he differences, the most distinct of which was the outcome, were vast last night when the Massachusetts and Georgetown men's basketball teams faced off.
The starting line-ups were different, the star players were new, even Georgetown's uniforms were the new 1996-97 editions. But the most apparent difference from the last time UMass and Georgetown squared off (NCAA Elite Eight, March 23) was the final score.
That's gotta hurt: Edgar Padilla catches a Jahidi White knee in the goodies.
Massachusetts couldn't buy a basket in the opening half of the game, hovering in single digits until over halfway through the first frame. An Edgar Padilla three pointer cut the Hoyas' margin to 18-11.
Georgetown, meanwhile, broke out to an early lead on the strength of Boubacar Aw's inside play. Aw, who would finish with 14 points, had four buckets in the first seven minutes of play. A Georgetown basket with just over 1:30 left produced the Hoyas' largest lead of the half at 27-15, but the Minutemen were able to connect on several free throws to cut the intermission damage to 29-20.
Whatever was said in the UMass locker room at halftime apparently worked, at least for a while in the second half. After allowing the Hoyas to dump in five points after the break, the Minutemen went on a tear, evening the score at 36 courtesy of a 12-0 run (Georgetown did not score in just under seven minutes).
With 12:13 remaining in the game, Ketner came up with a block and Ajmal Basit converted a dunk at the other end of the court. A minute and a half later, Inus Norville came away with a block and Padilla made the transition basket, to give UMass its first lead at 38-36. A pair of Page free throws with 9:49 remaining tied the game again, and the two teams fought it nip-and-tuck from there.
Carmelo Travieso hit a transition score, but Georgetown big man Jahidi White answered with a hook shot. Page hit one from the charity stripe, putting the Hoyas up by one, but UMass came back with a Charlton Clarke (four points) basket.
After trading tallies for the next five minutes, Page, who did not score in the NCAA Tournament game against UMass, put the Hoyas up for good 50-49 with yet another free throw. Georgetown pulled away from that point, with the majority of the points coming off trips to the line. UMass put three additional points on the board, also with free throws, before the final buzzer sounded.
Basit finished with nine points, while Ketner had 13. Each also had 13 rebounds. Padilla connected for 15 points and dished out five assists. Travieso had nine points.
HICAGO - One team plays "Bruiserball." The other has a starting player named "Aw" (pronounced "Ow"). So it was clear that a Massachusetts/Georgetown game was going to be painful to watch.
In the end, last night's spectacle was uglier for UMass than it was for Georgetown as the Minutemen fell in the Great Eight, 58-53. UMass, riding a three-game losing streak, is now 1-3 for the first time since the 1985-86 season.
The two teams fought hard throughout. They played relentlessly on the defensive end. Game films, though, will not be for the weak of stomach.
How ugly was this one? Consider the following:
* UMass shot a dreadful 26.5 percent from the field (16.7 percent in the first half), committed a whopping 24 turnovers and still almost won. The Minutemen have been giving new meaning to the term "outside shot" this year; their jumpers just don't have much chance of going in. On offense, they have been the collegiate equivalent of John Calipari's New Jersey Nets: clangorama.
* Georgetown was not vastly better at 38.2 percent. Victor Page won ESPN's "player of the game" honors by scoring a game-high 20 points, but he shot an abysmal 5 of 18 from the field.
Late in the game, Ya Ya Dia threw up an airball on a free throw that was both short and wide to the left.
* By game's end, the 21,052 fans at the United Center -- many of them used to the silky beauty of Michael Jordan on the court -- had had enough. They began booing the interminable timeouts (four in the final 1:19). Indeed, if ever a game needed Jack Kevorkian, this was the one.
Still, there were some rays of hope for the struggling Minutemen. Most prominent among them were the play of Lari Ketner (13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Ajmal Basit (9 points, 13 rebounds). They were pressed into expanded duty by the ankle injury that sidelined top scorer Tyrone Weeks. Their superb work on the boards helped give UMass a startling 57-35 edge in rebounds, including 31-12 on the offensive end.
"Ajmal and Lari grew up a little bit today," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint.
With UMass' big guys performing well, the Minutemen fought back from a 14-point second-half deficit to take the lead. The team did not finish well, however, squandering a couple of key possessions.
Backcourt buddies Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso continued to struggle. Padilla's shooting woes persisted with a 5-19 night, though he did deliver five assists, five steals and a team-high 15 points. Travieso was held to just nine points on 4-10 shooting. They combined for eight turnovers.
"The new guys are doing their job, (but) the older guys are playing like freshmen," said Padilla. "As long as me and Carmelo keep playing like this, we're not going to win. That's the whole truth. We've got to pick it up. They're doing their job; it's about time for us to do our job."
While Padilla feels impatient with himself, Flint is trying to summon patience. "It's going to take some time for us to get together and get some chemistry," he said, echoing a familiar refrain.
Georgetown's John Thompson, who has been coaching the Hoyas nearly all of Flint's 31-year-old life, also preached a cautious approach to evaluating the Minutemen. "He's going to do a hell of a job with them," Thompson said. "And it's going to take time. The biggest problem he's going to have is people expecting him to do immediately what the other guy did in the past."
Thompson, whose team improved to 5-0, got 14 points apiece from Boubacar Aw and Jahidi White.
UMass plays host to Wyoming at 8 p.m. Saturday in its home opener at the Mullins Center.
|DirecTV Great 8|
at the United Center, Chicago IL
1st 2nd TOTAL Massachusetts 20 33 53 Georgetown 29 29 58