Men's Basketball

 
UMass Hosts Saint Joseph's To Open A-10 Play On Wednesday

Ricky Harris has scored nearly 15 more points per game in 2007-08.

Ricky Harris has scored nearly 15 more points per game in 2007-08.
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    RV UMASS (11-3) vs. SAINT JOSEPH'S (7-4)
    Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008 • 7:30 P.M.
    Mullins Center (9,493) • AMherst, Mass.
    Streaming Video: UMassAthletics.com
    Radio: WRNX (100.9 FM - Flagship)
    WCRN (830 AM), WATD (95.9 FM)

    UMass Hosts Saint Joseph's To Open A-10 Play On Wednesday
    • Coming off its best non-conference season since the Final Four year of 1995-96, the UMass basketball team begins its Atlantic 10 conference schedule on Wednesday, as the Saint Joseph's Hawks come to the Mullins Center for a 7:30 p.m. game. The Minutemen stand at 11-3 and rank 16th in the RPI as of Monday in addition to receiving votes in the Associated Press poll for the fourth week in a row. UMass has five points to effectively rank them 34th in the nation.

    • St. Joe's comes into the conference schedule with a 7-4 record. The Hawks return to action after not playing since Dec. 31, when they defeated former UMass coach Bruiser Flint and Drexel, 69-51.

    • Live streaming video will be available on UMassAthletics.com as part of UMass All-Access. The game will be carried on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM WRNX in Western Massachusetts and on 830 AM (WCRN) in Central Mass and 95.9 FM (WATD) in Eastern Mass. Bob Behler calls the action alongside color analyst and Tim Collins.

    • UMass has won six of its last seven games after suffering its first loss in more than a month at No. 15 Vanderbilt last Saturday in Nashville, 97-88. UMass had three players score more than 20 points for the first time since 1999 as Ricky Harris led the way with 25 points and Gary Forbes and Chris Lowe each added 22 points in a tough loss. UMass led by 14 points in the first half and nine in the second half before Vanderbilt rallied for the win. Shan Foster scored 32 points for the Commodores, the most for any UMass opponent this season.

    • UMass has a perfect 6-0 record at home this season and has won 15 games in a row at the Mullins Center after a thrilling 95-89 win over Houston last Wednesday. UMass rallied from a 13-point deficit in the first half to pick up its third signature win of the season (Syracuse and Boston College).

    • With its 92-point average last week against Houston and Vanderbilt, UMass' scoring average is up to 85.1 points, 10th in the nation and second in the Atlantic 10.

    • With its new high-energy system installed by Ford this year. The Minutemen are led by Gary Forbes (20.9 points per game) and Ricky Harris (19.4) as UMass is one of three schools in the nation with a pair of NCAA Top 50 scorers as Forbes is 21st and Harris is 42nd. The other schools on the list are Vanderbilt and North Dakota State.

    • UMass has scored more than 80 points in nine of 14 games.

    • UMass is off its best start at 11-3, since opening the 1995-96 season 26-0 on its way to the Final Four. Vanderbilt is off to its best start in school history.

    The Series With Saint Joseph's
    • This will be the 52nd meeting between UMass and Saint Joseph's, with the Minutemen leading the all-time series 27-24. Travis Ford has led UMass to wins in each of the last two seasons to end the Hawks eight-game win streak two seasons ago with a 68-58 win on Jan. 11, 2006, at the Mullins Center. Last season, UMass captured the Atlantic 10 conference regular-season co-championship with a 71-67 win at Hawk Hill on March 3, 2007. Saint Joseph's has won nine of the last 12, but prior to that UMass ran off six consecutive victories in the series.

    • The Minutemen hold a 14-5 advantage against Saint Joseph's for games played in Amherst, including a 8-5 mark against the Hawks at the Mullins Center.

    • Saint Joseph's holds a 14-9 advantage against the Minutemen for regular-season games played in Philadelphia, including a 11-9 mark against UMass in Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.

    • UMass head coach Travis Ford is 2-0 against the Hawks. Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli stands 11-11 all-time against the Minutemen in his career.

