UMass Opens A-10 Play Against Fordham
• UMass puts its five-game win streak on the line Thursday night as the Minutemen open Atlantic 10 play against Fordham in the Mullins Center. The Minutemen are also undefeated this year at home (7-0) while the Rams are coming off wins against Georgia Tech and No. 22 Harvard.
• Thursday’s game will match up the Atlantic 10’s No. 2 scoring team in UMass and the No. 13 scoring team in Fordham.
• Raphiael Putney looks to continue his stretch of strong play as he enters the game averaging 13.3 points and nearly 5 rebounds over the last four games. UMass is 7-1 this year when the forward hits double-figures.
• The game can be heard on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM KIX in Western Mass. and 830 AM WCRN in Central Mass., and 95.9 AM WATD on Boston’s South Shore, and 1510 AM WWZN in Boston. “Voice of the Minutemen” Josh Maurer, Tim Collins, and Jason Germain will call the action. Live audio and Gameracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH FORDHAM
• UMass holds a 24-12 record in the all-time series after Fordham defeated the Minutemen on the road last season. Overall, for games played in Amherst, the Minutemen lead the series 13-3, with a 10-2 mark at Mullins. The Minutemen have won 11 of the last 13 games in Amherst, dating to 1973.
• The Rams have not won consecutive games in the series since taking three straight from 1970-72.
• The teams first met on Dec. 13, 1967 at Fordham, with the Rams winning by a score of 77-66.
• UMass coach Derek Kellogg will coach against Fordham for the fourth time, as he is 2-1 vs. the Rams. As a player at UMass from 1991-95, the Minutemen won an NCAA Tournament game in Worcester, 85-58 in 1992.
Up Next: At La Salle - Sunday, 2 PM
• UMass will head to La Salle on Sunday afternoon at 2 PM in Tom Gola Arena. The two teams split a pair of meetings last season with UMass winning in the Mullins Center and the Explorers holding court in Philadelphia. The series between the two teams has been close over the last nine meetings with La Salle holding a 5-4 edge. Sunday’s game will be televised by CBS Sports Regional and available locally on Comcast SportsNet New England.
• All-time UMass is 7-3 in Amherst and 5-6 at La Salle. The first meeting was an 82-75 win for La Salle on Dec. 30, 1971 in Philadelphia.
GOOD AS ADVERTISED
• Redshirt sophomore point guard Chaz Williams has been given the reponsibility of quarterbacking the Minutemen’s new up-tempo offense and the tranfer from Hofstra lived up to the billing, averaging 14.8 points and 5.8 assists in 14 games. He is shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 10th nationally in steals with 2.6 per game and 29th nationally with 5.8 assists per game.
• Williams scored a career-high 22 points in the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3). He also dished out four assists, while raking in four rebounds. He tied his career-high with another 22 points (20 in the second half) in the win over Siena (12/9).
• Williams scored a game-high 16 points and dished out five assists with three steals to lead UMass to a 36-point victory over Boston College, the biggest margin of victory ever in the series on Nov. 21.
• Williams recorded the first double-double of his career in Nov. 14’s win over Northeastern, tying career-highs with 20 points and 10 assists.
• Williams, in his first game in a UMass uniform in the win over Elon, led all scorers with 18 points to go with a game-high eight assists, six rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.
BRINGING THE PRESSURE
• To go with the new up-tempo offense, Derek Kellogg has the Minutemen pressing and trapping more on defense in 2011-12. The new attacking defensive style has worked extremely well thus far as the Minutemen have forced an average of 19.0 turnovers per game and scored 24.0 points per game off those take-aways.
• At East Carolina (12/6), UMass had nearly one point per ECU turnover, scoring 15 off 16 Pirates’ miscues.
• In the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3), the Minutemen forced 11 turnovers, while scoring as many points off them.
• The Minutemen forced 19 turnovers and turned it into 31 points in their lone win at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 25.
