UMASS MEETS STANFORD IN NIT SEMIFINAL TUESDAY AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
UMass is making its 19th postseason appearance and its 11th in the Postseason NIT. The Minutemen were slotted as a No. 5 seed in their bracket, marking the third postseason appearance in the last six seasons and the first in four years under head coach Derek Kellogg.
UMass returns to the NIT Final Four for the first time since 2008 as the Minutemen face Stanford on Tuesday at 7 p.m at Madison Square Garden. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 with Mike Patrick, Fran Fraschilla and Bill Raftery calling the action. It will be carried nationally by Westwood One Radio with Bob Papa and former UMass head coach Steve Lappas on the call. The game will also be available on all four stations of the UMass Radio Network with Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney. The UMass-Stanford winner will advance to the championship and face the Washington-Minnesota winner on Thursday, March 29.
2011-12 UMASS SEASON CAPSULE
The 2011-12 season marks the fourth for head coach Derek Kellogg ... Kellogg starred as a point guard for the Minutemen from 1992-95, playing for coach John Calipari ... Kellogg spent a year as a graduate assistant with Bruiser Flint at UMass, two years at George Mason with Jim Larranaga and eight at Memphis with Calipari, culminating with the 2008 NCAA Runner-up season ... UMass' win totals under Kellogg have grown from 12, 12, 15 and 25.
With its 20th win of the season in the regular-season finale against Rhode Island, it marked the 15th 20-win season in school history and the first in Kellogg's four years. The 25 total victories are currently tied for the fifth highest total in UMass annals.
UMass started the year 11-3, suffering losses to No. 22 Florida State & College of Charleston in the Bahamas and at Miami. A 7-3 start in league play had the Minutemen among the league leaders, but losses in four of five games hurt UMass down the stretch of the A-10 season. The fifth loss in that stretch was a 90-88 overtime loss at Temple after a 33-point setback at Dayton. Despite the loss, that performance sparked the Minutemen in the win over Rhode Island to close the regular-season and a pair of wins in the A-10 Tournament, including an upset of top-seeded and 21st-ranked Temple in the quarterfinals.
In the regular-season slate, UMass went 5-3 against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and 1-5 against NIT entrants.
The Minutemen are shooting 44.3 pct. (196-of-397) from the field over the past six games and averaging 86.0 points per game.
UMass averages 8.0 3-pointers per game this season and has made at least 10 in nine games. The Minutemen have made 65 triples in the last seven games and are connecting on 42.6 pct. during that stretch.
UMass has collected 310 steals this season and is just one shy of tying the school record set during the Final Four season of 1995-96. The squad is averaging 8.9 thefts per game, which ranks eighth in the country and is on the heels of the 9.0 spg school mark of the 1999-2000 campaign.
UMass won its first 14 home games before improving to 15-1 with its Atlantic 10 Championship First Round win.
UMass averaged 4,359 fans in 15 dates at the Mullins Center this season. Those numbers got increasingly higher as the season evolved to 5,411 for eight A-10 home games and 6,614 for the last five regular-season home dates. The Minutemen saw four crowds of more than 6,200 in the final six games, with a season-high 8,399 in the victory over Saint Louis.
NEW YORKERS RETURN HOME
The game at Madison Square Garden is a triumphant homecoming for sophomore point guard Chaz Williams, who grew up in Brooklyn and attended Bishop Moore HS and nearby Hofstra University as a freshman in 2009-10 before transferring to UMass. Assistant coach Adam Ginsburg is a native of Baldwin on Long Island.
UMASS FANS PLANNING A RETURN TO THE GARDEN
When UMass reached the 2008 NIT championship game, the university ferried 14 busloads of students and fans to the finals and sold out its allotment quickly. With a more than 700 on the buses and thousands more wearing UMass maroon in attendance, the Minuteman nation accounted for the majority of the 8,407 in attendance.
