UMass Aims For 5-0 Start The UMass basketball team seeks its first 5-0 start since the legendary 1995-96 Final Four season, when the Minutemen started 26-0. The Maroon & White will have to get by local rival American International on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., to get that fifth win to start the season. UMass comes off impressive wins over New Mexico State and Texas Christian in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Springfield last weekend. This game finishes the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic as UMass seeks a perfect 4-0 record in the event that start with a 77-67 win over Rider on Nov. 12.
Best Starts In History With a win on Wednesday, UMass would be off to the best start in 15 years at 5-0. Back in 1995-96, UMass started with a school-record 26 consecutive wins on to the way to s 35-2 season and an NCAA Final Four appearance. A 5-0 start would equal the 11th-best start in the 102 years of UMass basketball. The program also started 5-0 in 1991-92 (Derek Kellogg's freshman season) and 1930-31. Here are the best starts in history: 1995-96 (26-0); 1933-34 (12-0 undefeated season); 1970-71 (11-0); 1973-74 (9-0); 1925-26 (9-0); 1977-78 (8-0); 1968-69 (7-0); 1975-76 (6-0); 1971-72 (6-0); 1956-57 (6-0); 1991-92 (5-0); 1930-31 (5-0).
Series History With AIC The Minutemen and Yellow Jackets will play a regular-season game for the first time since 1987 as the Yellow Jackets come to the Mullins Center. The classic Western Mass rivalry was played 34 times between 1941-1987 with UMass holding a 20-14 edge. UMass won the last regular-season meeting, 78-65, in the Springfield Classic on Dec. 29, 1987. The teams have been connected over the last few years. UMass beat AIC in a preseason exhibition game, 103-66, in Nov 1, 2007 at the Mullins Center. AIC has also been a part of this year's Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, along with UMass.
Last Undefeated Tournament UMass is seeking its first undefeated regular-season tournament since the 1995 Rainbow Classic. That year, the Minutemen took the crown in Honolulu with wins over NC State, USC and NC State with a 3-0 mark. This Hall of Fame Tip-Off would mark the first four-game sweep in a tournament in school history.
Rage In The Cage, Nov. 27 Vs. Holy Cross
UMass will play its first regular-season game at the Curry Hicks Cage in nearly 20 years on Nov. 27, 2010 as the Minutemen welcome Holy Cross to Amherst. UMass last played a regular-season game at the storied Cage, on Jan. 29, 1993, an 84-74 win over Southwest Louisiana, a game known as "Rage In The Cage." The Minutemen hosted a preseason exhibition against Concordia on Nov. 3, 2007. With a throwback game at the Curry-Hicks Cage on Saturday, the Minutemen will be sporting their new throwback uniforms for the first time in the game against Holy Cross. This year's throwback jerseys are replicas of the 1995-96 Final Four season. The style was worn from 1994-97 and will be on display Saturday. They will be worn several other times this season. UMass will be honoring former players that played at the Curry-Hicks Cage as the Minutemen play their first regular-season game at UMass' home from 1941-1993 on Saturday at 3 p.m. vs. Holy Cross. Harper Williams headlines the group with many more expected. Among the players who have confirmed attendance are: Don Akerson `58; Jim Burke `76; Chuck Demers `53; John Edgar `57; Bob Eichorn `60; Eldon Goodhue `65; Thomas Kelly `43; Tom McLaughlin `73; Ed McGrath `49; Sam Provo `72; Peter Trow `76; John Widdison `62; Harper Williams `93
Ramped Up Defense UMass has played sensational defense this season. UMass is allowing just 59.2 points per game through four contests. UMass has dropped its opponent scoring output in each game from 67 vs. Rider to 65 vs. Sacred Heart to 57 vs. New Mexico State and just 48 to TCU. The shooting defense has been stellar with grit and intensity. Opponents are shooting just .365 for the season with super efforts in the last two games, limiting New Mexico State to .333 and TCU to a dreadful .298.
Gurley, A Big Man On Campus Senior Anthony Gurley scored a career-high 31 points to serve a part of the two-headed offensive attack in the big rally against Rider. With 31 points in the opener, Gurley tallied the most points by a UMass player in a season debut since Marcus Camby netted 32 against Kentucky in the 1995-96 season opener. Gurley was named to the Atlantic 10 Weekly Honor Roll on Nov. 15 for his performance. Gurley scored his 1,000th career point with his final field goal against Rider and now has 1,054 in his career with 199 coming at Wake Forest and 855 at UMass. He led UMass in scoring in all four games this season including with 18 points in the win over Sacred Heart (11/17) and now has scored in double-figures 53 times in his career and has also reached 20 points for the 11th time in his career with the Rider game. Gurley is second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring with a 21.0 points per game average.
