UMass returns to the friendly confines of the Mullins Center this weekend for the second game of the season series with La Salle, Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network (DIRECTV Ch. 613; DISH Ch. 152; Comcast in Springfield/Amherst Ch. 261 & 856-HD)
La Salle has lost three-straight, including a 59-51 setback to Saint Louis that ended the Explorers' 14-game home court wining streak. This is the fourth-consecutive game that UMass has faced a team looking to rebound from a loss.
UMass' next four games - La Salle, Xavier, at Dayton and at Temple - will be against teams with a combined 27-16 (.628) A-10 record, marking the highest opponent winning pct. of any league school during the next four games.
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. "Voice of the Minutemen" Josh Maurer and Jason Germain will call the action. Live audio and Gametracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH LA SALLE
UMass is 14-13 all-time against La Salle, including a 7-3 mark in Amherst and 1-1 in Springfield. The Explorers hold a 9-6 lead in Philadelphia. LU has won two straight and six of the last seven. The first meeting was an 82-75 win for La Salle on Dec. 30, 1971 in Philadelphia.
The last two games played in Massachusetts were held at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. A year ago, the Minutemen used a 54-38 scoring edge in the paint en route to a 74-71 win. In 2010, freshman Freddie Riley scored a season-high 22 points on a career-high six 3-pointers.
From 2006-08 UMass won three-consecutive games. That included two games in impressive fashion in 2007 and 2008 at the Mullins Center. UMass won those games by an average score of 101-63, a 38-point margin. On 2008's Senior Night, UMass defeated La Salle, 100-63 on March 5, 2008. That came a year after a 102-63 triumph on Feb. 28, 2007 at the Mullins Center.
UMass' three-game win streak followed a run where La Salle won five of six from 2003 to 2006. UMass won six in a row from 1991-98.
UMass coach Derek Kellogg coached against La Salle for the first time in 2009 and is 1-6. La Salle joined the Atlantic 10 in 1994-95, Kellogg's senior season and the Minutemen beat the Explorers, 87-64 in Atlantic City. La Salle coach John Giannini stands 9-7 against UMass (9-5 since moving to La Salle, as he lost twice at Maine).
THE LAST MEETING: LA SALLE 82, UMASS 75
Jan. 8, 2011, Tom Gola Arena, Philadelphia, Pa. (41 days ago)
Chaz Williams scored a career-high 24 points and Jesse Morgan added a career-high 20 points, but it was not enough as UMass' second-half rally fell just short with the Minutemen dropping a 82-75 decision. After trailing by 26 points at halftime, UMass went on a 21-6 run to start the second half sparked by eight points from Morgan.
Along with his 22 points, Morgan finished the game with four steals, three rebounds and a blocked shot. Williams added five assists to his 24 point effort. Sean Carter had a career-high 18 along with six rebounds.
La Salle was hot from beyond the arc hitting 10-of-16 three-pointers. The Explorers were led by Earl Pettis and Ramon Galloway who scored 19 and 18 points, respectively. Tyreek Duren added 12 points, while Sam Mills scored 11.
UMass finished the game shooting 41.9 percent (26-of-62) thanks in part to a strong shooting second half. La Salle finished the game hitting 47.3 percent of its shots (26-of-55) after hitting a blistering 57 percent in the first half.
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 15.6 points and a league-leading 6.0 assists this season. He is shooting 36.6 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 33rd nationally in steals with 2.1 per game and 14th nationally in assists per game.
Through 11 games in league play, he is posting averages of 16.7 points (4th in A-10), 6.4 assists (2nd) and 83.3 FT Pct (10th).
Prior to a first-half miss against Saint Louis (1/28), 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.
Williams has recorded six 20-point games this season, with career-highs of 24 on 8-of-16 shooting at La Salle. He also has recorded 22 points three times.
Williams recorded the first double-double of his career in the win over Northeastern (11/14), with 20 points and 10 assists. He added another double-double last Saturday at Saint Joseph's with 11 points and 10 assists. He joined Kevin Dillard (Dayton) and Tu Holloway (Xavier) as the only players in the A-10 to post multiple double-figure assist games this season.
WILLIAMS ON PACE TO BE FIRST TRUE POINT GUARD TO LEAD UMASS IN SCORING SINCE 1985
A check of the UMass record book shows that Chaz Williams is on the verge of doing something that hasn't been done in nearly 30 years. As the team's leading scorer throughout the season, Williams looks to be the first true point guard to lead the Minutemen in scoring since 1984-85 when Donald Russell averaged 15.2 ppg. When adding Williams' team-leading categories of assists, steals and minutes into the fold, the timetable extends three more years to 1981-82 when Russell lead UM with 16.4 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.4 spg and 36.7 mpg.
Some may recall that recent scoring leaders Ricky Harris (2009-10) and Shannon Crooks (2001-02) played the point, however historians will point out that they were shooting guards who happened to play the point guard position out of necessity in those seasons.
MORGAN LIGHTING IT UP FROM DOWNTOWN
Sophomore guard Jesse Morgan has been on fire from outside over the past two games, connecting on 10 of his last 17 3-point attempts for 59 percent. Adding his six 2-point buckets and he is converting at a 55 pct. rate. Overall, he is averaging 9.7 ppg this season and 38.6 pct. from outside with 3.4 treys per game.