This year's squad has generated even more excitement in the region and officials are expecting an even larger contingent of UMass fans at The Garden. As of Friday afternoon, UMass had already sold more than 1,000 tickets to season-ticket holders, donors and UMass Alumni Association Legacy members. Additionally, student tickets will be available for pickup on Monday when classes resume from Spring Break. Ten buses have been reserved for Tuesday with more on standby if needed. A UMass pregame reception will take place at Stout NYC, located a block from MSG at 133 West 33rd Street.
Former UMass football standout Victor Cruz of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants has indicated on his Twitter account that he might be in attandance. He made an appearance at the UMass-Xavier contest this season and visited with the team in the locker room following the game. Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint, who spent 12 seasons as an assistant and head coach at UMass, mentioned in his postgame press conference following the loss to the Minutemen that he was planning on supporting coach Kellogg - his former point guard - by being in the crowd.
UMASS' POSTSEASON TOURNAMENT HISTORY
UMass has an all-time postseason record of 24-20 in 18 combined appearances in both the NCAA and NIT tournaments. The Minutemen are making their 11th NIT appearance this season and have run their record to 13-12 which includes Final Fours in 1991 (fourth), 2008 (runner-up) and 2012.
UMass is now 6-6 in NIT First Round games and 6-3 in true NIT road games. The Minutemen have played 15 of their 24 games in New York state, going 5-10 in those contests and 2-9 at Madison Square Garden.
With Tuesday's 101-96 2ot win over Mississippi State, UMass has now faced an SEC school in each of its last three NIT appearances. The Minutemen defeated Alabama, 89-87 in overtime, in Amherst six years to the day from the MSU game. A year later in 2008, UMass outlasted defending NCAA Champion Florida, 78-66, in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
UMASS' `ROAD' TO THE NIT FINAL FOUR
Slotted as a No. 5 seed in its bracket, UMass has advanced to the NIT Final Four for the third time in school history (1991, 2008, 2012) by virtue of road victories over No. 4 seed Mississippi State (101-96 2ot), No. 1 Seton Hall (77-67) and No. 3 Drexel (72-70).
By virtue of their three road wins to reach New York City, UMass and Minnesota have added their names to a very select group of NIT teams. The duo are just the fourth and fifth teams to win three road games en route to reaching the NIT semifinals. Since the tourney began using home sites in 1977, only Fresno State in 1998, Detroit in 2001 and Georgetown in 2003 reached Madison Square Garden via three road victories.
FIRST ROUND - 101-96 2ot at Mississippi State: UMass scored the first eight points and led 55-41 with 15:08 to play. MSU fought back to go ahead 66-65 with 5:00 left. Chaz Williams missed potential game-winning baskets on contested jumpers in the closing seconds of both regulation and the first overtime. Williams led five Minutemen in double figures with 28 points, while Sean Carter (20p/12r) and Raphiael Putney (10p/16r) each posted double-doubles. Both teams shot 43 pct but UMass dominated the bigger Bulldogs on the glass with a 56-41 margin and 21 offensive boards that were converted into a 24-7 edge in second-chance points. The Minutemen set school NIT records for points scored (101), individual points (28 by Williams) and individual rebounds (16 by Putney).
SECOND ROUND - 77-67 at Seton Hall: Chaz Williams (20 pts) led four players in double figures and Terrell Vinson came up huge down the stretch as UMass snapped a two-game losing streak to SHU in a sold-out Walsh Gymnasium. With the Minutemen clinging to a 65-64 lead, Wiliams and Vinson connected on back-to-back 3-pointers which pushed the margin to 71-64 with 1:30 left. Vinson finished with 10 points and seven rebounds with all eight of his second-half scoring coming in the final 6:22. Raphiael Putney had 15 points and Sean Carter posted his second-consecutive double-double with 11 and 11.
