UMass Seeks Trip To NIT Final Four In Return To Syracuse, Tuesday On ESPN
2008 MasterCard NIT Quarterfinal
UMass Seeks Trip To NIT Final Four In Return To Syracuse
Tuesday is the third anniversary of the hiring of Travis Ford as the head coach at UMass. Ford was introduced at a press conference/pep rally before thousands of fans on March 25, 2005. Ford is 60-34 at UMass.
Tuesday's game will air live on ESPN with Sean McDonough and Fran Fraschilla calling the action. The game will be carried on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM in Western Massachusetts and 830 AM and 95.9 FM in the Eastern portion of the state. Bob Behler and Tim Kenney call the action for UMass.
The UMass basketball team advanced to the NIT Quarterfinals by virtue of a 68-63 comeback win over Akron on Saturday afternoon at the Mullins Center. Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with 20 points as they rallied from 12 points down with eight minutes left in the game. Chris Lowe made four clutch fre throws and finished with 17 points in the win. In the first round, UMass posted a solid 80-60 win over Southland Conference champion Stephen F. Austin last Tuesday at the Mullins Center. Dante Milligan had a career game in UMass' NIT First Round win over SFA last Tuesday, as he had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. A-10 Player of the Year Gary Forbes added 19 points and the league's Most Improved Player Ricky Harris had 16 points.
UMass is in the NIT for the 11th time in history, posting an 8-11 all-time record. Last season, UMass pulled off a thrilling 89-87 overtime win over Alabama in the NIT First Round at the Mullins Center on March 13, 2007. UMass then advanced to the second round, where they lost to eventual NIT champion West Virginia, 90-77 in Morgantown, two days later on March 15. Prior to last season, the Minutemen last played in the NIT on March 16, 2000, losing to Siena, 66-65 in Albany. The Minutemen made their furthest run in the NIT in 1991, reaching the semifinals at Madison Square Garden (with wins over La Salle, Fordham and Siena) before a pair of losses in the semis (Stanford) and consolation game (Colorado). UMass has also played in the NIT in 1970 and 1971 with Julius Erving; 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977 and 1990.
Juicy 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 legends has faced two or more times, UMass is the ONLY schools 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 his A-10 leading scoring average of 23 points. Forbes also had seven assists and six rebounds in what Travis Ford called his best game at UMass.
Point guard Chris Lowe returned to action after sitting for 14 days of game-action and had 13 points and a career-high tying nine assists.
UMass shot 52 percent from the floor including 14-of-31 from 3-point range. Etienne Brower, who ranks second in the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage made 4-of-6 from trey-range.
Danté Milligan showed he can be a force with his second 17-point game in three games.
UMass-Syracuse Series History
UMass has won the last three meetings between the teams including this season. The then-No. 1 Minutemen defeated then-No. 13 Syracuse, 65-47 on Dec. 30, 1995 in the Rainbow Classic held in Honolulu. On March 22, 1992, UMass knocked off the Orange, 77-71 in the NCAA Second Round played at the Worcester Centrum.
The Minutemen have played three previous basketball games at the Carrier Dome and stand 2-1. They faced Syracuse for the first time at the Dome, earlier this season. Prior to that, the teams had not played at Syracuse since 1974, when UMass lost 76-60 at Manley Field House. The 1974 meeting was the previous meeting prior to the postseason game in 1992.
Jim Boeheim is 0-3 all-time against UMass. He has never played a team more than once and not beaten them, other than UMass. Travis Ford is 1-0 against the Cuse as a coach.
Ford At Syracuse
UMass' NIT History
Some of UMass' all-time greats have played in the NIT. Hall of Famer Julius Erving played in UMass' first two NIT appearances, as the then-Redmen lost to Marquette in 1970 and North Carolina in 1971.
The 1972-73 UMass team won the school's first postseason game beating Missouri, 78-71 on March 17, 1973, at Madison Square Garden. That team featured current Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Boston College coach Al Skinner. Skinner had 14 points an six rebounds in that win.
Last Year's NIT Run For UMass
In the second round, it looked like it might be a repeat of the 1995 season when UMass rallied back from 18 points down to beat West Virginia in overtime, the last time these two teams played. This time, the Minutemen trailed by 19 in the second half, whittling it to four on two occasions, but WVU was too much down the stretch defeating UMass 90-77 in the second round of the NIT at the WVU Coliseum. At 24-9, UMass finished its season with the fifth-best record in history. West Virginia's Frank Young led all scorers in the game with a career-high 31 points on the strength of six three pointers and 11-of-15 shooting. Stephane Lasme led UMass with 14 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks to finish his career with 1,011 points becoming the 38th player in UMass history with 1,000 career points. James Life was the high-scorer for the Minutemen with 20 points.
