UMass-Rhode Island Set For Wednesday's Black Out Night
Feb. 16, 2009
UMASS (9-14, 4-6) vs. RHODE ISLAND (18-8, 7-4)
UMass-Rhode Island Set For Wednesday's Black Out Night
UMass senior point guard Chris Lowe comes into the Rhode Island game needing just six assists to become the UMass career leader. He enters the game with 628. Carl Smith holds the UMass career record with 633, set from 1984-87. Lowe ranks eighth in career assists in the Atlantic 10 behind No. 7 Smith and George Washington's Shawnta Rogers at No. 6 with 634. Lowe is just the seventh A-10 player with 1,000 career points (he has 1,042) and 600 assists. With his 6.2 assist average this season, Lowe ranks 14th in the NCAA and second in the A-10, just 0.6 behind Charlotte's DiJuan Harris (6.8).
Tony Gaffney posted double-doubles in each of the last two games with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds at St. Bonaventure. Last Wednesday, at Fordham, he had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Gaffney ranks 12th in the NCAA in rebounding average (10.7) and third in blocks per game (4.1). Leading scorer Ricky Harris has scored his average of 19 in each of the last two games, ranking 40th in the NCAA.
Saturday's game will be available through UMass All-Access on UMassAthletics.com as well as the UMass Sports Network with Josh Maurer and former Minuteman Tim Collins on the call. Listen on 100.9 FM WRNX, the flagship station along with 830 AM WCRN and 95.9 FM WATD in Eastern Mass.
The Series With Rhode Island
UMass has won 31 of the last 42 games in the series. That includes sweeps by UMass in 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2008 and URI in 1999, 2003.
UMass has won the last three in a row including both of the meetings in 2008. The Minutemen knocked off URI, 78-76 at the Mullins Center on Feb. 7, 2008 which was also Black Out Night. Two weeks later, UMass won at Rhode Island, 98-91 on Feb. 21.
Four of the last six meetings (all of which have been won by the home team) have been decided by three points or less including last year's earlier match-up. Nine of the last 10 games have been decided by seven points or less.
If you remove the 2007 22-point UMass win, the averaging margin of victory in the last 10 games is five points.
Prior to last season, the teams had split their meetings in each of the previous two seasons in 2006 and 2007.
The home team has won six of the last seven games in the series (was six in a row until the last game at URI). That includes two games from 2006 with each team winning at home. UMass beat URI, 63-61 on Feb. 4, 2006 to gain a measure of revenge for the loss to open the season series. Rhode Island won the first game at URI, 58-55 on Jan. 25.
UMass won both games in 2005. The Minutemen won at URI, 49-44, in a defensive struggle on Feb. 9, 2005 and again at the Mullins Center, 70-64, on Feb. 23, 2005 in overtime.
UMass has won 17 of the last 21 games played at home in the series. Overall, for games played in Amherst, the Minutemen lead the series 47-20, with a 10-4 mark at the Mullins Center, the third- most wins against any team at the Mullins Center (Temple 13, St. Bonaventure 11).
For games played in Kingston, the Rams lead the series 35-26, with six games split (3-3) at the Ryan Center which opened in 2002-03.
UMass coach Derek Kellogg will face the Rams for the first time as a head coach. As a player at UMass from 1992-95, the Minutemen were 9-1 vs. Rhode Island, losing once in 1993 at Providence. Rhode Island coach Jim Baron stands 12-23 against UMass (6-8 since moving to Kingston in 2002). He was 6-15 while at St. Bonaventure.
Last Season's Two Meetings
AT THE MULLINS CENTER (FEB. 7, 2008): The trio of Gary Forbes, Chris Lowe and Etienne Brower led UMass to a huge Atlantic 10 win, 78-76, over Rhode Island. Forbes and Brower each posted double-doubles as Forbes had 26 points and 13 rebounds while Brower had 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Lowe tied his career-high with 23 points while handing out six assists. Will Daniels led the Rams with 19 points. Daniels also had 13 rebounds for a double-double. Parfait Bitee had 17 for URI. URI's Keith Cothran missed a runner in the lane with 10 seconds remaining as Forbes grabbed his 13th rebound.