• In its 36-point win at Boston College on Nov. 21, UMass turned 23 Eagles turnovers into 28 points and outscored them 28-6 over the final 10:30 of the game.
• In the win vs. Northeastern (11/14), UMass forced 21 turnovers and scored 26 points off turnovers. Sampson Carter led the defense with three steals.
• The Minutemen held the Huskies to just 38 percent shooting in the game, including a 9.1 percent mark from behind the arc.
• In the opener vs. Elon, UMass forced 25 Phoenix turnovers and scoring 34 points off those turnovers, including 12 fast-break points. Jesse Morgan led the defensive charge with a career-high five steals in 17 minutes. UMass finished with 14 steals total.
• Through 14 games, UMass has shot .425 from the floor after posting a .401 shooting percentage a season ago. Much of the improvement can be attributed to the new up-tempo, fastbreaking offense that Derek Kellogg has implemented this season. Taking advantage of the long athletic players on his roster, Kellogg’s offense has resulted in higher percentage shots in transition.
• UMass has received strong shooting performances from the bench in the past few games. Freddie Riley has given the Minutemen lifts as a sixth-man over the last five games. The shooting guard is averaging 12 points per game in that stretch shooting 17-of-33 (.515) from beyond the arc.
• Also over the last five games, four Minutemen have shot 50% or better from the floor with UMass posting a 44.3 field goal percentage in the win streak.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging nearly 42 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 with 41.8 and 7th nationally.
UMASS ONE OF A-10’S TOP SCORING TEAMS
• At an average clip of 77.1 points per game, UMass is the second ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10. The Minutemen are one of seven teams in the league to average over 70 points per game.
• UMass is also the third-ranked team in the league in terms of scoring margin at +9.8 over opponents. Saint Louis and La Salle are the only two teams to have margins higher than 10 points.
BEST HOME START SINCE 2007-08 SEASON
• With a 7-0 home record to start the season (6-0 at Mullins, 1-0 at The Cage), since starting 6-0 in 2007-08. That season, UMass finished with an 11-3 home record during the regular season en route to the NIT Championship Game.
DEPTH OFF THE BENCH KEY
• UMass has received quite a lift from its bench early in the season. A season-high 51 points were scored in the win over Towson thanks to the reserves. All told, the UMass bench has outscored every opponent this year except one (College of Charleston).
• 43.4% (469-of-1080 points) of UMass’ scoring this year has come from the bench.
OUTSIDE SHOOTING+PROTECT THE BALL=WIN
• It’s a simple formula, but when UMass is able to shoot the ball from outside and keep turnovers to a minimum, chances are the Minutemen win. In 11 games won this year, UMass is 107-of-278 from three-point land and average 14.7 turnovers per game. In 3 games lost, UMass is just 13-of-75 from deep and average 17 turnovers.
• Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average over 18 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 9 in the three losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up nearly 6.5 assists in wins, but just 3.3 in each of the three losses.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG UMASS ROTATION
• While Chaz Williams may be the only Minuteman averaging double-figures in the scoring column this season, UMass is a well balanced scoring team. In four games this season, UMass has had four players reach double-figure point totals, while in three games, five Minutemen scored 10-or-more points.
• Against Utah, Davidson, and Central Connecticut, five Minutemen reached double-figures in the scoring column. Against Siena, Williams and Freddie each scored over 20 points in the comeback win.
• Raphiael Putney and Freddie Riley are near double-figure averages as Putney scores 9.5 points per game, while Riley averages 9.1 points per game.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 14 games, a trio of players have made significant strides over their 2010-11 averages.
• Jesse Morgan played in just 12 games last season averaging 4.4 points in almost 11 minutes per game. This year, the combo point guard/two guard is averaging 6.9 points in 21.2 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 9.5 points and is averaging just over one more rebound per game (3.0-to-4.1)
• After having a strong freshman campaign in 2009-10, Terrell Vinson saw his scoring dip from 9.6 poings per game to 6.5 last season. This year he is back to form averaging 8.4 points in just under 25 minutes per game.