Massachusetts, Pirates Set To Meet For First Time
• UMass heads to East Carolina on Tuesday evening for the first ever meeting between the two schools. The Minutemen are coming off a close loss at Miami on Saturday where Chaz Williams scored a career-high 22 points.
• The trip to ECU will be the third of four major road trips for UMass this year. The trip to the Bahamas was 3,000 miles round trip, Miami totaled 2,900 miles, while this will add 1,400 miles to the total. UMass will add another 1,600 miles to the grand total when heading to Dayton later in the year.
• The game will feature a pair of defensive units on showcase as the Minutemen rank 2nd nationally in steals and the Pirates are just behind in fifth.
• 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 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 EAST CAROLINA
• Tuesday will be the first-ever meeting between UMass and East Carolina on the hardwood. The Pirates’ last game was also against a member of the Atlantic 10 as ECU lost to Charlotte. The game will be the first time ECU has ever played a team from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
• The Pirates are one of four North Carolina squads UMass will face this year: Won vs. Elon (85-67), ECU, Davidson (Dec. 22), Charlotte (Jan. 11).
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 14.8 points and 6.3 assists in the first nine games. He is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of over 2-1.
• Williams scored a career-high 22 points in the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3). He also dished out four assists, while raking in four rebounds.
• 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 19.9 turnovers per game and scored 24.3 points per game off those take-aways.
• In the 83-75 loss at Miami (12/3), the Minutemen forced 11 turnovers, while scoring as many points off them.
• 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 nine games, UMass has shot .415 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 Cady Lalanne who shoots 58 percent from the field and has contributed 59 points so far this season.
• Jesse Morgan is shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc and has netted 15 three-pointers so far this season, 5 of which come from the win over Utah on Nov. 25.
UMASS ONE OF A-10’S TOP SCORING TEAMS
• At an average clip of 77.0 points per game, UMass is the second ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10 - just behind Duquesne which is averaging 77.4 points through eight games. Only four A-10 teams are averaging below 70 points this season.
• UMass is also the fourth-ranked team in the league in terms of scoring margin at +9.2 over opponents. Saint Louis and Xavier are the only two teams to have margins higher than 10 points.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging nearly 42 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen second in the Atlantic 10 - just shy of Xavier. UMass ranks third in rebounding margin at +2.3 per game, however, ranks 13th in the league in opponent rebounds (39.2).
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).
• 33.8% (234-of-693 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 3 games lost, UMass is just 13-of-75 from deep and average 17 turnovers.
• Sharing the ball is also a key. The Minutemen average nearly 20 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 9 in the three losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up nearly 8 assists in wins, but just 3.3 in each of the three losses.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through nine 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 7.3 points in 20.1 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 7.8 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 8.6 points in almost 26 minutes per game.