Coverage from:
The Springfield Union-News
The Springfield Union-News - column
The Springfield Union-News - notebook
The Boston Globe
The Boston Herald
The Providence Journal
The Providence Journal - notebook
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - notebook
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - column
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Another second-rate loss
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News Staff Writer, 2/13/1999

PROVIDENCE - The second half cost the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team second place yesterday, and it dealt the Minutemen's hopes for a second season - a postseason tournament season - a brutal blow.

Trailing by 15 at halftime, Rhode Island held UMass to 28-percent shooting in the second half, and used the 59-56 victory to catapult into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic 10 Conference East Division.

The win before 10,771 at Providence Civic Center completed Rhode Island's first season series sweep of UMass since 1987-88, and sent the Rams (15-10, 8-4 Atlantic 10) not only into sole possession of second place - which carries with it an Atlantic 10 tournament first-round bye - but closer to serious contention for an NCAA tournament at-large spot.

It also pushed UMass (11-13, 7-5) closer to its first losing season since 1988-89, the last year the Minutemen didn't go to either the NCAA tournament or NIT.

To qualify for the NIT, UMass must reach the .500 mark and with four regular-season games and the Atlantic 10 tournament left, time is running out.

In a 73-62 win at Mullins Center Feb. 4, Rhode Island outscored UMass 46-30 in the second half. Yesterday's second-half damage came to the tune of 36-18, with forward Lamar Odom scoring 13 of his 17 points after halftime.

"It was a typical URI game, playing from behind," said Odom, the 6-foot-10 sophomore whose put-back of his own missed layup came with 6.2 seconds left and Rhode Island leading 57-56.

Center Luther Clay had 13 points and nine rebounds for Rhode Island, then said the death of former teammate John Bennett Monday helped motivate him.

"Him passing away made me realize a lot of things," said Clay, who had eight offensive rebounds. "It makes you realize how precious time is."

Bennett, who graduated last May, died from injuries sustained in a Jan. 28 auto accident.

Audio clip: The Minutemen cruised to a 15-point lead at the break.
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UMass roared to a 38-23 halftime lead with the help of a 12-0 run that made it 28-18. The Minutemen held Rhode Island scoreless for more than six minutes, but in the second half, the Rams found some holes in a UMass zone defense that was given one of its longer auditions this season.

"We didn't have good ball movement or man movement in the first half," Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick said. "But in the second half, we had (forward) Antonio Reynolds-Dean flashing into the middle of the zone, and we were more aggressive."

Video clip: Mack had the hot hand in the first half.
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Monty Mack scored 16 points to lead UMass, but had only two after halftime. Lari Ketner scored 12 with 14 rebounds, but Mack and Ketner - the only two UMass players averaging double-digit scoring - were both hindered by second-half foul trouble.

Rhode Island caught UMass with 4:29 left, when Preston Murphy's two free throws made it 53-52. Leading by one with less than 20 seconds left, the Rams cleared out for Odom to go 1-on-1 against UMass forward Mike Babul, who forced Odom to miss the shot.

But Odom put back his own rebound, and Mack's 3-point try from the left wing hit the rim and fell out as time expired. UMass shot 35.5 percent for the game, missing all five second-half 3-point tries after going 5 for 8 behind the arc in the first half.

Video clip: Winston Smith hits the rare 3-pointer.
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UMass received a sturdy effort from forward Winston Smith, who played a season-high 18 minutes with four assists, three points and rugged defense on Odom, who is considered one of the best NBA prospects in the nation.

"I respect his game, and I tried to deny him the ball," said the 6-foot-5 Smith, who gave away five inches to Odom. "I felt very confident out there."

But Odom, who scored 31 second-half points in the two UMass games, couldn't be stopped forever. And when UMass couldn't find the basket in the second half, the Rams came back to win their fifth game in the last six.

Maximum effort, pride remain minimum requirements
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News Staff Writer, 2/14/1999

PROVIDENCE - For 20 minutes yesterday, the message seemed so obvious that you wondered why they didn't just blare it over the Providence Civic Center sound system.

