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The Springfield Union-News
The Springfield Union-News - notebook
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The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - notebook


UMass blows big lead, in front of small crowd
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 1/21/2000

AMHERST - Something must have happened in the locker room at halftime last night. Bad oranges. Tape that itched. Crank phone calls on the cell phones.

Photo
Bruiser couldn't stand to hear the clang of iron in the second half.
But whatever it was, it was not the same University of Massachusetts men's basketball team that came out for the second half, and for that matter, not the same Dayton team the Minutemen had been facing. A 14-point UMass lead became a seven-point deficit during an 11-minute second-half stretch, the Minutemen never recovered in a 57-52 Atlantic 10 Conference loss at the Mullins Center.

The statistics revealed out a long list of second-half shortcomings, but to UMass coach Bruiser Flint, there was only one that jumped out.

"You've got to score," he said, pointing to 6-for-22 shooting in after halftime. "You can't keep them down on defense, but go 10 minutes and not score. You can't."

In the first half, it had been the Minutemen who had shut Dayton down. An 11-0 run gave UMass an early 13-3 lead, and it was 30-18 at halftime. The Minutemen (8-8, 2-2 Atlantic 10) scored the first basket of the second half, and then the roof caved in. A sequence of five turnovers, many of them unforced, led to an 11-0 Dayton comeback that made it 32-29, and before the Minutemen could put a stop to the fallout, the Flyers (13-3, 3-1) had taken a 47-40 lead on the strength of a 29-8 run.

To make a bad night worse, the game was played before 4,835 fans, the smallest crowd for a UMass men's basketball game since the Mullins Center opened in 1993.

Photo
Shannon Crooks applies the defensive pressure.
It was an opportunity squandered, a winnable game lost. The second-half numbers were abysmal for UMass: the poor shooting, a 22-11 rebounding deficit, mediocre free-throw shooting (10 of 16) and a defensive slumber that saw Dayton shoot 57.7 percent after halftime.

UMass also made 16 turnovers in the game, and Flint couldn't explain a string of mistakes that let Dayton rally and end a two-game Minutemen winning streak.

"We just dropped some balls," he said. "Just dropped them, and they picked them up and got layups out of them. We gave them eight to 10 points that way, and suddenly it was a close game."

UMass managed only two field goals in the first 12:41 of the second half, yet the Minutemen still had a chance at the end. They were within 49-48 when Dayton scored the next five points, with a huge 3-point shot by sophomore guard David Morris making it 54-48 with 2:12 left.

UMass still had a little life left. Monty Mack hit two free throws with 35 seconds left to make it 54-52, and Chris Kirkland forced a turnover off the Minutemen press.

On the next possession, Kirkland posted up and tried to spin for a jumper in traffic. But the ball didn't hit iron, Dayton's Nate Green was fouled, and Green hit the first of two foul shots to make it 55-52.

On UMass' next trip down, Mack went up for a 3-pointer from the left corner with 15 seconds left. But the shot that would have tied it rattled in and out, and Green put the Minutemen out of their misery or perhaps intensified it by hitting two free throws with 13 seconds left.

"In the last 35 seconds, we got the ball 5 feet from the basket (on Kirkland's shot) and got a wide-open 3," Flint said. "I thought we got the right shots at the end."

This was a game with intensity but not much flow, and UMass was in control until a 20-3 run gave Dayton a stunning 38-35 lead with 13:30 left. That nullified what had been shaping up as the Minutemen's third straight solid performance, and as the shooting (which had been 50 percent in the first half) cooled off, the turnovers made matters even worse.

"We didn't do anything differently in the second half," Dayton coach Oliver Purnell said. "We had to adjust to the way was the game being called, because it was physical."

Brooks Hall, a smooth and poised freshman forward, led Dayton with 13 points. Morris and junior guard Tony Stanley added 10 each.

Kirkland led UMass with 15 points. Mack had 14 and Kitwana Rhymer 11 for UMass, and for Rhymer, it was his second straight double-digit scoring game after the 6-foot-10 center had struggled with an offensive slump.

The Flyers' two best scorers, Stanley and center Mark Ashman, combined to shoot 2 for 10 in the half. Kirkland had 11 first-half points for UMass.


Record low at Mullins Center
UMass notebook
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 1/21/2000

AMHERST - It seemed bound to happen, and symbolic that it happened at a game that ended like this one did.