Thorr Back At His Alma Mater
UMass Playing 58th-Toughest Schedule
The A-10 has three teams playing schedules in the top 60 in difficulty: Xavier plays the 23rd-toughest, Temple faces the 33rd-toughest and UMass is playing the 58th-toughest.
Gaffney Among The NCAA Leaders
With 94 blocks and 44 steals, Gaffney is closing in on becoming the fifth player since 1996-97 to have 100 blocks and 50 steals in a season. The last to achieve the mark was Duke's Shelden Williams in 2005-06 with 137 blocks and 60 steals.
Gaffney is tied for 75th in steals per game with 1.9 per game, which is second in the Atlantic 10.
He is having a breakout senior season averaging a double-double with nine double-doubles this season after none in his career in 81 games entering the season. He also had grabbed at least seven rebounds in 19 of 23 games and at least 10 in 15 of the 23 games. He has double-doubles in each of his last two games with a career-high 21 points and 11 rebounds at St. Bonaventure (2/14). He also had 19 points and 10 rebounds at Fordham (2/11) last Wednesday.
Gaffney has three games with 15 or more rebounds, most recently at Houston (12/30) with 16. He also had 19 at Memphis (11/17) and 18 vs. Boston College (12/6).
Gaffney has five or more blocks in nine games this year including seven against Dayton (1/10). After that game, UD coach Brian Gregory called Gaffney "the best non-scoring player in the nation" for his all-around game. His career-high of nine came vs. Boston College (12/6).
Gaffney nearly had triple-doubles in back-to-back games on Dec. 6 and 10. In those contests he has a combined 32 points, 29 rebounds and 17 blocks. Against Holy Cross, (12/10), he had 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. That followed a titanic effort vs. Boston College (12/6) with 15 points, 18 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots.
Gaffney's 94 blocked shots already rank as the sixth-best single-season in UMass history. At No. 5 is Marcus Camby with 103 in his sophomore season of 1994-95. Gaffney's 153 career blocks is seventh in a career at UMass. Kitwana Rhymer (184) is sixth all-time.
Many of Gaffney's best performances of 2008-09 have come against national powers. At #25/23 Kansas (12/13), he posted 13 rebounds and six blocks. Against Boston College when he had 15 points, 18 rebounds, and a career-high nine blocked shots, his put-back of a missed Chris Lowe free throw sent the game to overtime, giving UMass a chance for its second-straight win over BC. Another outstanding game came at Memphis (11/17), one which Memphis John Calipari called him the best player on the court. Against the No. 13 Tigers, Gaffney scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds along with five blocks. It was his second career double-double. He opened the year with 16 points and 13 rebounds against Arkansas-Monticello (11/11).
Lowe Nears Assists Mark, Nets 1000th Chris Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands second with 628, just six shy of the all-time record held by Carl Smith (633). His seven assists at No. 10 Xavier (1/31) passed him by Edgar Padilla (597) 11 assists against Boston College (12/6) propelled him past Alex Eldridge (518) on the all-time list. Lowe is 14th in the NCAA in the NCAA with 6.2 assists per game, which also is second in the Atlantic 10 lead to Charlotte's DiJuan Harris (6.8). He has led the league in assists in two of the last three years and would become the first player to lead the A-10 in assists for three years in a career. Lowe became the 41st player in UMass history to pass the 1,000-point plateau. Ricky Harris became the 40th earlier this year. Lowe has become the first UMass player with 1,000 points and 600 assists and just the seventh in Atlantic 10 history. Lowe stands eighth in career assists in the Atlantic 10 with his 628. Carl Smith is next on the list (633) followed by George Washington's Shawnta Rogers (634). Lowe is up to 35th in career scoring at UMass with 1,042. Next on the list are No. 33 Alex Eldridge (1,053) and No. 34 Dana Dingle (1,043). Lowe has seven 10-assist games this season and 13 in his career, all in the last two seasons (all in the last 36 games). He racked up 10 assists vs. Richmond (2/4)for his last double-figure game. Lowe had 10 or more assists in four of five games in December with 10 each vs. Hofstra (12/20) and IUPUI (12/27). Lowe had 12 vs. Holy Cross (12/10) and 11 against Boston College (12/6). He also did it vs. Temple (1/17). The Mount Vernon, N.Y. product became the fourth player with 500 career assists at UMass after he gained five against Jacksonville State (11/24). He passed his coach Derek Kellogg (453) most recently at the end of last year. With a career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5/08) - part of the sixth triple-double in UMass history (14 pts, 10 reb), Lowe moved past UMass Hall of Famer Joe DiSarcina (431) into fifth. Last season, he also passed two illustrious coaches who played at UMass: BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and Louisville coach Rick Pitino (329). With his 214 assists last season, Lowe had the third-best single-season in UMass history after passing Smith (212), Smith (191), Alex Eldridge (174) and Rick Pitino (168).
