• The Minutemen return to action at the Mullins Center for the final game of the regular season as rival Rhode Island comes calling on Saturday at 4 p.m. The contest serves as the annual Leaman Legacy Game. A portion of ticket sales go to benefit the Leaman Legacy Fund, which benefits student-athlete scholarships at UMass. Jack Leaman, who passed away in 2004, is the man most synonymous with UMass Basketball and the court at the Mullins Center was named for him in 2005. He coached the program from 1966 from 1979 with the likes of Julius Erving, Al Skinner and Rick Pitino wearing the maroon & white.
IT’S SENIOR DAY
• Saturday’s game will also serve as the final regular-season home game for seniors Sean Carter and Matt Hill. Carter transferred to UMass in 2008 following his freshman season at Oregon State, compiling 522 points and 594 rebounds in 91 games as a Minuteman. Hill, who has seen increased playing time the past two games, is a fifth-year senior who has played in 58 games and averaged more than eight minutes per game.
• UMass is 7-1 in its last eight Senior Day games. The Minutemen had won seven straight Senior Day games prior to last year’s overtime loss to Temple.
THE LEGEND OF JACK LEAMAN
• At UMass, Jack Leaman worked for more than 40 years. He coached the men’s basketball team from 1966-79, the women’s basketball team in 1986-87 and following that stint, he served the athletics department in a variety of roles as an assistant coach and radio broadcaster until his untimely death on March 6, 2004. He led the UMass basketball program for 13 seasons, compiling a career record of 217-126. The all-time winningest coach in school history, Leaman guided UMass to eight Yankee Conference titles in a nine-year span (1968-71, 1973-76), and six National Invitation Tournament appearances (1970-71, 1973-75, 1977). A two-time New England Coach of the Year, Leaman coached Basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, former Boston College head coach Al Skinner. Leaman coached 22 All-Yankee Conference selections during his tenure at UMass.
• This is the seventh Leaman Legacy Game since the court was named in his honor on Feb. 25, 2006. UMass is 2-4 in the games. The Minutemen won the first game when the court was named in his honor, beating Dayton, 66-47. UMass also beat Saint Louis, 88-77 on Feb. 17, 2008. The losses have come to Boston College (84-73) on Dec. 2, 2006; Vanderbilt (78-48) on Jan. 3, 2009, Xavier (87-79) on Feb. 1, 2010 and George Washington (59-51) on Feb. 13, 2011.
SERIES HISTORY WITH RHODE ISLAND
• Saturday’s game against Rhode Island will be the 138th between the schools, easily the most played series in UMass’ history. UMass has faced UConn 108 times, the only other series with more than 100 meetings. The Minutemen also have more wins over Rhode Island than any other program, holding a 79-58 advantage dating to the first game on Jan. 11, 1908, a 32-14 UMass win in Amherst.
• UMass has won 35 of the last 49 games in the series. That includes sweeps by UMass in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2011 and URI in 1999, 2003.
• UMass has won seven of the last 10 in the series including both of the meetings in 2008.
• 7 of the last 13 meetings have been decided by 3 points or less including 2 of the last 6 by 2 points or fewer.
• Removing the 2007 22-point UMass win, the average margin of victory in the last 16 games is 5.0 points.
• UMass has won 19 of the last 24 games played at home in the series. Overall, for games played in Am- herst, the Minutemen lead the series 49-20, with a 12-4 mark at the Mullins Center, the second-most wins against any team at the Mullins Center (Temple 13).
• For games played in Kingston, the Rams lead the series 36-29. Each team has five wins at the Ryan Center since the facility opened in 2002-03.
• UMass coach Derek Kellogg is 3-3 as a coach against the Rams. As a player at UMass from 1992-95, the Minutemen were 9-1 vs. Rhode Island, losing once in 1993 at Providence.
WHERE WILL UMASS RANK IN THE FINAL A-10 STANDINGS?
• Entering the final day of the season, UMass can finish either 4th or 6th-9th based on the potential outcomes that would directly affect the Minutemen. For UMass to earn the No. 4 seed, the Minutemen need to finish in a 3-way tie with Xavier and Saint Joseph’s at 9-7. The only scenario that has UMass being slotted as the No. 9 seed would be if it ties Duquesne at 8-8, meaning the Dukes would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and host the Minutemen on Tuesday night. With any of the other scenarios, UMass will host a first round game for the second-consecutive season.
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 16.1 points and a league-leading 6.3 assists this season. He is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 28th nationally in steals with 2.1 per game and 14th nationally in assists per game.
