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UMass' NIT Chat/Blog From New York

Get all the latest information from UMass at the NIT Final Four. Fans can send in questions for the Minutemen as they head to New York on Sunday. Jason Yellin of the Athletic Department and Bob Behler, the Voice of the Minutemen will moderate a chat/blog starting Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. and continuing during UMass' stay in New York. They will also take questions for Coach Travis Ford and the players on the team.

So start sending questions now.

Be sure to specify which coach, player, or personnel your question is for.

Jason Yellin: Hello UMass basketball fans. We are thrilled to be joining you on the UMassAthletics.com chat. We are now leaving the Mullins Center to head on the way to New York for the NIT Final Four. The back of the Mullins Center is crazy right now with th Dinosaurs Show taking up the whole lot with 26 tractor trailers and cars. As we pull away the UMass baseball team is trilaing Xavier 9-2 in the sixth inning at Earl Lorden Field. Please send in questions and comments and we will answer as many as we can.

Sam (Amherst, Mass.): How many UMass fans do you expect at the Garden.
Jason Yellin: Sam, hope you are well... We are expecting to have the most fans of all the schools in the NIT. We have filled up seven buses which will be making the trip down to New York on Tuesday afternoon. That's more than 350 fans alone. Then on top of that UMass has sold out entire allotment from the Garden, which was close to 1,000 tickets. I have heard that Florida sold about 600 tickets, which is very good since they are thousands of miles from New York.

Jay L. (Springfield): This question is for Jason Yellin of the Athletic Department...I've tried a number of times to contact someone at the athletic department through the umassathletics website regarding basketball jerseys. We have a lot of passionate fans at UMass, and as an alum, I know there are many passionate fans in the Pioneer Valley! It made me cringe to watch the game against Syracuse and see so many students in basketball jerseys, and yet we have no offering at the university store. Is this something that the athletic department concerns itself with? I can't help but think seeing a few students walking around campus in a Gary Forbes jersey would help to get students more interested in filling the Mullins Center every night! Thanks!
Jason Yellin: Jay, we would love to sell jerseys and in fact we have spoken to adidas about producing some. I know I would love to have jerseys of the current logo on all of our fans. I know we see lots of jerseys with the old script U logo from the mid-90s. The athletic department is aware and is working on it. Thanks fot the support!

Fred - Lynnfield: Jason - What time will the UMass tickets at MSG be available on Tuesday? What hotel is the team staying at?
Jason Yellin: Fred ... I have been told by our ticket manager Sean Quinn who is on the trip with us on the crowded bus down to MSG that tickets will be available at the Garden's box office at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning. For anyone else looking for tickets, ticktmaster.com still has tickets and you can pick them up at the Garden. The 19,763 seat Garden will not be sold out, so you will have a chance to purchase tixx.
Jason Yellin: As we head through Hadley on the way to I-91, team manager Max Reich has put the movie "Old School" into the DVD player and the players are laughing it up. Send some questions in and we will be back with some players in a little while.

Fred (Lynnfield): Jason - Thanks for answering, but I was asking about the "will call" tickets. Will they be available at 9 AM or is that answer different?
Jason Yellin: Fred, I asked Sean again and he said that will call tickets will be available at 9 a.m. at the Garden, tickets that are on the team's ticket list will be available at 6:30 p.m. before the 7 p.,. game.
Jason Yellin: A lot of people are asking about the status of Tony Gaffney for Wednesday. I can tell you that Tony went through practice this afternoon at the Cage and is hopeful of playing. As he keeps saying, everyday he feels better and better.

Al Halpern (Goffstown,NH): Are the current players aware of UMASS' history in the NIT? For those of us that were students in 1970 and 1971 it was one of the most exciting experiences of our college career. Have you heard from Julius Erving, the star of those teams? I hope you get a massive crowd to root you on in NYC. Good luck!!
Jason Yellin: Al, I can tell you the players are fully aware of the legacy of the UMass history in the NIT. They know Julius Erving, Al Skinner and RIck Pitino all played in it. I know they have looked up in the rafters at the Mullins Center and seen those NIT banners. That includes the one from 1991 with FINAL FOUR on it. This team has achieved at least that much ans hopefully will have a chance to hang one in the rafters that says CHAMPIONS.
Jason Yellin: Coming up we will getting together with Matt Glass, so if you have any comments please send them along.
Jason Yellin: With Old School on in the bus, several players are following the Memphis-Texas game on the bus. The Tigers lead 26-13 with 8:17 left in the first half. It would be great for Coach Cal to get to the FInal Four with Memphis after doing it with UMass in 1996.
Matt Glass: Hi this is Matt Glass.... I'm very proud to be going to the NIT Final Four!

John (Burlington): Matt Glass, who proud are you to represent Vermont in the NIT Final Four?
Matt Glass: Hi John, I love you are from Burlington. I'm so proud, not a lot of athletes get to come out of Vermont and have these opportunities. It is definetly a blessing and I am excited to see how it turns out.

Peter (Durham, NH): Matt Glass, who are the most famous players from Vermont. DO you have a chance to be that most successful? ANyone reach the NBA?
Matt Glass: Hi Peter, I would have to say Taylor Coppenrath, who played at UVM was the most successful. There a lot of players who were good. I am just working my hardest to get better everyday and see how things go. Taylor went to an NBA camp and worked out with the Celtics and Pacers, and is playing in Spain right now. I hope someday, he will be able to get to play in the league.

Joe, Belchertown MA: This year Matt Glass was deemed a "specialist". What does he need to work on in order to shed that label?
Matt Glass: Hi Joe, I definetly need to work on my ball handling and creating my own shot to be a more effective offensive player. I also need to get stronger and improve defensively to try and make a more significant impact in the future.
Matt Glass: Thanks a lot for the questions ... Back to a small nap on the way to New York.
Jason Yellin: I'm going to hand off the Bob Behler is a little while if fans have questions for him ... please send them along.
Jason Yellin: Again, fans please put the name of the person you are asking questions for so I know who to go to for the answers.
Jason Yellin: OK ... Here's Bob "The Bullet" Behler.
Bob Behler - Voice of the Minutemen: I am on the bus heading to NYC. Glad to still be broadcasting basketball as we enter spring. If you have any questions, I am ready.

