The Massachusetts men's basketball team will continue its early season schedule with a trip to Puerto Rico ("Rich Port") for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off this week. UMass will play four games in six days to start the season before having nine days between contests.
FOUR STARTERS, 9 LETTERMEN BACK FROM 25-WIN SQUAD
UMass welcomes back four starters, including its top four scorers and nine of its top 10 rebounders from last season's team that went 25-12 and reached the NIT Final Four. Led by All-America candidate Chaz Williams at the point guard spot, the Minutemen will look to continue their up-tempo offensive style and full-court pressure defense in head coach Derek Kellogg's (64-65) fifth year at his alma mater.
UMass returns the following percentages in 2012-13: Scoring 89.3 pct.; Rebounding 83.2 pct.; Assists 94.7 pct.; Steals 91.7 pct.; Blocks 76.7 pct.; Minutes 85.4 pct.
Williams (16.9 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.4 rpg), a first team NABC all-district and all-conference selection, was one of just three players in Division I last year to average at least 16.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. The others were Tim Frazier of Penn State and Nate Wolters of South Dakota State.
UMass recorded a school-record 326 steals last season (8.8 spg, 7th in NCAA) which aided in its 76.6 possessions per game, ranking the Minutemen second nationally behind Seattle's 77.2.
RECAPPING TUESDAY'S 67-64 WIN OVER HARVARD
UMass opened the 104th season of basketball with a thrilling, come-from-behing win over Harvard, 67-64, as part of ESPN's College Hoops Tipoff Marathon. The win was the fourth-consecutive over a Division I Massachusetts team for the Minutemen and snapped Harvard's 15-game streak against D-I teams from the Commonwealth.
UMass improved to 1-1 all-time in the Tipoff Marathon. The Minutemen fell to Memphis in the midnight game in the 2008 edition.
The Minutemen led for then entire first half before falling behind for much of the second. UMass scored the game's final eight points, including a 3-pointer by junior F/G Sampson Carter with 1.2 second left that provided the final margin. It was the redshirt junior's only field goal of the game and named the No. 6 Top Play of the Day on Sports Center.
Junior G Jesse Morgan led all players with 19 points. He was responsible for three big plays during the 8-0 run - a jumper in the lane that cut the lead to 64-61, he forced a five-second call on the ensuing possession and made a 25-footer that tied the game at 64 with 39 seconds left.
Junior PG Chaz Williams finished with 12 points, 10 assists and three steals. Sophomore C Cady Lalanne made his first career start and finished with nine points and a 13 rebounds (one shy of his career-high). Lalanne missed the final 22 games with a foot injury.
The Atlantic 10 went 4-2 in the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon, but it was predetermined that the A-10 would have a loss (and a win). Butler and Xavier played in a non-conference Marathon game, the final non-conference meeting between the two long-time foes (XU won). UMass won the A-10's first marathon game with a buzzer-beater and Temple handled Kent State on the road. VCU fell in a tight game to Wichita State for the other loss.
UMASS & THE PUERTO RICO TIP-OFF
Tuesday evening UMass flew to San Juan to take part in the 2012 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which will be held Nov. 15-18 at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon. The team arrived at their hotel around 1:15 a.m.
Joining UMass in the field are Akron, UNC Asheville, NC State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Providence and Tennessee. The Minutemen are one of four teams in the field that finished the 2011-12 season with a top-100 RPI, and all eight teams finished in the top 160. NC State and UNC Asheville each made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, while Akron and Tennessee joined the Minutemen in the NIT.
Alabama claimed the 2011 Puerto Rico Tip-Off title. Additional winners include Minnesota (2010), Villanova (2009), Xavier (2008) and Miami (2007). Atlantic 10 schools are 9-6 all-time in the previous five years of the event.
UMass will be making its second-ever appearance in an event in Puerto Rico, having previously participated in the 1999 Puerto Rico Holiday Classic in Bayamon.
Former Minutemen stars Edgar and Giddel Padilla (1993-97) came to UMass from their hometown of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, located 30 minutes west of San Juan on the northern side of the island, while Carmelo Travieso (1993-97) was born in the San Juan suburb of Rio Piedras before moving to Boston at age 11.
