Mass has faded from the postseason basketball picture but will enjoy national TV exposure very early next season when it plays Kansas in Anaheim Arena Dec. 3 on NBC. The deal was cut two months ago -- perhaps fortunately for UMass -- when the Minutemen were riding high.
The game will be part of a made-for-TV doubleheader to honor John Wooden, the legendary UCLA coach. In the other game, Kentucky will play UCLA, a rematch of the national championship game in 1975, when UCLA triumphed as Wooden retired.
The 1:30-6 p.m. (EST) schedule will allow time for a lengthy tribute to Wooden between games, with many former players in attendance.
The twin bill is guaranteed for three years, the length of the contract with NBC, but UCLA is not assured of yearly participation.
"With the coaches' enthusiasm, we can get the best teams in the country," said marketer Kent Athernon. "I think this can make it better than the Final Four, because it will be unlike upsets there." Sure.
No report was released on rights fees, but they will exceed $100,000 per team while offering a fast start in recruiting exposure. And Anaheim will be a nice break from wintry Amherst for UMass players.
The game will count as one of the maximum 26 during the regular season for UMass, which also will appear in the exempted Tipoff Classic on ESPN Nov. 25 in Springfield against Arkansas.
NAHEIM, Calif. -- What do you get when you convene four of the best teams in college basketball for a two-game invitational? Four coaches soliciting pity for their squads.
To hear their mentors talk, top-ranked Massachusetts, third-ranked Kentucky, fifth-ranked UCLA and seventh-ranked Kansas won't render a top-rated performance in today's inaugural John Wooden Classic.
They're all too banged up, too overmatched or too much a mystery at this point for the coaches to figure.
The coaches cried poor so much that when the legendary Wooden was asked if he thought his championship teams of the 1960s and '70s could compete with this group, he said, "With what I've heard from the other coaches here today, I'm sure my teams would have done very well.
"The teams here are all crippled or sick or something."
Despite what the coaches say, today's tourney at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim should provide the weekend's best college basketball. UMass meets Kansas at 1 p.m., then Kentucky faces UCLA at approximately 3:30.
This marks the second consecutive season the Minutemen will meet the Jayhawks immediately after knocking off the nation's No. 1 team.
Last year the Minutemen defeated North Carolina in the Preseason National Invitation Tournament semifinals before losing to the Jayhawks, 86-75.
"Last year they did an unbelievable job of rebounding the ball," said UMass coach John Calipari, once an assistant at Kansas. "I think it's going to be a ferocious game on the boards.
"The other thing is that Kansas is so well organized defensively, they come at you with different traps and zones that we haven't seen. I worry about those things.
"I don't think any of our teams are at midseason form. Kansas does things we haven't worked against, and I won't be disappointed with my team if we don't perform well because of that."
In last year's game, UMass played without center Marcus Camby, who suffered a knee injury against North Carolina. Kansas coach Roy Williams said Camby's presence will be a factor today.
"He is a fantastic shot blocker," said Williams of Camby, who is one of only five players to block 100 shots as freshmen. "Greg Ostertag Kansas center is 7 feet 1 inch, 270 pounds, and Marcus 6-11, 215 is more athletic. Greg is going to have to be able to find him."
Camby enters the game at 100 percent, which, according to the coaches, makes him a novelty. Kansas sophomore point guard Jacque Vaughn practiced sparingly this week because of an abdominal strain suffered in the opener against San Diego. Kansas also lists senior guard Greg Gurley as being less than 100 percent -- because of laryngitis.
UCLA will be without freshman guard Kris Johnson, who has a stress fracture in his left leg. Kentucky coach Rick Pitino said his team is injury- free but he is still uncertain about the Wildcats' quality after two games.
Calipari expressed concerns about starting guard Derek Kellogg, starting forward Lou Roe and reserve forward Dana Dingle -- all of whom sat out at least one practice this with colds.
Later, however, when asked about their status, Calipari said, "They're good. They're good. I had to throw that out there. I'm hearing about guys being hurt, all this stuff. Are you kidding me?"
Calipari did say, seriously, that forward Tyrone Weeks remains under the weather, took a flu shot yesterday and will probably not play today. The entire team participated in yesterday's shootaround, including guard Mike Williams, who missed the opener against Arkansas while on academic suspension.
"Mike will play today," said Calipari, who again will start Edgar Padilla in Williams' place. "He will get a few minutes, depending on if he deserves them, but I imagine he will.
"We know right now people are looking at us waiting for that letdown. I'm hoping that doesn't happen, but I don't know. We've never been No. 1 before."
NAHEIM, Calif. -- Seventh-ranked Kansas used balanced scoring to overcome another great effort by Lou Roe as Massachusetts was beaten 81-75 in its first game as the nation's No. 1 team.
The Minutemen had manhandled defending champion Arkansas 104-80 in the Tipoff Classic at Springfield, Mass., and moved from No. 3 to the top of the rankings.
Roe had 34 points and 13 rebounds in that game but he was the only UMass player to repeat that near-perfect performance against Kansas in the opening game of the inaugural Wooden Classic. He finished with 33 points against the Jayhawks.