Junkyard Dog Returns With Avengence After missing the first games of the season with an ankle injury sophomore swingman Javorn Farrell has returned to the lineup and been an instant impact player. He is averaging 13.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in two games with double-figures in both efforts. He notched a career-high 15 points in his first game, vs. New Mexico State (11/20) and followed that up with 10 points vs. TCU (11/22). Even more important is his defensive intensity. Farrell has helped UMass to allow just 57 and 48 points in his two games, 52.5 per game.
Ready Freddie Nets Career-Best
Sophomore Freddie Riley tallied a career-high 28 with 23 coming in the second half alone in the win over Rider (11/12). He passed his former high of 22 vs. La Salle (1/10/10). Riley scored in double-figures for the 13th time in his career with 28. Riley also scored more than 20 points for the third time. He added 10 points vs. TCU for his second game this season in double-figures
UMass Calls Upon Sampson Sophomore Sampson Carter had the best game of his two-year career with a 17-point, 8-rebound effort vs. Saced Heart (11/17). The Baton Rouge native is averaging 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in four games. Last season, Carter averaged 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 32 games.
Matt Climbs The Hill, Adds Energy Junior Matt Hill has become a key cog in UMass' success early this season. The fourth-year player, who has battled injuries in Amherst, is playing more than ever before and has become a factor off the bench with energy. Hill played a career-high 20 minutes and scored a career-best six points in the win over Sacred Heart (11/17). When he entered the game vs. Rider (11/12), the game changed as he helped lead the 22-point comeback with grit and defense in 14 minutes.
34-POINT SWING IN WIN OVER 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. UMASS BASKETBALL OVERVIEW Year three of the Derek Kellogg era at UMass will continue to see the youth movement. The Minutemen welcome three more newcomers to go along with the five-man class that came to UMass in 2009. UMass will look to capitalize on a nice run in the Atlantic 10 Tournament as the Minutemen won their first conference tournament game in eight years, knocking out No. 6 seed Charlotte on the road. UMass returns four of its top five scorers, graduating Ricky Harris, the program's third all-time leading scorer. Senior Anthony Gurley, who returned to UMass after declaring for the NBA Draft, is the leading returning scorer with 13.6 points per game. He will head up a young team that gained great experience last season. The freshman quartet of Sampson Carter, Javorn Farrell and Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson all played more than 15 minutes per game in 2009-10 and combined to start 63 games scoring nearly 30 points cumulatively. Junior Sean Carter will be counted on in the middle once again, he was a force on the defensive end, leading UMass in rebounding (7.1 per game) and blocked shots (42). Senior Hashim Bailey showed flashes throughout the season as he averaged 15.2 rebounds and 8.1 points prorated over 40 minutes. Senior guard Gary Correia will be looked upon to add leadership in his fourth year in the program. He is the longest tenured Minuteman, having played for the 2008 NIT Finalist team. Last season, the Providence native averaged 2.2 points and 2.2 assists. Forwards Matt Hill and Trey Lang could be contributors off the bench in 2010-11. The newcomers to the court in 2010-11 will be immediate impact players. Raphiael Putney, who redshirted last season, is expected to add an new element with his incredible length and shooting range. Dynamic scorer and former Seton Hall signee Jesse Morgan, who is expected to be eligible midseason. He was a Philadelphia star in high school scoring 28 points per game. True freshman signees Daryl Traynham and Maxie Esho will be key cogs as well. The former high school teammates in Maryland will play at guard and forward, respectively. TICKETS ON SALE FOR BOSTON TIP-OFF CLASSIC Tickets are now on sale to the Boston Tip-Off Classic which takes place on Dec. 4 at TD Garden in Boston. UMass will take on Boston College in the doubleheader at 6:30 p.m. with the other game pitting Northeastern against Drexel, starting at 4 p.m. Both games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet New England. Tickets are priced between $7.50 and $50 for the doubleheader at the home of the Boston Celtics. UMass will be playing at the TD Garden for the second year in a row after a dramatic 73-72 win over Memphis last season on Dec. 19, 2009. UMass is a perfect 4-0 all-time at the TD Garden. LAGUERRE SIGNS NLI WITH UMASS Explosive guard Jordan Laguerre (pronounced LUH-garry) has signed his National Letter Of Intent to join the UMass Basketball program for the 2011-12 season. The 6-2, 175-pounder is currently in his second season at the New Hampton School in New