Men's Basketball

UMass Set For BC In Commonwealth Classic

Luke Bonner has hit 10-of-19 from 3-point range in 2007.

Luke Bonner has hit 10-of-19 from 3-point range in 2007.

Dec. 10, 2007

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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007 • 9 P.M. (ET)
Conte Forum (8,606) • Chestnut Hill, Mass.
TV: ESPNU (John Rooke, Ron Perry)
Radio: WRNX (100.9 FM - Flagship)
WCRN (830 AM), WATD (95.9 FM)

UMass Set For BC In Commonwealth Classic
• The biggest game in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is on tap Wednesday night at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill as UMass (6-2) travels to Boston College (7-1). The game will air nationally on ESPNU with John Rooke and Ron Perry calling the action with a tip-off just after 9 p.m. The game will be carried on the UMass Sports Network on 100.9 FM WRNX in Western Massachusetts and on 830 AM (WCRN) in Central Mass and 95.9 FM (WATD) in Eastern Mass. Bob Behler calls the action alongside color analyst Tim Kenney.

• The Minutemen are seeking to move to 7-2 for the second year in a row after a 24-9 season in 2006-07 which saw them advance to the NIT Second Round. UMass picked up an 83-68 win over Marist at the Mohegan Sun Arena last Saturday night as the Minutemen ended the game on a 31-10 run to blitz the Red Foxes.

• UMass is seeking to end an eight-game losing streak in the series against Boston College. The Minutemen last beat Boston College on Dec. 4, 1999 at Conte Forum. Last year, Boston College topped the Minutemen, 84-73 at the Mullins Center on Dec. 2, 2006. All-time, Boston College leads the series 23-17.

• Boston College comes off a thrilling 81-78 win at Maryland on Sunday night to open their ACC schedule. The Eagles' lone loss came to former Big East foe Providence College on Dec. 1, 98-89 in overtime at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Skinner Faces His Alma Mater
• Boston College coach Al Skinner will coach against his alma mater for the 32nd 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 10-21, but has won his last eight meetings, 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 23-17 advantage in the all-time series with the Minutemen, which began in the 1905-06 season. Boston College has won the last eight meetings between the schools after last season's 84-73 win at the Mullins Center. The last game at BC saw the Eagles post a 91-62 victory. Prior to the recent run of eight wins in a row, UMass had posted six straight wins in the series. Since the teams resumed playing each other -- as the Commonwealth Classic -- on an annual basis during the 1995-96 season, BC leads the series, 8-5.

• For games played on the Boston College campus, the Eagles hold an 9-3 advantage with a 3-1 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 three games played at Mullins, winning in 2000, 2002 and in 2005.

• 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 35-40 all-time record against current teams in the league. They are 17-23 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).

• 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.

UMass Teams Beating BC
• UMass' athletic teams have had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen have posted a 9-2-1 record against BC in nine different sports. Most notably, UMass' men's soccer team, which is playing in the NCAA College Cup this weekend, knocked off No. 1-seeded Boston College on Nov. 28, by the score of 2-1.

• Additionally, UMass' softball team beat BC twice last spring, while the Minuteman hockey team has a 2-0-1 record against the Eagles, who won the 2007 Hockey East title.

• One of UMass' losses came in football, where the FBS Eagles were challenged by UMass' FCS team on Sept. 29, in a 24-14 BC win at Alumni Stadium. The Minutemen, who play with only 63 scholarships in the former Division I-AA, were within 17-14 in the fourth quarter.

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 88.6 points per game, up from 77.3 points (+11.3) through eight games last season and 77.3 points (+11.3) from the entire season.

• UMass is six in the NCAA in scoring through Tuesday, Dec. 10 with 88.6. The Minutemen also lead the Atlantic 10 scoring.

• UMass is one of four teams in the nation with two players in the Top 50 NCAA scoring leaders as of Dec. 10 with Gary Forbes standing 26th with a 21.0 average. Ricky Harris is 47th with 19.6 per game. The other teams on the exclusive list are North Dakota State, Vanderbilt and Vermont.

• UMass is 26th in total 3-pointers made with 80. With 10.0 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10.

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 8.0 points per game from 13.0 to 21.0 to lead the Minutemen. Lowe has also taken his average from 7.0 to 11.3, a +4.3 mark.

• Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 19.6 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 seven games this season. Harris has 157 points this year after 145 all of last year. He passed his entire scoring total in the eighth game of the season against Marist with 18 points. He leads all Minutemen in scoring improvement at +15.1 points per game. Harris has scored in double-figures in all eight 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 13.5 points in eight starts after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 108 points in the first eight games after just 59 all of last year in 22 games. He passed his entire total in the fifth game of the season with 75 after the Wis.-Green Bay (11/17) game which he scored a career-high 25 points. Brower has more than 12 points in six of eight games in 07-08 after his season high was just eight last year. His +10.8 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay.

• Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in three of the last five games. He had his career-high of 17 in two of three games at Syracuse (11/28) and 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 9.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. An increase of 6.3 points and 2.6 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 5.8 per game and has made 10-of-19 from 3-point land. Last year he made seven treys all season in 31 games.

