UMass Returns Home To Host Quinnipiac On NESN
• After winning two of three away from home, the UMass basketball team returns to the friendly confines of the Mullins Center to host Quinnipiac on Saturday night at 7 PM. The game will be televised live on NESN and NESN-HD.
• Saturday is also Family Four Pack Night at the Mullins Center. For just $39, fans can get 4 tickets, 4 drinks, and 4 hot dogs/sliders.
• In four previous home games, UMass is undefeated with three wins in the Mullins Center and one in the Curry Hicks Cage. In front of the home fans, UMass has won its four games by an average margin of nearly 21 points per game.
• This will be just the third meeting all-time between UMass and Quinnipiac with the Minutemen having won both previous meetings. The games, however, have been close with an average margin of victory of just three points.
• Saturday night’s match-up with be a showcase of New York guards as Chaz Williams (Brooklyn) goes head-to-head with James Johnson (Queens). Williams is averaging 15 points, just over 6 assists and ranks 5th nationally in steals, while Johnson average 17 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
• Freddie Riley looks to continue his hot stretch of shooting on Saturday. Entering the game, the junior has averaged nearly 14 points per game in the last four outings and has hit 54% of his three point shots.
• Depth will likely be one of the biggest factors in the game on Saturday as UMass is averaging 34.4 points off the bench compared to 18.7 for the Bobcats.
• 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 Gameracker will be available on UMassAthletics.com.
SERIES WITH QUINNIPIAC
• Saturday will be just the third meeting all-time between UMass and Quinnipiac. UMass won last season’s meeting in Hamden 66-64 thanks to a last-second goal-tending call. Javorn Farrell led the Minutemen with a game-high and career-high 25 points, while Anthony Gurley added 19 points. Justin Rutty led the Bobcats with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
• The series began on Dec. 2, 2009 with UMass winning 62-58 in the Mullins Center.
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 15.0 points and 6.1 assists in the first 11 games. He is shooting 40.0 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of nearly 2-1. Defensively, he ranks 5th nationally in steals with 2.9 per game.
• 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. He tied his career-high with another 22 points (20 in the second half) in the win over Siena (12/9).
• 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 19.0 turnovers per game and scored 24.4 points per game off those take-aways.
• At East Carolina (12/6), UMass had nearly one point per ECU turnover, scoring 15 off 16 Pirates’ miscues.
• 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 11 games, UMass has shot .417 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 55 percent from the field and has contributed 73 points so far this season.
• Over the last four games, Freddie Riley has shot 20-of-37 (.540) including 14-of-26 (.540) from beyond the arc. That has translated into a 13.8 point per game average for the junior sharp-shooter.
CLEARING THE BOARDS
• UMass has been solid on the boards this season averaging nearly 42 rebounds per game - that places the Minutemen first in the Atlantic 10 with 41.8 and 12th nationally.
UMASS ONE OF A-10’S TOP SCORING TEAMS
• At an average clip of 76.2 points per game, UMass is the top ranked scoring team in the Atlantic 10. Only five 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 +8.4 over opponents. Saint Louis, La Salle and Xavier are the only three teams to have margins higher than 10 points.
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).
• 45.0% (378-of-838 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 minimum, chances are the Minutemen win. In 8 games won this year, UMass is 79-of-210 from three-point land and average 14.3 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 19 assists in wins this year, while that number drops to 9 in the three losses. Individually, Chaz Williams picks up over 7 assists in wins, but just 3.3 in each of the three losses.
KEY IMPROVEMENTS OVER LAST SEASON
• Through 11 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 6.5 points in 20.3 minutes.
• Raphiael Putney has increased his scoring from 4.4 points to 8.4 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 8.1 points in just over 25 minutes per game.