UMass spent Thursday with another practice at NC State, an open workout at the PNC Arena, met the media and wrapped things up with a pep rally at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Raleigh. And UMass alum Julius Erving paid a visit to the team and offered them a message about life and basketball.
It's here! 16 years in the making and the UMass Minutemen will make their ninth appearance in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament today at 2:45 p.m. against Tennessee. Here are the previews of the game.
No. 6 Massachusetts (24-8) vs. No. 11 Tennessee (22-12)
The Minutemen officially departed the Bay State for North Carolina this morning as UMass gets ready for Friday's NCAA match-up in Raleigh. Tons of news items covering the Minutemen this morning as we get closer to tip-off.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story in today's paper about the UMass basketball team using certain negative critiques in the media as fuel and motivation for Friday's NCAA Tournament game against either Iowa or Tennessee in Raleigh, N.C.
Casey Viera of ABC40 has a look at the UMass basketball team which returned to practice on Monday to begin preparation for the NCAA Tournament. UMass will play either Iowa or Tennessee on Friday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C.
It wasn't pretty but games with the Rams this season haven't been. Instead they have been sloppy like a pig in the mud. But Chaz and Co. found a way and Thursday that way was with defense and free throws. URI led by 9 before UMass cut the lead to three with just under eight to play. Then both teams teams went cold for four minutes until Putney made a steal and layup to with 3:55 left to cut it to one. Trey scored a pair and URI tied it with a free throw of its own. Then Chaz made a pair of free throws and followed two URI missed freebies with a huge 3-ball from the top of the key. It was all UMass the rest of the way.
While you enjoy last night a little more this morning, take a read at some of the articles and highlights below. Tonight's a different animal with GW and their 1-3-1 defense. UMass will have to be patient and be smart after playing such a tough game last night. The game is televised nationally on NBC SN. You can use the NBC Sports Channel Finder to see is its available in your area, use their NBC SportLive Extra streaming web sitestreaming on their mobile app.
Mike Whitmer of the Boston Globe spent some time with Chaz Williams earlier this week and explored his journey from Hofstra to UMass. It offers a bit of a different slant on the story from previous years.
NEW YORK -- When Chaz Williams decided after his freshman season at Hofstra to continue his college basketball career someplace else, the University of Massachusetts wasn't at the top of his initial list of transfer schools.
UMass wasn't first. Or second, or third, or even fourth. The Minutemen weren't anywhere on Williams's list. Departing Hofstra, he simply wanted to play for a bigger school closer to his Brooklyn home. One came to mind.
"I wanted to go to St. John's. I wanted to stay home, near home, and I wanted to play in the Big East," Williams said.
But Hofstra -- taking a step that many schools do in a similar situation -- informed Williams that he would not be permitted to transfer to a select group of schools, at least if he wanted to accept an athletic scholarship. All the schools on Hofstra's list -- roughly 10 -- were in the New York area.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on the transition of the UMass basketball program thanks in part to seniors Raphiael Putney, Sampson Carter and Chaz Williams. The trio talk about the increased success of the program in their four years and how exciting a packed Mullins Center is to play in.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story with UMass seniors Chaz Williams, Raphiael Putney and Sampson Carter where they share their favorite Mullins Center memories. Malone includes several video clips in the story as well.
Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe has a feature today on UMass' Chaz Williams. Cullen looks at the significance of the current season the Minutemen are having and how opportunities missed last year are used as motivation for Williams.
Joe Dzuback is the Rush The Court correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.He's also on twitter at @vbtnBlog.
In Wednesday's check-in on the A-10, he discusses team efficiency ratings, league player/freshman of the year and all-conference debates and possible tournament scenarios. He mentions UMass and GW making a run at VCU for the No. 2 spot in the league... not sure he realizes Saint Joseph's is alone in second and playing pretty well right now.
Patrick Strohecker of the Daily Collegian has a story today on how UMass' more consistent guard play has been leading to better results for the basketball team this season and will be key as the regular-season winds down.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
UMass pulled out another close one on Wednesday, defeating La Salle, 61-60, at Tom Gola Arena to improve to 4-2 in Atlantic 10 play. The Minutemen got 17 points from Raphiael Putney and the game-winning layup by Chaz Williams with 8.1 seconds left to snap a four-game losing skid at La Salle.
