Minutemen Set to Battle NCAA Champion Kansas, Saturday On ESPN
UMASS (2-6) vs. #25/23 KANSAS (7-1)
Minutemen Set to Battle NCAA Champion Kansas
The Minutemen will be facing the defending NCAA Champion for the second year in a row and sixth time in history. UMass has had amazing success against reining champions posting a 4-1 record including last season's 78-66 win over 2007 Champion Florida in the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden. (That game was called by this ESPN crew of Franklin & Fraschilla).
In playing Kansas, UMass will be facing both teams to play in the NCAA title game from the previous season for the second year in a row, and just the second time in program history. The Minutemen fell at 2008 runner-up Memphis on Nov. 17, 80-58. Last year after beating Florida, UMass bowed to 2007 runner-up Ohio State, 92-85, in the NIT Finals.
UMass head coach Derek Kellogg will be on the opposing sidelines from Kansas as he was in the 2008 NCAA title game, as an assistant coach at Memphis under John Calipari, who coached Kellogg as a player at UMass from 1991-95. Also on the UMass staff from last year's Memphis NCAA runner-up are Andy Allison and Shyrone Chatman.
UMass 4-1 Vs. Defending Champs
With last year's win over Florida in the NIT Semifinals, UMass has won its last two games against the championship team from the previous year.
On Dec. 9, 2004 as the Minutemen downed No. 7 UConn at the Mullins Center, 61-59 as Rashaun Freeman scored with seconds left to lift UMass to the historic win. The game marked the first time a defending champion visited the Mullins Center.
UMass knocked off North Carolina, 91-86, in overtime on Nov. 24, 1993 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden. In the final, UMass lost to Kansas, 86-75 in the first meeting between the teams.
One year later, UMass thumped Arkansas, 104-80, on Nov. 25, 1994 in the Tip-Off Classic at the Springfield Civic Center.
That win over No. 1 Arkansas is symbolic, as it vaulted UMass to the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll for the first time in school history. Last week was the 14-year anniversary of the school's first No. 1 ranking, as the Minutemen played their first game as the No. 1 team on Dec. 3, 1994.
UMass' only loss against a champ came on Nov. 22, 1999, as the Minutemen lost to UConn at Gampel Pavilion, 79-65, on Nov. 22, 1999.
The first meeting came in the final of the 1993 Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden. After UMass had beaten the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time (North Carolina, 91-86 in overtime) to reach the final, No. 6 Kansas beat No. 15 UMass, 86-75 at the Garden. The following season, the teams rematched in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim and UMass playing as the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time lost to Kansas, 81-75 on Dec. 3, 1994.
In those two games, UMass head coach Derek Kellogg had the touch from outside making 7-of-11 from 3-point range. In 1993 at MSG, Kellogg (whose name was spelled incorrectly as Kellog in the official box score) had 12 points and four assists, making 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. In 1994, Kellogg scored 11 points and handed our four helpers making 3-of-6 from 3-point land.
The teams played a home-and-home in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons with each winning on their homecourts. No. 3 Kansas held on for a 73-71 win over UMass on Dec. 10, 1997 and UMass returned the favor in 1999.
Last Game vs. Kansas: UMass 64-60 on 1/16/1999
Massachusetts held Kansas scoreless for the final two minutes, and Charlton Clarke sealed the victory for Massachusetts (7-8) with two free throws with eight seconds left. The loss ended Kansas' (12-4) four-game winning streak.The Jayhawks were also stymied by 20 points from Monty Mack, 15 by Ketner, a pressure defense and strong rebounding. Mike Babul had six points and 12 rebounds. The Minutemen outrebounded Kansas 46-33 overall and 20-10 on offense. Boschee led KU with 16 points. Eric Chenowith had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Against The Big 12
Gaffney Among The National Leaders
Gaffney is off to an amazing start in his senior season averaging a double-double with five double-doubles this season after none in his career. He also had grabbed at least eight rebounds in every game and at least 11 in six of the eight games.
In each of his last two games he has nearly had a triple double. In those contests he has a combined 32 points, 29 rebounds and 17 blocks. Against Holy Cross, (12/10), he had 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. That followed a titanic effort vs. Boston College (12/6) with 15 points, 18 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots.
Gaffney's best performances of 2008-09 have come against two national powers. The last came on Saturday vs. the Eagles when he had 15 points, 18 rebounds, and a career-high nine blocked shots. His put-back of a missed Chris Lowe free throw sent the game to overtime, giving UMass a chance for its second-straight win over BC. His other outstanding game came 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 set a career-high in minutes, playing 43 of the 45 against the Eagles. He played a then career-high 39 minutes when he had his third double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds along with 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
Lowe is 21st in the NCAA with 6.1 assists per game, leading the A-10. He has led the league in assists in each of the last two years and would become the first player to lead the A-10 in assists for three years in a row. Lowe has three games with 10 or more assists this season and nine in his career.
With a 12-assist effort against Holy Cross (12/10), he has 23 assists in his last two games after 15 total in the previous five games. 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 on Saturday vs. BC (12/6), Lowe had his eighth-career game with double-figures. He passed his current coach Derek Kellogg (453) most recently at the end of last year.
With a career-high 14 against La Salle (3/5/08) - part of the sixth triple-double in UMass history (14 pts, 10 reb), 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 become the all-time career assist leader Smith (633).
Harris Eyes 1,000th Career Point
Standing in 39th place on UMass' all-time scoring list is former Miami Heat forward Stephane Lasme, who has 1,011 points. He broke the barrier in his final game, the NIT Second Round of 2007 at West Virginia.
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 21.3 scoring average and led the team in scoring in six of the first eight games. Harris is 22nd in the NCAA in scoring per game. He dropped a season and career-high 35 points on BC (12/6). The 35 points are good for the 13th most in school history and only six behind the school record of 41 held by Billy Tindall on Feb. 10, 1968 vs. Vermont. It was also Harris' second ever 30+ point scoring effort. Two games prior, he netted 27 at Green Bay (11/29) and had 24 points at Southern Illinois (11/12).
Harris Rises on 3-Point Charts
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 sixth in career made 3-pointers with 150 and eighth in career attempts with 413. With four treys at Green Bay, he passed Edgar Padilla (136) and his coach Derek Kellogg (138). Next on the list at No. 5 is Lorenzo Sutton (178). On the attempts list, Harris is eying Sutton(424) after passing Kellogg (362) earlier this season.
100th Season Of UMass Basketball
The following players were on hand for the BC game: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 and 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
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
UMass Gets Preseason Honors
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.
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.
Sporting News wrote 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
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).
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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