MINUTEMEN OFF To SUNSHINE STATE TO FACE MIAMI
• UMass heads to the Sunshine State on Saturday to face ACC foe Miami for just the third time in program history. The Hurricanes lead the all-time series 2-0 with the first meeting between the squads coming in 2004 in Coral Gables, Fla.
• The Minutemen got back on the winning track with a win over Towson, 86-56, in Amherst on Wednesday night highlighted by a quartet of double-figure scorers.
• With the win over Towson, UMass improved to 4-0 at home with victories over Elon, Northeastern, NJIT, and Towson. In road games, the Minutemen are 1-0, besting in-state rival Boston College, 82-46, on Nov. 21. UMass is 1-2 at neutral site locations, with the lone victory over Utah, 89-75, in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
• 2011-12 marks the second consecutive season that UMass has accumulated at least six wins in the team’s first eight games. In 2010-11, the Minutemen opened the campaign with an 8-0 start.
• The game can be seen on ESPNU at 1 p.m., the first of the year for the Minutemen on the ESPN partner channel. The game can be heard on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM KIX 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. “Voice of the Minutemen” Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney will call the action. Live audio and Gametracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH MIAMI
• Saturday marks the third ever meeting between UMass and Miami. UMass has not faced the Hurricanes since the 2006-07 campaign, when the Minutemen suffered a close 72-71 loss at the Mullins Center.
• This will be the second time that UMass travels to Coral Galbes to battle the Hurricanes. The squad’s first trip to Florida resulted in an 80-53 loss on Dec. 12, 2004.
GOOD AS ADVERTISED
• Redshirt sophomore point guard Chaz Williams has been given the reponsibility of quarterbacking the Minutemen’s new up-tempo offense and the tranfer from Hofstra lived up to the billing, averaging 13.9 points and 6.6 assists in the first eight games. He is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of over 2-1.
• Williams scored 14 points and tallied 7 assists in the 89-75 win over Utah at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 25. He also had a UMass career-high 5 steals.
• Williams scored a game-high 16 points and dished out five assists with three steals to lead UMass to a 36-point victory over Boston College, the biggest margin of victory ever in the series on Nov. 21.
• Williams recorded the first double-double of his career in Nov. 14’s win over Northeastern, tying career-highs with 20 points and 10 assists. He spurred a key UMass run in the second half with an assist on a fastbreak followed immediately by a pair of lay-ups of his own on the break.
• Williams, in his first game in a UMass uniform in the win over Elon, led all scorers with 18 points to go with a game-high eight assists, six rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.
BRINGING THE 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 21 turnovers per game and scored 26.0 points per game off those take-aways.
• The Minutemen forced 19 turnovers and turned it into 31 points in their lone win at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 25.
• 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 scoring 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.
• Through eight games, UMass has shot .421 from the floor 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.
• UMass has received strong shooting performances from the bench in the past few games. Leading the secondary players is Sampson Carter, who shoots 54 percent from the field and has contributed 60 points so far this season.
• Post player Cady Lalanne has been the top sharpshooter this season, shooting 59 percent through eightgames.
• Jesse Morgan is shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc and has netted 13 three-pointers so far this season, 5 of which come from the win over Utah on Nov. 25.
DEPTH OFF THE BENCH KEY
• UMass has received quite a lift from its bench early in the season. A season-high 51 points were scored in the win over Towson thanks to the reserves. All told, the UMass bench has outscored every opponent this year except one (College of Charleston).
• 47% (219-of-618 points) of UMass’ scoring this year has come from the bench.
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 minium, chances are the Minutemen win. In 6 games won this year, UMass is 64-of-169 from three-point land and average 13.2 turnovers per game. In 2 games lost, UMass is just 6-of-51 from deep and average 18.5 turnovers.
• Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average nearly 20 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 7.5 in the two losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up nearly 8 assists in wins, but just 3.0 in each of the two losses.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through eight games, 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 7.0 points in 20 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 7.7 points and is averaging nearly one more rebound per game (3.0-to-3.9)
• After having a strong freshman campaign in 2009-10, Terrell Vinson saw his scoring dip from 9.6 poings per game to 6.5 last season. This year he is back to form averaging 9.0 points in almost 21 minutes per game.