Harris Shoots Up 1,000-Point List Ricky Harris became the 40th UMass player to score 1,000 career points on a free throw with 9:50 left in the first half against Hofstra (12/20). In 91 college games, Harris has 1,238 points to rank 17th in UMass history. Next on the list for Harris to pass are No. 16 Doug Grutchfield (1,257), No. 15 Billy Tindall (1,277) and No. 14 Clarence Hill (1,369) Harris has picked up where he left off last season, when he was named the A-10 Chris Daniels Most Improved player. Harris is leading UMass with a 19.0 scoring average and led the team in scoring in 15 of the first 23 games with 20 or more in eight games. Harris is 41st in the NCAA in scoring per game and third in the Atlantic 10. He dropped a season and career-high 35 points on BC (12/6). The 35 points were good for the 13th most in school history and only six behind the school record of 41 held by Billy Tindall on Feb. 10, 1968 vs. Vermont. It was also Harris' second ever 30+ point scoring effort. Two games prior, he netted 27 at Green Bay (11/29) and had 24 points at Southern Illinois (11/12).
Harris Rises on 3-Point Charts Junior Ricky Harris has also continued to blister from 3-point range. He is shooting 41.1 from beyond the new extended-distance arc. He has made 69-of-168 from 3-point range. Harris, who tied Carmelo Travieso for the single-season mark for made treys last year with 104, is rising on the career charts. Harris stands fifth in career made 3-pointers with 190 and fifth in career attempts with 513. With four treys at Green Bay, he passed Edgar Padilla (136) and his coach Derek Kellogg (138). Next on the list at No. 4 is Rafer Giles (221). On the attempts list, Harris is fifth, passing Sutton(424), James Life (425) and Edgar Padilla (431) after passing Kellogg (362) earlier this season. Next on the attempts chart is Rafer Giles (592). Harris had his streak of 26 games in a row with at least one 3-pointer ended in the loss to Vanderbilt (1/3).
Big Nights For Bonner Senior center Luke Bonner has had some of the best games of his college career since returning from a left MCL sprain which kept him out a month of action. Bonner posted his first-career double-double at Charlotte (1/21) with a career-high tying 15 points and a career-best 11 rebounds. That performance came in a career-high 39 minutes, shattering his former length of 26 minutes by 13. Bonner also set or tied career highs for field goals attempted (11), made 3-pointers (3), 3-pointers attempted (8) and assists (3). Bonner, who was injured on Nov. 12 at Southern Illinois, returned to action on Dec. 20 against Hofstra with a career breakout game. He posted then-career bests 15 points and nine rebounds. That came in just 18 minutes off the bench. In 16 games (13 starts), he is scoring 7.6 points per game along with 5.6 rebounds. He has also made 28-of-62 3-point field goals for a team-best 45.2 percent. Over his last nine games -- which he has made a 3-pointer in each game -- Bonner is shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc with 19-of-36. He also had a huge game in an all-around sense with 14 points including three 3-pointers and four drawn charges at #10/10 Xavier (1/31). Bonner made a career-high four 3-pointers, hitting all four of his attempts, at Fordham (2/11). On the defensive end, Bonner has been just amazing at drawing charges. He has taken 23 offensive fouls in just 16 games, more than one a game including a career high four on twice at #10/10 Xavier and vs. Hofstra (12/20). Bonner has 23 of UMass' 32 drawn charges as a team this season.
