Men's Basketball

 
UMass Hosts BC For Classic Era Celebration, Saturday At 8:30 p.m.

Anthony Gurley faces his hometown team, Boston College, on Saturday.

Anthony Gurley faces his hometown team, Boston College, on Saturday.

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    After beginning the season with five of six games away from the Mullins Center, UMass returns home to the friendly confines of the Mullins Center where the Minutemen will play four of the next five in Amherst. The Minutemen host state-rival Boston College in the Commonwealth Classic this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. The game serves as the backdrop for the first of six nights where UMass will celebrate the 100 Years of UMass Basketball. Throughout the game the department will recognize the players from the Classic Era of 1899-1959. At halftime, a ceremony will be held to honor the returning players on hand.

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    UMASS (1-5) vs. BOSTON COLLEGE (5-2)
    Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 • 8:30 p.m. (ET)
    Mullins Center (9,493), Amherst, Mass.
    TV: CBS College Sports (Tom Hart, Pete Gillen)
    Radio: WRNX (100.9 FM - Flagship)
    WCRN (830 AM), WATD (95.9 FM)

    UMass Hosts BC For Classic Era Celebration
    • After beginning the season with five of six games away from the Mullins Center, UMass returns home to the friendly confines of the Mullins Center where the Minutemen will play four of the next five in Amherst. The Minutemen host state-rival Boston College in the Commonwealth Classic this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. The game serves as the backdrop for the first of six nights where UMass will celebrate the 100 Years of UMass Basketball. Throughout the game the department will recognize the players from the Classic Era of 1899-1959. At halftime, a ceremony will be held to honor the returning players on hand.

    • Expected to attend are: Don Akerson '58, Frank Barous '53, George Burke '56, John Edgar '57,Dick Eid '56, Wray Gunn '52, Paul Kollios '58, Ned Larkin '59, John MacLeod '54, Condon McDonough '59, Ed McGrath '43, George Morin '58, Alex Norskey '49, Bill Prevey '52, Bill Stephens '54, William Walsh '40.

    • Saturday's game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports with Tom Hart and Pete Gillen calling the action. It will be streamed on UMassAthletics.com as part of UMass All-Access. Saturday's game will air on the UMass Sports Network across the state. Flagship station WRNX 100.9 (Springfield) heads the network along with 95.9 FM WATD in Marshfield/Boston and 830 AM WCRN in Worcester. "Voice Of the Minutemen" Josh Maurer, will call the action with former Minuteman Tim Collins.

    • Last season, UMass ended an eight-game losing streak in the series against Boston College with a thrilling 83-80 win in Chestnut Hill on Dec. 12, 2007. Ricky Harris netted 25 points and Gary Forbes added 22. BC's top gun Tyrese Rice had 26, but missed a 3-pointer wit four seconds left that would have tied the game. The Minutemen last beat Boston College on Dec. 4, 1999 at Conte Forum. All-time, Boston College leads the series 23-18.

    UMass Alums Face Off In Minuteman game
    • Saturday's game will pit UMass alums against each other coaching in a Minuteman game for the first time in 27 years with UMass' Derek Kellogg class of `95 against BC coach Al Skinner `74 on the sidelines. The last time two UMass alums coached against each other was back on Dec. 3, 1981 when Tom McLaughlin `73 lost his first game as UMass coach to his former teammate Rick Pitino `74, who coached Boston University to a 91-65 win in Beantown. McLaughlin was the last UMass alum to lead the Minutemen as he coached the team from two years 1981-83.

    Skinner Faces His Alma Mater
    • Boston College coach Al Skinner will coach against his alma mater for the 33rd time on Wednesday night. Skinner is one of four former UMass players to have his number retired. Skinner had his No. 30 retired on Feb. 18, 2004. All-time against his alma mater, Skinner is 10-22. Until last year, he had won eight meetings in a row, all at BC since 1999. He had little luck against UMass early on going 2-21 in his tenure at Rhode Island and his first three seasons with Boston College.

    • Skinner starred at UMass in the early 70s as he was named first-team All-Yankee Conference three times (1972-74. He was also an all-district selection in those seasons. In his career, Skinner scored 1,235 points which ranks 16th all-time. He led the then-Redmen to a pair of Yankee Conference titles. Following his UMass career, Skinner went on play professionally in both the ABA and NBA, with the New York Nets, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers. He began his collegiate coaching career at the University of Rhode Island, before taking over at Boston College in 1997.

    • It was apropos, that during the UMass-Rhode Island game on Feb. 18, 2004, Skinner (No. 30, 1971-74) became the fourth player in school history to have his number retired. The other three players to be honored are George "Trigger" Burke (No. 32, 1954-56), Julius Erving (No. 32, 1969-71) and Lou Roe (No. 15, 1991-95).