    LAST YEAR'S GAME (March 3, 2007): UMass captured its first Atlantic 10 Regular-Season Championship since 1996 as the Minutemen defeated Saint Joseph's, 71-67, before a raucous sell-out crowd in Philadelphia. The Minutemen finish tied with Xavier at 13-3 to claim a share of the crown. Chris Lowe made a play of the game as he stole the ball from D.J. Rivera. had a lay-up and converted the foul shot with 3:17 left to give UMass a lead it would never relinquish. Gary Forbes scored 13 points to lead the Minutemen in scoring. Forbes scored the go-ahead basket with just under three minutes left, and UMass (23-7, 13-3) used a late seven-point run to secure its sixth straight victory and the second seeded position in the upcoming A-10 tournament. The Minutemen lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to co-champ Xavier. Ahmad Nivins, who missed most of the second half due to foul trouble, scored 18 points for Saint Joseph's (17-13, 9-7), which lost its third straight and will play in the opening round of the conference tournament on Wednesday. The Hawks led 63-60 with 3:37 left and were poised to spoil UMass' title hopes. But Gary Lowe stole the ball from the Hawks' Jawan Carter at midcourt and converted a three-point play that tied the game at 63-all.

    Vote UMass!
    • For the fourth week in a row, UMass is "others receiving votes" with five on Jan. 7. If you rank the teams by points, UMass would be ranked 34th. Last week, UMass had eight points on Dec. 31. UMass received six points in the Associated Press media poll on Dec. 17 and 24. This week is the 10th time in the last two seasons that UMass is receiving votes. Last season, the Minutemen received a season-best 11 votes in the March 3, 2007 poll to "rank" them 37th that week.

    • The last time UMass was ranked in the AP Poll was in the Nov. 18, 1998 poll, when the Minutemen came in at No. 23.

    • UMass is one of four Atlantic 10 teams in the poll with three being ranked for the first time since March 2003. Dayton is at No. 17, Rhode Island ranking No. 22 and Xavier is at No. 24 after big wins over Virginia and Auburn last week.

    • UMass also played No. 12 Vanderbilt (15-0), one of six undefeated teams in the nation in a 97-88 loss on January 5. Rising In The RPI

    • With big wins at Syracuse and Boston College, UMass is at No. 16 in the RPI rankings based on RealtimeRPI.com as of mid-day on Jan. 7. The Minutemen have been as high as No. 9 this season following its win over Toledo on Dec. 15. The Atlantic 10 has four teams in the Top 25 of the RPI led by No. 7 Dayton, No. 10 Xavier and No. 17 Rhode Island.

    Beating the ACC & Big East
    • With the wins at Syracuse and BC, UMass has beaten teams from the Big East and ACC for the first time since 2004-05 when UMass defeated UConn and Florida State at home. The last time UMass beat teams from those two conferences away from home came in 1999-2000 when the Minutemen last won at BC, prior to Wednesday, and beat Florida State at the Orange Bowl Classic.

    UMass Continues Home Dominance
    • UMass wrapped up a four-game homestand with the 95-89 win over Houston as the Minutemen moved to 6-0 at home this year and won their 15th game in a row at the Mullins Center. The stretch came after a stint of 28 days away from home. The Minutemen finally returned to the friendly confines of the Mullins Center when it beat Toledo, 68-61 on Dec. 15. UMass has won 14 home games in a row. The Minutemen are 28-4 (87.5) in their last 32 games at the Mullins Center spanning the last three seasons spanning Travis Ford's tenure in Amherst. UMass went 12-2 at home last year and 10-2 in 2005-06. Last season playing before an average of nearly than 6,000 fans per game at the Mullins Center, including a sellout of 9,493 for the Boston College game on Dec. 2. UMass had its second crowd of more than 9,000 last year with 9,088 against Saint Louis on Feb. 24.

    Ford-Tough At Home
    • UMass head coach Travis Ford has been strong at home over the last four years with a 40-5 record as the home-team coach. He is 28-4 at UMass. In 2004-05, Ford posted a 12-1 record at Eastern Kentucky's McBrayer Arena prior to this year's perfect start at the Mullins Center. Staff members Tim Maloney, Steve Middleton, and James Altman were all with EKU as well.

    Block Party
    • Even after losing the nation's top shot blocker in Golden State Warriors draft pick Stephane Lasme, UMass has risen to the top of the nation blocked shots once against in 2007-08. The Minutemen have picked it up late with 43 blocks in its last four games (10.8 per game). The Minutemen had 18 swats against Central Connecticut on Dec. 22 for the second-most prolific shot blocking game in school history. The only game with more came with a school-record of 20 on Jan. 3, 1995 in a win over West Virginia at the Springfield Civic Center. UMass followed that up with 14 blocks vs. Boston University.

    • The Minutemen hold the top four shot blocking days in Atlantic 10 history led by the 1995 showing and this year's party against CCSU. UMass also had 16 against St. Francis (N.Y.) last year and St. Peter's in 2005.