Forbes, Harris Gain Atlantic 10, Regional Honors
Forbes was named the Atlantic 10 First Team as well as he tied for the league's regular-season scoring crown with Temple's Dionte Christmas. Both players had 20.3 averages with 610 points in 30 games. Forbes continues to lead the league in scoring with a 19.8 average through the postseason. Forbes is also tied for fourth in the league in rebounding with 7.7 UMass had two first-teammers last year in Lasme and three-time winner Rashaun Freeman.
Sophomore guard Ricky Harris was named the Atlantic 10 Chris Daniels Most Improved Player of the Year. Harris took his scoring average from 4.5 to 17.9 in his second collegiate season. It was the largest improvement of any player in the league at +13.4. UMass had the three largest jumps as Etienne Brower is +9.8 and Forbes is +6.8. Harris is the first UMass player to win the honor since 2001 when Micah Brand and Kitwana Rhymer shared the MIP.
Forbes was also named to the NABC and USBWA All-District First Team. It is the fourth year in a row UMass has had a first-teammer as Lasme and Freeman made it last year and Freeman was honored in 2005 and 2006.
UMass' 20-Win Season
With 23 wins this season, UMass has tied the 1970-71 season (its first with 20 wins) for the seventh-most wins in school history. That team went 23-4.
Last year, UMass picked up its 20th win of the season on Feb. 21, 2007 beating St. Bonaventure, 83-44. The win gave the Minutemen their first 20-win season since 1997-98 when UMass went 21-11. Prior to that season, UMass last won 20 or more when they set the school record for wins a season when a 35-2 record the Final Four season of 1995-96.
UMass-Syracuse Common Foes
The UMass-Syracuse Lacrosse Rivalry
UMass' Senior Class
The senior class is made up five players, playing three different lengths of years at UMass. Over the last two years (Forbes and Brower), UMass is a combined 47-19 (71.2). Over the last three years (Milligan and Pennie), UMass is 60-34 (63.8). The lone four-year member is Ampim and UMass is 76-46 (62.3) in his tenure.
UMass had its most complete showing of the year in a 100-63 trouncing of La Salle on Senior Night at the Mullins Center. The A-10 Player of the Year Candidate Gary Forbes scored his 1,000th point at UMass as he racked up 26 points and 11 rebounds in his final regular-season home game. Chris Lowe posted the sixth triple-double in UMass history with 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. Three other Minutemen reached double-figures as sophomore Ricky Harris scored 21, Dante Milligan tallied 18 points, six rebounds and blocked five shots. Etienne Brower started slow, but finished with 11 points. It gave UMass its 20th win of the season, the 14th time in school history.
Racking Up A-10 Player Of Week Honors
On the week ending March 2, Harris was honored after he averaged 19.0 ppg in a 2-0 UMass week. Harris hit seven 3-pointers in the two wins. He shared the award with Richmond's Dan Geriot.
Chris Lowe earned his first-ever A-10 Player of Week on Feb. 24. Lowe averaged 17.0 points and 11.5 assists in a 2-0 week for the Minutes, who knocked off a Saint Louis and Rhode Island.
Forbes Hits 1,000 UMass Points
Forbes is now 29th all-time with 1,084 points at UMass. Next at No. 28 is Mike Williams (1,122 from 1991-95).
Forbes is also moving up the charts in terms of single-season marks at UMass. He has the third-most single-season points with 654 Only Erving (727 in 1970-71) and Marcus Camby (675 in 1995-96) have scored more in a single-season. Ricky Harris is ninth on the list with 590.
Forbes' 19.8 points per game stands as the eighth-best single-season scoring mark in history. He could be the first 20-point scorer since Camby in 1995-96, who scored 20.5 per game.
Lowe Moving Up Assists Chart
Lowe has four games with 10 or more assists in the last nine outings. He set a then-career-high 13 against Saint Louis (2/17). That was the highest total since all-time leader Carl Smith tied the school record with 15 on Jan. 23, 1986. Then, Lowe bettered it in the La Salle game, which with 14 is tied for the fourth-most assists in a game in UMass history.
With his 188 assists this season, Lowe is up to fifth-best single-season in UMass history after passing Alex Eldridge (174) and Rick Pitino (168). Smith is next with 191 in 1985-86.
With a similar season as a senior, Lowe would be on pace to pass all-time career assist leader Smith (633).