    UMass-BC Series
    • The Eagles hold a 23-18 advantage in the all-time series with the Minutemen, which began in the 1905-06 season. Last year, UMass ended BC's win streak of eight games in row. That streak saw BC win the last meeting at the Mullins Center, 84-73, on Dec. 2, 2006. Prior to the recent run of eight wins in a row, UMass posted six straight wins in the series from 1990-1999. Since the teams resumed playing each other -- as the Commonwealth Classic -- on an annual basis during the 1995-96 season, BC leads the series, 8-6.

    • For games played on the Boston College campus, the Eagles hold an 9-4 advantage with a 3-2 mark at the Conte Forum. The schools have also played nine times at either the Boston Garden or the TD Banknorth Garden, with UMass leading 6-3 in those contest. Boston College has won all four games played at Mullins, winning in 2000, 2002 and in 2005 and 2006.

    • UMass has not beaten BC in Amherst since 1977, an 85-69 win on Feb. 2, 1977.

    • The two programs first a century ago with the Minutemen winning the first game 20-15 on Dec. 8, 1905 in Drill Hall. The two teams did not play again until the 1950-51 season, but met regularly since then with the exception of the 1980-94 seasons. In that time, they played once on Dec. 29, 1990 in the Abdow's Classic in Springfield, Mass.

    Against The ACC
    • UMass takes on the newest member of the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference, Boston College. The Minutemen have fared very well against what many consider to be the top basketball conference in the nation with a 36-40 all-time record against current teams in the league. They are 18-23 against BC, but have winning records against Florida State (3-2), Georgia Tech (1-0), Maryland (4-2), NC State (3-0), Virginia Tech (5-2).

    • Prior to last year's win against Boston College, UMass last beat a team from the ACC, in 2004-05, when it beat Florida State, 78-68 on Feb. 15, 2005 at the Mullins Center.

    • One of the biggest wins against an ACC team came at the Mullins Center, 13 years ago to the day as #3 UMass and Marcus Camby beat #10 Wake Forest and Tim Duncan, 60-46 on Dec. 6, 1995.

    Last Year's Commonwealth Classic
    UMass 83, RV/- Boston College 80
    CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Riding a gutsy second-half effort by Gary Forbes and a stifling full-court press, the UMass men's basketball team picked up an 83-80 victory over cross-state rival Boston College on Wednesday evening. The win was UMass' first vs. the Eagles since December 4, 1999, and first in the last eight games. UMass was led by Ricky Harris who tied a career-high with 25 points. Forbes added 22, including 17 in the second half.

    Boston College guard Tyrese Rice had an open three-point attempt with four seconds remaining in the second half that would have tied the score, but it was off the mark. Rice led Boston College with 26 points.

    Along with Forbes and Harris, Chris Lowe tallied 17 points and Etienne Brower tied a career-high with 10 rebounds. Tony Gaffney also played well on both ends of the court, picking up four points, five rebounds, and two blocks.

    After trailing by three at the half, UMass came out strong in the second. The Minutemen started with a 17-7 run to take a seven-point lead after a Harris layup attempt was called for goaltending.

    With the score 51-48 UMass, the Minutemen went on a 12-0 run, using their pressure to disrupt the Eagles' rhythm. In that span, Forbes sprung Harris with a beautiful pass for an easy layup, giving UMass the 58-48 lead.

    Forbes put an exclamation point on the run with a three-point play. After hitting the free throw, UMass owned their largest lead of the game, 63-48, with 10:05 left in regulation.

    The Eagles started to mount a comeback, cutting the lead to seven, 63-56. The game continued to go back and forth with each team mounting small runs.

    Forbes continued his tremendous second half, by making a drive from behind the three-point line, all the way to the basket to up UMass' lead to 71-63 with 4:52 to go.

    With less than one minute remaining in the game, Lowe hit a clutch floater to make it 79-73. With 15 seconds on the clock, Rice made a three-point play to cut the Minutemen lead to one-possession, 83-80. After Harris missed a layup that would have iced the game, Rice had an open three-pointer with four seconds remaining, but it was off the mark, giving UMass the thrilling victory.

    Gaffney Among The National Leaders
    • With his amazing start this season, UMass senior forward Tony Gaffney is ranked in the Top 5 in the NCAA in two major statistics. He is tied for fourth in the country in rebounding with 12.3 per game. He is also fourth in blocked shots per game with 4.3 entering the weekend. Gaffney is averaging a double-double with a 12.3 scoring average. Coming into the year, Gaffney's career averages were 3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

    • Gaffney is off to an amazing start in his senior season averaging a double-double with three double-doubles this season after none in his career. He also had grabbed at least nine rebounds in every game and at least 12 in four of the six games.