Morgan has been UMass' leading scorer in four of the last seven games, including a career-high 24 against St. Bonaventure (2/8) and 18 at Saint Joseph's (2/11). His previous high of 22 was established at La Salle (1/8) earlier this season when the Philadelphia product also had a career-best four steals.
In Atlantic 10 play, Morgan ranks 10th in 3-point FG pct. at .457, while his 21 makes in 11 games are the fifth-most in the league.
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. (.645) and 13th in rebounding (6.3), while leading the team in board work nine times, including four A-10 contests. His numbers in league play are even more impressive. In 11 games, he is first in FG pct. (.762) and 15th in rebounds (6.6).
Two of Carter's three highest scoring games have come against La Salle. In last month's contest, he posted a career-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting and six rebounds in 22 minutes. A year ago in Springfield, Carter netted 15 points on 7-of-8 from the floor, to go along with nine rebounds and two blocks. In five games with the Explorers, he is averaging 9.2 points and seven rebounds per contest, compared to his career numbers of 5.2 points and 5.6 boards.
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 62 of the team's 98 slams this season.
Carter leads the team with 40 thus far, including a season-best five at Rhode Island. In fact, of his 78 made buckets this season, 51 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 90 dunks out of 201 field goals - good for 45 pct.
Conversely, Putney uses his long, athletic frame to find ways to reach the basket that most players can't manage. He has 22 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.
HOME SWEET HOME AT MULLINS
With a 12-0 home record to start the season (11-0 at Mullins, 1-0 at The Cage), UMass is off to its best home season since 1993-94 when the squad was a perfect 14-0 at home.
The 11-consecutive wins at the Mullins Center are the third-longest skein since the facility opened 19 years ago. UMass won its first 27 games in the building.
UMass is in its 19th season of play at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center and has posted an all-time record of 189-74 (.719). The Minutemen also own a 100-48 (.676) all-time record in regular season Atlantic 10 Conference games at the Mullins Center, and a 3-1 mark in Atlantic 10 Tournament contests.
Including this season's record, UMass has gone 29 consecutive seasons without having a losing record on its home court.
UMASS ONE OF A-10'S TOP SCORING TEAMS
At an average clip of 76.5 points per game, UMass is the top scoring team in the Atlantic 10 and 29th nationally. The Minutemen are one of eight 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 +6.9 over opponents. Saint Louis (+12.8) and La Salle (+8.8) are the only two teams to have margins higher than the Minutemen.
MINUTEMEN SOLID WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF
UMass is 12-0 this season when leading at halftime and 6-7 when trailing at the break. In the six wins when they have been behind, the largest deficit overcome to win was six points against both Siena (12/9/11) and Davidson (12/22/11).
The Minutemen's largest lead at the half was 19 on two occassions - at East Carolina (12/6/11) and vs. Saint Louis (2/2/12).
In the last three seasons, UMass is 33-5 (.868) overall and 20-2 (.909) at the Mullins Center when leading at the half.
UMass has shot .435 from the floor this season 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.
Also over the last 11 games, Chaz Williams (16.7 pts), Jesse Morgan (13.3 pts), Sean Carter (10.6 pts), Raphiael Putney (10.5) and Terrell Vinson (10.4) have averaged double-figures.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG ROTATION
While Chaz Williams and Raphiael Putney may be the only Minutemen averaging double-figures in the scoring column over all 24 games, the duo is joined by fellow starters Sean Carter, Jesse Morgan and Terrell Vinson with scoring averages of at least 10 ppg through all 11 Atlantic 10 contests.
In 11 games this season, UMass has had four or more players reach double-figure point totals, translating into a 10-1 record. 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.
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 17.3 turnovers per game and scored 21.0 points per game off those takeaways.
UMass was the beneficiary of 21 turnovers at Rhode Island four games ago, marking the seventh time an opponent has lost the ball at least 20 times. The flip side to that 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 scored 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 39.9 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 and 10th 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 18 games won this year, UMass is 159-of-417 from three-point land and average 14.4 turnovers per game. In 7 games lost, UMass is just 37-of-159 from deep and average 18.3 turnovers.
Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average nearly 18 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 11.4 in losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up 6.3 assists in wins, but just 5.3 in the losses.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
Through 25 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 9.7 points in 25.2 minutes.
Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 10.0 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 9.2 points in 25.5 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 six (College of Charleston, La Salle, Saint Louis, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph's).
33.2% (626-of-1,885 points) of UMass' scoring has come from the bench.
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 big man played his high school ball at Oak Ridge in Orlando, Fla. and his AAU basketball with the Florida Rams.
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.
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.
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.
FOLLOW THE TEAM ONLINE
Looking for all the latest news on the Minutemen and Coach Kellogg? There are several ways to keep tabs on all of the updates on the squad.
Your first and Number 1 source is UMassAthletics.com. The official website of the UMass teams features news, stats, profiles, videos, photos, auctions, live audio, live video and so much more.
Our daily blog "Just Take A Minute" has all the latest news from the media along with special information. Its updated several times each day.
Follow the teams and Coach Kellogg on Twitter. Get the news instantly for all Minuteman and Minutewoman teams by following @UMassAthletics. For the latest on the basketball team and Coach, follow him at @CoachKellogg.