Among The A-10 Leaders
• UMass has three leaders in individual categories in the Atlantic 10. Gary Forbes leads league in scoring with a 21.0 average. He is also the league leader in defensive rebounding with 6.25 per game. Forbes is third in the league in total rebounds with 7.8 per game.

Ricky Harris leads in steals per game with 3.0, which is 10th in the NCAA. Harris is also fifth in scoring with a 19.6 average.

Chris Lowe is now healthy and has returned to his usual form and place amongst the leaders when it comes to point guards. He is third in the league in assists per game with 5.5 per game. He is also second in assist-to-turnover ratio with 2.54 per game. Lowe has averaged 7.7 assists over the last three games since returning from an ankle injury.

• Lowe is closing in on the all-time assists list at UMass. The man he is chasing is BC Coach Al Skinner. Lowe has 304 helpers in his two-plus seasons. Skinner stands 10th with 320. Ahead of Skinner is Louisville coach Rick Pitino with 329.

Etienne Brower is third in the A-10 and is 18th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage. He is shooting 55.3 from long-range hitting 21-of-38.

• Danté Milligan is shooting 66.0 from the floor (31-of-47), but is just shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he eligible, Milligan would rank tied for ninth nationally and second in the Atlantic 10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 66.0, an improvement of 16.6 percent.

Juicy Bits From The 107-Point Outburst
• The Minutemen's 107-100 win at Syracuse ranks on the all-time charts in UMass history. The 107 points were the most ever scored by an opponent against the Orange since the Dome opened in 1980.

• The 107 points were the most UMass has scored in a regulation game since a 110-97 win over Duquesne on Jan. 6, 1977.

• It ties for the 11th-most points in a game for UMass as it also scored 107 in a win over Colgate in 1966.

• The 207 combined points tied for the third-most points in a game in UMass annals. The record is 233, when UMass lost at Rutgers in triple overtime, 119-114 on Feb. 27, 1988.

• The other game with more total points (214) marked the last time UMass played in a game where both teams scored 100 points in a regulation when North Texas beat the Minutemen, 110-104 on Dec. 29, 1982.

More On The Orange Crush
• UMass continues to be the personal bug-a-boo for Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim. Of schools the legends has faced two or more times, UMass is the ONLY schools which Boeheim has never beaten. The Minutemen are 3-0, winning in 1992, 1995 and 2007 against the Orange.

• In the epic win, UMass rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to come away with the win. Ricky Harris led the Minutemen with a career-high 25 points while Gary Forbes added his A-10 leading scoring average of 23 points. Forbes also had seven assists and six rebounds in what Travis Ford called his best game at UMass.

• Point guard Chris Lowe returned to action after sitting for 14 days of game-action and had 13 points and a career-high tying nine assists.

• UMass shot 52 percent from the floor including 14-of-31 from 3-point range. Etienne Brower, who ranks second in the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage made 4-of-6 from trey-range.

• Danté Milligan continued to show he can be a force with his second career-high 17-point game in the last three games. Milligan also equalled his Yale game, two weeks prior, with an 8-of-9 showing from the floor.

Forbes Nov. 18 A-10 Co-Player of the Week
• Senior Gary Forbes 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.

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.

UMass Goes 2-1 At BTI Tip-Off
• 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.

Time/Television Changes
• UMass men's basketball games featured as part of the CSTV syndication television package will be featured on several channels in 2008 as part of the league's broadest coverage as part of the league deal announced on Tuesday. Locally in New England, UMass' games in the package will be carried by CN8. The games may also be carried nationally on affiliates such as Fox SportsNet Ohio, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, Comcast SportsNet Sacramento, Comcast Sports Southeast, SportsNet New York, Cox New England and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.

• Additionally, UMass will have two games televised by other outlets as the Jan. 23 game at Saint Joseph's will be on CN8 with a new 6 p.m. start time while the Jan. 19 will be on MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) with a new 4 p.m. start.

• Here are UMass' game changes and updates in terms of times and television for the remainder of the season.

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.

Lasme, Freeman Gain Honors
• UMass senior Stephane Lasme was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07. Lasme is the first UMass player to be named the league's top player since Marcus Camby in 1996 and fourth overall joining Camby, Lou Roe (1995) and Harper Williams (1992).

• Lasme was named an AP Honorable Mention All-American following the season. He was UMass' first All-American honoree since Camby in 1996.

• Lasme was joined by senior Rashaun Freeman on the A-10 First Team. Freeman is the first player since Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson (2001-04) to be a three-time first-team selection.

• Lasme is the second player to be named the league's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same campaign joining Pepe Sanchez of Temple in 1999 and David West of Xavier in 2002. • Lasme joined Tony Dobbins of Richmond (2002-04) as the only players in league history to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors in successive seasons. Lasme was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second year in row.

• Lasme and Freeman were named to the NABC All-District First Team and USBWA All-District First Team.

UMass' 20-Win Season
• With a 24-9 record, UMass has tied its program mark for fifth-most wins in a season; they also won 24 in 1992-93, going 24-7.

• UMass picked up its 20th win of the season on Feb. 21, 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 a season with a 35-2 record the Final Four season of 1995-96.

• It was UMass' 13th 20-win season in school history. The Minutemen had their first 20-win season in 1970-71, when they went 23-4.




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