Pedro (Hadley): Bob, how cool was it to hear your call of the winning Milligan dunk on ESPN?
Bob Behler - Voice of the Minutemen: Pedro, I found out about it by having several friends call me and email me. I was happy that it was a good call that you could understand what was happening...especially after I have complained about too many radio people just being cheerleaders on those type of calls.

Jimmmmmy (Meridan, CT): Bobbbb ... What is your favorite call? Was it Syracuse, It sounded awesome, what a game.
Bob Behler - Voice of the Minutemen: Jimmmmmy with five M's....I did have a lot of fun to call the second Syracuse game, but to tell you the truth for the whole game, the first Syracuse game was actually a better game to call. More action...close the whole game, and a lot more offense. However, if you are talking about the last 10 minutes of a game, probably the best finish I've ever done...especially when you count in the magnitude of the game. Hopefully the Florida game will be just as good.

Sandy (Mass): Bob Behler - What's the deal with internet radio for the NIT. It seems different then the regular season.
Bob Behler - Voice of the Minutemen: Sandy, the NIT will not allow third party sites (WRNX) to webcast...we can only stream from the university's web page. Thus, I have to take a separate computer and stream from our broadcast position. You can probably tell there are no commercials and you get our chatter at the timeouts. You can hear the chaos and planning that goes on. The one positive out of it, is that any one in the world can listen. WRNX limits its audience to the US. Thanks for listening.

Gary (Mass): Hello Bob, even though the Travis Ford Show is sponsored by Coke, I was just wondering if you prefer Pepsi better. Thanks!
Bob Behler - Voice of the Minutemen: Gary, I do prefer Coke. My first professional job was literally subsidized by Coca Cola..they sponsored virtually everything the Chattanooga Lookouts baseball did...radio, fence signs, cap night, etc. Besides, I like the taste better.

George Milller(Amherst): Bob, can I have my old job back?
Bob Behler - Voice of the Minutemen: Sorry to say, George, no...I am having too much fun!

Samantha (Belchertown, Mass.): Bob B. Have you thought of adding a sideline reporter for games. Maybe someone from the campus radio station?
Bob Behler - Voice of the Minutemen: Samantha, We use a sideline announcer for football, but not for basketball. The more equipment you need to use the harder it is technically to put the broadcasts on. Many of the places on the road, space in front of us is an issue...and in order to have a sideline announcer, you need a receiving transmitter to get them and a sending transmitter so they can hear you on the broadcast to know when you want to go to them. The game moves so quickly it is much harder to fit a sideline comment in during a basketball game than it is with the pace of a football game. The campus station has had many talented people come through and would certainly be capable of contributing. But at this stage, we'll probably not be adding the position. I'm going to pass the computer on to Tony Gaffney. Thanks for your questions...hope you'll turn the sound down on Tuesday and listen to us on the radio or internet.
Tony Gaffney: Tony Gaffney here ... Send some questions in.

Skip (Boston): Tony ... how are you feeling, any better? We love your hustle.
Tony Gaffney: Hi Skip, I feel much better. I practiced a little today. If the game were today I would be playing so I'm feeling much better. Always good to hear from fellow Bostonian...

Sue - Amherst: Tony, how do you give such more effort every night on the court/ You play with so mich passion.
Tony Gaffney: Hello Sue, I grew up with the single father and he worked hard at every single thing he did and never took a day off. He's my idol. It comes naturally to me. I enjoy doing it!

Steven (Hadley): Tony Gaffney: When you came from BU could you have imagined you would be in the NIT Final Four?
Tony Gaffney: Honestly, no.... But now that we are here, we have a great group of guys and great coaching staff. We love playing together. We are very excited to have the chance.

Sara (boston): Tony, do you wear boxers or briefs? Good luck on Tuesday!
Tony Gaffney: Sara .... How you doin.... no seriously, I wear boxer briefs ... Thanks.

Jackie Chase (Hatfield, MA): Hey Tony, are you getting pumped for Tuesday's game? How are you feling? Let the boys know that I wish them luck.GO UMASS!!
Tony Gaffney: Jackie, I am very excited at the same time we are trying to stay grounded. I feel much better and at the rate my recovery is going I will be playing Tuesday. Thanks for the support!

Jackie Chase (Hatfield, MA): Tony, do you have any pre-game rituals? Do you like to listen to music to get pumped or anything like that? GO UMASS!
Tony Gaffney: Jackie, another question thanks ... This is kind of funny, but on the road I have to win a game of solitaire before I get on the bus ... Matt Glass can back me there. Today it took me seven times before I got it so hopefully that's a lucky 7. For music, I'm a big country fan, but when I;m trying to get pumped up I prefer some hip-hop like Kanye West, Jay-Z.
Tony Gaffney: Thanks for the questions. I;m going back to Old School, its really funny right now with Will Farrell doing his thing.
Jason Yellin: Hello again ... Please send some questions for Luke Bonner and Chris Lowe, they are coming up. We have hit Bridgeport, connecticut so we are getting close.
Jason Yellin: We have moved on to the movie "Why Did I Get Married" another comedy flick.

J. Reyes (Queens): What baseball teams are the guy's on the team fans of?
Jason Yellin: Figured I can answer this for many of the guys. Gary Forbes and Etienne Brower are Yankees fans as much as it pains me as a Mets fan and for all the Red Sox faithful out there. I know Travis was a fan od Dodgers a little bit growing up, but has adopted the Red Sox after he threw out the first pitch when he was hired back in 2005. Many of the players are not fans of teams, but are fans of hats. Today there was a sampling of hats worn by the guys. Gary Forbes wore an A's cap. Ricky Harris had a 1980's style Baltimore Orioles' hat, which he is a fan of. Etienne wore his yankees hat. Trey Lang had a hometown Braves hat while Sedale Jones was wearing a Pirates cap. So you can see are all over the place, but I think they are mostly fashion statements.
Jason Yellin: Heres Luke!

