Women's Basketball Returns Home To Face Vermont
Dec. 4, 2002
Game Day Information
What: Massachusetts (3-1) vs. Vermont (4-0)
Where: Mullins Center (9,493) * Amherst, Mass.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2002
Radio: WMUA, 91.1 FM in Amherst. Regan McKendry (play-by-play) & Jon Junkins (color).
Game Day... After a successful 2-1 road trip last week, the Minutewomen return to the Mullins Center to host 2002 WNIT quarterfinalist Vermont. The Catamounts are off to a quick 4-0 start with wins over Yale (71-68), Providence (65-49), Central Connecticut State (65-43) and Saint Peter's (83-55). Massachusetts is now 3-1 overall after splitting on its Thanksgiving trip to the Midwest. Last Friday, it lost to Michigan, but rebounded to thump Toledo, 73-61, on Sunday. The Minutewomen have revenge on their mind as Vermont blew them out, 69-51, on Dec. 1, 2001, in Burlington. UMass started its season-long three-game road trip with a 52-49 come-from behind win over Saint Peters (Nov. 25).
Impressive Start ... When the Minutewomen downed Sacred Heart, 74-48 on Nov. 22, Marnie Dacko became the seventh head coach out of nine in the program's history to win their first game on the UMass bench. Of the seven, five have gone on to win at least their next game. Jane Farr (1972-73), Carol Albert (1974-75) and Jack Leaman (1986-87) all started 3-0, while Kathy Hewelt led the Minutewomen to a 5-0 start in the 1988-89 season.
Scouting The Catamounts ... Vermont is 4-0 so far this season with wins over Yale, 71-68 (Nov. 22), Providence, 65-49 (Nov. 23), Central Connecticut State, 65-43 (Nov. 26) and Saint Peter's, 83-55 (Dec. 1). The Catamounts return four starters from last year's WNIT quarterfinal squad. Three players are averaging double-figures in points, including junior forward Aaron Yantzi. The 2002 second team All-America East selection is averaging 22.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Yantzi is shooting at a .692 (36-52) clip from the field. Senior guard Morgan Hall is second on the team pouring in 17.0 points per game. She leads the squad pulling down 7.0 boards a contest. Vermont is outscoring its opponents by 17.3 points per game (71.0-53.8) and is shooting .467 (107-229) from the field.
The Series ... Massachusetts leads the all-time series with Vermont 18-5. The Catamounts won last year's (Dec. 1) game, 69-51 in Burlington, Vt., but the Minutewomen have won seven of the last 11 games. Marnie Dacko is 0-1 lifetime as a head coach vs. Vermont in seven seasons with Cornell.
Minimize the Turnovers?? ... While the Minutewomen average 18.5 turnovers a game, they have proven that when they turn the ball over they win. In its three victories, UMass has been over 20 turnovers each time, averaging 23.0 per contest. In its one loss at Michigan, Massachusetts turned the ball over just 10 times.
Rage In The Cage ... Massachusetts has announced that it will play the Dec. 11 game vs. Villanova at the historic Curry Hicks Cage. It marks UMass' first game at the Cage since an 82-40 win over Temple on Feb. 18, 1995. Overall, the Minutewomen went 124-107 (.537) at the Cage.
Minutewomen En Fuego ... After seeing Michigan put up a 55-spot on 22-30 (.733) shooting in the first half last Friday, UMass did nearly the same on Sunday at Toledo. The Minutewomen used runs of 14-1 and 19-0 in the frame to take a 41-16 lead at the break. UMass shot .680 (17-25), while limiting the Rockets to just five field goals (5-33, .152) in the opening half. Jen Butler, who recorded her 44th career double-double in the win, had 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting, while Katie Nelson poured in 12 points and dished out five assists. She was 5-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range.
