MHERST - The University of Massachusetts basketball team is glad to be home for the holidays. After a difficult series of road games, the Minutemen returned for a 59-46 win over the University of Detroit last night, the first of a four-game home stand.
The Minutemen (3-5) capitalized on a big advantage at the low post and effective perimeter play from Charlton Clarke, Jonathan DePina, and Monty Mack in recovering from a somnambulant start before a crowd of 6,726. Detroit (7-3) disrupted UMass with its quickness, but the Minutemen were in command after Mack's 3-pointer gave them a 16-14 edge midway through the first half.
''This is the time of year when we turn things around,'' Clarke said. ''Everyone is gone from campus and there are no distractions, no ringing phones. It's just us. It shouldn't take everyone going home for us to do well, but that's the way we operate.''
Clarke sparked the UMass attack, scoring 19 points on eight field goal attempts. The Minutemen secured the inside, making room for the perimeter game.
''I wanted to be more aggressive,'' Clarke said. ''When I am aggressive and going to the basket, the team feeds off that, so that was the focus for me. We had been standing around too much and we had to open up our game and go to the basket.
''This was the way we are supposed to play every night, and tonight could be the start of that happening. We need to play that way for the whole game.''
Detroit displayed resourcefulness, despite an inept inside game. Guard Rashad Phillips kept the Minutemen off balance and scored 20 points. The Minutemen countered with DePina in a three-guard alignment in stretching their advantage midway through the second half.
DePina connected on successive field goals for a 46-33 advantage with 8:52 remaining. The Titans pulled within 49-39 on Jermaine Jackson's bank shot with 5:06 to go. But only Phillips scored after that for Detroit as the Minutemen asserted themselves on two Lari Ketner dunks and a Mike Babul foul shot for a 54-41 lead with 3:35 remaining.
''We've lost to the No. 1 and No. 15 teams, to teams that were 8-2 and 6-2,'' UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. ''We've lost to some pretty good teams on their home courts. We haven't played well but we'll turn it around, I'm not worried about that.
Mike Babul guards Detroit's Desmond Ferguson.
Clarke set up Ketner for an alley-oop dunk off the opening tap. But the Minutemen faltered until Clarke took command as the Minutemen went on a 17-3 run. Clarke's 3-pointer gave UMass a 30-17 lead with 2:45 left. Detroit then scored the next 9 points before Clarke converted successive drives for a 34-26 edge 2:40 into the second half.
''I said to [Clarke] before the game, `who told you you were a 3-point shooter?''' Flint said. ''I told him you have to take the ball to the basket and get to the line. He's our best free throw shooter.
''They call it a Tyson, he gets the ball and bulls his way to the basket. He started to play with more aggression.''
UMass, off to its worst start since 1986, seemed vulnerable in the opening and closing minutes of the first half. The Minutemen's lack of concentration, and Detroit's persistence, prevented the margin of victory from being even greater.
The Titans' lack of an inside game was a pleasant relief for the Minutemen. Once 6-foot-11-inch Walter Craft displayed his ineffectiveness, UMass played with an uninhibited style, defending Detroit on the perimeter with an overplaying, switching man-to-man defense.
MHERST-- It's about time UMass basketball coach Bruiser Flint files a missing persons report because senior center Lari Ketner has yet to show up this season.
Despite the absence of Ketner's post presence again, the Minutemen pulled out a much-needed 59-46 win over the University of Detroit before an announced 6,726 at the Mullins Center.
Ketner, who led the Minutemen in scoring last season, scored his only points of the first half on a game-opening alley-oop, and finished the game with 10 points (six when things were well in hand) against three turnovers. He did manage a team-high seven rebounds.
"We figured (Ketner) was their first (option) inside and we wanted to give that our utmost attention," Detroit coach Perry Watson said.
The Philadelphia native is averaging just 11.8 points this season and has shown only rare glimpses of the potential that has prompted some analysts to rate him as an NBA lottery pick. His best game was a 16-point, 9-rebound, 3-block performance against vastly under-sized Niagara in the first round of the Preseason NIT.
The attention the Titans (7-3) paid to Ketner, left open senior guard Charlton Clarke, who picked up the slack nicely for 3-5 UMass, scoring a team-high 19 points, 13 in the first half. He also dished out five assists, while committing only one turnover in 33 minutes.
"I just tried to be more aggressive," Clarke said. "When I get myself going, I think my team feeds off that. This is how we're supposed to play every night. It hasn't been happening this year, but hopefully this game will be the start of that."
"Offensively we played a little smarter tonight," Flint said. "(Clarke) made some good plays. That settled us down; we haven't had that all year."