Pat (Amherst): Luke, how does it feel to be playing against your brother's former team?
Luke Bonner: I am not sure exactly what happened. For some reason it felt like someone flipped a switch in my head. I had a great week of practice leading up to the game, and I knew would have an increased role with Tony's injury. Tony kept talking to me throughout shoot around, and during the game telling me I was going to have a big game. He definitely helped to increase my confidence in my ability to perform at that level.

Larry (Springfield): Luke... You've taken 16 charges this season. When you do that it seems to spark the team. Do you work on that in practice?
Luke Bonner: We work on defensive positioning drills, specifically where a post defender is responsible for stepping up to stop someone who is penetrating. We work on those positioning drills more tan the actual act of taking a charge. We do have some drills where we actually take a charge, but those can take a toll on the body after a while. Positioning is the number one key to taking a charge.

Tobias Funke: Luke- You seem to have a quirky sense of humor, are you a fan of my work on Arrested Development? You know, I was the world's first analrapist.
Luke Bonner: HAHA! I am a huge fan of your work. I respect your struggle as a never-nude!

Greg Hamelin: Luke, great game against the Orange. What needs to be done to allow you to put up those numbers next season?
Luke Bonner: I just need to work very hard over the summer in developing my game. I need to live in the weight room, and get hundreds of shots up everyday.

D. Wright (Queens): Luke, how did your performance in the Syracuse game rate in your mind as far as your best all-time games?
Luke Bonner: That game definitely not only rates as one of my best individual performances, but as one of the most exciting games I've ever been apart of. To comeback under those circumstances was quite a feat.

Dave (Ind.): Luke have you and Conan O'Brien made amends? If not do you have plans to look him up while in New York?

Ben (Amherst): I enjoy reading your blog. I was surprised at the whole incident at Conan's show. Have you watched his show since then?
Luke Bonner: Actually, I attempted to watch the show last week, but could not make it through. I hate to say it, but I might never watch the Conan O'Brien show again. It's too bad.

Vinny, Tampa: Luke, what's with the Bow Tie? On a more serious note what aspect of your game do you think you can improove the most over the offseason to become a better player? GOOD LUCK!!!!
Luke Bonner: I AM A BOWTIE ENTHUSIAST!!! I had to wear a shirt and tie last year as a T.A. for an abnormal psychology class. I decided to get some bowties, and fell in love. In the off season I hope to gain some weight. I will also work on my post game, not only offensively but defensively as well. Thank you!

Connan O'Brien (New Yiork): Hey Luke, I am sorry I was mean to you in New York. After you guys win the NIT come by the studio and we'll hang out. Good luck this week!
Luke Bonner: Oh! Thank you Conan. How sweet of you! haha
Jason Yellin: Back in a little while with Chris Lowe.
Jason Yellin: Send your questions for Chris Lowe.

Larry (Springfield): CLowe.. I see a guy at every home game who appears to be your father. If that is your dad, how cool is it that he makes the trip for practically every one of your home games?
Chris Lowe: yea thats my dad he comes to all the games and he gives me great support

W. Backman (NY): Chris, who is the best point guard you have gone up against this season?
Chris Lowe: there are many good point guards i have competed with but the best of the bunch has been Syracuse JONNY FLYN, BOSOTN COLLEGE TYRESE RICE, and IUPUI GEORGE HILL

Chuck (Leominster): C. Lowe - We all know that you have some speed but do you think you can beat "Ocho Cinco" in a race?
Chris Lowe: LOL that is a funny question but I can out run him all day

Jeremy (Amherst): Hey Chris I was at the Dome for your game last tuesday and syracuse students around me were commenting on your speed! Now for a question... This season you have been getting way more assists than you have in the past two years. What makes this year different than others?

Jeremy (Amherst): Hey Chris I was at the Dome for your game last tuesday and syracuse students around me were commenting on your speed! Now for a question... This season you have been getting way more assists than you have in the past two years. What makes this year different than others?
Chris Lowe: well the style we play lets me be more creative and I have more freedom with the ball but we have great shooters so that's the real reason my assists are up

JJ (Mt Vernon): Chris, how's going to be going against Jonathan Mitchell? Crazy huh?
Chris Lowe: yea its going to be very interesting because we are very close friends who work out togther all the time when we are home

Sally - NYC: Chris Lowe - What did you do in your games at the Garden in the past?
Chris Lowe: My past few games have been a success individually and team wise

Neal (Longmeadow): Hey Chris, have you ever thought of putting more spin on your shot? Every time I see you put one up it looks like a knuckleball. A little backspin wouldn't hurt, am I right?
Chris Lowe: yes you are absoultely correct that is something i'm going to work very hard on this summer

Bob (Springfield): Chris, what part of your game do you think you need to work on? I think that you are so much more effective when you're dishing the ball around ALL THE TIME, getting those double digit assists.
Chris Lowe: The most part of my game i'm going to work on the most is my jump shot i plan on working wwith my uncle who works ben gordon from the chicago bulls out making 500 jumper a day

Chuck (Leominster): C. Lowe - Do you have any dirt on Coach Ford? Come on, you know you can tell me.
Chris Lowe: lol no dirt on coach great guy

Jim (NY): Hey Chris, Which senior are you going to miss the most next season?
Chris Lowe: I'm going to miss every senior they all have helped me grow and mature into a leader this year.. they are a great group of seniors to be around.. but the most one is NANA Ampin because he keeps me level headed and he makes sure im doing what i have to do on the court to lead us to victories...... coming up gary forbes
Jason Yellin: Send questions for Gary Forbes now... Thanks

Michael Fetterer (Norwalk CT): For the New York area seniors(Forbes, Milligan, Brower), what are your thoughts on finishing your college career in "the world's most famous arena"?
Gary Forbes: It feels good to be ending for me personally in a place I ended in higschool, I almost feel like I have to redeem myself for losing my last highschool game

Lou (Leverett): Are you and the other New Yorkers on the team expecting large numbers of personal fans, friends and family at the Garden Tuesday night?
Gary Forbes: I feel that its almsot a home game for us because we are a closer school and the fact that many of us are from NY so we will have a big fan support from our family