    • The 18 blocked shots ties for the ninth most in a game in NCAA history, dating to 1985 when blocked shots became an official statistic.

    • After finishing third in the nation (7.45) in blocked shots with the nation's top shot blocker in Lasme, UMass is fifth in 2007-08 with 7.4 per game. UConn (9.3) and UNC Asheville (8.8) lead the way. Third-ranked Duquesne leads the A-10 with 8.5 per contest.

    Scoring, More and More
    Travis Ford has installed an up-tempo offense in 2007-08 after two years of low-post dominance with Stephane Lasme and Rashaun Freeman leading the way. 2007 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Lasme was a second-round draft pick by the Golden State Warriors. Freeman is leading the French B Division in scoring and rebounding after being a three-time A-10 First-Team selection. Heading into 2007-08, UMass returned just 40 percent of its scoring and just 35 percent of its rebounding.

    • With the new offense, UMass is scoring a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 85.1 points per game, up from 74.4 points (+9.7) through 14 games last season and 77.3 points (+7.8) for the entire season.

    • UMass is 10th in the NCAA in scoring through Jan. 7 with 85.1 per game. The Minutemen are also second in the Atlantic 10 scoring behind No. 3 Duquesne (88.2). VMI leads the nation with a 95.4. average.

    • UMass is one of three teams in the nation with two players in the Top 50 NCAA scoring leaders as of Jan. 7 with Gary Forbes standing 21st with a 20.9 average. Ricky Harris is tied for 42nd with 19.4 per game. The other teams on the exclusive list are Vanderbilt and North Dakota State.

    • UMass is 32nd in total 3-pointers made with 124. With 8.8 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 21st in the NCAA in 3s per game.

    Showing Major Improvement
    • With only two players returning with significant playing time (Gary Forbes and Chris Lowe), many UMass players are seeing the most playing time of their careers. With that they have made major strides in all areas. Forbes, who started most of last year has increased his average 8.9 points per game from 13.0 to 20.9 to lead the Minutemen. Lowe has also taken his average from 7.0 to 12.8, a +5.8 mark.

    • Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 19.4 points per game after just 4.5 last season as a freshman. He played in 32 games, all off the bench, but has started all 13 games this season. Harris has 271 points this year after 145 all of last year. He passed his entire scoring total in the eighth game of the season against Marist with 18 points. He leads all Minutemen in scoring improvement at +14.9 points per game. Harris has scored in double-figures in every game this season with a career-high 25 on three occasions (at Syracuse, at Boston College and at Vanderbilt). He scored more than 15 in each of the first four games, surpassing his freshman-season high of 14 each time.

    • Senior Etienne Brower has become the force UMass thought he would be after transferring from Boston University. Brower is averaging 10.9 points, starting every game after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 153 points in the first 14 games after just 59 all of last year in 22 games. He passed his entire total in the fifth game of the season with 75 after the Wis.-Green Bay (11/17) game which he scored a career-high 25 points. Brower has more than 12 points in six of eight games in 07-08 after his season high was just eight last year. His +8.2 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay (11/17) and a breakout game with 18 points against Houston (1/2).

    • Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in four games this season -- equalling his total from all of last year. He had his career-high of 17 in two of three games at Syracuse (11/28) and against Yale (11/14). Milligan's season-high last year was 10 points which he accomplished twice. Milligan has taken his averages from 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds to 7.5 points and 4.1 rebounds. An increase of 4.2 points and 1.7 rebounds.

    • Junior Luke Bonner is also seeing more time and making his signature 3-pointers. Bonner, who averaged just 1.6 points in 06-07 is up to 4.7 per game and has made 13-of-32 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.

    Among The A-10 Leaders
    • UMass has three leaders in individual categories in the Atlantic 10. Gary Forbes (20.9) is tied for the league lead with Temple's Dionte Christmas in scoring with a 20.9 average. He is first in the league in defensive rebounding with 6.29 per game with a season-best 11 against Boston University. Forbes is fifth in the league in rebounds with 7.6 per game. He is eighth in assists per game with 3.4.

    Ricky Harris leads in steals per game with 2.14, which is 40th in the NCAA. Harris is also third in the A-10 in scoring with a 19.4 average. He's eighth in 3-pointers game with 2.43.