Hampshire. Laguerre is a lefthander with an explosive first step, incredible leaping ability, and a scorer's mentality. "I am excited to have Jordan join our growing UMass basketball family," said third-year head coach Derek Kellogg. "I have truly enjoyed watching Jordan play over the last few years as he has become quite a player and a person. Jordan has a tremendous competitive nature and an intensity on the floor that will push us to win basketball games. He is a great addition to the building process of UMass basketball both on and off the court." The Manchester, N.H., native averaged 14 points per game as a junior and is expected to take an even more dominant role in the offense this season. "It's close to home. They have a good environment and I really like the coaches and players," Laguerre said about coming to UMass. "I've gotten to play with them over the last couple years, and I'm really looking forward to going there and getting stronger physically and as a player." FORBES IN THE NBA WITH NUGGETS Former UMass star basketball player Gary Forbes made the opening day roster of the Denver Nuggets and drew his first NBA start on Nov. 3 vs. Dallas, where he guarded All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. He scored a pro-best 19 points vs. his hometown New York Knicks on Nov. 16 to go along with a career-high nine rebounds. The 2008 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year became the seventh UMass player to play in the NBA joining current Portland Trailblazer Marcus Camby in the league. Forbes averaged 10.1 ppg in the preseason to earn a spot with the Nuggets. "He's an NBA player," Denver forward Carmelo Anthony said. "He's got an NBA body, a guy who's willing to learn. He's just a good addition to the team." At UMass, Forbes was named the 2007-08 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection. Forbes had a sensational senior season in 2007-08, finishing as the A-10's co-scoring champion with 610 points (20.3 ppg) along with Temple's Dionte Christmas. The New York native led the Minutemen to the NIT Championship game at Madison Square Garden, averaging 14.8 points in five NIT games, 17.5 in NIT Final Four, and was named to the NIT All-Tournament Team. UMass finished the season with a 25-11 record, the fifth-most wins in school history. That, combined with UMass' 24-9 record in 2006-07, gave the Minutemen their first back-to-back 20-win seasons since `94-95, `95-96. 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. Visit tonight when you get home for a complete recap story, box score, video highlights, photo gallery and postgame press conference from this and every game. 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. KELLOGG'S MISSION 1000 UMass head coach Derek Kellogg has made it his personal mission to get more interest in the UMass basketball program. Along with the athletic department, MISSION 1000 was launched in September to garner more attention. Close to a dozen events have been held throughout the state of Massachusetts to spread the word of UMass basketball with an emphasis of being more involved in the community. As part of MISSION 1000, UMass head coach Derek Kellogg, his staff and players hand-delivered season tickets to patrons throughout Western Massachusetts. They were greeted with excitement of fans from Amherst to Springfield. UMass' exhibition game vs. Brandeis on Nov. 4 was a benefit for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Fans brought 2 cans of nonperishable food to the Mullins Center to gain admission in place of a ticket price. More than 1,000 cans were donated. Close To Home UMass's schedule in 2010-11 is a local one for fans as the Minutemen will play 21 games within 90 miles of Amherst. In addition to the 14 games at the Mullins Center, UMass will host Holy Cross at the Curry Hicks Cage on Nov. 27 for a 15th game in Amherst. UMass will also play three games down I-91 in Springfield. Two in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off on Nov. 20 and 22 along with a regular-season home game vs. La Salle on Jan. 15. UMass has played home games in Springfield in each of the last three seasons since Kellogg was hired in 2008. The Minutemen will play at the TD Garden for the second year in a row, against Boston College on Dec. 4 as part of the Boston Tip-Off Classic. That game will air on Comcast SportsNet New England as part of a doubleheader with Drexel, coached by former Minuteman bench boss Bruiser Flint, battling Northeastern in the first game. The event will benefit the Boston Children's Hospital. UMass also plays two road games within 90 miles at Quinnipiac in Hampden, Conn. on Dec. 1 and at Central Connecticut on Jan. 3 in New Britain, Conn. UMass Alum Leading UMass Derek Kellogg, in his third 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 first year as the head coach at Auburn. Coaching at Texas-El Paso last season, Barbee led the Miners to the NCAA Tournament. 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.