Off To See The United States UMass played its 12 game away from home this season at St. Bonaventure -- in eight different states including Ohio twice and New York twice. If you include the home state of Massachusetts, UMass has played games in nine states (Illinois, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina and New York). The trip to St. Bonaventure brought the Minutemen's travel mileage to 13,543 this season according to basketballstate.com. Overall, UMass will travel 14,859 in the regular season. The next trip is a bus ride to Saint Joseph's on Feb. 22.
UMass Against Ranked Teams UMass is 1-2 this season against ranked teams with a noteable 61-60 win at #25/23 Kansas on Dec. 13, 2008. The Minutemen nearly had their second win over a ranked team on Jan. 31 as they lost 82-80 at #10/10 Xavier. That Xavier game was UMass' 100th all-time against a ranked team (based on the AP Poll) and the program is 31-69 all-time in those games in the 100th Season of UMass Basketball. UMass has won four of its last 12 games against ranked teams dating to 2004. UMass lost at Memphis, 80-58 on Nov. 17, 2008. Last season the Minutemen were 1-2 against ranked teams with the win at Dayton, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008. Last season, UMass broke a five-game losing streak against ranked teams with its 82-71 win at #14/18 Dayton on Jan. 16. The Minutemen's previous win over a ranked team came at #21 George Washington (76-74 in OT on Jan. 15, 2005). That was the second win a row over a ranked team that season as UMass also beat #7 UConn (61-59 on Dec. 9, 2004). In both those wins, three-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 honoree Rashaun Freeman hit the game-winning shot, beating UConn with 4.3 seconds left and topping the Colonials with a lay-up with 0.4 left in overtime.
UMass 5-1 Vs Defending NCAA Champs With the 61-60 over #25/23 Kansas (12/13), UMass is now 5-1 all-time against defending national champions, as the Minutemen have won three in a row against the champs. With last year's win over Florida in the NIT Semifinals, UMass has beaten the last two NCAA champs in their title defense year. UMass head coach Derek Kellogg has been a part of three of the wins over the champ as a player in 1993 and 1994 and the head coach in 2008 vs. Kansas. On Dec. 9, 2004 as the Minutemen downed No. 7 UConn at the Mullins Center, 61-59 as Rashaun Freeman scored with seconds left to lift UMass to the historic win. The game marked the first time a defending champion visited the Mullins Center. UMass knocked off North Carolina, 91-86, in overtime on Nov. 24, 1993 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden. One year later, UMass thumped Arkansas, 104-80, on Nov. 25, 1994 in the Tip-Off Classic at the Springfield Civic Center. That win over No. 1 Arkansas is symbolic, as it vaulted UMass to the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for the first time in school history. Last week was the 14-year anniversary of the school's first No. 1 ranking, as the Minutemen played their first game as the No. 1 team on Dec. 3, 1994. UMass' only loss against a champ came on Nov. 22, 1999, as the Minutemen lost to UConn at Gampel Pavilion, 79-65, on Nov. 22, 1999.
Notes On UMass' Win Over Kansas UMass topped No. 25/23 Kansas, 61-60 on Dec. 13 in Kansas City. The UMass win was its first in 17 tries against a non-conference ranked team outside the state of Massachusetts. The win ended Kansas' 30-game home win streak (the game at KC was counted officially by the NCAA as a home game since it was part of the season-ticket package and was staffed by KU). UMass won a non-conference game against a ranked team, away from Massachusetts for the first time since it beat Georgetown in the 1996 NCAA Elite Eight on March 23, 1996. For head coach Derek Kellogg the win was sweet as his Minutemen picked up their first win over a ranked team under his watch in just his ninth game as a head coach. The previous fastest UMass coach to beat a ranked team was Bruiser Flint, who beat then-No. 19 Boston College in his 17th game as the head man on Jan. 18, 1997. Kellogg also gained a win against Kansas, the team which downed Memphis in the 2008 NCAA title game when Kellogg was an assistant for former UMass coach John Calipari. UMass beat a non-conference ranked team on the road for the first time since win at #21 Louisville on March 2, 1996, 62-59. UMass beat a non-conference ranked team for the first time since topping UConn, 61-59, on Dec. 9, 2004. Since that game, UMass is 4-7 against ranked teams (1-1 this season, losing at Memphis). UMass last beat a ranked team at #14 Dayton on the road last season, 82-71 on Jan. 16, 2008. The Minutemen have won the last two games against Kansas, winning at the Mullins Center in 1999. All-time Kansas leads the series, 3-2. All five games have been played in different states (New York, California, Kansas, Massachusetts and Missouri).