Freshman forward Raef LaFrentz led Kansas (2-0) with 18 points and Jerod Haase, playing in his second game since transferring from the University of California, had 16, seven in the final 3:35.
Massachusetts has to find a way of avoiding Kansas after recording a major upset. Last season, the Minutemen beat No. 1 North Carolina, but were beaten by the Jayhawks two nights later. This year it took eight days for Kansas to steal the thunder.
Massachusetts (1-1) had cut a 66-58 deficit to 69-65 with 4:12 left. Haase, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, then went baseline for a monstrous dunk that stirred up the soldout crowd at the Anaheim Arena. He went back to his familiar surroundings for his next big basket, a 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play that gave Kansas a 78-72 lead. There were just five seconds left on the shot clock when he connected.
LaFrentz added three free throws over the final 18 seconds to offset a 3-pointer by Derek Kellogg.
Jacque Vaughn added 14 points and 11 assists for the Jayhawks, while Scot Pollard had 12 points.
It seemed every Kansas player over 6-6 had a chance at covering Roe at some point in the game. The 6-7 forward had 20 points as Massachusetts took a 39-38 lead and except for Donta Bright's 13 points, just didn't receive any offensive support from his teammates. He went almost 14 minutes without a field goal in the second half as Kansas was able to keep him out of position and fouled him when he did get neat the basket.
Kansas has a 3-1 record in its last four games against top-ranked teams.
NAHEIM, Calif. -- The University of Massachusetts' fall from the apex of college basketball came via an overdose of what it normally administers: intensity on defense, precision and creativity on offense, ferocity on the glass. It is clear how to take the Minutemen out of their game.
Kansas did an exceptional impersonation of the top-ranked Minutemen in yesterday's inaugural John Wooden Classic. The seventh-ranked Jayhawks also threw in a few skits of their own, broke open a tight game over the last five minutes, then hit their free throws down the stretch to register an 81-75 victory at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim.
With the loss, UMass (1-1) will fall from the top of the charts after being voted No. 1 in the Associated Press and CNN/USA Today polls last week. Kansas, which claimed its second win over the Minutemen in as many years, improved to 2-0.
Freshman Raef LaFrentz led the Jayhawks with 18 points, while sophomore Jerod Haase added 16.
The Jayhawks, annually one of the best teams early in the season, came more than prepared for the Minuteman assault for which top-ranked Arkansas had no answer in the season opener. The Jayhawks gave UMass a bitter taste of its own medicine.
Kansas center Greg Ostertag blocked six shots and altered several more, resembling UMass center Marcus Camby. The problem was Camby was not himself yesterday, scoring just 2 points on 1-for-7 shooting.
The Jayhawks attacked with exceptional high-low passing to set up uncontested shots, just as the Minutemen did against Arkansas. Most important, Kansas outrebounded one of college basketball's best teams on the glass, 43-37. The Jayhawks outclawed, outscrapped and got to loose balls before the Minutemen, who are known for their hustle.
"Getting loose rebounds are what we make a living on," said UMass coach John Calipari. "I think we got beat by a good basketball team. They played with unbelievable intensity. I thought at some point they would back down, but they just didn't."
That was enough to offset UMass forward Lou Roe (33 points, including 20 in the first half), who at times was the only reliable shooter for the Minutemen. But there was more: Kansas also hurt UMass with a Minuteman trademark of years past -- the alley-oop dunk.
The Jayhawks ran each alley-oop with the pass coming from the right and the catch and dunk to the left, yet repeatedly caught the Minutemen off guard.
"We got beat on the back screen at least 15 times," said a hyperbolic Calipari. "I told the guys it's something we have worked on one way. They played it the way we worked on it.
"Kansas started throwing the lob pass and we didn't adjust to it. I think we got outplayed and I thought we got outcoached. Afterward, I told Kansas coach Roy Williams, 'You are a great coach. You took us out of everything we wanted to do.' "
Still, UMass was in good shape at halftime, leading, 39-38, despite shooting 39 percent (as compared with Kansas' 56 percent). But with 9:50 left, Kansas took charge when guard Jacque Vaughn (11 assists) hit LaFrentz with an alley-oop that put the Jayhawks up, 60-55.
With 8:58 left, Haase hit Scot Pollard for a baseline layup that put the Jayhawks up, 62-55. Pollard soon scored on a putback of his own miss, giving the Jayhawks a 66-58 lead with 7:46 left.
"Our goal was to keep the intensity up throughout," said Williams. "We play Kansas basketball no matter who we play."
But UMass would not go away. Fortune turned its way when Ostertag fouled out with 2:32 remaining and UMass guard Mike Williams hit a 3-point basket with 1:55 left, pulling the Minutemen within 3 (73-70). Then fortune turned again; with the shot clock winding down, Vaughn drew the foul on Williams, who bit on an upfake.
"I slid by Vaughn and he jumped into me," said Williams, who missed the season opener because of an academic suspension. "It was a tough call, but that's the way it goes.
"When we cut the lead to 3, I figured we were getting into my zone. One more stop, and I could prove myself again."