It had been all Ajmal Basit's fault. Had to be. How else to explain how the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team had transformed itself from a group of purposeless individuals into a fighting, clawing, winning team?

The 15-point halftime lead, of course, was an illusion. The better team won, even though it was a squeaker, a 59-56 Rhode Island victory.

UMass, it must be emphasized, has never suggested Basit was the root of all evil. His name was not brought up yesterday, and when it has been brought up since coach Bruiser Flint booted him off the team Tuesday, it was only to wish him the best, not to say all the team's problems vanished with him.

For whatever reason, though, the last two games have been played with a different mood and mind-set. If nothing else, the facial expressions of Lari Ketner - who calls Basit his friend - suggest a man enjoying basketball for the first time.

Still, the Minutemen are 1-1 in their newer, scrappier reincarnation, and it says much about their reduced expectations that they found solace in trying hard, even while losing a game they should have won.

Audio clip: Jay Bilas describes Clarke's situation.
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"It makes it a little easier, walking away knowing you'd played your heart out," said Charlton Clarke, who has trouble enough walking away at all, since he's playing with a stress fracture in his foot. For the past two games, UMass has given its very best college try, which is another way of saying it hadn't always done that before.

"We hadn't been playing with this intensity all season," Flint said. "That's what makes this so hard."

What nobody wants to say is that this season is beyond saving, and that the only reason to play hard is because it's the right thing to do. The Minutemen are groping for more tangible goals like they've been groping for their shooting touch.

Video clip: The Minutemen sorely need Clarke's scoring touch.
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The latest of these goals was second place in the Atlantic 10 East Division, which brings a first-round bye. This is especially important to Clarke, who may wind up carrying his injured foot home in his gym bag if he has to play four Atlantic 10 tournament games in four days.

"I'm not even thinking about that," he said after playing all but a few seconds yesterday. "I'll suck it up, as long as we get it done."

UMass, now 11-13, used to dream about beating Kentucky. Now it dreams about finishing second in its division.

UMass hates to talk about the NIT, but yesterday's loss may have put the squash to that, too. You have to win half your games to make the NIT.

There is one tangible goal left. Win the Atlantic 10 tournament, grab the automatic NCAA tournament spot and laugh all the way to a first-round loss, which used to be a source of criticism but would now, under the circumstances, serve as a momentous achievement.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think the chances of that happening are roughly equal to Mo Vaughn playing one week for Anaheim and demanding a trade back to Boston.

There is one reason for UMass to keep playing hard, and that is for pride. Not for second place. Not for the Atlantic 10 tournament title.

Pride will have to be a good enough reason on its own. To assign this team any other goals is to grasp at straws. The only true goal left is for everyone to walk away knowing UMass finally decided to play with maximum effort, even while wondering why it took nearly three months to do it.

Foul mood ruins 2nd half
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News Staff Writer, 2/14/1999

PROVIDENCE - Most teams have trouble winning with their highest scorer out. The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team found itself trying to beat Rhode Island without its top two.

Foul trouble sent Monty Mack and Lari Ketner to the bench in the second half of yesterday's 59-56 loss to Rhode Island at Providence Civic Center, forcing coach Bruiser Flint to use a patchwork lineup with Chris Kirkland, Charlton Clarke, Winston Smith, Kitwana Rhymer and Rafael Cruz with less than 9 minutes left.

Ketner, who scored 12 points and had 14 rebounds, picked up his third foul with 13:33 left. Flint kept him in the game, and 81 seconds later, Ketner was called for his fourth, sending him to the bench for seven crucial minutes.

Asked why he didn't pull the foul-prone Ketner after his third personal, Flint sounded as if he viewed the sequence as a bang-bang situation.

"I believe he got his fourth only a couple of plays later down the floor (following his third)," the coach said.

The foul problem limited Ketner, who had 10 first-half rebounds, to four second-half boards.

Mack's fourth foul with 8:37 remaining, as well as strong defense by Rhode Island's Tavorris Bell, limited the UMass guard to only two of his 16 points after halftime.

Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick praised UMass for its effort, but didn't sympathize with the foul problem.

"We were in foul trouble, too," he said, recalling Lamar Odom's three first-half personals.

Rhode Island forward Lamar Odom said the Rams may have benefited from the whistles.

"We got some lucky breaks, maybe some lucky calls," Odom said. "I think it was 10-5 in (second-half) fouls."

The actual total was 10-6, with UMass committing the higher total. In the first half, Mack's first foul was ruled intentional, indicating that UMass would follow Flint's plan to make yesterday's game more physical than Rhody's 73-62 win at UMass Feb. 4.

Clarke felt part of the foul discrepancy might be traced to Odom's ability to draw calls. The sophomore with the big-time reputation and talent went 6 for 10 from the line.

"He's a young player, but he plays smart," Clarke said. "He tells the referees to keep an eye on certain things, and he winds up going to the line and hitting free throws. I try to get real friendly with the refs, too, but it doesn't always work out the same way."


Clarke reached the 1,000-point career mark with eight points, hitting the magic number with a free throw with 5:53 left. Clarke became the 33rd UMass player to reach 1,000, and joins Ketner as the second this year.

"It's all right, joining all the elite UMass players like Marcus Camby, Lou Roe, Jim McCoy and Tyrone Weeks who made it," said Clarke, a senior who has struggled with 9-for-44 shooting in his last six games.

Video clip: Mack's attempt for overtime.
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UMass saw its hopes for overtime dashed when Mack's 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer, but the Minutemen have also won twice under similar conditions, beating Fordham (67-65) and Dayton (59-57 in overtime) when opponents' last-second shots hit the rim and wouldn't fall.

UMass only goes halfway
URI dominates after break
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/14/1999

PROVIDENCE - Sometimes it appears the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team has righted itself, escaping all the adversity of this season.

Chris Kirkland saves the ball from flying out of bounds.
Such was the case in the first half of yesterday's game against Rhode Island. The Minutemen, coming off an impressive win over scrappy Atlantic 10 foe St. Bonaventure Wednesday, outplayed the Rams and entered the locker room at intermission with a 15-point advantage, their second-largest halftime lead this season.

UMass appeared as confident as it had all season, and talk was that perhaps the dismissal of forward Ajmal Basit Wednesday had improved the team's chemistry enough to make the Minutemen play at a level worthy of their preseason ranking.

But in the second half, particularly during the last 10 minutes, adversity caught up with the Minutemen again. URI took advantage of UMass scoring lapses to rally and take the lead, then secured a 59-56 victory when sophomore sensation Lamar Odom scored on a putback of his own miss with 6.2 seconds left.

Odom, who didn't score a field goal until the 4:04 mark of the first half, finished with a game-high 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds and 4 assists to lead the Rams (15-10, 8-4), who held UMass to 28-percent shooting from the floor and 18 points in the second half.

''Coach [Jim] Harrick set a screen on the block to get me open,'' said Odom, who drove on UMass forward Mike Babul, the best Minuteman defender, on the missed attempt. ''I thought they were going to double me, and I was trying to prepare everyone for a dish-off, but I just went to the lane and followed my own shot.''

The Rams' heroics were in striking contrast to the first half, when UMass (11-13, 7-5) held them to 30-percent shooting from the floor and handed them a 38-23 halftime deficit.

''They rebounded better in the second half,'' said UMass coach Bruiser Flint, whose team blew a 15-point first-half lead in a home loss to Davidson Dec. 29.

UMass must win three of its four remaining regular-season contests (including games against George Washington, Xavier, and Temple) to finish with a winning record. ''We only got 18 points in the second half,'' said Flint. ''We played hard but didn't get a couple of shots to drop for us.''

Audio clip: Monty Mack had a great first half.
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Center Lari Ketner (12) and guard Monty Mack (16), UMass's leading scorers in the game, led the first-half charge - Ketner with 7 points and 10 rebounds, Mack with 14 points. But in the second half Ketner went to the bench with his fourth foul with 12:12 left with UMass leading, 45-37. Mack went to the bench with his fourth with 8:15 to go and UMass leading, 48-46.