QUARTERFINAL - 72-70 at Drexel: UMass rallied from a 17-point deficit with 16:26 to play and wore down Drexel with a 26-7 run and a very effective press in the 80-degree Daskalakis Athletic Center. The Minutemen shot a season-high 59 pct. for the game and a blistering 71 pct. (17-of-24) in the second half. Chaz Williams had a game-high 20 points with four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Terrell Vinson added 14 of his 18 points in the second half with a team-high five rebounds to go along with two assists, two blocks and two steals. Philadelphia native Jesse Morgan finished with 13 points and four steals, while matching Williams with two 3-pointers for all four of UMass' outside shots.
UMASS TURNING INTO NIT ROAD WARRIORS
This year's UMass team had tasted some success on the road but had struggled to sustain the wins and string together any type of win streaks away from home. But that all changed with the NIT schedule dealt the Minutemen in the first three rounds. UMass won at Mississippi State of the SEC and at Seton Hall of the Big East in the first two rounds of the postseason event, marking the first time it had won consecutive road games since January of 2010. Then, last Tuesday, the Minutemen erased a 17-point second-half deficit at Drexel and snap the Dragons 18-game home-court winning streak. The last time a UMass team won three-straight road games came during the 2008 NIT Final Four run when that group won four-straight away from Amherst, culminating with the epic come-from-behind win at Syracuse in the quarterfinals.
UMass made some serious NIT history on Tuesday by becoming just the fourth team to win three road games en route to reaching the NIT semifinals. Since the tourney began using home sites in 1977, only Fresno State in 1998, Detroit in 2001 and Georgetown in 2003 reached Madison Square Garden via three road victories. Minnesota duplicated the feat with wins at La Salle, Miami (Fla.) and Middle Tennessee.
NIT QUARTERFINAL MAGIC LIVES ON
UMass improved to 3-2 in NIT quarterfinal games with its improbable 72-70 come-from-behind win at Drexel on Tuesday. All three wins have come in dramatic fashion and hold a special spot in school history.
The 82-80 overtime win at Siena in 1991 saw UMass erase a 10-point second-half deficit and Tony Barbee make a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force the extra session moment's after the Knickerbocker Arena announcer invited fans to sign up for a bus trip to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Four years ago at Syracuse, the Minutemen again faced an uphill battle, trailing by 22 points with 14:30 left before they started raining threes all over the Carrier Dome. UMass made 9-of-13 from outside over the final 14 minutes to win 81-77 and become the first team to ever beat Syracuse at home twice in the same season.
UMASS' 20-WIN SEASON & MARCH SUCCESS
The Minutemen picked up their 20th win of the season on March 3 with the 89-83 win over Rhode Island in the regular-season finale. It marked the 15th time in history that UMass reached the mark and the first in head coach Derek Kellogg's four seasons.
With 25 wins this season, UMass has tied for the fifth-most wins in school history with the 2007-08 NIT runner-up squad (25-11).
The 10-win improvement from last season's 15 wins is tied for the second-highest jump in school history, matching the increase from 20 wins in 1990-91 to 30 in 1991-92 in John Calipari's third to fourth years at UMass. The school record of 11 win jump is held by Travis Ford's 2006-07 squad - his second in Amherst - which won 24 games en route to the NIT Second Round following a 13-win campaign in 2005-06.
UMass has compiled a 6-1 record in March this season. The six victories are behind the top totals of eight in 1995-96, seven in 2007-08 (includes one April win), 1994-95, 1991-92 and tied with the six in 1992-93
UMASS AT THE "WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS ARENA"
All-time at Madison Square Garden, UMass has an 9-13 overall record entering the 2012 NIT Semifinals. UMass last played at the Garden in the 2008 NIT Final Four, defeating Florida (78-66) before falling to Ohio State (92-85) in the championship game. Prior to that, UMass split a pair of games at the 2005 Panasonic Holiday Festival, beating St. Peter's (66-49) and losing to St. John's (51-49) in the final.
UMass has had two of the biggest wins in school history at the Garden, beating a ranked team for the first time ever and beating a No. 1 team for the first time ever.
