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The Boston Globe

Without Williams, UMass tries to cope
College Notebook
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/7/1993

When the University of Massachusetts made its unprecedented run in the NCAA tournament last year, the Minutemen went practically injury-free. There were a couple of twisted ankles, but nothing serious enough to alter the team's lineup -- or possibly its season.

All of that changed Dec. 26 as the Minutemen prepared for their Abdows Hall of Fame tounament. Harper Williams, last year's Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and a preaseason All-America candidate, fractured the fourth metacarpal bone in his right hand in practice, falling to the floor and attempting to cushion the impact with his hand.

Williams was averaging 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Yesterday the cast was changed. He is expected to wear the cast at least another three weeks and might be redshirted.

"Injury is a part of coaching," said coach John Calipari. "A big part of coaching is crisis management; everything is a matter of how you deal with it. Right now we're just trying to circle the wagons until he gets back."

UMass has adjusted well in Williams' absence, going 4-0. Replacing him is 6-foot-10-inch senior Kennard Robinson (1.4 points, 2.6 rebounds per game), not as good a scorer but a consistent shot-blocking presence underneath. Others have picked up the slack. Sophomore guard Jerome Malloy has scored in double figures in his last six games, the first time he's done so in his collegiate career. Senior Tony Barbee scored a career-high 31 points against South Carolina. Prior to Williams' injury, UMass' three frontcourt starters (Williams, Barbee, Lou Roe) accounted for 42.8 points and 23.6 rebounds a game. Last Saturday against New Hampshire, the frontcourt produced 49 of the team's 75 points.

"I tell the players it is an opportunity to do more and those who haven't played an opportunity to play," said Calipari. "If Harper would be redshirted, it would hurt us. I don't know if we could finish in the upper tier of our league without him. In fact, I know we couldn't. We're not deep enough."

Williams' absence may be felt tonight, when the Minutemen face Cincinnati. The Bearcats advanced to the NCAA Final Four last season. In 1992-93, they are 7-1 and have won four in a row since losing to Indiana.

UMass isn't the only Atlantic 10 team that has lost a key player. Temple is without the services of starting point guard Vic Carstarphen, its most experienced player, who suffered a broken fibula in his left leg while diving for a loose ball in the second half against Cincinnati. Carstarphen is expected to be out of action 6-8 weeks. Temple suffered another loss this week when big man Frazier Johnson was dismissed from school for academic reasons.

The UMass-Cincinnati game will mark the homecoming of Bearcats forward Curtis Bostic, a former standout at Brockton High. Bostic missed all but the first three games last season because of back surgery but has become an impact player since his return. Despite continuing to be battered inside (he suffered a cut above his left eye against Dayton that required eight stitches), he is averaging 14.1 points and 5.4 rebounds a game and is a candidate for comeback player of the year honors . . . Mike Jarvis is at it again. The former Cambridge Rindge & Latin and Boston University coach continues to make his mark on a once-beleaguered George Washington program. George Washington defeated James Madison, 71-56, last night and is 10-1, its best start in 39 years. Jarvis took over the Colonials in 1990, a year after they finished 1-27. In his first season, Jarvis led the Colonials to a 19-12 mark (their first winning season since 1983-84) and the National Invitation Tournament. After missing postseason last year, George Washington is one of the most underrated teams in the East, going 9-10 deep on its roster. Leading the way is senior guard Dirkk Surles, who scored 19 last night and averages 15 points a game. Jarvis is also getting clutch play from local talent, as senior forward and BU transfer Bill Brigham (East Weymouth) is averaging 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game and former Cambridge standout and University of Pittsburgh transfer Omo Moses is averaging 7.1 points and has 21 assists. Jarvis also has the Atlantic 10's leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, Yinka Dare of Kabba, Nigeria, who is averaging 11.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game and has been Rookie of the Week three times. Dare had 15 points and five blocked shots against James Madison . . . Northeastern (6-2) plays Niagara (6-1) tonight in a game that could give the Huskies a sweep of former North Atlantic Conference teams. NU has defeated ex-NAC members Canisius and Siena. NU is led by center Dan Callahan, who is fifth among Division 1 rebounders, averaging 13.5 a game . . . BU has lost its last four games by a total of 143 points. The Terriers scored just 42 points Tuesday night against UMass, their lowest total in 23 years.

Cincinnati gets past Minutemen
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/8/1993

SPRINGFIELD -- University of Cincinnati guard Nick Van Exel punched at the air each time he hit a key basket against the University of Massachusetts last night. When the final buzzer sounded in Cincinnati's 64-53 win, the oxygen molecules in the Civic Center were punch-drunk and Exel was undoubtedly arm- weary.

The senior guard drained four of five 3-point attempts in the first half to turn a close game into a near rout, then hit several key buckets in the second half when UMass staged its biggest rally. Van Exel, who finished with a game-high 27 points, hurled a sweeping overhand right at the air with six minutes to go after hitting an off-balance jumper that put the Bearcats up, 51-41. He backpedaled and raised his arms in victory at 4:03 after faking a drive on Derek Kellogg, stepping behind the 3-point line and draining a fadeaway trey that gave Cincinnati a 54-43 lead.

Van Exel's exploits, paired with a trapping, pressing defense that kept UMass from executing its offense consistently, enabled Cincy to lead from the opening tipoff. The Bearcats improved to 8-1 and have won five straight.

UMass (6-3) gave the Bearcats a big assist. The Minutemen shot just 26 percent from the floor in the first half and finished with 17 turnovers. It was the first failed test for the Minutemen without leading scorer Harper Williams (broken hand). Yet Williams made his presence felt.

"Harper tore into the team at halftime," said coach John Calipari.

The Minutemen, who trailed, 31-17, at halftime, pulled within 38-31 with 14:15 left.

Then Van Exel silenced the rally.

"That's Nick," said Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins. "He had to shoot the ball from the perimeter because our inside scorers got into foul trouble early."

Van Exel knew he would excel as early as the pregame warmups. "I felt pretty good in the shootaround; after taking a couple of shots on the rims, I saw that these are the kind of rims I like," said Van Exel. "They're soft rims."

Just right for a soft jumper, which Van Exel displayed before the crowd of 8,011. With 7:07 left in the first half and Cincinnati up, 15-11, Van Exel hit back-to-back 3-point baskets. Teammate LaZelle Durden got into the act, drilling a 3 with 4:45 left to give Cincy a 27-13 edge. Van Exel buried another trifecta with 3:57 left.

UMass had very little to counter. "Give Van Exel credit; he's a heck of a player. He's going to get drafted," said Calipari, who looked for more balanced scoring but instead saw his team fail to convert far too many one-on- one plays. "We finished with just 10 assists. You know what that means? That we're trying to do it as individuals. It's when we do that that we find out we don't have any lottery players on this team."

UMass must now regroup in time to play Temple; the Minutemen have never won on the Owls' floor. "They have had six days to rest and prepare for us," said Calipari. "We're really reeling right now, no question. We didn't have anyone who would step up and play today. Cincinnati played what I call mush- your-face defense. They mush your face, and if you don't mush their face back, you get your butts kicked. I don't want to take anything away from Cincinnati, but we played badly."

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