Johan (Queens): Do any of the guys have any crazy pre-game rituals?
Gary Forbes: Before every game I listen to music loud in the training room and get in the cold tank for 10 minutes and then the hot tub for 10. And I always have to get taped last on game days

Chuck (Leominster): Gary - Anyone that follows the team knows that you have a lot on your plate. What do you do, other than basketball, to relax?
Gary Forbes: Since ive basically graduated i dont do much, i love to sit in my room and watch television. Im a private person so i rarely go out and also i love to play video games

James (Ahmerst): Whats up Gary, How would you compare ACC talent with A-10 talent? Is there a large difference or could Ricky shoot 'em up with the best of them from the so called "best conference in college basketball"
Gary Forbes: I think the level of play is equal to some extent i jus belive that the fan support and how seriously the ACC takes basketball is different. Im sure ricky can score with any league in the country

Kyle (Orono): Hey Gary! In your opinion is there anything that the team has to work on before the big game?
Gary Forbes: We just have to play the same way we have been for the past month or so

Ben (Lexington): Hey Gary, im glad you transferred here from UVA. How would you compare the programs at Umass and UVA and the a10 to the ACC. Also, I think you have a shot to get drafted and good luck next year if you get the chacne to play in the NBA.
Gary Forbes: Preciate it. I think umass is a great place although uva was in the south ... we are getting to the hotel so I will get back to you fans ... thanks for all the questions.
Jason Yellin: FANS WE HAVE REACHED OUR HOTEL THE MARRIOTT MARQUIS IN NEW YORK AND ARE UNLOADING >>> We will be back later this evening, so please send questions for the players and we will answers as many as we can ... How about Davidson?
Jason Yellin: We have to take a quick break. We'll be back in a half hour.
Jason Yellin: We have checked into the hotel.... This is a fantastic hotel. The same place we stayed back in 2005 for the Panasonic Holiday Festival. The City is hopping as usual. Hustle and bustle. We are heading to a team video session here in the hotel and then dinner for the team. The players will be givevn some time to meet up with their families following dinner. We hope to have some players later this evening. So plaease send questions for the guys as well as myself and Bob and we will be happy to answer with the inside scoop from New York.
Jason Yellin: The players are happy to be here in New York. Perhaps the most in awe was Matt Glass. It is the first time he has spent time in the city, he said he had driven through the city, but never spent anytime in the Big Apple. Just watching Stephen Curry and Davidson hang with Kansas. What a show. 22 points as the Cats trail 52-51 right now. Back to Matt, he just couldn't believe everything, he was in shock as the picture on the front of UMassAthletics.com shows. WOW!
Jason Yellin: Time to head down for dinner, as I said please continue to send questions for the players and we will get some of them later tonight. We will get others tomorrow. Thanks and GO UMASS!
Jason Yellin: Hello ... I'm back from dinner and a little bit around the city ... The other thing I want to tell fans about is a very special feature on MSG Network on Dante Milligan. The feature was shot tonight with the backdrop of Times Square. Dante's mom Ruby was there and was fantastic in the interview. It was very touching talking about the Alonzo Milligan Mentorship Program which is presented in memory of Dante's brother who had his life taken in 2005. For all you NESN Red Sox fans ... you will be happy to know that Tino Cervasio has landed with MSG Network. Today was her first full day on the job and she was out to do the feature on Dante. It was great to see Tina, she had come to Amherst several times to do stories on UMass teams.
Jason Yellin: Next up for questions is Matt Pennie.
Matt Pennie: Matt Pennie here. We got into the city around 6PM and got settled into the hotel. We were able to get some free time after a little film session, and took in the sights and sounds of the big city. Matt Glass played the role of Country Mouse coming to the big city, and he won't admit it, but I think he was overwhelmed by the mystique of Times Square. Guy, our team bus driver, was our leader of our mini tour through the Big Apple.

Martin (Boston, MA): For someone who has never played organized basketball at a high level, can you describe what is done at a film session. Thank you. Go UMass!
Matt Pennie: Our coaching staff takes great pride in their film breakdowns. It really may depend on what we are stressing for a specific practice. We can watch anything from player personnel clips, to offensive set breakdowns, to positive or negatives from our previous game. All of the coaches spend a significant amount of time in film preparation in hopes of giving the team an added edge come tip-off.

Jake (Pittsfield): For a road game that is played at night, what happens during the day in terms of practice, game preparation, relaxation, etc?
Matt Pennie: We try to stay with the same routine for every road game. We will wake-up and have a team breakfast, followed by a shoot-around at the gym where we will play later that night. After our shoot-around we will return back to the hotel, where we have a team meal. From there we have a few hours to ourselves to get focused, before we have to get taped and head on the bus. Each player usually has their own personal routine that they try to stick to, regardless of where we are set to play.

bob-,lawrence: Matt,can you assure me you will get this team and the bench pumped from the opening tap to the finish? Let's not count on the cheerleaders!!
Matt Pennie: I always try to keep guys focused from the moment we walk in the gym, until the moment we walk off the court. With the high stakes nature of the game, I am confident that all of the guys will be in the right frame of mind to be ready to go. The rest of the bench will be tuned in and ready to contribute when their number is called.
Matt Pennie: Time for light's out. I just finished an online quiz for one of my graduate classes and need to call it a night. Back to the grind in the morning, thanks for the questions and talk to you soon.

The Handler: Ask anyone who their favorite manager is?
Jason Yellin: My favorite managers are Matt Vogel and Max Reich! Those guys do a great job for us as do all of the others June, John, Paul, Kris etc ... Thanks for all the great work!

Gary (Hopkinton): Jason - is Anthony Gurley ripping it up in practice? I'm getting used to transfers who make a big impact and hoping he can step right in.
Jason Yellin: AG has not been on the practice court as much recently. He has played very well in the sessions when he has been out there and will make a major impact when he wears a UMass uniform next year. He will step right in and play a lot. I look forward to it.

