For the first time in two decades, the UMass men's basketball team will open its season at the Curry Hicks Cage when Elon comes to Amherst for a 9 p.m. game on Friday. The Minutemen, under fourth-year head coach Derek Kellogg, will be playing just the second game in the program's last 18 years at the historic venue that served as UMass' home from 1932-1993. The game will be televised in the Boston area on WBIN. "Voice of the Minutemen" Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney will call the action. The game can be heard on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM WRNX in Western Mass and 830 AM WCRN in Central Mass., 1510 AM The Zone in Eastern Mass., and 95.9 AM WATD on Boston's South Shore. Adam Frenier and Tim Collins will call the action. Live streaming video, audio and Gametracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com. UMass is 68-34 all-time in season openers, including a 26-7 mark at the Curry Hicks Cage. The Minutemen started last season 7-0, tied for the eighth-best start in program history and best since the 1995-06 Final Four season.
UMASS IN SEASON OPENERS Entering the 103rd season opener all-time, UMass owns a 68-34 mark in season openers, including victories in 15 out of the last 18 seasons. UMass' last season-opener at the Curry Hicks Cage came on Nov. 22, 1991, a 94-59 victory over Siena. The game was played at midnight and aired on ESPN. UMass is 26-7 in season openers at the Curry Hicks Cage. UMass has won seven of its last eight season openers, five of which were at home at the Mullins Center. Last year, UMass had its largest comeback since the 2008 NIT quarterfinals, rallying from 22 down with 16:24 left to defeat Rider, 77-67 on Nov. 12 at the Mullins Center. Freddie Riley scored a career-high 28 points and Anthony Gurley recorded the 1,000th point of his career. In 2009-10, UMass lost at UCF in the opener on Nov. 13, 2009, 84-67. Two years ago in in 2008, UMass knocked off Arkansas-Monticello, 90-71, in the 2K Sports Classic First Round in Carbondale, Ill. That game was Derek Kellogg's debut as a head coach. Three years ago, UMass opened the year at the BTI Tip-Off Classic in Cedar Falls, Iowa and defeated Cal Poly, 90-64. Prior to 2009-10, the last time UMass lost its season opener was nine years ago, when the Minutemen dropped an 84-71 decision to No. 22 Indiana in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 25, 2002. Prior to that, UMass posted victories in four straight season openers, against Arkansas-Little Rock (66-60 in 2001-2002), Iona (67-65 in 2000-2001 and 85-77 in 1999-2000) and Niagara (87-73 in 1998-1999).
UMASS IN HOME OPENERS UMass is 40-18 all-time in home openers at the Curry Hicks Cage and 26-7 when those are also the season opener. The last time UMass lost a home opener at the Cage was Nov. 28, 1989 to Lowell in the season opener, 70-69. UMass is a perfect 9-0 in season openers which have been played at the Mullins Center with the last one coming in 2010. In 2002-03, was the last time they lost a home opener, when Boston College beat the Minutemen, 80-62 on Dec. 7, 2002. The Minutemen have won six of their last eight home openers. Last season, UMass came back from 22 down to beat RIder, 77-67. In 2009, UMass fell to eventual NCAA Elite Eight opponent Cornell, 74-61. In 2008, a five-game streak was ended with a tough 75-74 loss to Jacksonville State on Nov. 24, 2008. All-time at the Mullins Center, UMass is 15-4 in its home openers. That includes the first-ever game played at the Mullins Center back in 1993. UMass' only other losses in home openers came in 2002 and 1999. UMass won the first six lid-lifters at Mullins. Prior to 2008, the last time UMass did not win its home opener was in 2002-03, UMass lost to Boston College (80-62) in the fifth game of the season after opening with four road and neutral site games.
CAGE FACTS The Cage was home to UMass basketball from the 1931-32 season until January of the 1992-93 season (with the exception of the 1984-85 season). From the first game on Jan. 9, 1932 (UMass beat Amherst, 17-12) to the last game on Jan. 29, 1993 (UMass beat SW Louisiana, 84-74), 571 men's basketball games were played at the Cage. UMass posted a 359-212 record for a 62.9 win percentage in 571 games. That total reached 572 games and the record 360-212 last season when the Minutemen played their first game at the Cage in 17 years, defeating Holy Cross, 83-76 on Nov. 27. The longest winning streak in Cage history took place in the early 1970s. UMass won 17 straight games at the Cage from Feb. 1, 1972 through Dec. 10, 1974. UMass can add to the Curry Hicks winning streak on Friday as the Minutemen finished their run at the Cage on a 14-game winning streak back in 1993 and the streak reached 15 games with last season's win. UMass' last loss at the Cage came on Jan. 9, 1992 (76-75 to West Virginia). The Minutemen won the final eight home games in 91-92 and the first six games of 92-93 to command a 14-game winning streak that carried to the Mullins Center.