After trailing most of the first half, the Minutemen took control of the game with an 11-0 run capped by one of Clarke's two 3-pointers, giving UMass a 30-17 lead.
"I said (to Clarke), 'who told you you were a 3-point shooter?' " Flint said. "He's a decent shooter, but not great."
Junior guard Monty Mack also hit a key bucket in that rally, rebounding his own miss and banking a 10-foot floater. The South Boston native finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
Detroit countered with a 7-0 run to end the half, but the UMass backcourt took control early in the second as Clarke scored on two straight possessions and reserve guard Jonathan DePina drained a pair of jumpers, his second giving the Minutemen a 46-33 lead.
"I asked (DePina) where he's been," Flint said. "His two baskets were the ones that changed the game."
Junior guard Rashad Phillips netted a game-high 20 points for the Titans on 7 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 6 from the free throw line.
After Ketner's alley-oop from Clarke to open the game, the Titans built an 8-2 lead, including five points from Allen Iverson look-alike Phillips. UMass fought back and took the lead for good, 16-15 on a Mack trey.
MHERST - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team normally shudders at the sight of an opposing team's zone defense.
Mike Babul gets stuffed by Detroit's Desmond Ferguson.
But on a night when Lari Ketner went 27 minutes between field goals and Ajmal Basit scored one point, Mack and Charlton Clarke provided UMass with a much-needed win, 59-46, Saturday over the University of Detroit Mercy before 6,726 at the Mullins Center.
Clarke scored a season-high 19 points for UMass (3-5), including 10 during a 20-3 first-half run that nullified a terrific first nine minutes for Detroit (7-3). Clarke hit two three-pointers during the stretch, but it was his ability to penetrate the zone that pleased his coach.
"I said, 'Who told you you were a three-point shooter?" UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "He's a decent shooter, but not great."
Mack finished with 15 points. The two guards' performances took the emphasis away from what was another poor effort offensively for the UMass post men.
Ketner scored 10 points, four of which came in the game's final five minutes, and shot 4-for-9 from the field. Post players accounted for only 11 of UMass' 59 points.
"But I think offensively, we played a little smarter," Flint said. "Charlton made some plays and those settled us down. We haven't had that all year."
Clarke's play drew praise from the opposing coach as well. "He really rose to the occasion," said Detroit coach Perry Watson. "He's their senior and captain."
Clarke, Mack and Mike Babul turned in their best defensive effort as a group, even though Rashard Phillips, Desmond Ferguson and Jermaine Jackson combined for 38 points.
"They made some tough shots, with hands in their faces," Flint said of Detroit's top three scorers. "Those three guys are very good. I asked Perry if I could borrow one of those guys."
After a 9-0 Titan run bridging the halves cut the deficit to 30-26, Clarke scored two quick baskets on tough leaners to give UMass a sizeable edge again.
"I just tried to be more aggressive," Clarke said. "That was the focus, to get myself going so the team could feed off it."
Clarke also had three rebounds and five assists.
Ferguson answered Clarke's four-point swing with a long three, but the Titans never got any closer.
Jonathan DePina, a backup point guard who has struggled all season, helped secure the win.
With 9:26 remaining, Depina buried a wide-open 10-footer. On the next possession, DePina pulled up on the break and gave UMass a 46-33 advantage.
"His baskets were the ones that changed the game," Flint said.
In 13 minutes, DePina scored four points and chased down three rebounds.
Clarke got things started early for UMass. Off the opening tip, Clarke lofted the ball to Ketner for an alley-oop seven seconds in.
But a feisty Detroit team ran off eight straight points, including two threes from Ferguson and Phillips.
The teams traded baskets until Phillips scored over DePina to put the Titans ahead, 14-10.
Clarke and Mack responded with back-to-back threes. Basit, Clarke and Babul converted five free throw attempts in between an off balance shot by Jackson.
Clarke then connected on a long jump shot, and Mack hit a baseline floater. Babul hit two free throws and Clarke drained a long three to put UMass ahead comfortably, 30-17. UMass led at halftime, 30-24.
In addition to holding Ferguson to 10 points, Babul added eight points, including six from the free-throw line.
The Minutemen return to action on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. when they host Davidson.
MHERST - UMass is not in a position, at the moment, to shoot for anything higher than a well-played, basic game.
So count last night's 59-46 win over a 7-3 Detroit team as an important step. The Minutemen (3-5) made it through 40 minutes without losing hold of their fundamentals. They defended well and allowed the offense to take care of itself.
As a result, the UMass backcourt of senior Charlton Clarke (season-high 19 points) and junior Monty Mack (15) were able to salt this one away with good shot selection.
