Complete Release in PDF Format
Nov. 25, 2007
UMASS (4-1) at SYRACUSE (4-1)
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 7:15 P.M. (ET)
Carrier Dome (33,000) - Syracuse, N.Y.
TV: ESPN Classic (Dave Ryan, Mike Jarvis)
Radio: WRNX (100.9 FM - Flagship)
WCRN (830 AM), WATD (95.9 FM)
UMass Plays At Carrier Dome For First Time
After 11 days without a game, UMass (4-1) returns to the court at the Carrier Dome when the Minutemen play Syracuse (4-1) Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. The game will air nationally on ESPN Classic with Dave Ryan and Mike Jarvis calling the action. UMass opened the year packed with games, playing five games in nine days.
The Minutemen will be playing at the Carrier Dome for the first time as the teams have not played at Syracuse since 1974, when UMass lost 76-60 at Manley Field House. UMass has won the last two meetings between the teams. 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 1974 meeting was the previous meeting prior to the postseason game in 1992.
Syracuse leads the all-time series 8-5, winning eight of the first 11 games in the series between 1932 and 1974. The teams played six of eight years from 1966-74.
Ford At Syracuse
UMass head coach Travis Ford played at Syracuse once during his career at Kentucky. The former Wildcat point guard was part of Syracuse's 93-85 win on Feb. 12, 1994. Ford had three points and five assists in 32 minutes of action. UMass' assistant to the head coach Rodrick Rhodes had 18 points and five assists for the Wildcats. Adrian "Red" Autry led SU with 30 points and 10 assists. Lawrence Moten and John Wallace each had 18.
The UMass-Syracuse Lacrosse Rivalry
Despite not being regular opponents on the basketball court, the men's lacrosse teams at Syracuse and UMass play every season for the last 30 years and have developed one of the fiercest rivalries in lacrosse. The Minutemen have won three of the last four meetings including a pair of wins in 2005 and one last season in 2007. UMass has ended two of the greatest streaks in college sports history held by the Orange. In 2005, the Minutemen beat Syracuse, 16-15 in the NCAA First Round to end the Orange's run of 22 consecutive Final Four appearances. This past April, UMass beat the Orange, 9-7 in Amherst which gave Syracuse a losing record ending SU's 24-year streak of NCAA Appearances.
Showing Major Improvement
With only two players returning with significant playing time (Gary Forbes and Chris Lowe), many UMass players are seeing the most playing time of their careers. With that they have made major strides in all areas. Forbes, who started most of last year has increased his average by 10 points per game from 13.0 to 23.0 to lead the Minutemen.
Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 18.2 points per game after just 4.5 last season as a freshman. He played in 32 games, all off the bench, but has started all five games this season. Harris has 81 points this year after 145 all of last year. He leads al Minutemen in scoring improvement at +13.7 points per game. Harris has scored in double-figures in all five games this season. 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 15.0 points in four starts after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 75 points in the first five games after just 59 all of last year in 22 games. Brower has more than 12 points in four of five games in 07-08 after his season high was just eight last year. His +12.3 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay (11/17).
Senior Danté Milligan had a career-game when he scored 17 points 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 8.6 points and 4.6 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 5.4 per game and has made 7-of-12 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.
Forbes Named A-10 Co-Player of the Week
Senior Gary Forbes has been stellar early on this season and was honored for 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 on Nov. 17 as UMass downed Wisconsin-Green Bay, 93-78. That game 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.
25 Is Twice As Nice
When Gary Forbes and Etienne Brower each scored 25 points in the win over Wis.-Green Bay (11/17), it was the first time UMass had two or more 25-point scorers in more than 10 years. The last time UMass had two with 25 or more was on Jan. 23, 1996 as Carmelo Travieso (27) and Donta Bright (26) accomplished the feat.
Scoring, more and More
Travis Ford has installed an up-tempo offense in 2007-08 after two years of low-post dominance with Stephane Lasme and Rashaun Freeman leading the way. 2007 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Lasme was a second-round draft pick by the Golden State Warriors. Freeman is leading the French B Division in scoring and rebounding after being a three-time A-10 First-Team selection. Heading into 2007-08, UMass returned just 40 percent of its scoring and just 35 percent of its rebounding.
With the new offense, UMass is scoring a high-pace. The Minutemen are averaging 88.4 points per game, up from 74.6 points through five games last season and 77.3 from the entire season.
UMass is 15th in the NCAA in scoring through Sunday, Nov. 25.