    • Gaffney had his best career game at Memphis (11/17), one which Memphis John Calipari called him the best player on the court. Against the No. 13 Tigers, Gaffney scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds along with five blocks. It was his second career double-double. He opened the year with 16 points and 13 rebounds against Arkansas-Monticello (11/11).

    • Gaffney has played 32 or more minutes in each game, all more than any game he previously played at UMass. He played a career-high 39 minutes when he had his third double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds along with a career-high eight blocked shots vs. Jacksonville State (11/24) in the home opener. The 20 points were also a UMass high. He scored 20 while at Boston University against Stony Brook in 2006.

    Lowe Moving Up Assists Chart
    Chris Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass as he stands fourth with 511. Next on the list is Alex Eldridge (518). Lowe became the fourth player with 500 career assists at UMass after he gained five against Jacksonville State (11/24). After piling up 11 assists in the opener vs. Arkansas-Monticello (11/11), Lowe had his seventh-career game with double-figures. He passed his current coach Derek Kellogg (453) most recently at the end of last year.

    • With his career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5), Lowe moved past UMass Hall of Famer Joe DiSarcina (431) into fifth. With five assists against CCSU (12/22), he passed BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and then with five more against Houston (1/2), he passed Louisville coach Rick Pitino (329).

    • Lowe had five games with 10 or more assists in 2007-08, most recently with 11 at Syracuse in the NIT Quarterfinals. He set a then-career-high 13 against Saint Louis (2/17). That was the highest total since all-time leader Carl Smith tied the school record with 15 on Jan. 23, 1986. Then, Lowe bettered it in the La Salle game, which with 14 is tied for the fourth-most assists in a game in UMass history.

    • With his 214 assists last season, Lowe had the third-best single-season in UMass history after passing Smith (212), Smith (191), Alex Eldridge (174) and Rick Pitino (168). With a similar season as a senior, Lowe would be on pace to pass all-time career assist leader Smith (633).

    • Lowe averaged 8.4 assists in his last 13 games with his first five career games with 10 or more assists with double-doubles in the three of the last 10 games including the sixth triple-double in UMass history.

    Harris Rises on 3-Point Charts
    • Junior Ricky Harris has picked up where he left off last season, when he was named the A-10 Chris Daniels Most Improved player. Harris is leading UMass with a 18.7 scoring average and led the team in scoring in four of the first six games. He netted a season-best 27 at Green Bay (11/29) and had 24 points at Southern Illinois (11/12). Harris has also continued to blister from 3-point range. In the first six games, he is shooting 44.4 from beyond the new extended-distance arc. He has made 20-of-45 from 3-point range.

    • Harris who tied Carmelo Travieso for the single-season mark for made treys last year with 104, is rising on the career charts. Harris stands seventh in career made 3-pointers with 141 and ninth in career attempts with 390. With four treys at Green Bay, he passed Edgar Padilla (136) and his coach Derek Kellogg (138). Next on the list at No. 6 is James Life (148). On the attempts list, Harris is eying Mike Williams (406) after passing Kellogg (362) earlier this season.

    100th Season Of UMass Basketball
    • UMass is celebrating the 100th season of UMass basketball in 2008-09. UMass will be honoring six eras/decades throughout the season by inviting back every living UMass player to attend his respective celebration. The first event is set for the Boston College game on Dec. 6 at 8:30 p.m., honoring the Classic Era (1899-1959).

    • An early look at the players who have responded they will attending the Boston College game includes: (Don Akerson, Frank Barous, George "Trigger" Burke, John Edgar, Dick Eid, Wray Gunn, Paul Kollios, Ned Larkin, John MacLeod, Condon McDonough, Ed McGrath, George Morin, Alex Norskey, Bill Prevey, Bill Stephens, William Walsh).

    • In looking back at UMass basketball, the program started with its first season in 1899-1900 with the first game played on Jan. 10, 1900, a 14-9 win over the Northampton YMCA.

    • The program has had several hiatuses in its history as, this is the 100th season with the program starting 109 years ago. UMass did not field a team in 1900-01, 1909-10 through 1915-16 and during World War II in both 1943-44 and 1944-45.