100th Season Of UMass Basketball UMass is celebrating the 100th season of UMass basketball in 2008-09. UMass will be honoring six eras/decades throughout the season by inviting back every living UMass player to attend his respective celebration. The first event was held at Boston College game on Dec. 6 which honored the Classic Era (1899-1959). The next event will be the 1990s Celebration on Feb. 8 against Saint Joseph's. The following players were on hand for the BC game: Don Akerson, Frank Barous, George "Trigger" Burke, John Edgar, Dick Eid, Wray Gunn, Paul Kollios, Ned Larkin, John MacLeod, Condon McDonough, Ed McGrath, George Morin, Alex Norskey, Bill Prevey, Bill Stephens and William Walsh. The 1960s Celebration was held at the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 3. Here are the players who attended: Jim Babyak, Peter Bernard, Dennis Chapman, Chuck Demers (trainer), Joe DiSarcina, John Dreyer, Robert Eichorn, Ray Ellerbrook, Gary Gasperack, Jim Girotti, Paul Gullicksen, John Lisack, Bob Murphy, Richard Perkins, Ed Rubin (manager), Dick Samuelson, Rich Starsiak, Frank Stewart and Billy Tindall. The 1970s Celebration at the Temple game honored: Jim Burke, Bob Dempsey, David Dibble, Mark Donoghue, Billy Endicott, Michael Littman (manager), Tom McLaughlin, John Moynihan, Charles Olsen, Bob Powers (manager) Sam Provo, Mike Pyatt, Peter Trow, Rick Vogeley and Ray Witkos. The family of the late John Murphy was also recognized. At the La Salle game on Jan. 24, the 1980s Celebration was held and the following players attended: Matt Anderson, Bob Braun, Tony DePina, Kurt Funk, Bill Hampton, Cary Herer, Dennis Jackson (assistant coach), Sean Nelen, Horace Neysmith, Hal Shaw, Jack Sheehan, Fitzhugh Tarry, Keith Whitt and Ron Young. The 1990s night was the biggest of the celebrations with the following players in attendance: Craig Berry, Ronell Blizzard, Ross Burns, Charlton Clarke, Ted Cottrell, Darryl Denson, Dana Dingle, Francois Firmin, Jason Germain, Will Herndon, Derek Kellogg, Lari Ketner, Chris Kirkland, Andy Maclay, Rigo Nunez, Tommy Pace, Edgar and Giddel Padilla (flew in from Puerto Rico), Kennard Robinson, John Tate, Tyrone Weeks and Mike Williams. In looking back at UMass basketball, the program started with its first season in 1899-1900 with the first game played on Jan. 10, 1900, a 14-9 win over the Northampton YMCA. The program had several hiatuses in its history as, this is the 100th season with the program starting 109 years ago. UMass did not field a team in 1900-01, 1909-10 to 1915-16 and during World War II in both 1943-44 and 1944-45. Under the leadership of John Calipari, the Minutemen become A-10 Tournament Champs five consecutive times (1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96). Overall, UMass has appeared in the NCAA Tournament eight times, in addition to those five A-10 title years (1961-62, 1996-97 and 1997-98). They have two appearances in the Elite Eight (1995, 1996) and a Final Four appearance (1996). Last year UMass, went 25-11 in reaching the NIT Championship game. It was UMass' 10th NIT appearance including each of the last two season.
Umass Alum Leading UMass
Derek Kellogg 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 current Boston College head coach Al Skinner and Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Kellogg is not the current head coach from the UMass rosters in the mid-90s as Tony Barbee is in his fourth year as the head coach at Texas-El Paso.
Prior to McLaughlin, the last UMass alum to lead his alma mater was Lorin Ball (Class of 1921), who coached the team from 1945-52.
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