UMass Continues Home Dominance
The Minutemen are now 24-4 in their last 28 games at the Mullins Center spanning the last three seasons spanning Travis Ford's tenure in Amherst. UMass went 12-2 at home last year and 10-2 in 2005-06.
The Minutemen went 12-2 at home last season playing before an average of nearly than 6,000 fans per game at the Mullins Center, including a sellout of 9,493 for the Boston College game on Dec. 2. that UMass had its second crowd of more than 9,000 this year with 9,088 against Saint Louis on Feb. 24. This season marks the first since 1998-99 UMass has had two crowds of more than 9,000 in the same season. The Saint Louis crowd was the largest for an A-10 game, since a sell-out of 9,493 against Temple on Feb. 17, 2001. With an average of 5,968 UMass had its best attendance since 1998-99 when an average of 6,723 came to the Mullins Center. UMass is fourth in the league in attendance.
Ford-Tough At Home
UMass head coach Travis Ford has been strong at home over the last four years with a 36-5 record as the home-team coach. He is 24-4 at UMass. In 2004-05, Ford posted a 12-1 record at Eastern Kentucky's McBrayer Arena prior to this year's perfect start at the Mullins Center. Staff members Tim Maloney, Steve Middleton, and James Altman were all with EKU as well.
Milligan's Career Game Lifts UMass Past Yale
On the night UMass unveiled the banners celebrating the 2006-07 Atlantic 10 Regular-Season title and the 2007 NIT appearance, the Minutemen topped Yale, 89-80, in a hot-shooting contest at the Mullins Center. Both teams shot over 50% from the floor with UMass at 53 and Yale at 51 percent. The Minutemen move to 3-1, Yale is now 1-1.
Sophomore Ricky Harris led UMass with 23 points. Senior Dante Milligan scored a career-high 17 points along with seven rebounds and three blocks. Classmate Gary Forbes netted 19 points, his fourth game in a row reaching double-digits, and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Senior Etienne Brower poured in 12 for UMass' fourth player in double-figures, he also had five assists.
UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off Tournament
The Minutemen opened the 2007-08 season winning two of three games at the BTI Tip-Off Tournament hosted by Northern Iowa on the weekend of Nov. 9-11. UMass defeated Cal Poly, 90-64 and Northern Illinois, 102-87 before losing to the host Panthers, 75-68. Senior Gary Forbes, who scored his 1,000th career point in the loss to Northern Iowa, and sophomore Ricky Harris were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Gibbs Signs NLI For 2008-09 Season
University of Massachusetts basketball head coach Travis Ford announced the signing of dynamic guard David Gibbs (East Hartford, Conn.) to a National Letter of Intent on Nov. 20, as he will join the Minuteman program for the 2008-09 season. Gibbs (6-4, 185 pounds) comes to UMass after playing at the Master's School in West Simsbury, Conn. Gibbs hails from the same hometown as UMass' 1996 National Player of the Year Marcus Camby.
"We are extremely excited that David has joined the UMass basketball family," said head coach Travis Ford, who has UMass off to 4-1 start in 2007-08. "David is a terrific young man and a great basketball player. He fits our style of play with his ability to play different guard positions. He has great size and athleticism. I really enjoyed getting to know his mother and father and they have been very supportive during the recruiting process. The Master's School has also been wonderful throughout and everyone is every excited that he will playing his college basketball just up the road at UMass."
As a junior, Gibbs averaged 22.5 points, 12.0 assists and 8.0 rebounds playing at the Master's School for Coach Ralph Auriental. He is beginning play in his senior year in 2007-08. Gibbs plays his AAU and travel basketball for the Connecticut Basketball Club (CBC) where he is coached J.R. Hargreaves and Pat Sullivan. According to scouting services, Gibbs is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in New England. He is rated as the nation's 28th best point guard by scout.com and 33rd by rivals.com
2006-07 A Season To Remember
The 2006-07 season was a historical one for the UMass men's basketball team as the Minutemen captured a share of the Atlantic 10 Regular-Season Championship. The Minutemen returned to the postseason for the first time since 2000 and won their first postseason game since the 1996 Final Four season. UMass downed perennial SEC power Alabama, 89-87 in overtime before a national audience. That game capped off a sensation 24-9 season, which marked UMass' best record since that 1995-96 season when the Minutemen went an all-time best, 35-2. UMass' 24-win season tied for the fifth-most win in a season in the program's history.
2006-07 Mass Co-A-10 Champions
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.