Lowe is averaging 8.1 assists in his last 10 games with his first four career games with 10 or more assists with double-doubles in the three of the last nine games including the sixth triple-double in UMass history.
Lowe's Amazing Triple-Double
Harris on The 3-point Charts
Scoring, More and More
With the new offense, UMass is scoring at a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 81.5 points per game, up from 77.3 points (+4.2) for the entire season.
UMass is tied for eighth in the NCAA in scoring through March 23 with 81.5 per game. The Minutemen are also second in the Atlantic 10 scoring behind No. 6 Duquesne (82.3). VMI leads the nation with a 91.3 average.
UMass has scored 80 or more points 16 times with a 14-2 record in those games. The Minutemen have reached 90 points nine times, standing, 8-1.
UMass had 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 38th with a 19.8 average and Ricky Harris, who was as high as 28th, is now 72nd at 17.9.
UMass is 12th in total 3-pointers made with 303, which is school record (the former mark was just 204 in 2001-02). With 9.2 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 16th in the NCAA in 3s per game. UMass has made 10 or more treys in 14 games, most recently with 10 in its defeat to Charlotte in the A-10 Tournament. UMass has 73 treys in its last seven games.
Showing Major Improvement
The Atlantic 10's Most Improved Player Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 17.9 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 590 points this year (ninth-most in UMass history) 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 and all players in the Atlantic 10 in scoring improvement at +13.4 points per game. Harris scored in double-figures in the first 18 games this season and in 30 of 33 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 12.5 points, starting 26 games after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 412 points in 32 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. He has 23 games with 10 or more points, UMass is 17-6 in those games. Over an eight-game span from Jan. 27-Feb. 21, Brower averaged 18.1 points including 20 or more in four of those eight games. He set a new career-high with 26 points at Rhode Island (2/21) including 8-of-10 from the floor and 5-7 from 3-point range. He had 22 vs. Xavier (1/27) and 21 against both Temple (2/10) and Duquesne (1/30).
Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in 11 games this season. He had just four double-figure games in 32 contests last season. He had a career game in the NIT First Round vs. SFA (3/18) with a career-best 24 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks. He netted 21 against Saint Louis (2/17) in front of more than 40 friends and family. He had his previous 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 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds. An increase of 5.2 points and 2.4 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 3.4 per game and has made 18-of-52 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
After finishing third in the nation (7.45) in blocked shots with the nation's top shot blocker in Lasme, UMass is third in 2007-08 with 7.5 per game. UConn (8.6) and Mississippi State (7.9) and lead the nation. The A-10's Duquesne (7.3) is just behind.
UMass has nine games with 10 or more blocks most recently with 11 against Charlotte (3/13).
Dante Milligan leads the team with 63 blocks for 1.91 per game, which is third in the A-10. Milligan has 94 swats in his career to stand ninth all-time in Amherst. Tony Gaffney is second with 57 blocks for 1.7 per game, fourth in the league.
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 tied for the ninth most in a game in NCAA history, dating to 1985 when blocked shots became an official statistic.
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 first in the league in assists with 6.1 per game. With 81 assists in his last 10 games, he is now tied for 13th in the NCAA in assist average. He had a career-high 14 assists vs. La Salle (3/5) to better his 13 against Saint Louis (2/17) on the heels of his first-career game in double-figure assists against Fordham (2/14) with 10. He is also fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.02. Lowe tied his career-high with 23 points against Rhode Island (2/7). When Lowe has five or more assists this season, UMass is 19-3. The Minutemen are 2-7, when he has less than five.
Lowe has risen to a fourth in steals with 1.68 per game after 15 steals in his last five games.
With his sensational 50 percent shooting from 3-point range of the last 18 games, Etienne Brower is now tied for third in the league in 3-point field goal percentage at 43.6. He is also ninth in the league in rebounding at 6.7.
Dante Milligan is third in the league in swats with 1.91 after a career-high seven against Stephen F. Austin (3/18). He is shooting 64.7 from the floor (112-of-173), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he were eligible, Milligan would rank fourth nationally and first in the A-10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 64.7, an improvement of 15.3 percent.
Tony Gaffney is fourth with 1.7 blocks per game including a career-high six at Duquesne (1/30).
Harris is seventh in steals per game with 1.55 and sixth in 3-pointers per game with 2.76.
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.
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.
UMass had the 23rd-best non-conference RPI.
Beating the ACC & Big East
UMass Wins Commonwealth Classic
UMass' athletic teams 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
25 Is Twice As Nice
UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
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.
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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