And when the backcourt needed relief, that was none other than Jonathan DePina - a veritable missing person since the Minutemen's season-opening win over Niagara - stepping in to contribute some quality time down the stretch.
The sophomore point guard drained his only two shots of the night on the end of a 6-0 run that gave UMass a 46-33 lead with 8:47 left.
Both shots were of the nature the coaching staff has been pleading DePina to take - a 15-footer that was kicked out from the post and a foul line pull-up off the break.
Overall, however, this was about much more than making shots. The Minutemen, as usual, went cold from time to time.
It was more about Lari Ketner plowing into the lane to chase down the rebound of his own missed jumper and Mike Babul beating Detroit's Desmond Ferguson to a loose ball that rolled into the backcourt.
At perhaps no other time this season have the Minutemen done as well with simple hustle plays.
``It's how we're supposed to play every night,'' said Clarke. ``It just hasn't happened that way this year.''
This game also marked Clarke's return as an offensive force. Before last night, the high point total this season for the UMass captain was 13 points during a dismal loss to Marshall.
Against the Titans, Clarke didn't hesitate when given a lane to the basket.
His aggression particularly paid off early in the second half, first with a runner after rebounding a Mack miss, then with a running banker from the lane for a 34-26 edge with 17:20 left.
Clarke also hit a pair of mortal free throws with 2:40 left for a 56-43 UMass lead that essentially sealed any Detroit hopes of a comeback.
That said, the Titan perimeter players gave the Minutemen fits last night, especially when junior Rashad Phillips put his mind to shooting.
That, of course, was often.
The 5-foot-8 Detroit guard was at his most comfortable when taking everyone from Mack to Babul - UMass' most tenacious stopper - off the dribble. Phillips finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, most of it courtesy of off-balance mid-range jumpers. He also shot 4-of-6 from the line, though this also illustrated Detroit's chief trouble.
The Titans, a perimeter-oriented bunch, didn't send anyone but Phillips to the line last night.
``We go to the line six times and they go 22 times,'' said Detroit coach Perry Watson. ``But that's life on the road. We've been around long enough to know that's the way it is.''
his is not necessarily the age when someone wants his name linked to Mike Tyson.
But that seems to be the adjective - that's right, an adjective - that pops up most often when Charlton Clarke's teammates attempt to put his style of driving to the basket into words.
There's nothing quick about the way the UMass guard attacks the basket. There's very little finesse. He dishes off like a fullback.
And when he puts up that floater, it's remarkably similar to the wild floater made famous by Sherman Douglas.
It may not be pretty, perhaps. But it goes in. Somehow.
So there's a Tyson-like nature to what Clarke does in the lane.
In the UMass vernacular, ``Tyson'' can also be used as a verb.
As in, ``He Tysons that ball in there.''
Allow UMass coach Bruiser Flint to explain.
``They call him Tyson,'' said Flint.
``He Tysons it to the basket. He bullies it to the basket.''
Unfortunately for just about everyone in a UMass uniform this season, the Tyson watch had little to report over the first seven games.
The Minutemen were 2-5 over that stretch and, not surprisingly, Clarke wasn't on his game in that stretch.
No floaters. No bullish charges into the paint.
Some of this appeared to change Saturday night, however, in UMass' 59-46 win over Detroit at the Mullins Center. Clarke scored a season-high 19 points, hit 6-of-8 shots and played with remarkable control, dishing out five assists and turning the ball over only once in 33 minutes.
But it was the nature of those points that pleased Flint so much. Once again, this Sherman tank of a point guard was churning his way into the lane.
He wasn't hanging out along the 3-point circle, looking for open jumpers.
``It was a big game for me,'' said Clarke. ``Coach told me that I was standing out on the perimeter too much. When I drive, it opens up my game. It opens up everyone else's game, too.''
Little wonder that the Minutemen featured some of their best motion and ball movement against Detroit, though the frontcourt continues to struggle with relatively easy shots.
But that's not Clarke's problem as long as he is able to penetrate and deliver the ball to people like Lari Ketner or put it back out on the perimeter to the ever-willing Monty Mack.
``I said to him, `Who told you that you were a 3-point shooter?' '' said Flint. ``When he's out there shooting and looking for 3s, he's not going to the line and he's one of our best free throw shooters.
``But there's no doubt about it. Charlton Clarke made that win over Detroit happen for us.''
MHERST--Ah, home sweet home. Last night's 59-46 men's basketball victory over Detroit may not have been worth a national championship for the University of Massachusetts, but it still may have been worth a great deal.
The game before 6,726 at Mullins Center produced the most solid UMass win of the year, and there's a new sense of optimism after the opener of a four-game homestand.