Both returned with 4:56 left, with UMass still ahead, 52-51. But the Minutemen never regained their first-half touch. Two free throws by Preston Murphy with 4:30 left gave URI a 53-52 lead. Then UMass forward Winston Smith threw an errant pass to Ketner and Odom scored with 3:31 left to give the Rams a 3-point edge.

With 2:54 left, URI misfired. Smith got a hand on the ball then lost it, and URI center Luther Clay picked it up and scored on a dunk to give the Rams a 57-54 lead with 2:54 left. ''That was the big play in the game,'' said Flint. ''We had the ball in our hands.''

Mack hit a runner with 42.6 seconds left to cut the lead to 57-56, setting up Odom's final basket. Mack fired a left-wing trey at the buzzer that rolled off the rim. And the Minutemen were left to ponder again how another winnable game got away.

''We just have to keep on going,'' said Flint. ''The season's not over. It's going to come down to what we do in the Atlantic 10 tournament. That's the bottom line, but I think it's been like that for the past three weeks anyway.''

No seconds for UMass
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 2/14/1999

PROVIDENCE - Second verse, same as the first.

UMass now has a patent on playing great first-half basketball against Rhode Island, only to have that good work undone by a second-half freeze.

It was true during last week's loss to the Rams in Amherst, and it was polished to an ungodly shine during yesterday's 59-56 loss to the Rams at the Providence Civic Center.

This time Rhode Island came back from a 15-point halftime deficit to win. It's the first time in 11 seasons that the Rams have swept the regular-season series, and they moved into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic 10 East Division.

The 15-10 Rams, playing at a win-at-all-costs pace for a late run at an NCAA tournament bid, appear to have found their rhythm.

The 11-13 Minutemen are just missing the same target, with what is arguably the most difficult portion of their A-10 schedule ahead.

``It will come down to what we do in the (conference) tournament - that's the bottom line,'' said UMass coach Bruiser Flint.

Yesterday's bottom line placed the ball in the hands of a familiar adversary.

Rhode Island forward Lamar Odom put this game just far enough out of reach when, with six seconds left, the 6-foot-11 sophomore worked defender Mike Babul into the lane, missed a short jumper, then cut through the forest to tip in his own miss for the final points of the game.

UMass got the ball back with 6.2 seconds left - just enough for Monty Mack to rim out an open 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Rhode Island's leading scorers for the season, Odom and Antonio Reynolds-Dean, were held to a combined six points in the first half as the Rams led only once, 18-16, nine minutes into the period. UMass took a 38-23 lead into the break.

Mack scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half before foul trouble and the defense of Rams guard Tavorris Bell slowed the UMass junior to a second-half crawl.

Audio clip: ESPN's Jay Bilas thinks Lari Ketner's potential will carry him to the NBA.
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Lari Ketner, after picking up his third and fourth fouls a little more than a minute apart early in the second half, spent even more time anchored to the pine.

He was missed for a far different reason. Ketner had his best rebounding day of the season, grabbing 10 of his 14 boards in the first half. As usual, the 6-10 senior's shot-making was a sketchy proposition and virtually nonexistent when the game counted the most. But without his work on the glass for a gaping seven-minute stretch in the second half, the Minutemen lost hold.

Ketner had just given the Minutemen a 45-35 lead with his layup off a sharp Mack pass with 13:18 left in the game. Ketner picked up his fourth foul with 12:12 left, sending him to the bench and Odom to the line to cut the lead to 45-37.

Ketner rejoined the game, along with Mack, with 4:56 left and the Minutemen holding an increasingly fragile 52-51 lead.

Odom - who scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, including seven in the pulverizing 20-7 run during Ketner's time on the bench - gave the Rams a 55-52 edge with a slick 10-foot jump hook.

Ketner answered with a jump hook of his own, but Winston Smith lost control of a rebound at the other end. Luther Clay scooped up the loose ball and laid it in for a 57-54 Rhode Island lead with 2:24 left.

