UMASS LOVES ESPN: Fordham Comes To Mullins For Thursday Battle
UMASS (15-8, 4-5) vs. FORDHAM (8-12, 2-6)
UMass Loves ESPN2 As Fordham Comes To Mullins
The Minutemen stand at 15-8 overall and 4-5 in the Atlantic 10 after a difficult 80-70 overtime loss at Temple last Sunday. Temple sent the game to OT with a 3-pointer with 1:10 left in regulation and proceeded to outscore UMass 16-6 in the extra session. UMass is seeking the build some consistency as the Minutemen have not been able to string two wins in a row in nearly a month since they beat Dayton and Charlotte in back-to-back games on Jan. 14 and 19. Despite the recent tough times, UMass still stands 26th in the RPI as of Monday, Feb. 11. The Minutemen have the 11th-most difficult schedule based on Realtime RPI as well.
Fordham is 8-12 overall and 2-6 in the A-10, fighting to make the conference tournament, where only the top 12 teams qualify for Atlantic City. Fordham has dropped four games in a row, but nearly knocked off 20-4 Rhode Island on Sunday in a battle of Rams, falling 65-63, at Rose Hill.
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 former Minuteman Tim Collins.
UMass' Gary Forbes continues to score in double-figures as he has done in 27 games in a row dating to last season. The Minuteman has done it all 23 games in 2007-08 and leads the A-10 with a 20.6 scoring average.
Rising In The RPI
UMass plays the 12th-toughest schedule in the nation and the Minutemen have been sensational with a 9-4 record against top 100 teams. UMass has beaten No. 16 Dayton, No. 24 Rhode Island, No. 45 Syracuse, No. 53 Houston, No. 85 Boston College, No. 88 Charlotte and No. 90 Duquesne.
Prior to last year's win for UMass at Fordham, the home team had won each of the previous 10 meetings. Before that, UMass had won 12 of 13 prior to that.
UMass has won seven home games in a row in the series. Overall, for games played in Amherst, the Minutemen lead the series 13-2, with a 10-1 mark at Mullins. The Minutemen have won 11 of the last 12 games in Amherst, dating to 1973.
Before last year's win, UMass had not won at Rose Hill since Feb. 16, 2000, an 81-72 Minuteman win at Rose Hill. Overall, in games played at Rose Hill , Fordham leads, 8-7. The schools also met once at Madison Square Garden, with the Minutemen recording a 73-47 victory on Feb. 6, 1996.
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 Travis Ford is 2-0 against Fordham winning last season's game. Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg stands 2-4 all-time against UMass winning twice at home since he took over in 2003-04.
New Yorkers Face Hometown Team
Senior forward Gary Forbes was a star at Benjamin Banneker High School in Brooklyn, where he is school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Senior forward Danté Milligan is a native New Yorker who played his high school basketball at Trinity-Pawling. Junior point guard Chris Lowe is a native of Mount Vernon where he played basketball. Senior forward Etienne Brower is from Hempstead, Long Island where he played at West Hempstead.
For Milligan, last season's game at Fordham was extra special, as he faced the Rams on his 23rd birthday, Feb. 15, 2007. Milligan had a career-game with personal-best 11 rebounds along with nine points as many of his friends and family looked on.
Four members of the staff are native New Yorkers, who had a chance to visit family last season when the Minutemen played in the Bronx. Associate Head Coach Tim Maloney is a native of Floral Park and Long Beach. Assistant Coach Steve Middleton grew up in Brooklyn and played at Samuel J. Tilden High School. Assistant Coach Adam Ginsburg is a native of Baldwin on Long Island while Director of Basketball Operations James Altman grew up in Rockville Centre and played his high school basketball at South Side.
Last Season's Meeting
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring at a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 82.4 points per game, up from 76.7 points (+5.7) through 23 games last season and 77.3 points (+5.1) for the entire season.
UMass is 10th in the NCAA in scoring through Feb. 11 with 82.4 per game. The Minutemen are also second in the Atlantic 10 scoring behind No. 4 Duquesne (85.9). VMI leads the nation with a 92.4 average.
UMass has scored 80 or more points 12 times with a 10-2 record in those games. The Minutemen have reached 90 points seven times, standing, 6-1.
UMass has been one of two squads with two players in the in the Top 50 NCAA scoring leaders for nearly the entire season (until Feb. 11) with Gary Forbes, who is now 30th with a 20.3 average and Ricky Harris, who was as high as 28th, but is now in the top 60 at 18.8.
UMass is 36th in total 3-pointers made with 203. With 8.8 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 31st in the NCAA in 3s per game.
After finishing third in the nation (7.45) in blocked shots with the nation's top shot blocker in Lasme, UMass is tied for third in 2007-08 with 7.6 per game. UConn (8.6) and Mississippi State (8.6) and lead the nation.
UMass has six games with 10 or more blocks most recently its outing vs. Rhode Island (2/7) with 10.
The Minutemen picked up 41 blocks in three games (13.7 per game) from Dec. 22-Jan. 2. 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.