The Minutemen even outscored their school's football team, which wasn't easy, by four points. UMass (3-5) is 2-1 at home, with a five-point loss to No. 1-ranked Connecticut as the only blemish. The Minutemen are off until Dec. 29 against Davidson at home, the next of a string of games against mostly respectable but beatable teams.
"I think playing at home made a big difference," guard Monty Mack said. "We want to defend our turf, and if we can do that, we can still be successful."
The UMass guard play was splendid. Charlton Clarke scored 19 points with 6-for-8 shooting and five assists, Mack scored 15, and even Jonathan DePina, who had been struggling, hit back-to-back baskets in the second half and played a fairly stellar floor game.
"I tried to be more aggressive," Clarke said. "When I can get going, I think the team feeds off on that."
"I didn't think Clarke would shoot that well, but he rose to the occasion," Detroit coach Perry Watson said. "I guess it's no secret Lari Ketner is the first option, and Mack is next coming off a staggered screen. So we gambled with Clarke, and he made us pay."
Ketner added 10 points with seven rebounds against Detroit (7-3), which had lost previously at Michigan and Iowa. Guard Rashad Phillips led the Titans with 20 points.
The Minutemen shot 57.9 percent in the second half and 47.9 percent overall, and also won the rebounding battle 29-24 The Minutemen stuck with a seven-man rotation for the most part, with all five starters playing at least 28 minutes.
UMass took a 30-17 first-half lead on an 11-0 run, with four Mike Babul free throws and Clarke's 3-point shot lending spark. But Detroit scored the final seven points of the half to cut the UMass lead to 30-24 at the break.
Clarke scored 13 points in the first half. He hit two buckets early in the second half, and DePina scored his two baskets to make it 46-33 with 8:46 left.
"Jonathan played like the Jonathan of old, and we needed that in a big way," Clarke said after DePina's 13-minute, 4-point, 3-rebound, 2-assist job.
"He hasn't played like that since (the opener against) Niagara," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "I asked him afterward where he'd been. He played with aggression and did a good job."
Flint also saluted Clarke and Ajmal Basit, who didn't take a shot in 28 minutes but did what Flint wanted most 96 rebounded (five), defended and played under control.
"Charlton was the difference," Flint said. "He didn't settle for 3s, but he took the ball to the basket. The guys call him Tyson 96 he Tysons his way to the basket, bullies his way through, and he did that.
"And Ajmal 96 he played well, and I'm just glad he didn't go out and act like a fool," said Flint, who disapproves of Basit's flamboyant gestures. "I told him to cut the antics, and he defended well and got us a couple of big rebounds."
UMass was never seriously threatened after a 10-5 run made it 40-31 with 13:24 left. It was a good win over a good team.
"I know we haven't played well, but we'll turn it around," Flint said. "That's what I've been saying all along."
|at the Mullins Center|
DETROIT (46) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Alexander 33 0-4 0-0 1-4 2 3 0 Ferguson 38 4-11 0-0 3-7 0 1 10 Craft 15 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 4 2 Phillips 38 7-12 4-6 0-4 3 2 20 Jackson 37 4-12 0-0 0-2 2 4 8 Whye 21 3-4 0-0 1-4 0 3 6 Van Dyke 11 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Belin 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 Gray 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 19-45 4-6 5-21 8 20 46 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.422, FT-.667. 3-Point Goals: 4-13, .308 (Ferguson 2-4, Phillips 2-5, Jackson 0-4). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 1 (Craft). Turnovers: 13 (Phillips 4, Jackson 3, Alexander 2, Ferguson 2, Belin, Van Dyke). Steals: 4 (Ferguson 2, Jackson, Van Dyke). MASSACHUSETTS (59) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Babul 34 1-4 6-12 2-3 2 1 8 Basit 28 0-0 1-3 3-5 1 2 1 Ketner 29 4-9 2-2 2-7 1 1 10 Clarke 33 6-8 5-5 0-3 5 2 19 M Mack 37 6-15 0-0 3-5 2 2 15 Depina 13 2-2 0-0 0-3 2 2 4 Smith 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Kirkland 20 1-4 0-0 0-0 0 1 2 Rhymer 3 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 20-42 14-22 10-27 13 11 59 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.476, FT-.636. 3-Point Goals: 5-17, .294 (Babul 0-2, Clarke 2-4, M Mack 3-11). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 3 (Basit, Ketner, Kirkland). Turnovers: 10 (Ketner 3, M Mack 2, Babul, Basit, Clarke, Depina, Smith). Steals: 6 (M Mack 3, Babul 2, Ketner). __________________________________ Detroit 24 22 - 46 Massachusetts 30 29 - 59 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 6,726. Officials: Jim Jenkins, Gary Sanchez, William Johnson.