Men's Basketball

 
UMass Continues Home Stretch, Hosting BU Saturday At 7:30 p.m.

Etienne Brower will face his former school on Saturday night.

Etienne Brower will face his former school on Saturday night.

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UMASS (9-2) vs. BOSTON UNIV. (3-7)
Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007 • 7:30 P.M. (ET)
Mullins Center (9,493) • Amherst, Mass.
Streaming Video: UMassAthletics.com
Radio: WRNX (100.9 FM - Flagship)
WCRN (830 AM), WATD (95.9 FM)

UMass Continues Home Stretch, Hosting BU Saturday
• UMass plays its only game of the week in a home game on Saturday night for the third week in a row as the Minutemen host Boston University at 7:30 p.m. At 9-2 for the second year in a row, UMass comes into the game seeking a 10-2 start which would be the best since the Final Four season of 1995-96 when the Minutemen started 26-0. Saturday's game is the third on a four-game homestand, the longest stretch at the friendly confines this season. UMass is in the midst of a four-game win streak with victories over Marist (83-68), Boston College (83-80), Toledo (68-61) and Central Connecticut State (79-55), last Saturday.

• The Minutemen received six points in the Associated Press poll for the second week in row, effectively ranking them 36th in the nation. UMass is at No. 20 in the RPI as of Friday, Dec. 28 at 12 Noon. The Minutemen have risen as high as No. 10 this season.

• Saturday's game will be available via UMass' All-Access streaming video package on UMassAthletics.com. 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 Collins.

Happy Birthday Coach Ford
• UMass head coach Travis Ford celebrates his 38th birthday on Saturday. The Minutemen leader has not coached on his birthday since 2001, when he led Eastern Kentucky against Austin Peay in an 82-70 defeat.

Brower, Gaffney Face Former Team
• Forwards Etienne Brower and Tony Gaffney will each be playing against the school they began their collegiate careers with in Boston University. Brower, who was eligible but injured for last year's game at BU, played in 51 games with the Terriers in 2003-05. Brower averaged 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in his sophomore year with BU. He scored 15 points against UMass while with BU on Dec. 28, 2004. He transferred to UMass after the 2004-05 season and sat out as a redshirt in 2005-06.

• Gaffney is in his first year playing for UMass after a redshirt year in 2006-07 after leaving BU. Gaffney played in 46 games in 2004-06 with the Terriers. He averaged 4.5 as a sophomore in 2005-06.

The Series With BU
• UMass plays BU for the fourth year in a row winning the last three by scores of 67-65 on Dec. 28, 2004; 64-45 on Dec. 12, 2005 and 56-54 last season at Agganis Arena in Boston. The Minutemen have won nine games in a row against the Terriers dating back to 1989. All-time UMass leads the series 40-29 beginning with a 36-16 win on Jan. 25, 1904. The teams played every season from 1937 through 1981.

• BU's last win came on Dec. 2, 1989, a 76-60 win at Boston University.

• LAST YEAR: UMass defeated Boston University 56-54 behind a strong showing from Rashaun Freeman who scored 20 points, 14 in the second half, and hauled in 12 rebounds (eight offensive). Stephane Lasme chipped in 12 points despite being plagued with foul trouble. The big story of the night, however, was the play of Brandon Thomas and Chris Lowe off the bench. Thomas scored 10 points, including two big three pointers, while Lowe recorded six assists, two steals and one block. The UMass reserves were huge in the tight road win outscoring the Terriers' bench 18-to-8.

Vote UMass!
• For the second week in a row, UMass is receiving six points in the Associated Press media poll. If you rank the teams by points, the Minutemen would be 36th in the nation. Last week, UMass would have been effectively ranked 37th with its six points. It is the eighth time in the last two seasons that UMass is receiving votes. Last season, the Minutemen received a season-best 11 votes in the March 3, 2007 poll to "rank" them 37th that week.

• The last time UMass was ranked in the AP Poll was in the Nov. 18, 1998 poll, when the Minutemen came in at No. 23.

• UMass is one of four Atlantic 10 teams in the poll with Rhode Island ranking No. 25. In "others receiving votes" this week in the AP poll Dayton has 84 and Xavier has 14 points.

• Of Minutemen opponents, undefeated Vanderbilt is ranked 15th at 11-0.

Rising In The RPI
• With big wins at Syracuse and Boston College, UMass is at No. 20 in the RPI rankings based on RealtimeRPI.com as of mid-day on Friday, Dec. 28. The Minutemen have been as high as No. 10 this season. The Atlantic 10 has four teams in the Top 20 of the RPI led by No. 12 Rhode Island, No. 14 Dayton and No. 17 Xavier.

Beating the ACC & Big East
• With the wins at Syracuse and BC, UMass has beaten teams from the Big East and ACC for the first time since 2004-05 when UMass defeated UConn and Florida State at home. The last time UMass beat teams from those two conferences away from home came in 1999-2000 when the Minutemen last won at BC, prior to Wednesday, and beat Florida State at Sunrise, Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Forbes Earns National, A-10 Honors
• UMass senior Gary Forbes was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the second time this season, Sunday, Dec. 16. He was also named CollegeHoops.net's National Player of the Year and the UMass Athlete of the Week. Also on Fox Sports.com, Forbes was named one of Frank Burlison's Top Five Players in the nation. Forbes led UMass to a 2-0 week with a 23.5 scoring average along with 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Forbes scored 22 points, including 17 in the second half, in UMass' 83-80 win at Boston College. He had a game-high 25 points in the win over Toledo.