Dave, Wilbraham, MA: Jason. Thanks for doing this and all you do, and congratulations on the national pub you got on ESPN the other night! Not a question from me....just a heartfelt THANKS to the entire program. It is a joy to watch a group play with the passion and attitude these guys do. Win or lose, you guys never give up and I couldn't be happier for you guys to be where you are. I know you'll give Florida your best, and I happen to think that your best will be enough! 40 minutes!!! Go get 'em!
Jason Yellin: Hi Dave, thanks for the note. It was flattering to have such comments. I'm just doing my job as best I can. This team playing well with so many great stories gives me great material to work with. You are welcome from the team, they are playing their hardest trying to represent UMass in the finest fashion and hopefully come away with a national championship from here in New York.

Greg (College Park, MD): For Jason: I know my brother-in-law, Tim Brown, will be at the game. You have my permission to put him to work as I hear he is not putting in enough hours at St. John's. I mean, shouldn't he be working instead of enjoying the game. Keep up the great work. You and Bob do an amazing job for the university.
Jason Yellin: Greg, good to hear from you in Terp land ... I look forward to seeing Tim. I will make him work, if I seem not cheering bigtime for UMass. Thanks for the comment from you, Bob and I try to do all we can for UMass. We love this school! On that note, its off to sleep. ... To lay out the day tomorrow, we have a late breakfast. Then at Noon its a press conference for Coach Ford and our senior players ... Then we practice for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon. Please send questions for Etienne, Ricky, Dante and the others... Good Night from the Big Apple!
Jason Yellin: Good Morning ... Hello from breakfast of the UMass basketball team. If you have any questions, please send them in.
Jason Yellin: Good Morning ... Hello from breakfast of the UMass basketball team. If you have any questions, please send them in.

Jeff (Amherst): Matt Glass. Some advice from a former New Yorker. Do not under any circumstances let Gary convince you that it's cool to walk down the street in NY looking up at the buildings. You need to act like you have been there many many times!
Matt Glass: Jeff ... I walked around the city last night and took it all in. This place is amazing, I don't think I am ever going to ever get over it.

Ryan age 10 (Ojai,California): Ricky Harris was my counsellor at the UMass hoop camp and I just wanted to say I think he's awesome and remember-you can't make them if you don't take them! Thanks Ricky and will I see you and the same guys next year at camp?
Ricky Harris: Hi Ryan ... I remember you well ... I will see you at camp. Keep rooting on the Minutemen. Keep working hard!

Chuck (Leominster): Have you been watching the NCAA tourney at all? If so, what team that is left would you like to win it all?
Ricky Harris: Of course we have been watching. I wish Davidson had won. Curry was nice. But we have to focus on our tournament and our goal of trying to win the NIT here in New York.

Foster from Manhattan: Welcome to my town guys. Im still in my office a few blocks from you procrasitnating as usual. I gather Coach has you all on a tight schedule, but if you need night spot recommendations, let me know. Just kidding. Congratulations to the entire team and staff on a great season. I amy even wear UMASS gear to an office meeting on Tuesday. Or maybe not.
Ricky Harris: Thanks for the note. Appreciate you rooting for us. We are continuing to play hard and trying to win the game with Florida tonight.
Ricky Harris: we are heading into a film session watching Florida against Creighton right now. Thanks and talk later.
Jason Yellin: When we get out of film Gary Forbes will take some more questions.

Chuck (Leominster): Gary - What video game do you dominate people in? Also, what teammates do you have the most problems with when it comes to gaming?
Gary Forbes: I play all types of games such as gears of wars and 2k8 but Gary Correia gives me the most challenge

Stan (NY): Gary - What NBA team do you follow, who would you like to play for.
Gary Forbes: I really dont follow any NBA team, i like the lakers
Gary Forbes: I really dont follow any NBA team, i like the lakers

tito - queens: gary, glad you are at the garden. what are the keys to beat florida?
Gary Forbes: Play hard and play smart, we should be fine

Andy (Springfield): Hey Gary, How are you guys preparing yourself mentally for this game after that emotional win vs. Syracuse? Need I remind you that you lost the following game after the first Syracuse win?
Gary Forbes: Well we are trying not to repeat history but I think everyones mind set is focused on accomplishing something special here

Chandler (West Longmeadow): whats up gary, how far do you think you guys would have made it in the ncaa tourny? Do you think you could have made a run like Davidson?
Gary Forbes: Absolutely, I put us up against anyone in the country
Jason Yellin: We are off to the press conference. Back around 2 p.m.
Jason Yellin: Well that took a little longer than expected in terms of getting settled after the press conference. We are now getting situated at NYU. This is the home of Violets a Division III powerhouse. They won the 1997 National Championship in women's basketball. The practice was set up by Associate Head Coach Tim Maloney, who has so many connections to this game and trip. Maloney, who of course coached at Florida under Billy Donovan, actually began his coaching career at NYU. He was the soccer coach, while helping out with the basketball team. That was back in the early 1980s after he graduated from Manhattanville College. Maloney has seen plenty of old friends while we are here in New York and this is very special to him.
Jason Yellin: Another coach who this gym is close to is James Altman, as a player at Division III Hartwick, James was telling me about a game-winning 3-point field goal which he made at the buzzer to help his Hawks beat NYU several years ago. The team has hit the court and are going at it in a very physical way. They have spoken about how they need to play tough and hard against Florida. That will be a key to success. Constant hustle and hard work with a great attitude.

Newt (Kentucky): J Yellin, Proud of you guys and tell everyone I said good luck tomorrow night. I would like to ask assistant coach James Altman what the keys to victory are for tomorrow?
Jason Yellin: NEWT! Good to hear from you, hope all is well back in Kentucky. This former former staff member Austin Newton, who returned home after two seasons with the Minutemen (if you don't know). Thanks for checking in and I will check with Jimmy for his keys.