UMass will look to come away from its 2-game road trip with a split when it faces Fordham at Rose Hill Gym on Sunday afternoon. Following a 70-62 loss at Saint Louis that ended UMass' seven-game win streak, the Minutemen will take on a talented Rams squad that is 3-1 at home and won three-straight in the Bronx. The game will be televised by the YES Network (Channel Finder) with tip-off set for 1 p.m. Sunday's game will mark the end of a stretch of four of five games on the road for UMass. The Minutemen will open a three-game homestand on Thursday night against Duquesne.
Other players on the list that are on UMass' schedule or could face the Minutemen in Puerto Rico include: No. 5 Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), No. 10 Lorenzo Brown (NC State), No. 15 Tim Frazier (Penn State), No. 18 Vincent Council (Providence), No. 20 Rotnei Clarke (Butler), No. 24 D.J. Cooper (Ohio), No. 37 Kwamain Mitchell (Saint Louis), No. 38 Kevin Dillard (Dayton), No. 41 Trae Golden (Tennessee) and No. 42 Semaj Christon (Xavier).
Joseph Staszewski of the Brooklyn Courier chatted-up Chaz Williams and head coach Derek Kellogg over the past week and wrote the following article on the hometown kid and his journey to UMass, bringing his "New York City toughness and Brooklyn swagger" to the program.
Paul Gotham of the basketball site Pickin Splinters wrote a piece on the path the program has taken in four years under coach Derek Kellogg. He also touches on the progress junior guard Chaz Williams has made in two seasons, while making note that the 5-9 Brooklyn dynamo's potential is still climbing.
New York Post sports writer Zach Braziller penned an article on UMass junior guard Chaz Williams and St. Joseph's big man Halil Kanacevic on how they started their careers at Hofstra before transferring to their current Atlantic 10 schools. Both were named to the league's preseason all-conference teams at last week's media day in Brooklyn.
...Two of them -- city products UMass point guard Chaz Williams and St. Joseph's forward Halil Kanacevic -- have developed just as he envisioned when Pecora landed them at Hofstra, crowns jewels to his recruiting class.
Now juniors, they were predicted by Atlantic 10 coaches to be a few of the best players in the conference on Thursday during the league's media day at the Barclays Centers in downtown Brooklyn, and keys to their respective teams, both picked to finish in the top four of the A-10.
"It speaks volumes for how good those kids are as players," said Pecora, who is entering his third season at Fordham. "Chaz is one, if not the best, point guards in the league and Halil is probably the best passing big man in the league."
CBSSports.com and its collection of college basketball writers released their votes for regular-season champions among the top conferences, including the Atlantic 10.
The group composed of Jeff Goodman, Doug Gottlieb, Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander and Jeff Borzello combined to select four different winners. Goodman chose UMass, Gottlieb had Butler, Parrish and Borzello has VCU, while Norlander likes Saint Louis.
Rob Dauster of College Basketball Talk put out his list of ten men's basketball programs on the rise entering the 2012-13 season.
UMass: UMass basketball history is limited to, more or less, two people. Julius Erving played for the Minutemen from 1968-1971 before going on to become Dr. J. The other person is John Calipari, who took over a program in 1988 that had 10 straight losing seasons. In his fourth year, he led UMass to the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament titles, advancing to the NCAA tournament. He would accomplish that feat for five consecutive years, which culminated in his run to the 1996 Final Four, riding on the shoulders of Marcus Camby, before leaving the program. Bruiser Flint took over and led the Minutemen to two more NCAA tournaments, but they've only won one A-10 title -- the 2007 regular season -- since then. Outside of those seven consecutive NCAA tournaments, UMass has been to one. Ever. In 1962.
That could change this season, as Derek Kellogg has put together arguably the best team in Amherst since the late 90′s. The Minutemen return all but one member of their rotation from last season, including Chaz Williams, who is one of the most exciting and underrated point guards in the country. They also bring back Sampson Carter and Cady Lalanne, both of whom were injured for much of last season. The Atlantic 10 is going to be a rugged league this season, but UMass has the horses to make a run at a top four finish.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has an update on basketball practice and some notebook items about the preseason. He has quotes from Chaz Williams and Freddie Riley about the excitement leading up to the season, along with info from coach Kellogg on scheduling and early games.