Showing Major Improvement
Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 18.8 points per game after just 4.5 last season as a freshman. He played in 32 games, all off the bench, but has started every game this season. Harris has 433 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 +14.3 points per game. Harris scored in double-figures in the first 18 games this season and in 21 of 23 overall with a career-high 30 at Saint Joseph's (1/23). He also scored 25 on four occasions (at Syracuse, at Boston College, at Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph's). 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 12.1 points, starting the first 15 games after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 278 points in the first 23 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 is averaging 17.2 points in his last five games including 20 or more in three of those five games. He had 22 vs. Xavier (1/27) and 21 against both Temple (2/10) and Duquesne (1/30). His +9.4 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Green Bay (11/17).
Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in seven games this season. He had just four double-figure games in 32 contests last season. 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 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. An increase of 4.0 points and 2.3 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 4.1 per game and has made 18-of-47 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
Among The A-10 Leaders
After an early season ankle injury, Chris Lowe 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 with 5.1 per game. He is also seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.81. Lowe has been in double-figures in each of the last three games, as he tied his career-high with 23 points against Rhode Island (2/7). Over three games (Dec. 29-Jan. 5), Lowe averaged 18.0 points per game and shot 62 percent from the floor along with 4.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. When Lowe has five or more assists this season, UMass is 11-2. The Minutemen are 2-6, when he has less than five.
Tony Gaffney stands third with 1.8 blocks per game including a career-high six at Duquesne (1/30).
Danté Milligan is shooting 62.1 from the floor (64-of-103), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he were eligible, Milligan would rank 10th nationally and first in the A-10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 62.1, an improvement of 12.7 percent.
Milligan is fifth in the Atlantic 10 in blocked shots per game with 1.6.
Harris is fifth in steals per game with 1.8. He's sixth in 3-pointers per game with 2.57.
Lowe Moving Up Assists Chart
UMass Continues Home Dominance
Ford-Tough At Home
UMass Against Ranked Teams
This season the Minutemen are 1-2 against ranked teams, losing at then-No. 15 Vanderbilt on Jan. 5, 97-88, in Nashville and falling to #23/22 Xavier on Jan. 27, 77-65, at the Mullins Center.
Last season, UMass played just one ranked team when they lost at No. 4 Pittsburgh, 85-68 on Nov. 18, 2006. Two seasons ago, UMass lost to No. 3 UConn, 78-60 on Dec. 8, 2005, to No. 11 Boston College, 91-62 on Jan. 3, 2006 and to No. 7 to George Washington, 69-66 on Feb. 15, 2006.
UMass head coach Travis Ford won his first-ever game as a head coach against a ranked team with the win at Dayton. He is 1-6 at UMass after going 0-9 while coaching at Eastern Kentucky from 2000-05.
All-time, UMass is 30-67 against ranked teams.
For the week of Jan. 21, UMass received 47 votes in the AP Poll to effectively rank the Minutemen No. 31. It was the most points UMass received since the 1998-99 season. UMass was part of "Others Receiving Votes" from Dec. 17-Jan. 7 polls. In the Jan. 7 poll, UMass had five points, UMass would have been ranked 34th. UMass had eight points on Dec. 31. UMass received six points in the Associated Press media poll on Dec. 17 and 24. UMass has received votes in a week for the 10th time in the last two seasons with the votes on Jan. 7. 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.
Three Atlantic 10 teams have been ranked this season with highs of Dayton at No. 14, Rhode Island at No. 22 and Xavier at No. 20. When all three were ranked in the same weeks of Jan. 7 and Jan. 14, it was the first time since the 2003 season, the A-10 had three ranked teams.
This week, Xavier is No. 15. Dayton, Rhode Island and Saint Joseph's are including in "Others Receiving Votes".
UMass also played No. 14 Vanderbilt (17-3), one of the final five undefeated teams in the nation, in a 97-88 loss on January 5.
For the Jan. 21 week, UMass received votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll for the first time this season with nine points. Effectively, UMass was 33rd in the nation according to that poll. Last season, UMass received one vote in March for its only other time with points in the last two seasons.
Getting It Done In 3S
The Minutemen also had three players grab 10 rebounds in a game for the first time since 1999. UMass was led by Tony Gaffney, who also had a career-high six blocked shots, with 12. Dante Milligan had 11 rebounds and Forbes had 10 to give him his fourth double-double of the season.
Beating the ACC & Big East
Harris Gains National, A-10 Honors
Forbes Earns National, A-10 Honors
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 against Green Bay (11/17). That game was 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 Commonwealth Classic
UMass' athletic teams have had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen posted a 10-2-1 record against BC in 10 different sports. Most notably, UMass' men's soccer team, which played in the NCAA College Cup on Dec. 7, 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 basketball 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
Bits From The 107-Point Outburst
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 legend has faced two or more times, UMass is the ONLY school 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.
25 Is Twice As Nice
UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
2006-07 A Season To Remember
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.
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