UMASS CONCLUDES ROAD SWING AT GW ON SATURDAY NIGHT
UMass will conclude its stretch of playing four of its last five games on the road this weekend when it travels to the nation's capital to face George Washington, Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Charles E. Smith Center.
Both teams are coming off heartbreaking losses as the Minutemen fell in overtime at longtime rival Rhode Island and GW lost at home to Xavier on a Tu Holloway bucket with 30 seconds left.
UMass has not lost consecutive games this season and is 5-6 away from Amherst, while GW is 5-5 at home after having its four-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday.
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., 95.9 AM WATD on Boston's South Shore, and 1510 AM WWZN in Boston. "Voice of the Minutemen" Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney will call the action. Live audio, video and Gametracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH GEORGE WASHINGTON
GW leads the series 35-26, including a 20-7 mark in Foggy Bottom. Prior to dropping the last two meetings, the Minutemen had won 10 of the last 13.
George Washington holds an 20-7 advantage in games played at the Smith Center, but the Minutemen recorded wins in four of the last six games in D.C. (2001, 2003, 2005, 2008). In 2005, UMass had an epic 76-74 victory in overtime over then-No. 21 GW on Jan. 15, 2005. With less than a second to play in overtime, Rashaun Freeman caught a pass and laid it in the basket in one motion, giving UMass the win. Freeman finished with 27 points.
UMass has won two of the three overtime games in the series, including the most recent extra-session contest - the aforementioned 76-74 win in 2005.
7 of the last 10 meetings have been decided by 10 points or less with each of the last nine at GW falling into that same range.
Back in 1995-96, George Washington ended UMass' perfect 26-0 start with an 86-76 win at the Smith Center on Feb. 24, 1996.
The teams first met on Feb. 27, 1971 in Madison Square Garden, with the Redmen winning 70-65.
WILLIAMS IS GOOD AS ADVERTISED
Redshirt sophomore point guard Chaz Williams has been given the responsibility of quarterbacking the Minutemen's new up-tempo offense and the transfer from Hofstra lived up to the billing, averaging 15.8 points and 6.0 assists in 22 games. He is shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 47th nationally in steals with 2.0 per game and 22nd nationally with 6.0 assists per game.
Through eight games in league play, he is posting averages of 17.6 points (3rd in A-10), 6.5 assists (3rd), and 87.1 FT Pct (8th).
Prior to a first-half miss against Saint Louis, Williams hit 33 consecutive free throws over a six-game stretch which broke Donta Bright's (1996) single-season record for consecutive free throws made against conference opponents. The school record for the most consecutive made free throws is 40 which was also set by Bright in 1996.
In the loss at La Salle, Williams surpassed his previous career high with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting while adding five assists.
Williams scored a then-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 that mark with another 22 points (20 in the second half) in the win over Siena (12/9).
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.
PUTNEY TAKING FLIGHT
One of the keys to UMass' success this season has been the play of redshirt-sophomore Raphiael Putney. The forward is UMass second leading scorer this year with 10.6 points per game and 5.7 rebounds. An athletic player, Putney's ability to elevate above the rim has gained him notoriety and popularity among the fans - his amazing dunk in transition against Saint Joseph's was a Sports Center Top-10 Play and a nominee for the GEICO Play of the Year.
Putney has three double-doubles this season including a career-best 22 points and 10 rebounds last Saturday against Saint Louis.
CARTER DEMANDING RESPECT INSIDE
While he may not be the stat sheet stuffer that some of his teammates have become, senior Sean Carter's play has remained consistent throughout the season. He ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in field goal pct. (.640) and tenth in rebounding (6.6), while leading the team in board work eight times, including three A-10 contests. His numbers through the first half of league play are even more impressive. In eight games, he is first in FG pct. (.774) and seventh in rebounds (7.5).