CURRY HICKS CAGE HISTORY The Cage was named after UMass' first athletic director Curry Hicks. Here are some excerpts the Boston Globe's story by Kevin Cullen from 1993: "In the 1920s, after the state promised matching funds for the approximately $290,000 needed to build a gymnasium, Hicks put the arm on every Yankee millionaire he could find. His sense of timing was exquisite; he got the pledges lined up just before the stock market crashed. They broke ground in June 1930. "If Hicks was a visionary and crackerjack fund-raiser, he was not exactly humble. He made no objection to the building being named after him. In 1931, at the height of the Depression, the Curry S. Hicks Physical Education Building was dedicated. "The place got its nickname from cage-like enclosures that surrounded the court and separated it from the track. The building's glass roof was designed to illuminate indoor baseball practice. The Cage's idiosyncrasies can be traced to it being designed primarily with the national pastime in mind. Basketball was, at best, a minor sport when The Cage was built. But basketball will be what The Cage is most remembered for. "On Jan. 19, 1932, UMass won its first game at The Cage, beating crosstown rival Amherst, 17-12, in what was, to say the least, a defensive struggle. A one-hander by Lou Bush clinched the game." Between 1966 and 1979, Hall of Fame Coach Jack Leaman is the winningest coach in Cage history. He compiled a 99-29 record there, a .773 winning percentage. From the Globe: "Leaman's favorite Cage story is the one about when UMass played Boston College in 1975 for the unofficial New England championship. There was snow on the glass roof, and when some 5,000 people jammed in for the biggest game in decades, the body heat rose to the rafters and melted the snow."
1993: `FINAL RAGE IN THE CAGE' UMass coach Derek Kellogg started the final game at the Cage and was UMass' first coach on the sidelines at the Cage since his mentor John Calipari coached the team -- in his fifth season at the helm of the Minutemen. Kellogg hit the first basket in the final game a jumper from the right baseline to give UMass a 2-0 lead on the way to an 84-74 win over the Ragin Cajuns on Jan. 29, 1993. Harper Williams scored a game-high 23 points, as he returned from a broken hand. Lou Roe was the center and finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Current Auburn coach Tony Barbee also started and had eight points and five assists along. Here's Calipari on the final game from back in 1993: "We've enjoyed it, but you know, I'm really not the person to talk about it," he said. "This night meant most to former UMass coach Jack Leaman. He built the program in this building. The Cage has been great, and we'll miss it, but we're now ready to move on to a bigger arena."
2010: RETURN TO THE CAGE After building a 24-point lead with 8:17 left in the game, UMass saw Holy Cross go on a 26-6 run to cut the lead to four in the closing two minutes before the Minutemen (6-0) held off the Crusaders (0-5), 83-76 on Nov. 27, 2010 in the Minutemen's first game at the Curry Hicks Cage since 1993. Anthony Gurley led the way with 24 points as UMass is now 6-0 on season for the first time since 1995-96. The victory extended UMass' winning streak at the Cage to 15 games, a streak with a 17-year gap between wins and began on Jan. 9, 1992. Freddie Riley scored 17 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from behind the arc, while Sampson Carter and Sean Carter finished in double-figures as well with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Andrew Keister's layup with 29 seconds left on an in-bounds play made it a four-point game, 78-74, but Gurley and Sean Carter combined to go 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the closing seconds to secure the victory.
LAST SEASON'S OPENER VS. RIDER UMass rallied for its largest comeback since the 2008 NIT Quarterfinals vs. Syracuse when the Minutemen also rallied from down 22 points in the second half. UMass was down by 22 with 16:24 left in the second half (46-24) and rallied to win by 10. The game included a 34-point swing in a 15-minute span as the Minutemen led by 12 75-63 with just over a minute left. The last time UMass rallied from as large a margin was on March 28, 2008 in the NIT Quarterfinals as the Minutemen came back from a 54-32 with 14:37 left in the second half to post an 81-77 victory on the way to the NIT Finals.
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 20010-11. The 6-8 bigman played his high school ball at Oak Ridge in Orlando, Fla. and his AAU basketball with the Florida Rams.
MINUTEMEN SET FOR DEBUTS Freshman big man Cady Lalanne is one of four Minutemen that could make their UMass debuts on Friday. Redshirt sophomore Chaz Williams is expected to start at point guard. The dynamic 5-9 playmaker is a transfer from Hofstra, where he average 9.8 points and 4.3 assists as a freshman in 2009-10. Also set to make his debut is redshirt freshman Maxie Esho. The 6-8 forward worked hard in practice all of last season, improving all aspects of his game and adding strength, making him a contender for minutes in the frontcourt rotation. The third seven-footer in program history, 7-1 redshirt freshman center Andrew McCarthy is also expected to see minutes this season when UMass goes up against similar sized bigs.
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 begins this Saturday, November 5 when the UMass hockey team takes on Boston College at the Mullins Center. "We're truly excited to have reached an agreement with WBIN" said Pam Batalis, General Manager for Nelligan Sports. "In addition to providing a platform to showcase UMass Athletics, this partnership will increase the exposure and value to our current and future corporate partners by providing an avenue to reach University alumni and college sports fans located within WBIN's footprint."
UMASS ALUM LEADING LEADING MINUTEMEN 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.
FOLLOW THE MINUTEMEN As always, the best source to follow UMass basketball and all UMass sports is logging on to UMassAthletics.com, but there are also many other ways you can follow the Minutemen. Twitter.com/UMassAthletics Twitter.com/CoachKellogg Facebook.com/UMassAthletics YouTube.com/UMassAthletics