    Chris Lowe is now healthy and has returned to his usual form and place amongst the leaders when it comes to point guards. He is second in the league in assists per game with 5.3 per game. He is also seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.82 per game. Lowe has averaged 14.6 points and 5.9 assists over nine games since returning from an ankle injury on Nov. 28. Over his last three games, Lowe is averaging 18.0 points per game and shooting 62 percent from the floor along with 4.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Lowe is also fifth in steals to Harris with 1.92 per game.

    • Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands ninth with 334. Next on the list to Charlton Clarke with 350. With five assists against CCSU (12/22), he passed BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and then with five more against Houston (1/2), he passed Louisville coach Rick Pitino (329).

    • Danté Milligan is shooting 64.1 from the floor (41-of-64), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he eligible, Milligan would rank 11th nationally and first in the A-10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 64.1, an improvement of 14.7 percent. Milligan is tied with Tony Gaffney for eighth in the league in blocks per game with 1.43.

    UMass Celebrates Ford's Birthday With BU Win
    • The backcourt trio of Gary Forbes, Ricky Harris, and Chris Lowe combined for 51 points to give UMass head coach Travis Ford a 70-61 victory over Boston University on his 38th birthday last Saturday night at the Mullins Center. Forbes finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds as he recorded his third double-double of the season. Lowe and Harris added 14 points each. Forbes and Harris have scored in double-figures in all 12 games this season.

    Forbes Earns National, A-10 Honors
    • UMass senior Gary Forbes was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the second time this season, Sunday, Dec. 16. He was also named CollegeHoops.net's National Player of the Year and the UMass Athlete of the Week. Also on Fox Sports.com, Forbes was named one of Frank Burlison's Top Five Players in the nation. Forbes led UMass to a 2-0 week with a 23.5 scoring average along with 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Forbes scored 22 points, including 17 in the second half, in UMass' 83-80 win at Boston College. He had a game-high 25 points in the win over Toledo.

    • In the win at BC, Forbes also pulled down seven rebounds. For the week, he shot 13-of-28 from the field and 18-for-19 from the line on the week. He was also named A-10 Player of the Week after the second week of the season on Nov. 18.

    • Forbes was honored by the A-10 for the first time after his outstanding play on Nov. 18 as he was named the Atlantic 10's co-player of the week along with Rhode Island's Will Daniels. Forbes averaged 24.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three contests between Nov. 11-17. He scored a season-best 29 points, including the 1,000th of his career, on Nov. 11 at Northern Iowa. He added 19 points and nine boards in the Minutemen's 89-80 win over Yale on Nov. 14. Finally, he scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists on Nov. 17 as UMass downed Wisconsin-Green Bay, 93-78. That game special to Forbes as he played before his father Roberto for the first time in his collegiate career. Roberto was visiting from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia.

    UMass Wins Comm. Classic For First Time Since `99
    • UMass captured its first Commonwealth Classic since 1999 with the 83-80 on Dec. 12 at Conte Forum. Riding a gutsy second-half effort by Gary Forbes and a stifling full-court press, the UMass men's basketball team picked up a victory over cross-state rival. The win was UMass' first vs. the Eagles since December 4, 1999, and first in the last nine games. UMass was led by sophomore Ricky Harris who tied a career-high with 25 points. Forbes added 22, including 17 in the second half. Along with Forbes and Harris, Chris Lowe tallied 17 points and Etienne Brower tied a career-high with 10 rebounds.

    • UMass' athletic teams have had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen have posted a 10-2-1 record against BC in 10 different sports. Most notably, UMass' men's soccer team, which is playing in the NCAA College Cup this weekend, knocked off No. 1-seeded Boston College on Nov. 28, by the score of 2-1. Additionally, UMass' softball team beat BC twice last spring, while the Minuteman hockey team has a 2-0-1 record against the Eagles, who won the 2007 Hockey East title. One of UMass' losses came in football, where the FBS Eagles were challenged by UMass' FCS team on Sept. 29, in a 24-14 BC win at Alumni Stadium. The Minutemen, who play with only 63 scholarships in the former Division I-AA, were within 17-14 in the fourth quarter.

    • The win also marked the first win vs. an ACC opponent since the Minutemen defeated Florida State, 78-68 on Feb. 15, 2005.

    • UMass also defeated alumnus Al Skinner for the first time since 1999, after Skinner had won eight in a row. Skinner is one of four former UMass players to have his number retired. Skinner had his No. 30 retired on Feb. 18, 2004. All-time against his alma mater, Skinner is 11-21

    Juicy Bits From The 107-Point Outburst
    • The Minutemen's 107-100 win at Syracuse ranks on the all-time charts in UMass annals. The 107 points were the most scored by an opponent against the Orange since the Dome opened in 1980.