Mack curled into the lane to chop the lead to 57-56 with his only hoop of the second half, but there was a problem.

Odom got the ball one last time.

2nd-half comeback carries URI over UMass
By Kevin McNamara, The Providence Journal Sports Writer, 2/14/1999

PROVIDENCE -- It's February and that's crunch time in college basketball. Style and panache aren't important. Winning is all that counts.

That's what should be take away from URI's 59-56 win over Massachusetts yesterday. The teams took turns playing a horrible half of basketball. Luckily for the Rams, their awful 20 minutes came out of the gate and Jim Harrick's crew had enough gas in the tank to wipe out a 15-point halftime deficit and grab a badly needed win.

The Minuteman defense was in his face all day, but Lamar Odom still led URI scorers with 17 points.
Harrick has spent much of this season trying to get his team on a roll. The Rams are not playing great but they have won five of their last six games and are taking care of business with their postseason hopes hanging in the balance.

``Every game is such a big game right now,'' Ram star Lamar Odom said. ``We just stayed confident. We got some lucky breaks, some lucky calls. We stayed in it and kept our heads in it.''

Rhody improved to 15-10 overall and 8-4 in the Atlantic 10 East, a game ahead of UMass in the fight for second place. The Rams have four games left in the regular season.

The Minutemen put forth the type of effort that's been missing most of this season, but killed their chances by scoring only 18 second-half points on 28 percent shooting. UMass now is 11-13 overall and as coach James `Bruiser' Flint says, ``It's going to come down to what we do in the (Atlantic 10) tournament. It's been that way for a few weeks now.''

As usual, Odom started slowly but finished with a flourish. He scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and iced the game with a putback of his own miss in the final seconds, boosting a one-point lead to three. UMass guard Monty Mack missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Chris Kirkland and Monty Mack play keep-away with URI's Luther Clay.
Luther Clay worked hard on defense and delivered 13 points and 9 rebounds. Tavoris Bell (11) also hit double figures.

Mack led the Minutemen with 16 points but had just two in the second half after falling into foul trouble. Lari Ketner also picked up four fouls early in the second half and was limited to 12 points and 14 boards in 29 minutes.

This was a game of two halves. The first was played at a high emotional level for the opening 10 minutes. UMass came out hard and jumped out to a 7-1 lead. ``Just a typical Rhode Island game,'' is the way Odom described it.

UMass shot the ball very well with five 3-pointers in the half, two each by Mack and Charlton Clarke. Rhody ran off eight straight points to grab a 18-16 lead, but that's when Flint switched to a 2-3 zone defense. URI's attack ground to a halt. The Rams had very little movement through the zone, with Odom particularly confused.

``They went zone and we couldn't make a shot and couldn't move,'' Harrick said. ``In the second half we got (Antonio) Reynolds-Dean in the middle of the zone and that opened things up. We got good movement in the second half.''

The final 10 minutes were torture for the Rams. Rhody scored five points in the final 11 minutes to fall behind at the break, 38-23.

``He (Harrick) kicked us in the butt,'' at halftime, Odom said. ``He said we were getting a good old-fashioned butt-whipping. And he didn't use those words. We just wanted to come out with some aggressiveness in the second half.''

Harrick also made some adjustments to the UMass zone at the half. The results were instantaneous. Odom scored just his second field goal of the game when he sliced through the zone on the opening play of the half. UMass led, 45-35, when Ketner picked up his fourth foul with 12:12 left. That marked the start of the UMass freeze. They would score just two field goals over the next nine minutes and fell behind, 55-52, after Odom hit a jump hook.

Then it was a race to the finish. UMass struggled to score and managed just two points over the final 2:56.

URI fought just a little bit harder. A key play came when UMass locked the Rams up and Ketner appeared to have the rebound. But the ball came loose and Clay gathered it in and dunked for a 57-54 lead.