The Minutemen are 6-3 in regular-season games at the "Mecca of Basketball" including a 1-1 mark in the 1993 Preseason NIT and 5-2 in other regular-season games, mostly against metro New York area teams. The Minutemen are 2-9 in the postseason NIT, collecting victories in 1973, over Missouri (78-71) -- the first win over a ranked team in school history and four years ago over Florida (78-66) in the semifinals.
Prior to the 2005 Holiday Festival, UMass had not played at MSG in nearly 10 years when then-No. 1 UMass beat Fordham, 73-47 on Feb. 6, 1996 as part of the Chemical Bank Challenge. In that game, current Houston Rocket Marcus Camby led UMass with 26 points as then UMass coach and current Kentucky coach John Calipari won his 100th Atlantic 10 game.
The most memorable game for UMass at the Garden came in the 1994 Preseason NIT. then-No. 18 UMass beat No. 1 North Carolina, 91-86 in overtime on Nov. 24, for the Minutemen's first win over a No. 1 ranked team in school history. Lou Roe led UMass with 28 points. With the big win and nation taking notice, the Minutemen played No. 6 Kansas tough two nights later but lost to the Jayhawks, 86-75 as Roe had a team-high 25 points.
UMass played its first-ever game at MSG against St. Peter's. The then-Redmen beat St. Peter's 94-75 on Feb. 1, 1962. UMass played Iona in each of the next two seasons at the Garden, losing both times.
UMass made its postseason NIT debut at the Garden in 1970, falling to Marquette, 62-55 on Mar. 14. Hall of Famer Julius Erving was held to just 18 points in the game -- only the second time that season he failed to score 20 in a game -- as he averaged 25.7 that season.
In UMass' first postseason NIT win, coming at MSG, UMass defeated No. 15 Missouri, 78-71 on Mar. 17, 1972 for its first-ever win over a ranked team in school history after being 0-10 against Top 10 teams. Coached by UMass Hall of Famer Jack Leaman, former Boston College coach Al Skinner had 14 points and six rebounds in the win. UMass lost to No. 11 North Carolina in the second round, 73-63 on Mar. 20 as current Louisville coach Rick Pitino scored eight points.
UMass advanced to the NIT Final Four for the first time in school history in 1991, playing at the Garden, but lost in the semifinals, 73-71 to Stanford on March 25, 1991. In the third place game, Colorado beat UMass, 98-91 on March 27.
The Minutemen rode the momentum of the epic 22-point second-half comeback in the quarterfinals at Syracuse into the 2008 NIT Final Four, where they knocked off the two-time defending NCAA Champion Florida, 78-66, on April 1 before a 92-85 setback to Ohio State in the championship game on April 3..
HEAD COACH Derek Kellogg AT THE GARDEN
Tuesday's game at the Garden will mark the first time Derek Kellogg has been to MSG as the head coach at UMass, but not his first overall as he played a pair of games during his junior season when the Minutemen participated in the 1993 Preseason NIT. As the starting point guard playing for then-head coach John Calipari, Kellogg was the primary ball-handler and play-maker as No. 18 UMass upset No. 1 North Carolina 91-86 in overtime on Nov. 24, 1993 in the semifinals before falling to No. 6 Kansas 86-75 two days later.
SERIES HISTORY WITH STANFORD & THE PACIFIC 12 CONFERENCE
UMass and Stanford have met four previous times with each school claiming a pair of victories. Three of the games have occurred in postseason play, including the 1991 NIT Semifinal match-up when the Cardinal won 73-71 en route to the title.
Stanford won the first two meetings, 86-81, at the Hurricane Classic in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Dec. 29, 1986, and the aforementioned NIT Semifinal contest on Mar. 25, 1991. UMass has been victorious in the last two match-ups, both of which came in the second round of the NCAA Tournament - 75-53 as Nos. 2/10 seeds in Albany, N.Y. on March 19, 1995 and 79-74 as Nos. 1/9 seeds in Providence, R.I. on March 16, 1996.