Over the past seven games he has posted some amazing numbers. In addition to being the second-leading scorer during that stretch at 13.7 ppg, he is shooting 40-for-50 (.800) from the floor. He scored a career-high 18 points at La Salle going 8-for-11 from the floor before going 6-of-6 from the floor for 15 points in the win over Charlotte. He has also made his last six field goal attempts, all of which have been slam dunks.
DUNK YOU VERY MUCH
Its no secret that dunks can play a big role in exciting the crowd and shifting a game's momentum, and UMass has a pair of players who can bring the house down on any given night. Senior Sean Carter and sophomore Raphiael Putney have combined for 54 of the team's 85 slams this season.
Carter leads the team with 35 thus far, including a season-best five at Rhode Island on Wednesday. In fact, of his 71 made buckets this season, 49 pct. have come from above the rim. In his three seasons since transferring from Oregon State he has led UMass in dunks each year and produced 85 dunks out of 194 field goals - good for 44 pct.
Conversely, Putney uses his long, athletic frame to find ways to reach the basket that most players can't manage. He has 19 dunks, with a good number of those on alley-oops and fast breaks. His soaring throwdown in transition against Saint Joseph's was named ESPN's No. 8 Play of the Day (Jan. 14, 2012), the No. 4 Play of the Week (Jan. 16, 2012) and is also a nominee for the GEICO Play of the Year.
UMASS ONE OF A-10'S TOP SCORING TEAMS
At an average clip of 76.8 points per game, UMass is the top ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10 and 31st nationally. The Minutemen are one of nine 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 +7.4 over opponents. Saint Louis and La Salle are the only two teams to have margins higher than 10 points.
Through 22 games, UMass has shot .434 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.
Senior bigman Sean Carter has been on fire over the last seven games shooting 40-of-50 from the floor to average 13.7 points per game.
Also over the last seven games, Chaz Williams (17.3 pts), Raphiael Putney (12.6), Jesse Morgan (12.4 pts) and Sean Carter (13.7 pts) have averaged double-figures.
Free throw shooting has also improved over the last six games with UMass hitting 76.6 percent compared to 67.3 percent overall for the season.
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 17.5 turnovers per game and scored 21.5 points per game off those take-aways.
UMass was the beneficiary of 21 turnovers on Wednesday at Rhode Island, marking the seventh time an opponent has lost the ball at least 20 times.
The flip side to the previous note is that the Minutemen recorded 25 points off those 21 URI TOs. UMass has scored at least 20 points off its opponents 12 times this season, topping 30 points four times.
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.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging just under 41 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 with 40.8 and tied for 5th nationally. The Minutemen have outrebounded their opponents 13 times this season and are 10-3 in those contests.
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 16 games won this year, UMass is 142-of-374 from three-point land and average 14.4 turnovers per game. In 6 games lost, UMass is just 23-of-110 from deep and average 19.8 turnovers.
Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average nearly 18 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 10.4 in the six losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up nearly 6.7 assists in wins, but just 3.8 in each of the six losses.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG UMASS ROTATION
While Chaz Williams and Raphiael Putney may be the only Minutemen averaging double-figures in the scoring column this season, however, UMass is a well-balanced scoring team. In 12 games this season, UMass has had four or more players reach double-figure point totals, translating into a .
Against Utah, Davidson, Central Connecticut, and Fordham, five Minutemen reached double-figures in the scoring column. Against Siena, Williams and Freddie Riley each scored over 20 points in the comeback win.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
Through 22 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 8.9 points in 24.5 minutes.
Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 10.6 points and is averaging over two more rebounds per game (3.0-to-5.7)
After having a strong freshman campaign in 2009-10, Terrell Vinson saw his scoring dip from 9.6 points per game to 6.5 last season. This year he is back to form averaging 8.6 points in nearly 25 minutes per game.
DEPTH OFF THE BENCH KEY
UMass has received quite a lift from its bench this 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 four (College of Charleston, La Salle, Saint Louis and Rhode Island).
33.6% (567-of-1,689 points) of UMass' scoring has come from the bench.