UMass finally hit a big shot when Mack came off a screen and nailed a jumper with 42 seconds left. URI then held for one shot and that obviously meant Odom. He isolated against Mike Babul, and when the Minutemen chose not to double-team, the Ram star went to work. He drove past Babul, missed a runner but attacked the glass and put back the rebound with five seconds left.

``I thought they'd double me as soon as I got it,'' Odom said. ``I was surprised they let me play one-on-one. They didn't double and I was able to get in the lane and follow up my own shot. I got in there kind of easy.''

Harrick called the last play ``scintillating.''

``He missed a shot and just tipped it in. You have to be absolutely kidding. That's just a big-time play.''

The Rams hope for more of those plays to keep their February roll going.

excerpt from:
A new attitude is helping Clay
By Kevin McNamara, The Providence Journal Sports Writer, 2/14/1999

Coaches up in arms

Harrick and UMass coach James Flint took turns berating the officials. Harrick was incensed most of the first half, and Flint jumped up and down several times in the final 20 minutes. It was a sign of poor officiating that neither was slapped with a technical foul.

Harrick tried his usual stare-down tactics and nearly blew his top in the final moments of the first half. On the final play of the half, Clay missed a short runner with two seconds left. Harrick thought Clay was fouled on the play and stomped out to midcourt once the halftime buzzer had sounded.

At one point, Harrick's son, Jim Jr. , tried to pull his father back toward the locker room. The coach turned, swiped his son's hand off his shoulder and continued giving it to the officials.

Audio clip: Even the announcers agreed this was a bogus call.
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Flint tested his vertical leap at one point in the second half when the refs gave Antonio Reynolds-Dean a timeout call even though he didn't have complete possession of the ball.

``He walked with the ball,'' UMass's Charlton Clarke said. ``Then he rolled around on the floor a few times. Coach was kind of mad about that one.''

Second half dooms UMass
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/15/1999

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Monty Mack got a clean look at the basket for his would-be game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer, but it hit the back rim and bounced out as the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team lost a 59-56 heartbreaker to Rhode Island Saturday at the Providence Civic Center. After turning in their best half of the season, the Minutemen came unraveled after intermission, blowing a 15-point lead in the loss.UMass led 38-23 at the break.

"We only scored 18 points in the second half," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "That's tough. We shot 28 percent in the second half, but I thought my guys played really hard today. We just didn't get a couple of things to drop for us." "It was definitely a two-half game," said Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick. "They beat us in every phase of the game in the first half. In the second half we got more aggressive and we outplayed them." UMass fell to 11-13 on the season and 7-5 in the Atlantic 10. The win virtually assured the Rams (15-11, 8-4) second place in the A-10 East and with it the first round bye in the conference tournament. Rhode Island holds a one-game lead and the tie-breaker over the Minutemen. The Rams opened the second half with a 6-0 run to cut the UMass lead to single digits. A free throw by Lari Ketner and a dunk by Chris Kirkland put UMass back ahead 41-29 with 15:39 left in the second half, but the Rams still controlled the momentum. Led by Lamar Odom, the Rams reeled off a 12-4 run to pull the score to 45-41 with 11:10 left. During that stretch Ketner picked up his fourth foul forcing him to the bench with 12:12 left in the game. Mack picked up his fourth foul a short time later, leaving UMass with its two top scoring options out of the game. "Those are the two guys that you go to when you try to score," Flint said. "We got some decent looks while they were out, but they just didn't go down." Still the Minutemen were able to cling to the lead until Preston Murphy made two free throws with 4:30 left to put Rhody up 53-52. Odom's hook extended the lead to 55-52 with 3:30 left. Back in the lineup, Ketner spun and hit a shot over a double-team with just under three minutes left to bring UMass back within one at 55-54. Two Minutemen got their hands on a Rhody miss at the other end but couldn't hold on and the ball found its way into the hands of Luther Clay, who dunked it, returning the lead to three points at 57-54 with 2:22 left. "Luther Clay's rebound when we actually had the ball was a big play in the game," Flint said. Both teams' offenses went cold until the final minute. Mack drove into the lane and hit a runner with 42.7 seconds left to make the score 57-56. The Rams ran the clock down as far as they could when Odom drove into the lane. His shot missed, but Odom tapped in his own rebound with 6.2 ticks left on the clock, extending the Rams' lead to 59-56. "We did a good job on him," Flint said. "He missed the shot, but he put it back in. We just didn't box him out. That's what good players do. Good players make those kinds of plays. He's a real good player." After calling a time-out, the Minutemen got the play they wanted as Charlton Clarke fed Mack the ball coming off a screen. But the shot didn't fall. Mack led the Minutemen with 16 points, but 14 of them came in the first half. Ketner added 12 points and matched his season high in rebounds with 14. Clarke had eight points including career point No. 1,000. Odom led the Rams with 17 points and 10 boards while Tavorris Bell (13 points) and Murphy (11) also scored in double figures. Flint had a message for Odom after the game. "I told him to go pro after this year," Flint said laughing. "I told him I don't want to see him again next year." UMass returns to action at 9 p.m. Wednesday in Washington, D.C., against George Washington.

