagne brunch at the MassMutual Center, followed by Enshrinement at Symphony Hall and a post-ceremony gala at the Hall of Fame.
Pitino, 60, will be one of four coaches enshrined. He joins Guy Lewis, Jerry Tarkanian and Sylvia Hatchell.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
With the official release of the match-ups and times for the 2013 Charleston Classic, there has been a nice buzz around the program and UMass' draw. Just as a refresher, the boys will open with Nebraska on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 12:30 p.m. at the TD Arena. The game will be televised over the Internet on ESPN3. The other game in the top-half of the bracket is New Mexico and UAB. The bottom half has Davidson-Georgia and Temple-Clemson.
SI.com basketball writer Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) posted his second conference catch-up, with this one being on the Atlantic 10. It's a big news day for Massachusetts basketball, with this and the Charleston Classic bracket announcement being made public.
SB Nation's Mid Major Madness web site has come out with its list of the top Mid-Major Early Season Basketball tournament's to watch this season. We all know about the Puerto Rico Tip-Off from last year and now Minuteman fans will get a taste of some southern flavor with the Charleston Classic, Nov. 21-24.
Parks Smith (@RVAparks) weighs in with the following about UMass and Chaz Williams...
Charleston Classic (Nov 21-24)
The popularity of Charleston as a college basketball destination and this tournament has exploded in recent years. The Cougars new arena certainly helps, but last year the city also hosted one of the botched aircraft carrier along with the All-Military Classic as the Citadel.
UMass and Davidson are the most interesting Mid-Major squads in this year's field and will look to battle against the likes of Clemson, Georgia, Temple, New Mexico, and Nebraska. For UMass, Chaz "Michael Michaels" Williams can steal the show and gain some national notoriety, which he greatly deserves. For Davidson, this tournament will be a good gauge for how they might stack up in the Atlantic 10 a year for now with not only UMass in the field, but also former A10 member Temple.
With the NBA Draft tonight, we've compiled some clips and news articles from when recent UMass standouts realized their dreams when they heard their name called. But first here's a list of the UMass draft history...
1968: Billy Tindall (Atlanta Hawks, 10th round)
1969: Pete Gayeska (Atlanta Hawks, 9th round)
1972: Julius Erving (Milwaukee Bucks, 1st Round - 12th overall)
1973: Tom Austin (Boston Celtics, 19th round)
1974: Al Skinner (Boston Celtics, 9th round)
1975: John Murphy (Chicago Bulls, 8th round)
1975: Bill Endicott (Boston Celtics, 10th round)
1977: Jim Town (Denver Nuggets, 6th round)
1978: Derick Claiborne (Kansas City Kings, 5th round)
1978: Mark Haymore (Philadelphia 76ers, 5th round)
After a very successful season where he was named the Euroleague Defensive Player of the Year for Panathinaikos in Greece, former Massachusetts basketball standout Stephane Lasme (@Slasme) will return to Russia where he has reportedly signed a two year, 2.5 million euro ($3.2 million US) deal with Russian champion CSKA Moscow. Prior to his time in Athens, he spent two seasons in St. Petersburg, Russia.
CSKA Moscow is scheduled to play a pair of games in the US as part of an American Tour. They will play at Minnesota on Oct. 7 and San Antonio on Oct. 9.
Here are a few links pertaining to his contract status...
Lost in last Wednesday's release of the Atlantic 10 basketball opponents and Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals was a snapshot of the top teams from some of the high-level mid-major conferences by David Fox (@DavidFox615) of Athlon Sports.
He had UMass sixth among 11 key teams from the Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, West Coast and others. There are a few teams on the list that will be on this year's schedule as well.
With the summer in full swing around the country, that means that various 'best of' and 'top 10' lists start popping up from various organizations. Today's comes from Parks Smith, who writes for Mid Major Madness. He lists his top 10 mid-major point guards to watch this season. Of course, Minuteman fans have grown accustomed to seeing Chaz Williams on the lists and he writes the following about the UMass senior...
Simply put, Chaz Williams is the most exciting player to watch in the Atlantic 10. Despite only standing 5'9 the Hofstra transfer has a tenacious appetite for scoring averaging nearly 16 points per game and also lead the A10 in assists a year ago averaging just over 7 per game. Can Williams get the Minutemen back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998?
Along with Williams, Harvard's Siyani Chambers and VCU's Briante Weber, who UMass faced a year ago and will battle again this season, are also on the complete list here.
Former Minuteman Gary Forbes' dream of playing professional basketball has taken him all over the world. So it seems only natural that he shares his opinions on travel, international fans and the hotels he prefers to stay at while on the road.
Jae-Ha Kim grabbed a few minutes with Gary and talked to him about those topics, and more in a recent article for the Chicago Tribune.
In case you missed it, on Friday CBS' collection of college basketball writers released another of their summertime updates, or Conference Catchups. Matt Norlander penned the Atlantic 10 edition and came up with the following nuggets on UMass.
In his team commentary in 140 characters or less...
Massachusetts: I think the Minutemen are set for a very big year. Derek Kellogg has made the team progressively better in the past five seasons. Now comes a league title.
UMass basketball rising seniors Raphiael Putney and Chaz Williams have begun their journey to Spain with Athletes In Action. The duo flew to Spain via Houston and London over the weekend and have started practice with their nine teammates. You can follow along during their trip - which goes from May 18-June 2 - via the online blog at AIA Blogs - Basketball - Spain or through some photo postings on the AIA Facebook Page.