Toledo Recap ... The University of Massachusetts women's basketball team (3-1) started the game on a 14-1 run and never looked back en route to a 73-61 non-conference victory over the University of Toledo (2-1) before 1,634 fans at Savage Hall, Dec. 1. The Minutewomen survived a barrage of Toledo three-pointers in the second half as the Rockets connected on nine (9-15) treys. Tia Davis had four of them on six attempts. For the game, Toledo shot .394 (13-31) from downtown. The Rockets kept chipping away throughout the second half and were able to pull within eight points at the 1:13 mark on a Leah Gonnella three-pointer, but could get no closer. UMass shot just .474 (9-19) from the charity stripe in the second half aiding Toledo's comeback effort. Massachusetts started the game on a 14-1 run spanning the first 5:24. The Minutewomen led by 15 points at the 10:55 mark, but a 5-0 run by the Rockets cut their deficit to just 10 points. That's when the Minutewomen went on a 19-0 run over 7:06 ballooning their lead to 29 at 39-10. They shot .680 (17-25) in the half and took a 41-16 lead into the break. Toledo shot just .152 (5-33). Senior Jennifer Butler and sophomore Katie Nelson each had 19 points for the game, including 12 in the first half. Nelson dished out five assists and played all 40 minutes, while Butler grabbed 16 rebounds in 40 minutes. Butler also had four assists and a steal. Senior Nekole Smith scored 18 points, including just her second career three-pointer. She also pulled down six rebounds. Junior Judit Zsedenyi was 1-for-5 from behind the arc and has now made at least one trifecta in each of her four career games. Senior Ebony Pegues scored seven points and added three rebounds and five assists. The Minutewomen, who never trailed in the game, improved to 3-1 overall this season. Toledo fell to 2-1. Massachusetts finished the game shooting .583 (28-48) from the field, while Toledo shot .317 (19-60), helped by the .519 (14-27) clip they shot at in the second half. The Minutewomen dominated on the boards, holding a 44-25 edge.
Injury Update ... Senior forward Siiri Liivandi suffered an injury during last week's trip to Michigan and Toledo. Due to the Health Information Privacy Act (HIPA), the University of Massachusetts does not reveal injury information about its student-athletes.
All-Conference Team ... After being the only player in the Atlantic 10 to average a double-double in 2001-02, senior center Jennifer Butler was named a first team preseason All-Conference selection in a poll conducted by league coaches. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native averaged 13.2 ppg and 11.8 rpg a year ago. She was also selected to the A-10 preseason All-Defensive team. Her rebounding figure led the conference and ranked fifth nationally (second among 2002-03 returnees a year ago). Additionally last season, Butler became just the 13th player in Massachusetts history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau with her seven-point performance against Temple in the Atlantic 10 semifinals. Jen was a second team All-Conference and All-Defensive team pick a year ago. So far this year, Butler is averaging 14.5 points, 14.8 rebounds and 1.75 steals per game. She is currently first in the Atlantic 10 in rebounding.
Downtown Zsedenyi ... Cottey (Mo.) Junior College transfer Judit Zsedenyi has now made at least one three-pointer in each of the four games this season. Against Michigan, the Budapest, Hungary, native connected on two trifectas for a career-high six points. She also set a new career-high pulling down two boards against the Wolverines. Her minutes have gone up in each contest thus far. She played in a career-high 24 minutes Sunday against Toledo.
RPI/Strength of Schedule ... In the latest WBCA/Summerville RPI ranking released Dec. 1, the Minutewomen are ranked 22nd out of 324 Division I institutions. Massachusetts' schedule has been ranked as the nation's 78th toughest, but this only factors in games that have been played and does not take future opponents into consideration. According to CollegeRPI.com, UMass is ranked 13th in the RPI. The RPI is a measure of strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. It does not consider things like margin of victory or where a game is played, only whether or not a team won. It is used by the NCAA as one of their factors in deciding which teams to invite to the NCAA Tournament and where to seed them. The basic formula is 25% team winning percentage (WP), 50% opponents' average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents' opponents' average winning percentage (OOWP).
What Sophomore Jinx? ... Sophomore point guard Katie Nelson showed last year as a freshman that she was not afraid to pull the trigger from downtown. The Ellicott City, Md., native made 50 three-point field goals, good for second-place on the school's single-season list. Her 167 three-point attempts were the most in a single-season. Nelson continues to climb the charts as she now sits in eigth-place in three-point field goals made (59), seventh in three-point field goals attempted (194) and 10th in three-point field goal percentage (.304). After being held to just four points on 1-of-13 shooting, including 1-for-11 from behind the arc last week against Michigan, Nelson bounced back to light up Toledo for 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 12 of those points coming in the first half. Her 2.25 three-point field goal average is good for fifth in the A-10.