Clarke hits 1,000; Mack next
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/15/1999

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Through his recent prolonged scoring slump, it seemed as if Charlton Clarke might never make it to the 1,000-point plateau. But with 5:53 left in Saturday's 59-56 loss to Rhode Island, Clarke sank two free throws for points No. 1,000 and 1,001. He is the 33rd Minuteman to join the grand club, joining teammate Lari Ketner as the most recent member. "There are a lot of elite players in there ... Marcus Camby, Jim McCoy, Tyrone (Weeks), Lou (Roe)," Clarke said. "But that's just one accomplishment. I want to leave here as a winner. With a dozen points Saturday, Ketner now has 1,079 for his career, just two points behind Jack Foley, who is 25th on the UMass all-time scoring list. Barring injury Monty Mack will be the next Minuteman to join the club. After scoring 443 points last year, he has 428 so far this year giving him 871 for his career. If he sticks to his current 17.3 points per game average he will score his 1,000th point eight games from now, likely sometime next year.

* * *

So far in the two games since Ajmal Basit was dismissed, the biggest benefactor in terms of playing time has been Winston Smith. After playing nine minutes while scoring four points against St. Bonaventure, Smith played 18 minutes against Rhody. In that time he scored three points, handed out a team-high four assists and did a decent job guarding Lamar Odom. "I respect his game," Smith said of Odom. "He's a great player. I was just trying to deny him the ball and play good defense on him. But I couldn't even touch him because they'd call a foul." Kitwana Rhymer has played more as well. In his 18 minutes Saturday Rhymer had five points and nine rebounds, his second highest board total since grabbing 10 against Boston College.

Loss ends hope
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/15/1999

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Members of the University of Massachusetts basketball team are still saying the right things.

After losing to Rhode Island Saturday, the Minutemen talked positively.

Bruiser does his "Give me that call" dance, the officials didn't listen.
Associated Press photo
"The season's not over," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "We still have some games to go. It's going to come down to what we do in the tournament. I think it's been like that for the last few weeks anyway. I told the guys that if we keep giving this kind of effort, it'll turn around and we'll win games that people think that we're not supposed to. We just got to go out and keep playing hard."

Senior captain Charlton Clarke echoed his sentiments.

"We just need to keep playing hard and have (the effort) carry over to the next game," he said. "We have to win all the games one at a time to win and make a run in the A-10 Tournament. "

It sounded nice, and would make for a great Cinderella story if it could happen. But in reality, Saturday's loss was not just a heartbreaker but a backbreaker as well because it effectively ended any UMass chance for a trip to the postseason.

Unless Rhody suffers an all-out collapse, UMass is out of the running for a first round bye in the conference tournament. The Rams are now a game ahead of the Minutemen, and UMass' remaining schedule is considerable tougher than Rhode Island's.

Even if the Minutemen could pull even, the Rams hold the tie-breaker because they beat the Minutemen twice this season.

That means the Minutemen will have to win four straight in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, a feat no A-10 team has ever accomplished. UMass isn't exactly at the front of the list to be a history-maker either.