    • The 107 points were the most UMass has scored in a regulation game since a 110-97 win over Duquesne on Jan. 6, 1977. It tied for the 11th-most points in a game for UMass as it also scored 107 in a win over Colgate in 1966.

    • The 207 combined points tied for the third-most points in a game in UMass annals. The record is 233, when UMass lost at Rutgers in triple overtime, 119-114 on Feb. 27, 1988.

    • The other game with more total points (214) marked the last time UMass played in a game where both teams scored 100 points in a regulation when North Texas beat the Minutemen, 110-104 on Dec. 29, 1982.

    • UMass continues to be the personal bug-a-boo for Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim. Of schools the legends has faced two or more times, UMass is the ONLY schools which Boeheim has never beaten. The Minutemen are 3-0, winning in 1992, 1995 and 2007 against the Orange.

    • In the epic win, UMass rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to come away with the win. Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with a career-high 25 points while Gary Forbes added 23 points. Forbes also had seven assists and six rebounds in what Travis Ford called his best game at UMass.

    • Point guard Chris Lowe returned to action after sitting for 14 days of game-action and had 13 points and a career-high tying nine assists.

    • UMass shot 52 percent from the floor including 14-of-31 from 3-point range. Etienne Brower made 4-of-6 from trey-range.

    • Danté Milligan continued to show he can be a force with his second career-high 17-point game in the last three games. Milligan also equalled his Yale game, two weeks prior, with an 8-of-9 showing from the floor.

    25 Is Twice As Nice
    • When Gary Forbes and Etienne Brower each scored 25 points in the win over Wis.-Green Bay (11/17), it was the first time UMass had two or more 25-point scorers in more than 10 years. The last time UMass had two with 25 or more was on Jan. 23, 1996 as Carmelo Travieso (27) and Donta Bright (26) accomplished the feat.

    UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
    • The Minutemen opened the 2007-08 season winning two of three games at the BTI Tip-Off Tournament hosted by Northern Iowa on the weekend of Nov. 9-11. UMass defeated Cal Poly, 90-64 and Northern Illinois, 102-87 before losing to the host Panthers, 75-68. Senior Gary Forbes, who scored his 1,000th career point in the loss to Northern Iowa, and sophomore Ricky Harris were named to the All-Tournament Team.

    2006-07 A Season To Remember
    • The 2006-07 season was a historical one for the UMass men's basketball team as the Minutemen captured a share of the Atlantic 10 Regular-Season Championship. The Minutemen returned to the postseason for the first time since 2000 and won their first postseason game since the 1996 Final Four season. UMass downed perennial SEC power Alabama, 89-87 in overtime before a national audience. That game capped off a sensation 24-9 season, which marked UMass' best record since that 1995-96 season when the Minutemen went an all-time best, 35-2. UMass' 24-win season tied for the fifth-most win in a season in the program's history.

    • The Minutemen captured a share of the league title on March 3 with a 71-67 win at Saint Joseph's. It marked UMass' first regular-season league title since 1996 and sixth A-10 regular-season crown overall. The Minutemen won five straight regular-season titles from 1992-96 and proceeded to win the A-10 Tournament each time.

    • The Minutemen went 24-9 overall and had the best season since the 1995-96 Final Four year when they went 35-2 in finishing as a national semifinalist. UMass finished with a 13-3 record in the Atlantic 10. UMass had its best conference record since going a school-record 15-1 in 1995-96. Prior to the loss to Saint Louis in the A-10s, the Minutemen had won six games in a row overall, their longest win streak since capturing 10 games in a row in Jan.-Feb. 1998.

    • UMass senior Stephane Lasme was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07. Lasme is the first UMass player to be named the league's top player since Marcus Camby in 1996 and fourth overall joining Camby, Lou Roe (1995) and Harper Williams (1992). Lasme was named an AP Honorable Mention All-American following the season. He was UMass' first All-American honoree since Camby in 1996.

    • Lasme was joined by senior Rashaun Freeman on the A-10 First Team. Freeman is the first player since Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson (2001-04) to be a three-time first-team selection.

    • Lasme is the second player to be named the league's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same campaign joining Pepe Sanchez of Temple in 1999 and David West of Xavier in 2002.

    • Lasme joined Tony Dobbins of Richmond (2002-04) as the only players in league history to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors in successive seasons. Lasme was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second year in row.

    • Lasme and Freeman were named to the NABC All-District First Team and USBWA All-District First Team.

     

     

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