UMass has compiled a 7-6 record against teams currently in the Pacific 12 Conference. The Minutemen's last four games against Pac-12 schools have been with Utah twice and Oregon twice. UMass defeated the Utes 90-75 earlier this season in the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas on Nov. 25, 2011 and 69-53 in the 2002 Maui Invitational before splitting a neutral-site `home-and-home' with the Ducks in 2000 & 2001. UMass outlasted UO, 62-58, in Springfield, Mass. on Nov. 27, 2001, but fell 91-76, in Portland, Ore. a season earlier on Dec. 2, 2000.
OFFENSE GETTING CLOSER TO GOING `FULL UMASS', CLICKING ON ALL CYLINDERS IN THE POSTSEASON
With head coach Derek Kellogg's transition to an up-tempo offense and full-court, trapping defense this season, there have been periods of play where the team has gone `Full UMass' as he refers to it, but not too many where the style has been sustained for more than a game or two at a time. But that appears to be changing in recent weeks where the Minutemen have put together some very complete efforts.
Over the last seven contests, UMass has averaged 86.3 points, while shooting .444 from the floor and .426 from outside. Even the free throw shooting is up from the season mark of .675 to .713. Six players in the eight-man rotation - and all five starters - are scoring at least 9.3 ppg, with First Team All-Conference PG Chaz Williams leading the team in scoring (20.9), assists (7.3) and steals (2.9).
Expanding the microscope to the last nine games shows that the Minutemen have reached the 80-point plateau six times for the first time this season and averaged 8.8 made 3-pointers per game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the UMass pressure defense has totaled 83 steals in the last 10 games for a 8.3 spg avg and outscored the opposition 18.9-14.5 in points off turnovers.
ROLE PLAYERS' IMPORTANCE OF LATE
With most opposing scouting reports keying on UMass' top scorers Chaz Williams, Raphiael Putney, Jesse Morgan and Terrell Vinson, the emerging role and importance of the next four scorers in the Minutemen rotation can't be understated.
The quartet of Sean Carter, Freddie Riley, Javorn Farrell and Maxie Esho has each provided an above average game at some point in the past nine games - most recently Farrell who went for 16 points with seven in ovetime of the 101-96 win at Mississippi State in the NIT First Round. A week earlier he collected 20 points, seven rebounds and career highs in assists (9) and 3-pointers (3) in the A-10 Tourney win over Duquesne.
Carter outplayed Mississippi State's Renardo Sidney with 20 points and 12 rebounds in a career-high 48 minutes in the NIT First Round. He also keyed the win over Rhode Island in the regular-season finale with his third career double-double and his first 20-plus point performance, finishing with 22 points, 10 boards (7 offensive) and three blocks. Riley had 12 points in 22 minutes off the bench in the win over Xavier (2/21). Despite falling to La Salle (2/18) by a point, Esho took over at times in the second half before posting a career- and game-high 18 points, along with six rebounds and three steals. Esho also kept UMass within striking distance in last Saturday's A-10 Semifinal loss to SBU, as he registered 14 points and seven boards in 15 first-half minutes.
WE'RE PLAYIN' CHAZ-KETBALL
With apologies to Lil' Bow Wow and his hit single "Basketball," UMass has been playing Chaz-ketball all season long with the immediate impact and transformation Chaz Williams has had on the program. While his exploits throughout the season have been well documented, the sophomore from Brooklyn has taken his game to another level during the postseason.
In three NIT victories he has averaged 22.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals, while shooting 56 pct. (23-for-41) from the floor and 53 pct. (8-for-15) from outside.
In six postseason games this year (5-1 record) he has averaged 20.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.2 steals, while shooting 49 pct. (35-for-72) from the floor, 55 pct. (12-for-22) from outside and 81 pct. (39-for-48) at the free throw line.