AMHERST -- Before his sophomore season, University of Massachusetts guard Freddie Riley was frustrated about everyone's lack of optimism surrounding the Minutemen. Preview magazines, newspaper articles and even fans had low expectations for the 2010-11 squad and Riley took it to heart.
Two years later, coming off the team's run to the National Invitation Tournament's semifinals, there's a positive vibe surrounding the Minutemen. The preview magazines that are already out and national websites are projecting UMass to finish among the top teams in the Atlantic 10 and perhaps reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. There's a buzz on campus among students greater than at any previous time.
National college basketball writer and television announcer Jon Rothstein offered up his thoughts on UMass as it prepares for the 2012-13 season. Leading off with a note on junior PG Chaz Williams' infectious energy that envelops the entire team.
Chaz Williams is a like a magnet. The undersized point guard has an infectious personality -- and it's easily noticeable if you're in the gym with him for even just a matter of moments. The 5-9 Williams was one of the best players in the Atlantic 10 a season ago and figures to be so again thanks to the biggest weapon he has -- his heart.
There's no question that folks who follow UMass and the Atlantic 10 regularly are well aware of the type of game-changer Chaz Williams is on the court. Now, with more and more preseason publications touting the junior point guard among the top players nationally, folks are starting to take notice.
By Brian Henry on August 28, 2012 4:41 PM
National sports publisher Athlon has put out a list of the top ten sleeper teams that it believes will return to the NCAA Tournament this season. Among the teams are coach Kellogg's Minutemen.
The Atlantic 10 is undergoing a changing of the guard of sorts. Butler and VCU are in, and Temple and Xavier are in stages of starting over. UMass could be poised to pounce. Thanks to the arrival of 5-9 point guard Chaz Williams from Hofstra, UMass had its first winning season under Derek Kellogg. The Minutemen's core players were sophomores and juniors last season, including forward Sampson Carter, who averaged 8.6 points and and 3.9 rebounds in an injury-shortened season.
ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz recently completed his Summer Shootaround series where he and his associates breakdown the various conferences around the nation. The Atlantic 10 version hit cyberspace on Monday so here is the link.
Happy reading and remember fall sports will start reporting sooner than you think. Go Minutemen!!!
Jon Rothstein, who covers the Atlantic 10 for CBS Sports Network, put out a good summertime piece on what to be excited about in the A-10 this season. His first item listed is on UMass junior PG Chaz Williams and the potential his play, along with the rest of the team, can bring the Minutemen.
1. CHAZ, CHAZ, AND MORE
Chaz Williams took the conference by storm in his first season in the Atlantic-10
and only figures to be more of a menace in 2012-13. Potentially the Preseason
Conference Player of the Year, Williams should give UMass coach Derek Kellogg
one of the league's best back courts with he and talented wing Jesse Morgan, a
6-foot-5 wing who seemed to get better every team he took on the floor. If big
man Cady Lalanne can stay healthy and form a potent baseline with Terrell
Vinson and Raphiael Putney, the Minutemen should be in position to compete for
a conference title and a berth to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a
quite a while.
After much anticipation, game day is finally here as UMass and Stanford will meet tonight at 7 PM in the NIT Semifinals in Madison Square Garden. Lots of great previews and features on the Minutemen who have been in the media spotlight due to the program's history with Madison Square Garden and a certain point guard who hails from Brooklyn.
After rallying back from a 17-point second-half deficit, UMass now has a date with Madison Square Garden. The Minutemen came-from-behind last night to defeat Drexel 72-70 in Philadelphia. Terrell Vinson scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half leading a Minutemen charge as UMass closed the half shooting nearly 71 percent from the floor.
UMass will face tonight's winner of the Stanford/Nevada quarterfinal game next Tuesday at 7 PM. The game will be televised live from New York City on ESPN2.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature piece on Terrell Vinson and his clutch performances in big games for the UMass basketball team.
Terrell Vinson's highlights aren't likely to end up on SportsCenter's top 10.