Here's an excerpt from the first entry from across the pond...
We are wrapping up our first day in Madrid while eating dinner at the Nuevo Boston Hotel. We spent most of the day in the airport getting to know each other and waiting until 15 minutes after our gate closed in London to finally board the plane. We cut it close but God prevailed. Our first practice went very well. The players chemistry grew tremendously from the airport to the court. They guys were talking, complemeting and holding each other accountable in a positive way.
Former UMass star Stephane Lasme has had a successful career overseas and is reaping the benefits as he was recently named the Best Defender in the Euroleague by the head coaches.
From the official press release:
The forward from Gabon did plenty to deserve the distinction. His 1.76 blocks per game were second in the league and he was tied for fourth in rebounding, averaging 6.14 per contest. Moreover, Lasme was the final line of defense for a rebuilt Panathinaikos squad, which finished the Turkish Airlines Euroleague season with the second-fewest points allowed, 69.8 per game.
Watching on her television in Amherst, Rita Leaman smiled as Louisville celebrated its national championship Monday.
Nine years after her husband, Jack Leaman, died and 24 years after he coached his final men's basketball game at the University of Massachusetts, his influence was still being felt.
The last two NCAA championships have his finger prints on them. Kentucky coach John Calipari, whom Leaman befriended and mentored, and Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who played for Leaman at UMass, have coached the last two title-wining squads.
Behind a strong performance by Chaz Williams offensively and a solid showing containing A-10 Player of the Year Khalif Wyatt, UMass upended Temple 79-74 in the quarterfinals for the second-consecutive year. Now it's on to Semifinal Saturday and a rematch with the VCU Rams at 4 p.m. They have a lot of people in Brooklyn so we need UMass nation to show up in a big way.
The game will be broadcast nationally on the CBS Sports Network: Comcast/Xfinity subscribers in the Springfield and Amherst markets can watch the game on channels 261 and 956 (HD). Additionally, the network can be found on DirecTV Ch. 613 and Dish Ch. 158. For students on campus, the UMass Cable system recently added CBS Sports Network to the channel lineup. It can be found on channel 88 for analog users and 80.1 on the digital signal.
Led by a pair of outstanding second-half performance by Chaz Williams and Trey Davis, the UMass basketball team advanced to the A-10 Quarterfinals with a 77-72 win over George Washington. Now the Minutemen and rival Temple will get to write another chapter in their storied history. The game will tip at approximately 9 p.m. and be televised on CBS 3 Now in the Springfield/Amherst market. Here is a link to the Friday's TV Clearances for stations carrying it across the A-10 footprint. If any additional outlets pick up the game, we will do our best to alert everyone. All four quarterfinal games will be streamed live over the Internet for free. And don't forget, there are 12 different train routes that stop at the Atlantic Station, just outside the Barclays Center. We would love for you to start your weekend cheering the Minutemen on in Brooklyn.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette spent some time with Freddie Riley last week and wrote the following story on the senior from Ocala, Fla.
Freddie Riley's friends do a double take when they see his University of Massachusetts student identification card.
The picture was taken when he got it almost four years ago during orientation before his freshman year. The young man in the picture has short hair and a clean-shaven face, a kid away from home for the first time, about to start the next chapter of his life.
It doesn't much resemble the man it belongs to anymore. Riley, now a senior guard for the Minutemen, has dreadlocks that fall beyond his shoulders. He has a mustache, a chin beard and sideburns that frame his face.
"When I meet someone new they're like 'Whoa that's you?'" Riley said.
It was him. But the Freddie Riley who will be in the starting lineup at 9 tonight when UMass takes on George Washington in the Atlantic 10 Tournament neither looks like nor feels like the young Floridian in that picture from the summer of 2009.
It's time for the second season to start. Everyone has a clean slate and 12 schools are vying for the Atlantic 10 Championship this week in Brooklyn. UMass opens play tonight at 9 p.m. against George Washington in a game televised on NBC Sports Network. If you haven't decided if you will make the trip to the game, public transportation is a great option. The Atlantic Ave. terminal lets you off right outside the arena and the UMass sections are in some great locations in the building. You've also got a great pregame reception for all UMass fans provided by the UMass Alumni Association so there's plenty to get you fired up for the rematch with the Colonials.
Here's a well-written piece by Harry Plumer of the Springfield Republican on the unique road to success and Amherst for UMass assistant coach Shyrone Chatman and his brother - 12 years his junior - junior forward Sampson Carter.
So just after Carter began his junior year of high school, he and his older brother Marcus hopped on a Greyhound together and rode to Memphis.
It happened fast after Chatman extended the offer.
"It was a better situation, it was a better opportunity, so I just ran with it," Carter recalls. "I dropped school like in a day."
Once their mother tied up her loose ends in Baton Rouge, she sold her house and followed them.
Leslie Albrecht of DNA Info caught up with Chaz Williams last week and talk about his return to Brooklyn and being able to play in front of family and friends.
When Bishop Ford High School graduate Chaz Williams got his first look at the Barclays Center a few months ago, he snapped some photos on his cell phone and wondered if he might get a chance to play there some day.
That day came sooner than expected, as Williams, a junior point guard at the University of Massachusetts, prepares to come home to his native Brooklyn next week for his first game at the Barclays Center, just 2 miles away from where he was a top scorer for the Bishop Ford Falcons.