His 608 total points this season are the 11th-highest single-season total in UMass history. He is the eighth player to reach the 600-point plateau and the fourth to do it in their sophomore season.
Chaz Williams NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-ATLANTIC 10; ADDS FIRST TEAM NABC ALL-DISTRICT 4 HONORS
Redshirt sophomore PG Chaz Williams was named to the First Team All-Atlantic 10 squad as voted on by the 14 head coaches and added NABC All-District 4 First Team accolades a week later, becoming the first NABC honoree at UMass since Gary Forbes in 2007-08. Williams leads UMass in scoring (16.9 ppg), assists (6.3 apg), steals (2.3), 3-point FG pct (.425), FT pct. (.787) and minutes (34.9 mpg). He also ranks among the A-10 leaders in scoring (7th), assists (1st), steals (3rd), 3-point FG pct (5th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (t-4th, 1.9).
In 16 A-10 games, the Brooklyn, N.Y. native posted the following stats: 15 double-figure scoring games ... 5 games with at least 20 points ... 3 double-figure assist games ... 7 games with at least 9 assists ... 3 doubles-doubles with all coming in the last six games.
The transfer from Hofstra is the 54th first team all-conference selection in school history and the first since 2007-08 when Gary Forbes was named the A-10 Player of the Year. UMass now has 20 first team honorees since the league's inception prior to the 1976-77 season.
For Williams, it marks the second career postseason league honor following his selection to the Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie Team when he played for current Fordham coach Tom Pecora at Hofstra during the 2009-10 campaign. He averaged 9.8 points and 4.2 assists while starting 20 games.
St. Bonaventure senior forward Andrew Nicholson was named the Player of the Year and Temple's Fran Dunphy was named the Coach of the Year. Saint Joseph's sophomore forward C.J. Aiken was named the Defensive Player of the Year while Richmond Freshman Kendall Anthony was selected as the Rookie of the Year. Sophomore forward Ronald Roberts of Saint Joseph's was voted the Sixth Man of the Year and La Salle senior guard Earl Pettis earned the Chris Daniels Most Improved Player Award.
WILLIAMS NAMED TO ATLANTIC 10 ALL-CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Despite not being able to lead the Minutemen into the title game of the Atlantic 10 Championship, Chaz Williams was named to the 5-member All-Championship team after averaging 16 points, 7.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds, a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, 3.5 steals and 12-of-14 from the FT line in the team's two games in Atlantic City. Factoring in UMass' first round win over Duquesne at home and the Brooklyn native posted 17.7 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 boards while making 4-of-7 from outside and 23-of-28 from the charity stripe in three tourney games.
The remaining members of the All-Championship squad included Andrew Nicholson (MOP) and Demitrius Conger of tourney champ St. Bonaventure, and Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons of runner-up Xavier.
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 16.9 points and a league-leading 6.3 assists this season (13th in NCAA). He is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 18th nationally in steals with 2.3 per game.
In league play, he posted 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 13 20-point games this season, with career-highs of 29 on 6-of-8 from outside against Xavier (2/21). He also has eight games with at least nine assists, including six of the last 12.
Williams has posted five double-doubles this season with his last coming in the A-10 Quarterfinal win over No. 21 Temple. 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 ONE OF THE MOST COMPLETE POINT GUARDS IN THE NATION
You don't have to tell the followers of this year's Massachusetts team how special Chaz Williams is to the success of the squad. But to put things into perspective, consider that he is one of just three players in Division I this year to average at least 16.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. The others are Tim Frazier of Penn State and Nate Wolters of South Dakota State.
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.
KEEP YOUR `TV' TURNED ON AFTER HALFTIME
Junior forward Terrell Vinson has turned in a pair of crucial second-half performances in the last two NIT games. Against Seton Hall in the second round, `TV' finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, but all eight of his second-half scoring came in the final 6:22 which included the follow of a Chaz Williams 3-pointer with one of his own that pushed the margin to 71-64 with 1:30 left. Three days later in the quarterfinals at Drexel, the Baltimore, Md., native scored 14 of his 18 points after the intermission.