The UMass swimming & diving teams have made training trips to P.R. each of the past four years. The teams spend 10 days in early January training in San Juan before returning to Amherst for the final two months of their seasons. That association with the U.S. territory goes back to the mid 1980s when current men's swimming & diving coach Russ Yarworth coached the UMass water polo team. Yarworth would routinely recruit the island with the majority of the Minutemen roster being comprised of members of the Puerto Rican National Team. To bring the story full circle, the pool that the current teams train at is one of the pools used by the Puerto Rico National Water Polo team.
SERIES HISTORY WITH PROVIDENCE & THE BIG EAST
UMass and Providence will be meeting for the 28th time as the Friars hold a 22-5 series lead. The teams played at least once every year from 1962-80 with the majority of those contests in the Yankee Conference.
PC won the last two games, claiming a 61-60 overtime win in Providence in 1999 and a 85-70 outcome in Amherst in 2000. The Friars have won four straight in the series with UMass' last win on Jan. 13, 1979.
The Friars won the initial contest, 36-21, on Mar. 1, 1932 in Amherst.
UMass has compiled a 99-196 record against teams currently in the Big East Conference. Not surprisingly, 108 of the 295 (37 pct) have come against Connecticut, which is the closest school geographically to Amherst.
The Minutemen won their most recent game against a Big East school, defeating Seton Hall, 77-67, in the second round of last year's NIT in South Orange, N.J. Prior to that, UMass had dropped its last three to Big East competition dating back to their epic 81-77 come-from-behind win at Syracuse in the 2008 NIT Quarterfinals (UMass trailed by 22 with 14:34 to play).
UMASS IN REGULAR-SEASON TOURNAMENTS
The Minutemen have an all-time record of 77-67 in regular-season tournaments, including a 7-6 record in Kellogg's four years at the helm.
UMass went 1-2 last season in the inaugural Battle 4 Atlantis (lost to Florida State, def. Utah and lost to Charleston).
The last regular-season tourney title for UMass came during the 1995-96 Final Four season. The John Calipari-coached Minutemen won the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, with victories over NC State, USC and Syracuse.
UMASS TO RETIRE MARCUS CAMBY'S NO. 21 JERSEY
The Massachusetts athletic department announced Tuesday that it will retire the jersey of 1996 Naismith National Player of the Year Marcus Camby on Jan. 19, 2013 when the Minutemen host George Washington at the Mullins Center.
One of the most decorated athletes UMass has ever produced, Camby lettered from 1993-96 and led the Minutemen to the 1996 NCAA Final Four and a 35-2 record, the most successful season in program history. He was named a consensus first-team All-American that season as he averaged 20.5 points to lead the Atlantic 10. In his three seasons at UMass, he was a two-time NABC All-District selection, an Atlantic 10 First-Team pick twice and the league's Freshman of the Year in 1994.
He left UMass as the school's all-time leader in blocked shots in a career (336) and single-season (128). Camby scored 1,387 points in his career to rank in the top 10 after his final season for the Maroon & White.
This will be the fifth men's basketball jersey retired at UMass and ninth in school history. Previous hoops numbers to be hung at the South end of the Mullins Center include George "Trigger" Burke (#32), Julius Erving (#32), Lou Roe (#15) and Al Skinner (#30). Additionally, Dick Bergquist in baseball (#26), Danielle Henderson in softball (#44), Greg Minton in water polo (#6) and Eric Sopracasa (#43) in men's lacrosse have had their jerseys retired in their respective sports.
Williams, Riley Pace UMass In 87-82 Exh. Win
Chaz Williams had 24 points and 11 assists while Freddie Riley added six 3-point field goals to lead Massachusetts to a 87-82 exhibition victory over American International at the Mullins Center on Saturday.
UMass shot 48 percent from the floor and was 12-of-24 from outside as four Minutemen scored in double figures. Terrell Vinson had 11 points and seven boards with Maxie Esho providing 11, three and four assists. Sampson Carter came off the bench to collect seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
UMass assisted on 22 of its 31 field goals, including 11 of its 12 triples.
AIC, which lost at UConn by 15 two days earlier, was led by Ricky Hudson's 20 points, along with David Campbell's 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Yellow Jackets shot 47 percent on the day and made 11 3-pointers.
The Minutemen converted 12 Yellow Jacket turnovers into 16 points but yielded 17 second-chance points.