BEST HOME START SINCE 1992-93 SEASON
With a 11-0 home record to start the season (10-0 at Mullins, 1-0 at The Cage), UMass is off to its best home start since 1992-93 when the Minutemen started 11-0 at home. In 1993-94 UMass was 14-0 at home.
SEASON-OPENING WIN AT THE CAGE
Playing just its second game in 18 years at the historic Curry Hicks Cage, UMass (1-0) used a 21-4 run early in the second half to erase a four-point halftime deficit and cruise to a 85-67 victory over Elon (0-1) on Nov. 11. Sophomore transfer Chaz Williams led the way with 18 points and eight assists. Juniors Sampson Carter (17), Terrell Vinson (17) and Javorn Farrell (13) rounded out UMass' four double-digit scorers.
The Minutemen used a new running and pressing style and a raucous Cage crowd to force 25 Elon turnovers, scoring 32 points off those turnovers. Jesse Morgan led the charge on defense with a career-high five steals.
In his first game in a UMass uniform, was the catalyst all night for the Minutemen, grabbing six rebounds to go with his 18 points and eight assists.
Vinson recorded the fourth double-double of his career, leading all players with 11 rebounds.
LALANNE TAKES PRESEASON A-10 HONOR
The Atlantic 10 Conference announced its preseason awards at its annual men's basketball media day in Brooklyn on Oct. 13 with UMass freshman Cady Lalanne being named to the All-Rookie Team. The forward from Orlando, Fla. is the first Minuteman named All-Rookie since Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson in 2009.
Joining Lalanne on the All-Rookie Team are Dezmine Wells (Xavier), Jerrell Wright (La Salle), Justin Martin (Xavier), Alonzo Nelson-Odada (Richmond) and Anthony Lee (Temple).
Lalanne joins the Minutemen following becoming eligible per NCAA rules after attending UMass as a student in 2010-11. The 6-8 bigman played his high school ball at Oak Ridge in Orlando, Fla. and his AAU basketball with the Florida Rams.
THANKSGIVING IN THE BAHAMAS
UMass opened play in the Bahamas against #22 Florida State on Thanksgiving Eve. The Minutemen kept it close in the first half but couldn't hold off the Seminoles in the second and ultimately lost 73-53, their first loss of the season. Redshirt Freshman Maxie Esho had an impressive game, as he scored a career-high ten points and while grabbing five rebounds.
The Minutemen came back from the loss against Florida State and beat Utah the next day 89-75. Sophomore Jesse Morgan had an impressive performance from beyond the arc and finished the game with five three pointers out of an attempted six. Chaz Williams was also a key factor in the game as he scored 14 points and dished out seven assists.
On the final day of the tournament, UMass faced College of Charleston who ran away with the lead in the second half and won 85-61. At halftime, the Cougars had just a four point advantage over the Minutemen, however some sharp-shooting by Charleston and a breakdown of UMass defense gave the Minutemen their second loss of the season.
BLOWOUT WIN IN COMMONWEALTH CLASSIC
Led by a stifling defense that forced 23 turnovers that led to 28 points, UMass beat Boston College, 82-46 in the Commonwealth Classic on Monday, November 21 at Conte Forum. The Minutemen improved to 4-0 in the season's first four contests, by outscoring the Eagles, 28-6 over the final 10 and a half minutes to turn an 11-point halftime lead into a 36-point win, the largest margin of victory in the 45 games between the in-state rivals.
Chaz Williams scored a game-high 16 points, dished out five assists, and had three steals. Freddie Riley (14), Cady Lalanne (11), and Jesse Morgan (11) completed the Minutemen's quartet of double figure scorers.
Besides forcing 23 turnovers while allowing just 11, the Minutemen also dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle 46-31. The UMass bench outscored BC's 35-8.
The 36-point win beats the previous biggest margin of victory in the UMass-BC series, a 30-point Minutemen victory on Dec. 12, 1998 in Worcester. It is UMass' biggest victory over any opponent since beating La Salle by 37, 100-63 on March 5, 2008.