But Kansas kept that from happening.
While Calipari stressed that it is still early in the season, he said his team will have to adjust to a style of play it will likely see much more this season.
"Kansas pushed and shoved, but we have to get ready to play that," said Calipari. "People have to play us like that to deal with our quickness. A lot of people are going to put bodies on us, not just this team."
NAHEIM, Calif. -- As was proven yesterday, when you play the University of Massachusetts, you're going to have a rough Roe to hoe. But on the days when Lou Roe is the only one to hoe, the Minutemen will end up as they did against Kansas -- on the wrong end of the score.
Roe had another spectacular game, almost a mirror image of the destructive job he did on preseason No. 1 Arkansas in UMass' upset victory last week, but not even Roe's 33 points and 10 rebounds (including 7 offensive boards) were enough to support an entire basketball program.
With little help from his friends, Roe's efforts proved fruitless as Kansas walked away with a 81-75 victory in the John Wooden Classic at the Arrowhead Pond to make the Minutemen's reign as the country's best college basketball team a short one.
"They are a very good basketball team," UMass coach John Calipari said of the Jayhawks, with the emphasis on team. "You can't beat them with one guy. They beat our team but it's only Dec. 3. We've got to get our chemistry together and learn how we have to play together to win. I wanted to win but this was a great lesson for our team."
The lesson was clear. Roe may just score 30 points a night, as he did against Arkansas (34) and Kansas but without the aid and comfort of Mike Williams, Marcus Camby and the rest of his mates, it will not often bear fruit.
While Roe was dominating inside, baffling Greg Ostertag to the point of fouling out, Roe's teammates were having a miserable shooting day both in terms of selection and results. Williams who was making his first appearance after a three-game suspension because of academic troubles, finished with just 8 points and fouled out with 1:14 to play and UMass having cut the lead to 73-70 after he buried a 3-pointer.
Jacque Vaughn converted both foul shots and then Roe scored what would be his last basket in typical fashion, swooping inside and taking a pass from Derek Kellog to again cut the Jayhawks lead to 3, but UMass would not get another basket until less than nine seconds were left. By then the issue had long been decided.
It had been decided by UMass' miserable 39 percent shooting and an even worse 47.6 percent accuracy rate from the foul line. And it was decided by the troubles Williams, Edgar Padilla (2 for 9) and Camby (1 for 7, 2 points) suffered through, although to be honest the shot-blocking of Ostertag (6 blocks) probably had something to do with their problems.
The end result of it all was clear. Roe could not save his team on a day like they were having yesterday, regardless of what he did.
"It was apparent today we can't beat the best teams in the country with one guy," Kellogg conceded. "We can't expect Lou to get 35 every game. Maybe 20 or something, but the other guys have to step it up."
Maybe he can but that's not the point. The point is if he has to, UMass is in trouble.
"The reason they were in the lead at the end and won is they beat us to every loose ball and free rebound," Calipari said. "That's what we make a living out of at UMass. It wasn't just Marcus. A lot of guys didn't step up today."
As Roe spoke at the postgame press conference, it was clear that 33 points, 10 rebounds and a reaffirmation of his right to be considered a candidate for player of the year provided little solace in defeat.
Roe had played well. His team had not. Hence not only UMass had lost but so had he.
"Most of the game our intensity was high but at some points we let up, especially on their second shots," Roe said. "Usually we rebound so they don't get them. That was not the case today."
|Kansas Jayhawks (#7)||81|
|Massachusetts Minutemen (#1)||75|
|The John Wooden Classic, at Anaheim CA|
Pearson 3-7 1-2 7, LaFrentz 5-7 8-11 18, Ostertag 4-5 1-3 9, Vaughn 5-8 3-3 14, Haase 5-11 5-9 16, Thomas 1-2 0-0 3, BJ Williams 1-4 0-0 2, McGrath 0-0 0-0 0, Pollard 6-9 0-0 12, Gurley 0-1 0-0 0
Totals 30-54 18-28 81
Bright 6-14 1-1 13, Roe 13-25 7-11 33, Camby 1-7 0-2 2, Padilla 2-9 0-0 4, Kellogg 4-9 0-0 11, Dingle 1-5 1-3 3, M Williams 3-6 0-0 8, Burks 0-1 0-0 0, Travieso 0-0 0-0 0, Meyer 0-0 1-4 1, Norville 0-1 0-0 0
Totals 30-77 10-21 75
Halftime--Massachusetts 39, Kansas 38
3-poing goals--Kansas 3-11 (Vaughn 1-1, Thomas 1-2, Haase 1-5, Pearson 0-1, BJ Williams 0-1, Gurley 0-1), Massachusetts 5-16 (Kellogg 3-6, M Williams 2-5, Bright 0-1, Roe 0-1, Padilla 0-3)
Fouled out--Ostertag, M.Williams.
Rebounds--Kansas 43 (LaFrentz 9), Massachusetts 37 (Roe 10).
Assists--Kansas 21 (Vaughn 11), Massachusetts 16 (Padilla 5).
Total fouls--Kansas 17, Massachusetts 23.