• In league play, he is posting averages of 17.4 points (4th in A-10), 6.9 assists (1st) and 83.3 FT Pct (8th).
• 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 seven 20-point games this season, with career-highs of 29 on 6-of-8 from outside against Xavier on Tuesday. He also has five games with at least nine assists, including three straight.
• Williams has posted four double-doubles this season (with three in the last five games), including 26 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and four steals at Temple on Wednesday. Williams, Kevin Dillard (Dayton) and Tu Holloway (Xavier) are 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.
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 strong throughout the season. He ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in field goal pct. (.600) and 13th in rebounding (6.2), while leading the team in board work 10 times, including five A-10 contests. His numbers in league play are even more impressive, where he is second in FG pct. (.655) and 16th in rebounds (6.4).
HOME VS. ROAD NUMBERS IN A-10 PLAY
• While most players perform better statistically at home due to the familiarity of the facility, UMass’ Jesse Morgan and Sean Carter have proven that to be an anomaly. In the eight A-10 road contests, Morgan ranked second on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) and 3-point shooting (12-35, .353 pct.), while Carter finished first in FG pct. (32-43, .744), second in rebounds (6.6) and third in scoring (10.7).
• Chaz Williams has definitely been a second-half performer against conference competition, posting 11.1 ppg after the intermission compared to 6.2 ppg in the first half.
• Conversely, Raphiael Putney is averaging just 6.1 ppg in A-10 road arenas. Much of that can be attributed to four games where he played seven or fewer first-half minutes while being saddled with foul trouble.
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 69 of the team’s 109 slams this season.
• Carter leads the team with 44 thus far, including a season-best five at Rhode Island (2/1/12). In fact, of his 87 made buckets this season, 50 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 94 dunks out of 210 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 25 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.
PUTNEY NOMINATED FOR DUNK OF THE YEAR
• Raphiael Putney’s alley-oop dunk from half court against St. Bonaventure has been nominated for Dunk of the Year! The Dunk of the Year competition is part of the Dunks of the Year special which airs on ESPN2 March 26.
• Each week for four weeks, six rim-rattling dunks will be nominated for Dunk of the Year. Two winners from each week will be determined by fan voting through the official Facebook page (facebook.com/DunksOfTheYear). The eight finalists will compete in a two-week voting competition to determine the Dunk of the Year. The winner will be announced during the Dunks of the Year special which airs March 26 on ESPN2.
HOME SWEET HOME AT MULLINS
• UMass is 13-1 at home this season. The 12 consecutive home wins to start the season (11-0 at Mullins, 1-0 at The Cage) was the best 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 190-75 (.719). The Minutemen also own a 101-49 (.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 75.7 points per game, UMass is the second-ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10 and 31st nationally. The Minutemen are one of seven teams in the league to average over 70 points per game.
• UMass is also the fifth-ranked team in the league in terms of scoring margin at plus-4.9 over opponents. Saint Louis (+12.4), La Salle (+7.7), St. Bonaventure (6.3) and Temple (+6.2) are the only A-10 teams to have margins higher than the Minutemen.
MINUTEMEN SOLID WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF
• UMass is 13-1 (1st loss came at Temple on Wednesday) 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 34-6 (.850) overall and 21-2 (.913) at the Mullins Center when leading at the half.
• UMass has shot .431 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.
BALANCED SCORING AMONG ROTATION
• With UMass utilizing a shorter bench that has employed eight players due to injuries, one would think that the same two or three guys would dominate the box score on a regular basis, but that’s been the case with this team. Since the start of A-10 play 15 games ago, five different players have led the team in scoring, five in rebounding, three in assists, six in steals and six in blocks.
• In 13 games this season, UMass has had four or more players reach double-figure point totals, translating into an 11-2 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 17.1 turnovers per game and scored 20.6 points per game off those takeaways.
• UMass was the beneficiary of 21 turnovers at Rhode Island (2/1), 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 13 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 39.5 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 and 12th nationally. The Minutemen have outrebounded their opponents 14 times this season and are 10-4 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 19 games won this year, UMass is 169-of-444 from three-point land and average 14.3 turnovers per game. In 10 games lost, UMass is just 45-of-193 from deep and average 17.8 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 losses.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 28 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 9.0 points in 25.4 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 10.1 points and is averaging over two more rebounds per game (3.0-to-5.6).
• 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 9.3 points in 25.8 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, at La Salle, Saint Louis, at Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure and at Saint Joseph’s).
• 31.8% (657-of-2,064 points) of UMass’ scoring has come from the bench.