• In the win at BC, Forbes also pulled down seven rebounds. For the week, he shot 13-of-28 from the field and 18-for-19 from the line on the week. He was also named A-10 Player of the Week after the second week of the season on Nov. 18.

Block Party
• UMass comes off its second-most prolific shot blocking game in school history. The Minutemen had 18 swats against Central Connecticut on Dec. 22. The only game with more came with a school-record of 20 on Jan. 3, 1995 in a win over West Virginia at the Springfield Civic Center.

• The Minutemen hold the top four shot blocking days in Atlantic 10 history led by the 1995 showing and this year's party against CCSU. UMass also had 16 against St. Francis (N.Y.) last year and St. Peter's in 2005.

• After finishing third in the nation (7.4) in blocked shots with the nation's top shot blocker in Stephane Lasme, UMass is sixth in 2007-08 with 7.2 per game. UConn leads the way with 9.4 per game. Duquesne leads the A-10 with 8.9 per contest.

UMass Continues Home Dominance
• UMass finally returned to the friendly confines of the Mullins Center when it beat Toledo, 68-61 on Dec. 15. UMass has won 13 home games in a row. The Minutemen are 26-4 in their last 30 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.

Ford-Tough At Home
• UMass head coach Travis Ford has been strong at home over the last four years with a 38-5 record as the home-team coach. He is 26-4 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.

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 85.4 points per game, up from 75.0 points (+10.4) through 11 games last season and 77.3 points (+8.1) from the entire season.

• UMass is 13th in the NCAA in scoring through Dec. 27 with 85.4 per game. The Minutemen are also second in the Atlantic 10 scoring behind No. 3 Duquesne (88.1). VMI leads the nation with a 97.2 average.

• UMass is one of two teams in the nation with two players in the Top 50 NCAA scoring leaders as of Dec. 27 with Gary Forbes standing 25th with a 20.5 average. Ricky Harris is 42nd with 19.5 per game. The other teams on the exclusive list is North Dakota State.

• UMass is 29th in total 3-pointers made with 104. With 9.5 treys per game, UMass leads the A-10 and is 18th in the NCAA in 3s per game.

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 7.5 points per game from 13.0 to 20.5 to lead the Minutemen. Lowe has also taken his average from 7.0 to 11.1, a +4.1 mark.

• Sophomore Ricky Harris has emerged as a major weapon on offense, scoring 19.5 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 10 games this season. Harris has 214 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 +15.0 points per game. Harris has scored in double-figures in all 11 games this season with a career-high 25 on two occasions (at Syracuse and at Boston College). 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 11.4 points in 11 starts after scoring just 2.7 points per game in 2006-07 when he was hindered by an ankle injury all season. Brower has 125 points in the first 11 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 +8.7 improvement was aided by his career-high 25 points against Wis.-Green Bay.

• Senior Danté Milligan has tallied 10 or more points in four games this season -- equalling his total from all of last year. 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 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds. An increase of 5.3 points and 1.9 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 4.9 per game and has made 12-of-28 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 20.5 average. He is second in the league in defensive rebounding with 6.0 per game. Forbes is fourth in the league in total rebounds with 7.5 per game. He is also ninth in assists per game with 3.9.

Ricky Harris leads in steals per game with 2.5, which is 26th in the NCAA. Harris is also fourth in the A-10 in scoring with a 19.9 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 5.7 per game. He is also fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio with 2.13 per game. Lowe averaged 14.6 point and 7.2 assists over five games since returning from an ankle injury from Nov. 28-Dec. 15. Lowe is also second in steals to Harris with 2.2 per game.

• Lowe is moving up on the all-time assists list at UMass. With five assists against CCSU (12/22), he passed BC Coach Al Skinner (320) and now has 322 to stand 10th. Next on the list at No. 9 is Louisville coach Rick Pitino with 329.

• Danté Milligan is shooting 63.8 from the floor (37-of-58), but is shy of qualifying for the NCAA rankings (5.0 made field goals per game). If he eligible, Milligan would rank 14th nationally and first in the Atlantic 10. Milligan has taken his field goal percentage from 49.4 to 63.8, an improvement of 14.4 percent.

UMass Wins Comm. Classic For First Time Since `99
• UMass captured its first Commonwealth Classic since 1999 with the 83-80 on Dec. 12 at Conte Forum. Riding a gutsy second-half effort by Gary Forbes and a stifling full-court press, the UMass men's basketball team picked up a victory over cross-state rival. The win was UMass' first vs. the Eagles since December 4, 1999, and first in the last nine games. UMass was led by sophomore Ricky Harris who tied a career-high with 25 points. Forbes added 22, including 17 in the second half. 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. The Minutemen finished with 15 offensive rebounds.

• UMass' athletic teams have had great success against Boston College athletic teams in the 2007 calendar year. The Minutemen and Minutewomen have posted a 10-2-1 record against BC in 10 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.

• The win also marked the first win vs. an ACC opponent since the Minutemen defeated Florida State, 78-68 on Feb. 15, 2005.

• UMass also defeated alumnus Al Skinner for the first time since 1999, after Skinner had won eight in a row. 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 11-21

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.

• 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 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 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 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.

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.

• 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.

• 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.

 

 

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    Tuesday, Dec 30
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