The victory was UMass' first over BC since 2007 and first over a BCS conference school since Dec. 13, 2008 (Kansas).
UMASS BASKETBALL AIRS IN BOSTON
Nelligan Sports Marketing has reached an agreement with WBIN-TV that will allow UMass fans in the greater Boston area to watch approximately a dozen live broadcasts of UMass games, including football, hockey, men's and women's basketball, and lacrosse throughout the 2011-12 season beginning in November. The games will be produced by the UMass Sports Network.
WBIN-TV, the only locally owned and operated TV station in the Boston/Manchester market, reaches all major cable and satellite outlets in the greater Boston area. The UMass schedule on WBIN began on November 5 when the UMass hockey team beat No. 1 Boston College at the Mullins Center. UMass basketball's Nov. 14 Northeastern game also aired on WBIN.
UMASS SIGNS FLORIDA CENTER BERGANTINO
UMass men's basketball head coach Derek Kellogg, on the eve of the Minutemen's season opener, announced on Thursday the signing of 6-9 center Tyler Bergantino of Springhill, Fla. to a National Letter of Intent. The talented big man, now a senior at Nature Coast Technical High School in Brooksville, Fla., will join the Minutemen for the 2012-13 season.
"Tyler exemplifies exactly the type of person and player we want at UMass," Kellogg said. "He is an extremely high-character young man and plays the game at a high level at both ends of the floor. My staff, the team, the UMass community and I are all very excited to have Tyler joining the UMass basketball family."
At 6-9, 240 lbs., Bergantino is a physical force inside and possesses rapidly improving skill and touch around the basket. He enters his senior year at Nature Coast the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,150 career points. Bergantino is coming off a junior campaign in which he led all of Hernando County with averages of 17.9 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.8 blocked shots. That followed up a sophomore season in 2009-10 in which he posted averages of 14.5 points, 10.9 rebounds and 5.2 blocks.
UMASS LED BY ONE OF ITS OWN
Derek Kellogg, in his fourth season, is the first UMass alum to serve as the head coach of his alma mater since Tom McLaughlin, who coached the Minutemen from 1981-83. Kellogg graduated from UMass in 1995 where he was an All-Atlantic 10 selection in 1995. McLaughlin graduated from UMass in 1973 where he was one of three future head coaches on the team. He was joined by former Boston College head coach Al Skinner and current Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
Kellogg is not the only current head coach from the UMass rosters in the mid-90s as Tony Barbee is in his second year as the head coach at Auburn. In his first season with the Tigers, Barbee's squad went 11-20 overall and 4-12 in the SEC after taking UTEP to the NCAA Tournament the previous season. Alum Harper Williams was named to Barbee's staff this summer. The pair were at UMass' Nov. 17 win against NJIT in Amherst.
UP NEXT: ST. BONAVENTURE
UMass will return home Wednesday night when it plays host to St. Bonaventure at 7:30 p.m at the Mullins Center. The contest will be preceeded by the UMass and SBU women's squads at 5 p.m.
UMass leads the all-time series 39-19. That includes margins of 20-8 in Amherst, 14-12 in St. Bonaventure, 2-1 in three Atlantic 10 Tournament games in Philadelphia. UMass has won two of the three overtime games in the series - all of which have been played in New York.
The series dates back to the 1980-81 seaosn when the Bonnies claimed both meetings - 97-79 in Amherst and 104-80 in St. Bonaventure.
SBU won nine of the first 16 meetings before UMass reeled off 17-consecutive wins from 1989-96. The Bonnies won seven of 10 from 97-01 and UMass has since owned an 11-3 edge dating back the 2001 A-10 Tournament.
UMass is 11-5 against SBU in the Mullins Center. Prior to dropping a 70-69 ballgame two years ago, the Minutemen had won four straight at home.
A year ago, the Minutemen used 26 points from Anthony Gurley and a 46-22 edge in the paint to pull out a 78-69 win at the Reilly Center.