In the 2nd half of the last two games he is averaging 11.0 points on 9-of-16 (.563) shooting and a team-high 4.0 rebounds.
MORGAN SHOWS THE BROTHERLY LOVE
UMass fans are hoping guard Jesse Morgan can replicate his strong play ifrom four games in his hometown of Philadelphia into more above average performances in New York City this week. In four contests at La Salle, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Drexel, he averaged 17.0 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 44.4 pct. from the floor and 45 pct. from outside. Those numbers are all well ahead of his season averages of 10.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg with shooting percentages of 40.1 and 36.8, respectively.
MORGAN'S PERFECT RHODE ISLAND GAME
Jesse Morgan was 9-for-9 from the field, including 6-for-6 from 3-point range for 25 points in the win over Rhode Island (3/3). ESPN Stats & Info provided the following nugget: He's the first player to take at least nine field goals and six 3s without missing since Oregon's Brice Taylor was 11-for-11 from the field and 7-for-7 from 3-point range in the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament championship game.
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 and been near dominant at times in the postseason. He ranks fifth in the Atlantic 10 in field goal pct. (.567) and 11th in rebounding (6.5), while leading the team in board work 14 times. His numbers in league play are even more impressive, where he finished the season 2nd in FG pct. (.653) and 16th in rebounds (6.5).
The Fayetteville, N.C. native has posted 11 double-figure scoring games this season, including a pair of 20-plus point performances. Four of his five career double-doubles have come this season with top performances on in the first two rounds of the NIT at Mississippi State (20p/12r) and at Seton Hall (11p/11r). He also was solid in the regular-season finale against Rhode Island (22p/10r) on Senior Day.
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 81 of the team's 126 slams this season.
Carter leads the team with 52 thus far, including a season-best five at Rhode Island (2/1/12). In fact, of his 115 made buckets this season, 47 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 102 (27, 23 & 52)rim rockers out of 238 field goals - good for 43 pct.
Conversely, Putney uses his long, athletic frame to find ways to reach the basket that most players can't manage. He has 27 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 (2/8/12) 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 Monday, March 26 on ESPN2.
UMASS ONE OF A-10'S TOP SCORING TEAMS
At an average clip of 77.3 points per game, UMass is the top-ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10 and 15th nationally. The Minutemen are one of eight 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 (+11.7), La Salle (+6.7), Temple (+6.1) and St. Bonaventure (+5.7) are the only A-10 teams to have margins higher than the Minutemen.
UMASS POSSESSING AT A HIGH RATE
Logic says that the more you have the ball the more opportunities you have to score, and that's exactly what head coach Derek Kellogg has accomplished this season with the conversion from the dribble-drive motion offense to the up-tempo, full-court press gameplan. UMass leads the nation in total possessions (2,691), ranks second in field goal attempts (2,273) and is seventh in possessions per game (74.8).
MINUTEMEN SOLID WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF
UMass is 18-1 (loss came in OT at Temple on 2/29) this season when leading at halftime and 7-9 when trailing at the break. In the seven wins when they have been behind, the largest deficit overcome to win was on Tuesday at Drexel, when the Minutemen were down 10 at the break. Drexel eventually led by 17 in the 2nd half before UMass mounted a comeback.
The Minutemen's largest lead at the half was 19 on two occassions - at East Carolina (12/6/11) and against Saint Louis (2/2/12).
In the last three seasons, UMass is 38-6 (.863) overall and 23-2 (.917) at the Mullins Center when leading at the half.
UMass has shot .437 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.
The 2,273 field goal attempts thus far are the second-highest single-season total in school history and the most since the 2006-07 squad took a record 2,281 shots.
Along those same lines - the 3-point line to be exact - this season's bunch ranks in the top-3 at UMass in 3-pointers made (2nd, 283) and attempted (2nd, 803).