Middle of the Pack ... In a poll conducted by the A-10's coaches, the Minutewomen have been picked to finish third in the East, behind 2002 tournament champion Temple and Saint Joseph's. In the West, George Washington has been tabbed as the team to beat. Massachusetts finished third in the East last season and advanced to the semifinals of the A-10 Tournament before falling to Temple in overtime, 67-61. The Minutewomen were the only team to knock off George Washington (15-1) in the regular season with a 62-53 triumph on Senior Day at the Mullins Center, Feb. 24, 2002.
Record-Breaking Butler ... Jennifer Butler pulled down a school single-season record 353 rebounds last year bringing her career total to 916. With a 10-rebound performance in last season's A-10 quarterfinal victory over Richmond, Butler became the school's all-time leading rebounder. In the next game, a 67-61 overtime loss to Temple in the semifinals, she scored seven points to become the 13th player in Massachusetts history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. Her three single-season rebounding tallies (353 in 2001-02, 294 in 1999-00 and 269 in 2000-01) respectively rank as the first-, second- and third-best efforts in school history. She has tallied 44 career double-doubles and owns the school's only triple-double. Butler has moved up to 12th-place all-time in school history with 1,059 career points, just one shy of Alison MacFarland ('00) for 11th on the career chart. Butler is also in fourth place all-time with 106 blocks and 178 steals. She currently ranks third in school history with 496 free throw attempts and sixth with 259 free throws made.
She Can Dish It Out ... Sophomore guard Katie Nelson is currently third in the conference with a 1.78 assists to turnover ratio. She has already dished out a career-high seven assists against both Sacred Heart and Michigan. Last year, the Ellicott City, Md., native averaged 3.07 assists per game, good for 13th in the Atlantic 10. Through four games in 2002-03, Nelson sits in ninth-place in the A-10, averaging 4.0 assists per game.
Newcomers ... With Dacko's spring arrival, she was unable to bring in any true freshman to this year's team. However, there are two newcomers on the squad in Judit Zsedenyi and Ashley Sharpton. Zsedenyi, a transfer from Cottey (Mo.) Junior College, has hit at least one three-pointer in every game this season, while playing 19.5 minutes per game. The 5-10 guard/forward averaged 14.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 3.1 apg as a sophomore while earning first team All-Region XVI-Division II honors for the second consecutive season. She tallied 20 double-figure scoring games as a sophomore, one of which was a 26-point performance against Meramec Community College, and recorded a pair of double-doubles. A transfer from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, Sharpton will have to sit out this season per NCAA transfer requirements, but will have three years of eligibility beginning next year. The 5-10 guard enjoyed a successful freshman year with the Bulldogs, averaging 6.9 ppg en route to Big South All-Rookie team honors.
The Coaches ... Massachusetts Head Coach Marnie Dacko won her opening game against Sacred Heart becoming the seventh head coach in the program's history to win their debut. Dacko is the ninth head coach in Massachusetts history. She won her second game against Saint Peter's and is now just the fifth UMass coach to win at least two games to start their career in Amherst. Dacko is cuurently 3-1 (.750) at UMass and 83-105 (.441) overall. Dacko is 0-1 lifetime against Vermont as a head coach.
Prior to arriving at UMass this spring, the 1978 Southern Connecticut State University graduate spent seven seasons at the helm of the Cornell women's program. With the Big Red, Dacko became the school's winningest coach fashioning an 80-104 (.408) record. She led Cornell to its only two winning seasons in the Ivy League (8-6 in both 2000-01 and 2001-02) and graduated 100 percent of her student-athletes. In 24 seasons as a Division I head or assistant coach, Dacko has compiled an impressive 403-281 (.589) record. Her teams have advanced to postseason play nine times, including six NCAA Tournament trips and eight 20-plus win seasons. This includes stops at the University of Wisconsin, St. John's (N.Y.) and Northwestern prior to accepting the head job at Cornell in 1995. Joining her on the bench this season will be Mary Ciuk, Kia Damon and Jodi Culbertson. Ciuk and Culbertson were both with Dacko at Cornell for at least one season, while Damon comes to the Minutewomen via Fairleigh Dickinson (N.J.) University.
One the other side, Keith Cieplicki is in his sixth season with the Catamounts. The 1985 William & Mary graduate has compiled a 110-45 (.710) career record and has never had a losing season. He has guided the Catamounts to one NCAA Tournament and WNIT appearance. He is assisted by Jen Niebling (Vermont, 1993) and Matt Luneau (Johnson State, 1991). Cieplicki is 1-0 lifetime vs. Massachusetts.
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