Phil (Atlanta): Jason can probably answer this. Can you talk about the process of exchanging game tape in terms of how many tapes/games, which games to send, etc. Does UMass get to decide which tapes to send or the opponent? How does that whole process work, thanks. Go UMass!
Jason Yellin: Hi Phil. Yes I can answer this... During the season there is a tape exchange where teams can ask for 3 tapes or DVDs as it is now. You send those to your opponents. For the NIT, since every game was on television, the team has DVDs of all the games and I can tell you today alone we have checked out Florida against Arizona State, San Diego State and Creighton along with some regular season games. The coaches usually want to get the most recent games to watch as well as games which teams played against opponents with similar styles. Something like the ASU tape is not as valuable as the Sun Devils play a slow "Princeton style" which obviously we do not.

Mike (Southwest UMass): Just wanted to say there's a real buzz around campus for the game and team. Can't wait til tomorrow!
Jason Yellin: Mike ... Glad to hear that. We will have a huge showing here at the Garden. UMass has sold more than 1500 tickets at this point and thats just through our ticket office. Not to mention fans who bought tickets on their own. That's for the support, now we hope they come and fill the Mullins Center next year!

Ben (Boston): A poll on NIT.org: Who do you think will win this year's MasterCard NIT? Florida - 63.5% (20474 votes) Mississippi - 16.8% (5407 votes) Ohio State - 15.5% (4993 votes) UMass - 4.3% (1386 votes) A little bulletin board material and perhaps additional motivation for you guys. Prove the doubters wrong and continue to make us alumni proud. Good luck!
Jason Yellin: I just saw that ... I was surprised with all our great fan support. But I guess our fans will just show the support by showing up at the Garden. That's what matters not some internet poll. Of course we will see who wins it on the court.

Jeff (Amherst): Jason, We hear that Tim Kenney is the non-player soul of this team, providing endless insight and being a mentor to these fine young men and espeically to Coach Ford. Can you get him to give us his gut feelings about playing tomorrow night? There are many of us who deeply respect his knowledge and he is clearly a student magna cum laude of the game.
Jason Yellin: What else can you say about that Tim Kenney. He is at the Garden right now trying to get our tickets sorted and designated. Tim does so much for the team, all of the players and coaches. The fans who hear him on the radio have no idea how many different hats Tim wears in making things run smoothly for the program. He has a good gut feeling in his gut for Tuesday, I can tell you that. Thank for the glowing comments on Tim, I echo them!

Gideon (Northampton): Whats up coach, Have you seen Stephane Lasme play in the NBA? Do you think he can be a force in the years to come in the pros?
Jason Yellin: I will take this one and tell all the fans that Stephane has signed his second 10-day contract with the Miami Heat today. Steph called Coach Ford around 2:30 to tell him that he still has his spot. Steph and Miami have their next game in Indiana. I know many of the UMass players wanted to see him in Boston the other night for that debacle, but we were already in New York for the NIT.
Jason Yellin: Talk to you soon when we get out of practice here. The team has a banquet in Central Park tonight, which will be a fine event. Check in later.
Jason Yellin: Hello ... we are back from the NIT banquet at the Boathouse in Central Park ... Travis Ford will take some questions, so fire away ... I will update you while we await coach.
Jason Yellin: Practice at NYU was a great one. Tony Gaffney was on the court and gave great hustle. I expect he will see his normal minutes tomorrow night. The rest of the guys looked strong. Ricky Harris was knocking down shots. Dante Milligan continued to play hard as he has all NIT and I expect another big game from him tomorrow night. After practice we returned to the hotel to change for the team banquet in Central Park. That was a very nice dinner, filets and halibut were the main courses. Our team was the finest dressed as all of the players wore coats and ties. UMass was styling for sure. None of the other teams were dressed as nice. Florida wore polo shirts and Ole Miss and Ohio State just worn button down shirts. Each coach was introduced while C.M. Newton of the NIT gave a long speech about the history of the NIT. Following a fantastic chocolate mousse type pastry with whipped cream, it was time to return to the hotel for more team film in the meeting room.
Coach Ford: Hello fans its great to be here at the NIT Final Four. Our team is working hard to represent UMass in the best possible way. Our players had a very good practice at NYU this afternoon. We just came back from a nice banquet at the Boathouse in Central Park.

Eric H. (Florence): I hope I speak for all Umass fans in saying that this year has been quite amazing. From being picked to finish 8th in the A-10 to making history at the Carrier Dome, this team has literally proved everyone wrong this season. They are also a joy to watch, and I encourage all basketball fans from around the area to come out and watch this team put on a real show. Let's give these boys and Travis the support the deserve by packing MSG on Tuesday and the Mullins Center every game next year!
Coach Ford: Hi Eric ... It's great to be here and we appreciate the support. To look back four months ago to see when some of the preseason rankings had us ranked and considering what we lost, to be here in the Final Four with Florida, Ole Miss and Ohio State is an incredible accomplishment. Hopefully we have more basketball to play.

Jerry (Greenfield, MA): For Travis: How will this NIT run help next year's team?
Coach Ford: Jerry, this will help immensely for the future. It is a great accomplishment. Hopefully the players that are younger who are coming back next year will see how tough it is and help motivate them to want to really, really improve their games over the summer.

Jason (Albany, NY): For Travis: Do you consider New York a place you want to recruit or is it just a coincidence that so many players on the team are from New York. Will there be any recruits in attendance at Madison Square Garden? I'm looking forward to going to the game on Tuesday. I'll be the guy in the stands with a maroon umass t-shirt on!
Coach Ford: Jason. We are very happy to be here in New York. I helps us to be playing in New York very much when it comes to recruiting. It doesn't hurt in any way. This is obviously and area we try to concentrate on. It is an area full of great basketball players and it can help get UMass back on the national scene.

Michael Fetterer (Norwalk CT): Coach Ford: You and Billy Donovan both learned under Rick Pitino. Donovan played for Pitino at Providence, then served on his staff at Kentucky, where you played for both. In what areas of the game do your and Donovan's coaching styles align and where do they differ?
Coach Ford: Hi Michael, outs styles are similar in that we try to put every bit of energy into our basketball teams. We all give everything we have. We all work extremely hard and put in our time in terms of preparation. We are different in that we coach our personnel. We are worried about changing styles based around the players on the roster. We all like to play up-tempo, but you have to adapt to the personnel you have. You have to adapt to what you players are good at. I say we are the same, but we are different. Look at Coach Pitino's teams, they are scoring in the 60s now. Billy Donovan is playing more zone this year. So we all have to adapt to our personnel.