MINUTEMEN WITH SHARPSHOOTERS UP AND DOWN THE ROSTER
UMass averages 7.9 3-point field goals per game, which ranks first in the Atlantic 10 and 37th nationally. The Minutemen have made 283 triples this season to rank second all-time in school history.
UMass is one of just four schools in Division I with four players who have made at least 50 treys. The others are Florida, Iowa State and Youngstown State. All told, six of the players among the eight-man rotation are legitimate outside threats.
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 on Jan. 5, five different players have led the team in scoring, five in rebounding, three in assists, six in steals and six in blocks.
In 16 games this season, UMass has had four or more players reach double-figure point totals, translating into an 13-3 record. Against Utah, Davidson, Central Connecticut, and Fordham, five Minutemen reached double-figures in the scoring column.
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 25 games won this year, UMass is 218-of-563 from three-point land and average 13.8 turnovers per game. In 11 games lost, UMass is just 65-of-240 from deep and average 17.0 turnovers.
Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average 16.8 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 12.3 in losses.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging 39.3 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 and 13th nationally. The Minutemen have outrebounded their opponents 18 times this season and are 13-5 in those contests.
BRINGING THE DEFENSIVE 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 16.6 turnovers per game and scored 21.1 points per game off those takeaways.
UMass has collected a school record 321 steals on the year, translating to 8.9 steals per game. The Minutemen have recorded double-digit steals in 14 games, including three of their last five and two of their three NIT contests. Also, the 8.9 spg avg is second only to the 9.0 avg set in 1999-2000.
In the A-10 Quarterfinal win over #21/24 Temple, the Owls committed a season-high-tying 22 turnovers, marking the ninth time an opponent has had at least 20 miscues in a game. UMass has scored at least 20 points off its opponents 15 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.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
Throughout the season, 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 10.1 points in 26.9 minutes.
Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 10.2 points and is averaging over two more rebounds per game (3.0-to-5.9).
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 10.0 points in 26.0 minutes per game.
HOME SWEET HOME AT MULLINS
UMass completed its home schedule with a 15-1 record 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 completed its 19th season of play at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center and has posted an all-time record of 192-75 (.719). The Minutemen also own a 103-49 (.676) all-time record in regular season Atlantic 10 Conference games at the Mullins Center, and a 4-2 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 AGAINST RANKED FOES
As a result of the 77-71 win over #21 Temple in the A-10 Quarterfinals, UMass is 31-74 vs. AP Top-25 teams all-time with four wins since 2004. The Minutemen have played three games against a ranked foe this season - against #22 Florida State at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 24, at #23 Temple in Philadelphia on Feb. 29 and against #21 Temple on Friday in Atlantic City, N.J.
UMass had lost its last seven against ranked schools dating back to a 61-60 win over #25 Kansas at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Dec. 13, 2009. Derek Kellogg is now 2-8 against Top-25 teams.
ESHO NAMED ATLANTIC 10 ROOKIE OF THE WEEK (2/20)
Redshirt freshman Maxie Esho was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week following his performance against La Salle (2/18) two weeks ago. Esho poured in a career-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting to lead all scorers. He also added six rebounds and three steals in a career-high-tying 22 minutes.
This markes Esho's first weekly award and the second for UMass this season. Raphiael Putney was named the Co-Player of the Week on Jan. 30. The last time a UMass player earned Rookie of the Week honors was two years ago when Terrell Vinson garnered the award on Dec. 20, 2009.
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 at Oak Ridge HS in Orlando, Fla. and his AAU ball with the Florida Rams.
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.
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.
The UMass Facebook page is very active, become a fan today at Facebook.com/UMassAthletics. You can also follow Coach Kellogg on his Facebook.com/CoachKellogg account.
Also, UMass has a very comprehensive YouTube page with video highlights, features, interviews and press conferences. Visit today at YouTube.com/UMassAthletics.