UMASS SELECTED FIFTH IN A-10 PRESEASON POLL
UMass was selected fifth in the preseason Atlantic 10 Poll in a vote by media and coaches. Saint Joseph's was picked to win the league followed by Saint Louis, VCU, Temple and UMass. The Hawks had 11 first place votes, while the Billikens had 10 votes. Temple, UMass and Butler all had two first place votes in the poll.
Junior Chaz Williams was named to the preseason First Team. Williams had a banner campaign in 2011-12 in leading UMass to the NIT Semifinals. The Brooklyn native was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team, the A-10 All-Championship Team and the NABC All-District 4 First Team.
Among national publications, Athlon picked the Minutemen to finish fourth and make a return trip to the NIT. They also tabbed Chaz Williams as the Preseason Player of the Year and one of the top 10 Floor Leaders in the nation. Lindy's had UMass seventh but listed it as a team folks may want as an A-10 sleeper team. Williams was bestowed the honor of being the Most Entertaining player in the league.
UMASS AMONG TOP 3-POINT SHOOTING TEAMS IN 2011-12
UMass averaged 8.1 3-point field goals per game a year ago, which ranked first in the Atlantic 10 and 31st nationally. The Minutemen made 288 triples to rank second all-time in school history.
UMass was one of just four schools in Division I with four players who made at least 50 treys. The others were Florida, Iowa State and Youngstown State.
MULLINS CENTER TURNS 20 IN 2012-13
UMass is in its 20th season of play at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center and has posted an all-time record of 193-75 (.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. The first game was played on Feb. 4, 1993 as UMass defeated West Virginia 64-59 in overtime.
UMass was dominant at home last season, posting a 15-1 record in Amherst, which included a 14-1 record at the Mullins Center (1-0 at historic Curry Hicks Cage) and a renewed home-court advantage with the student-based Mullins Militia. UMass averaged 4,359 fans in 15 dates last 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.
2012-13 SLATE ONE OF THE STRONGEST UNDER KELLOGG
The 2012-13 UMass schedule has the potential to be one of the strongest since Derek Kellogg took over prior to the 2008-09 season. The ledger has 12 games against teams that participated in the postseason last year (7 NCAA, 4 NIT, 1 CBI), with the potential of as many as 14 based on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off bracket. Eight of the 14 home games fall on Saturdays with one Sunday contest.
The schedule currently features 14 games against schools that finished 2011-12 in the top 100 of the RPI.
UMass will look to improve upon it's 2-6 A-10 record away from Amherst, but will do so against one of the tougher slates. The Minutemen will travel to Charlotte, Fordham, La Salle, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, VCU and Xavier in 2012-13. That group, which includes VCU's 8-1 CAA home record, combined to go 44-21.
UMASS A POPULAR TV CHOICE IN 2012-13
UMass is scheduled to appear on television 11 times this season with nine current match-ups slated for national broadcasts. That marks the most regular-season showings since the 1997-98 year.
UMass Postseason History
UMass has an all-time postseason record of 24-21 in 18 combined appearances in both the NCAA and NIT tournaments. The Minutemen have made eight NCAA Tourney showings, with the last in 1998. The first came in 1962 before a string of seven-consecutive from 1992-98 in which it ran its all-time record to 11-8 with an Elite Eight showing in 1995 and the only Final Four appearance in A-10 history in 1996. Last season the Minutemen collected their 11th NIT appearance and ran their record to 13-13, which included Final Fours in 1991 (fourth), 2008 (runner-up) and 2012 (tied-third).
ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE
The A-10 ranked seventh among all conferences in the final RPI in 2011-12. The league boasted eight Top 100 teams, third among all leagues behind only the Big East and Big 10. The eight teams matched the SEC and was more than the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Mountain West.
A-10 IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
For the fifth year in a row, the Atlantic 10 Conference earned at least three bids into the NCAA Tournament while it marked the 27th time in the league's 35-year history that the conference received multiple bids to participate in the national tournament. The A-10 also received multiple at-large bids for the fifth year in a row and 18th time overall. Over the last six years, the league has had 12 at-large selections - the seventh most among Division I conferences - behind only the Big East (42), Big Ten (29), ACC (26), Big 12 (26), SEC (23) and the Pac-10 (22). In fact, the A-10 is one of eight conferences to receive at least one at-large selection over each of the last six seasons.