The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team has its share of breathtaking dunks and enough alley-oops to potentially be called Lob U. Chaz Williams has gotten well-deserved attention for his game-changing speed and program-changing leadership and Raphiael Putney's improved game and freakish athleticism have made him a fan favorite and a media star.
But with the game on the line, or in Saturday's case the season on the line, the Minutemen have looked to Vinson and more often than not, the junior has delivered.
Here are a few recaps from Massachusetts and Mississippi newspapers on Tuesday's big road win over Mississippi State in the NIT First Round. The UMass-Seton Hall second round game will be played at Walsh Gymnasium on the SHU campus but we are waiting on the NIT to assign a date and time. So while we wait, take a look at some of these stories and keep on cheering on the Minutemen.
Here are some recaps following the tough 84-80 loss to St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals. UMass will learn its postseason fate Sunday night and be sure to check back with us for all of the important details.
Led by Jesse Morgan and Chaz Williams, UMass overcame a five-point halftime deficit using a 15-0 run to start the second half in its 77-71 win over top-seeded and No. 21 Temple on Friday afternoon in the first game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament Quarterfinals. UMass will play St. Bonaventure on Saturday at 1 PM. It will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network.
The regular season is over so that means its time to reset the records and open March Madness. UMass opens Atlantic 10 Tournament action tonight against Duquesne. Tip-off at the Mullins Center is 7 p.m. The game is not televised so grab some friends and cheer on the team as they go for their 15th home win of the year. In the meantime, here are some previews to wet your appetite.
Jesse Morgan and Sean Carter blistered the nets on Saturday to help lead UMass past Rhode island 89-83 on Senior Day at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen collected their 20th win of the season and finished the Atlantic 10 regular-season tied for fifth at 9-7. UMass will be the No. 8 seed in this week's A-10 Tournament and will host No. 9 seed Duquesne Tuesday at 7 p.m. But in the meantime, here are a few article recapping the triumph over the Rams.
CBSSports.com senior writer Jeff Goodman was among the national writers in attendance at Tuesday's 80-73 win over Xavier and was more than impressed with how the Minutemen program has progressed during the tenure of head coach Derek Kellogg. He writes in his column about the importance of Chaz Williams to the UMass program.
Chaz Williams led four Minutemen in double figures with his outstanding 29-point, nine-assist effort in Tuesday's big win over Xavier. Next up is a tough road game at Dayton on Saturday night at 6 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. So while the team rests up for that one, here are a few recaps and sidebars about last night's game.
Behind Jesse Morgan's career-high 24 points on 6-of-7 from long range, the UMass basketball team benefitted from two big scoring runs to defeat St. Bonaventure, 76-67, at the Mullins Center on Wednesday night. The win kept the Minutemen near the top of the Atlantic 10 standings at 7-3, heading into Saturday's contest at Saint Joseph's.
Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican has a story on UMass being able to bounce back this season from tough games. UMass has not lost back-to-back games this season and that, according to Chimelis, is a strong indication of UMass' growth over previous seasons.
A highlight reel fast-break dunk by Raphiael Putney garnered national attention following the UMass men's basketball team's 72-61 come-back win over Saint Joseph's on Saturday. As impressive as the dunk itself was, Chaz Williams' between-the-legs pass to Putney was equally as sensational making this a true high-flying highlight. It also warrants that the play was all started by a great blocked shot by Maxie Esho that allowed the Minutemen to get out on the fast break.
UMass erased a 17-point deficit from the first half to improve to 10-0 at home with a 71-62 win over Saint Joseph's on Saturday. Chaz Williams led the way for the Minutemen with 22 points, while Raphiael Putney made national headlines for his highlight reel dunk that landed as the No. 8 Top Play of the Day on Sports Center.
A pair of double-double's by Terrell Vinson and Raphiael Putney combined with 20-points and nearly a triple-double from Chaz Williams paved the way as the UMass men's basketball team defeated Fordham last night in the Mullins Center in the Minutemen's Atlantic 10 opener.
UMass overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to pull out an 82-78 win over Siena on Friday night in the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at the Mass Mutual Center. Freddie Riley continued his streak of hot shooting draining six three-pointers for 20 points, while Chaz Williams tied his career-high with 22 points (20 in the second half).