The Minutemen haven't won four straight at any time this season. In fact they've only won three straight once all season. Winning four games in four days isn't going to happen, especially with Clarke playing with a stress fracture in his foot.

"If we don't get a bye," Clarke said, "I'll just have to suck it up and play extra."

The National Invitation Tournament has become a long shot as well. At 11-13 UMass needs to finish at or above .500 to get there. To accomplish that, the Minutemen need to win at least three of their next four games against George Washington, Xavier, La Salle, and Temple, and at least their first round A-10 game to be in position to qualify. Going 2-2 would force them to at least make the finals to finish at .500.

So as they talk about making an unlikely A-10 run, the Minutemen must be wishing that they could start their season over again now.

"That's what makes this so hard, because we haven't played with this much intensity all year," Flint admitted. "It's been that type of a season for us."

The Minutemen have played better in recent weeks, but the hole they dug in 1998 was too deep to dig out of in 1999. For UMass fans, it's time to think about baseball, softball, lacrosse, spring football, and next year, because this hoop season has gone by the boards.

Bonus pictures
Courtesey: ESPN

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Bonus video clips
Courtesey: ESPN

Please note: I've had some crashes with these video clips. I'm not sure if it's just my machine or the .AVI files I made. Point is, it's probably not a bad idea to save anything you have open before you look at these video clips. Please let me know if you do encounter some trouble.
File Approx. Size
Mike Babul gets crafty on the 4-on-1 break. 1.57meg
Lari Ketner gets UMass off on the right foot. 1.52meg
Chris Kirkland runs into a mountain on the way to the hoop. 1.46meg
Lari Ketner feeds Chris Kirkland for 2. 952k
Ross Burns gets no respect I'm tellin' ya, no respect. 865k

Massachusetts Minutemen 56
Rhode Island Rams 59
at the Providence Civic Center

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Kirkland        31  5-11   0-1   2-5  1  2   10
Babul           19   1-5   0-1   0-1  2  2    2
Ketner          29  5-13   2-4  3-14  2  4   12
Clarke          40   2-6   2-2   0-3  1  2    8
M Mack          35  7-16   0-0   2-4  2  4   16
Oates            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Depina           3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Cruz             6   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Smith           18   1-3   0-0   0-0  4  3    3
Rhymer          18   1-6   3-6   5-9  0  2    5
TOTALS         200 22-62  7-14 12-36 12 19   56

Percentages: FG-.355, FT-.500. 3-Point Goals:
5-13, .385 (Clarke 2-4, M Mack 2-7, Cruz 0-1,
Smith 1-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 1
(Kirkland). Turnovers: 10 (Ketner 3, Kirkland 3,
Babul, Clarke, Cruz, M Mack). Steals: 4 (Kirkland
2, Clarke, Oates).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Odom            37  5-12  6-10  2-10  4  3   17
Reynolds-dean   36  4-10   0-0   1-8  1  1    8
Clay            38  6-15   1-1   8-9  1  3   13
Bell            28   4-7   3-7   5-6  0  1   11
Murphy          40   1-7   3-4   0-2  3  3    6
Jefferson        7   0-2   0-0   0-2  0  1    0
Brown            8   1-2   0-0   0-0  1  1    2
Vinson           6   1-3   0-0   1-1  0  0    2
TOTALS         200 22-58 13-22 17-38 10 13   59

Percentages: FG-.379, FT-.591. 3-Point Goals:
2-11, .182 (Odom 1-3, Bell 0-1, Murphy 1-5,
Jefferson 0-1, Vinson 0-1). Team rebounds: 5.
Blocked shots: 6 (Reynolds-dean 3, Odom 2, Clay).
Turnovers: 12 (Reynolds-dean 4, Clay 3, Bell,
Brown, Murphy, Odom). Steals: 4 (Odom 2, Bell,
Massachusetts      38   18  -   56
Rhode Island       23   36  -   59
Technical fouls: None.  A: 10,771. Officials:
John Moreau, Reggie Greenwood, George Watts.

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