Troy Hatfield: Coach Ford, How do you plan to contain Calathes on the offensive end on Tuesday?
Coach Ford: Troy. Nick Calathes is one of the great freshmen in the country. He is a huge key to Florida's basketball team. They like him to have the ball in his hands. We have to try and limit his touches as much as possible. We will try to pressure him as much as possible. I do think he is the key to their team.

Larry (Springfield): Coach Ford... What's Tony Gaffney's status for Tuesday's game?
Coach Ford: Tony has practiced the last few days and practiced today.

Neal (Longmeadow): Coach Ford, Congratulations on making it this far in the NIT; it's kind of nice to know that UMass is one of only 8 teams left to still be playing college basketball. I was wondering what your specific goals were for the team this season and if they were met? In my opinion, playing into April is a feat that any coach should be proud of.

Neal (Longmeadow): Coach Ford, Congratulations on making it this far in the NIT; it's kind of nice to know that UMass is one of only 8 teams left to still be playing college basketball. I was wondering what your specific goals were for the team this season and if they were met? In my opinion, playing into April is a feat that any coach should be proud of.
Travis Ford: Neal. It is great to be here in New York at this great event. We really don;t set team goals. We of course want to win the A-10 regular season title, and the A-10 Tournament and make the NCAA. But those are many teams goals. We have played very well late in the season, winning 9 of 10 games and we are proud of the way we have finished, but we are focused on Florida. Our attitude of thinking our next opponent has worked for us late in the season and we have been successful so each game our goal has been to just win that next game.

Rich (Boston): Coach Ford, What's with all of the ESPN interviews this year? It seems that UMass maybe has become the media's darling thanks to your frequent trips down I-91 to Bristol.
Coach Ford: Rich ... Our Media Relations Director Jason Yellin has set me up with those interviews. It has been fun to go down to Bristol. Its just over an hour to get there. Last Thursday when I was there, I got to meet up with Dick Vitale, Bob Knight, Digger Phelps and Steve Lavin and sit in with them while they watched the Xavier-West VIrginia game.
Coach Ford: OK fans ... time to watch film with the team. I hope we have a huge maroon sea of people at the Garden. That would great to see. Thanks and Go UMass.
Jason Yellin: Hi fans ... I will take a few questions now.

Ryan (Amherst): Jason, I'm just wondering if you can tell us what section the student tickets are in?
Jason Yellin: Ryan ... the student tickets are in the end zones behind the baskets. Many of UMass' tickets are in sections 95,96,97.

Drew Rossi (Springfield): Jason...this question is for my boy Nana Ampim...I would like to know if his London Accent disappears when he is in New York City, and how is the scout team looking?
Jason Yellin: Hi Drew ... Nice speech to the team a few games ago in the locker room. Hope you are well. It does seem he loses that accent... Weird huh? I can tell you Nana was perhaps the best dressed at tonight's banquet along with Gary Forbes. Nana was in a sharp tan suit. ... Scout team is busting it hard as always.

reggie - boston: do you think the heat will keep stephane lasme? do you hear from him a lot?
Jason Yellin: Stephane signed another 10-day contract with the Heat today.

Dave (Amherst): Is Jason happy he is in New York so he can watch Johan and the Mets on SNY today?
Jason Yellin: Dave, It was good to see the first 4 innings of Mets win over the Marlins today while the team was finishing up practice at NYU this afternoon.
Jason Yellin: Have a great night ... Tomorrow is the first of hopefully to games for us here at MSG. UMass is 3-1 all-time against defending national champions!
Jason Yellin: GREETINGS ... Its Gameday. NIT Semifinals tonight starting at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

JAM- Springfield: Will the Umass band be there to get the Umass fans rockin?
Jason Yellin: JAM ... Yes the band will here at the Garden. We will have the band in the end zone. They will be playing loud.
Jason Yellin: First off I will have some comments from Dante Milligan coming up.
Jason Yellin: Now to give you an update of what we have done so far today. We had a 9:15 wakeup call following by breakfast here. We departed the hotel at 10:15 to head for shootaround at the Garden. Of course the traffic was brutal in NYC, we drove though Times Square as the players enjoyed looking out at all the festivities. We got to the Garden for our 11 a.m. shootaround. The players were excited to be on the floor at the Garden. Along with the players, Steve Middleton's daughter LaNesha got to shoot some hoops at the World's Most Famous Arena. Shane Ford, Travis' son was also there and will actually be shown on the ESPN broadcast tonight. Check out the 4-year old's mastery with the basketball. The ESPN crew of Ron Franklin, Fran Fraschilla, Bill Raftery and Allen Hopkins were on hand to talk to Coach Ford and the players. They did special interviews with Travis and Dante which will be shown during the game. CBS3 Springfield was also there and they will have a special update on their 6 p.m. news, so check that out. The players went hard for 50 minutes. Chris, Ricky, Gary shot well. The post players pounded it hard inside with the New Yorkers looking to show their best in Etienne and Dante.

6th Man (Harrisburg, PA): For Bobby B: The interview with Chris Lowe and the Florida player was a great idea. Thanks for doing it. Unfortunately, on both iTunes and on the UMass website, the interview only plays for a total of 15 seconds. If you have time today, will you fix that? Thanks!
Jason Yellin: We have fixed it ... Thanks for the note.
Jason Yellin: MEDIA FLASH: Travis Ford will be interviewed by Mike & The Mad Dog here in New York at 3:05 p.m. Check the interview on wfan.com if you are not in New York to listen on 660 AM.