    • Under the leadership of John Calipari, the Minutemen become A-10 Tournament Champs five consecutive times (1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96). Overall, UMass has appeared in the NCAA Tournament eight times, in addition to those five A-10 title years (1961-62, 1996-97 and 1997-98). They have two appearances in the Elite Eight (1995, 1996) and a Final Four appearance (1996). Last year UMass, went 25-11 in reaching the NIT Championship game. It was UMass' 10th NIT appearance including each of the last two season.

    UMass Alum Leading UMass
    Derek Kellogg 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 current Boston College head coach Al Skinner and Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Kellogg is not the current head coach from the UMass rosters in the mid-90s as Tony Barbee is in his fourth year as the head coach at Texas-El Paso.

    • 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.

    UMass 6th; Harris & Lowe Honored
    • The UMass men's basketball team has been picked sixth in the preseason poll released by the Atlantic 10 coaches and media on Oct. 29 as part of the league's media day. Senior point guard Chris Lowe was named the A-10 Preseason First Team while junior guard Ricky Harris has earned a spot on the Preseason Second Team. Lowe was also named to the Preseason All-Defensive Team.

    UMass Gets Preseason Honors
    • With UMass alum Derek Kellogg in town to lead the Minutemen attack, the program is getting considerable attention from national media as it hopes to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1997-98. Lindy's and Athlon both predict UMass to finish in the top five in the Atlantic 10 while Ricky Harris is tabbed to have a breakout year as well.

    • Lindy's predicts that the Minutemen will finish fourth behind St. Joseph's, Temple, and Xavier. It mentions the good news as "Derek Kellogg returns to his alma mater and has plenty of perimeter firepower." Lindy's includes Harris on the First Team All-Conference while recognizing Chris Lowe with "Top Playmaker" in its honor roll. The magazine also includes a mention of freshman point guard David Gibbs, who will now "run the dribble-drive offense new coach Derek Kellogg is bringing to UMass from Memphis."

    • Athlon sports predict that the Minutemen will finish fifth, trailing Xavier, Temple, Charlotte, and Dayton, while earning their third-consecutive NIT berth. Like Lindy's, Athlon predicts Harris to be a First-Team All-Atlantic 10 performer. Replacing A-10 player of the Year Gary Forbes will be a challenge, but Athlon says "Wake Forest transfer Anthony Gurley should give Kellogg another wing scorer...Young guards Gary Correia and David Gibbs will provide depth."

    • Sporting News predicts a 10th place finish for the up-tempo Minutemen. The publication thinks that with Gibbs on board (to go along Lowe, a senior), "the Minutemen should be able to play at breakneck speed." It predicts that the best shot-blocker in the conference will once again come from UMass (Tony Gaffney), while Lowe is deemed the "best passer." Sporting News identifies three-point shooting as a big asset as "Together, Harris and Gurley give UMass a pair of solid three-point threats."

    • Rivals.com has pegged Anthony Gurley as the No. 3 overall impact transfer in all of Division I.

    UMass Back To National Prominence
    • After a 2006-07 season which included the program's first postseason appearance since 2000, the Minutemen headed into the 2007-08 campaign with high expectations.

    • The team would not disappoint as it used a magical postseason run to reach the NIT Finals, highlighted by topping the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome in the quarterfinals while beating defending National Champion Florida at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals. UMass eventually succumbed to Ohio State in a hard-fought finals game, 92-85.

    • The Minutemen had two six-game winning streaks (Dec. 18 through Jan. 2 and Feb. 17 through Mar. 8) along with the four-game streak in the NIT (Mar. 18 to April 1).

    • UMass finished with a 25-11 record good for its second-consecutive season with at least 24 victories.

    • The Minutemen picked up their 20th win of the season on March 5 with the 100-63 win over La Salle. It marked the 14th time in history that UMass reached the mark and second year in a row after going 24-9 in 2006-07. The last time UMass won 20 in back to back seasons was 1994-95 (29-5) and 1995-96 (35-2).

    • With 25 wins, UMass reached the fifth-most wins in school history passing the 2006-07 team (24-9) and the 1992-93 squad (24-9). Fourth on the list is 28 wins set in 1993-94.

    • In 2006-07, UMass picked up its 20th win of the season on Feb. 21, 2007 beating St. Bonaventure, 83-44. The win gave the Minutemen their first 20-win season since 1997-98 when UMass went 21-11. Prior to that season, UMass last won 20 or more when they set the school record for wins with a 35-2 record during the Final Four season of 1995-96.

    • In the first round, UMass posted a solid 80-60 win over Southland Conference champion Stephen F. Austin on March 18 at the Mullins Center. Dante Milligan had a career game in UMass' NIT First Round win over SFA, as he had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. A-10 Player of the Year Gary Forbes added 19 points and the league's Most Improved Player Ricky Harris had 16 points.

     

     

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