Greg (College Park, MD): For Dante, What does playing at the Garden mean to you after everything that has happened in your life the past few years? I felt that your play against Syracuse is what made UMass win that game and I can't help to think that you had extra motivation to play at MSG. Also, I want to let you know that although I love watching you play basketball, what impresses me the most is everything I have ever read about you. I love your attitude and know you will have a very successful career after school. The same goes with the rest of the team. As a fan, I love how well you and your teammates represent the university. You guys are class acts and I just want to thank you guys. It has been a pleasure to watch play.
Dante Milligan: Greg, it means a lot to me to play my final college games here in New York at Madison Square Garden. I have been coming to games since I was little, Knicks games, college games. I have wanted to come to New York since we found out we were in the NIT. It has been my goal. When we were down at Syracuse by 22 points, we gathered the seniors and I told them I loved them and we were going to do this. We played so hard and won the game and now we are here in New York, the World's Most Famous Arena.

Jackie Chase (Hatfield, MA): Hey Dante I have a question for you. How does it feel to be going to the NIT Final 4? I wish you and the entire team the best of luck. Although I can't make it to New York for Tuesday I will have my hopes high for you guys! Tell the gang I say hi and good luck! GO UMASS!
Dante Milligan: Jackie, I feels so good to finally get here and be at home for my last couple of college games here in New York City in front of my family and friends. Its also good for the program, for UMass to finally get this far in postseason play. It says a lot about the direction of the program and it says a lot about the job Travis Ford has done.

Tony (Hartford): Dante, when you start scoring points in seems the like the team is unstoppable. How do you match up inside against Florida?
Dante Milligan: Tony, They are are a young team. They play a similar style of play, a fast-paced style of play. I think the team that wins is the one that plays the hardest and gets defensive stops. It will be a battle.
Dante Milligan: Thanks for all the comments and well wishes. It is going to be a special night. I will have more than 100 friends and family at the game so I just can't wait for the game to get here.
Jason Yellin: I will check in later from the Garden when we arrive before the game. We are expected more than 2,000 UMass fans alone to be on hand.
Jason Yellin: WELCOME BACK FROM MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. I am courtside as the team has flowed out on to the court. Gary Forbes, Matt Pennie Gary Correia were among the first UMass players to hit the court.
Jason Yellin: UMass will be in maroon tonight as the road team with Florida in white ... You know how they determined who was home team as both squads were No. 1 seeds? They went by ABC order F is before M, thus Florida is the home team. Funny huh?
Jason Yellin: UMass will be in maroon tonight as the road team with Florida in white ... You know how they determined who was home team as both squads were No. 1 seeds? They went by ABC order F is before M, thus Florida is the home team. Funny huh?

Dave (Saint Louis): Thank you Jason. This chat has been a joy to read. It would be great to make this a regular feature on umassathletics.com with all the sports teams. These players are great representatives of the University. Go UMass!
Jason Yellin: Luke Bonner and Matt Pennie will be here to answer any questions tonight.
Jason Yellin: A few players have a chance to check in and thank the fans. Here are what they had to say.
Chris Lowe: Tonight was a great win. Florida is one of the best college basketball teams in the country. They won two national championships, each of the last two years and they have a great coaching staff.
Chris Lowe: We just loved you guys, the fan support helped us get back into the game. We owe so much to the fans. This was like a home game for us. It was a great feeling for us. We are glad to be in the NIT Championship and now we are trying to win it.

Ben (Boston): Congrats guys! Truly a great win for the program in front of a national stage. Good luck Thursday.
Matt Glass: Thanks Ben. Tonight was such a great night. It was such a great opportunity and such a great place to play. To win at Madison Square Garden, it was so special. It was the first time for plenty of us including me and it special. It was nice such a nice homecoming for our New York guys and get a big, big win against a great Florida team.

Steve (UMass): I wasn't able to make it to New York tonight but definitely want to go on Thursday? Can I still get tickets on that fan bus?
Matt Glass: Thanks Steve. Yes they will have tickets on sale tomorrow, they tell me. I hope to see you there and have you be a part of something that feels so special right now.
Matt Glass: Just want to sign off by saying we love the fans, we love the support and we are really glad they made the trip and hope to see them on Thursday night!
Tony Gaffney: Hi fans, just wanted to chime and thank everyone for sending well wishes. It sure was great to get back in the court tonight. It felt great to get back on the court. We are having a blast right now with everyone else. It was just so much fun. We have one more to go. But we are taking it in. We are just having a lot of fun together and everyone is loving each other. I agree with Matt Glass, we love our fans. They helped will us to that win tonight. They were on their feet the whole game. To make that drive, it means a ton to us. We clearly had the most fans there -- that helped us win -- and hopeful they will all be here on Thursday. Good night!
Jason Yellin: WEDNESDAY MORNING ... The players have come back down to earth and our focus now is Ohio State, the national runner-up in men's basketball in the NCAA in 2007. The had a late wake-up call for most of the guys. But Coach Ford, Dante Milligan, Gary Forbes and Chris Lowe took part in the pre-championship game press conference here in the Marriott Marquis. They spoke about how physical and strong the Buckeyes were. Thad Matta spoke about how he was familiar with UMass from his days in the Atlantic 10 as a coach at Xavier. For UMass, there were plenty of interviews with the media including CBS College Sports (former CSTV), NBC and ABC. As well as many of the major papers in the area and New York City. Following the presser, it was time for breakfast. The team met for scouting report right after breakfast. There was lots of video on Ohio State and talk about their zone style of play.
Jason Yellin: We are now on the way to our practice at Pace University at 1 p.m. Here is some big news that just came donw - Coach Ford will be ringing the 4 p.m. bell to close the New York Stock Market along with Coach Thad Matta. Check back for pictures later on today.

Frankie (Cape Cod): Fantastic game. Everyone on the Cape was going nuts in the second half watching it. It seems as though you guys are in much better shape in terms of conditioning than our opponents and you are using it to your advantage. Am I right? Congrats on the game. I'll be at the Garden on Thursday
Jason Yellin: Frankie, thanks for the note... Just to update fans, tickets are now on sale by call 1-866-UMASS-TIX. The prices are the same as the other day, $55, $40 and $15 for students. We will also be having a bus trip, please call 413-545-1401 for your spot on the bus. It will leave at 12 Noon from the South Side of McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The prices are also $55 for students and $80 for all others. Also, we will be having the pregame party at Joe O's again, starting at 5 p.m. We hope to see all of you!!

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