Last night's Massachusetts-Dayton men's basketball game drew 4,835 fans, the smallest turnout for a Minutemen game at the Mullins Center since the building opened Feb. 4, 1993. The previous low was 5,078 for a Preseason NIT game against Niagara in November of 1998.

Those who came out did not leave smiling. UMass squandered a 14-point second-half lead and lost 57-52 to Dayton.

A snowy day and the fact that UMass students are gone for intersession contributed to the fact that the Mullins Center, which seats 9,493, was nearly half-empty. But UMass associate athletic director for external affairs Bill Strickland said that while those were factors, they do not get to the heart of the problem of plummeting attendance.

Strickland used athletic director Bob Marcum's common saying to explain what has happened to the popularity of the program. Just a few years ago, UMass basketball was one of the hottest tickets in Western Massachusetts sports history.

"As Mr. Marcum has said many times, people don't pay to see you play, they pay to see you win," Strickland said. "This is a program of high expectations.

"People are waiting to see if this program will turn around," Strickland said. When they see that it is, they'll come back."

The turnout for the previous home game, against Fordham Jan. 8 had flirted with the dubious record. A crowd of 5,092, only 14 more than the Niagara crowd, came out for that one.

The issue of the program's popularity and marketability has become part of the debate regarding coach Bruiser Flint's future. And the numbers do not help his cause: through six home games, the Minutemen are averaging 5,539 per game at the Mullins Center.

WASTED EFFORT:

UMass lost even though the defense held Dayton center Mark Ashman to four points and no rebounds in 26 minutes, and guard Tony Stanley to 10 points and two boards in 29 minutes. Ashman had been averaging 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and Stanley's numbers had been 14.6 and 5.8.

"I thought we did a good job on both their main guys," Flint said.

UMass center Kit Rhymer outplayed Ashman, scoring 11 points with nine rebounds in his second straight double-figure scoring game.

Rhymer also hit 5 of 6 free throws, and is 11 for 12 in the last two games.

But keeping Ashman and Stanley in check, and losing anyway, only made the defeat more exasperating to Flint.

"We held their two best players down, we held them 16 points below their team scoring average, and we pretty much held them to a standstill on the boards, even though they're one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league," he said. "And we lost, anyway. This game comes down to one thing: can you make baskets? That's the bottom line."

MISFIRING:

UMass shot 1 for 11 on 3-pointers, missing all six in the second half. Monty Mack shot 5 for 16 overall in the game.


UMass half bad: Dayton storms back to win
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 1/21/2000

AMHERST - The opportunity was so good, it came gift-wrapped.

That's also how UMass took a 12-point lead over a 13-3 team and gave it right back last night - bundled up by a big, shiny ribbon in the shape of a ``T,'' for turnover.

Photo
Monty Mack was held to 31% shooting.
Mistakes played a withering role in the Minutemen's 57-52 Atlantic 10 loss to Dayton last night in front of 4,835 fans - the lowest turnout in the Mullins Center's seven-year history. The result knocked UMass back to 8-8 in a season that is shaping up as a .500 classic.

This time, the fatal stretch came over the first five minutes of the second half, though the Minutemen hung on well enough with two chances to tie the game in the last 33 seconds.

But the Minutemen lost command well before then, stretching back to a strange black hole early in the second half, after Kitwana Rhymer opened the second half with a dunk for a 32-18 UMass lead over its reeling opponent.

For starters, UMass didn't score another field goal for five minutes. For another, Dayton answered six straight scoreless possessions - including five straight turnovers - with points for an 11-0 burst that virtually erased one of UMass' best halves of the season.

In a sense, it also knocked the starch out of UMass' best stretch of the season, period - a 2-game run dating back to a 30-point win over Fordham on Jan. 8.

But what mystified UMass coach Bruiser Flint the most last night was the nature of those five turnovers, with Monty Mack (twice), Shannon Crooks, Mike Babul and Chris Kirkland making the dubious contributions.

These weren't so much turnovers as they were unforced hand-overs.

``During that stretch we just dropped the ball,'' said an exasperated Flint. ``I can't explain that. You guys want an explanation, but I can't give one. They weren't even pressuring us. We just dropped the ball.''

Photo
Jon DePina was held in check by the Dayton defense.
The Minutemen had their starting unit on the floor at the time. Backup point guard Jonathan DePina, who has played some of the best basketball of his college career over the last three games - and was a unifying force on offense in the first half - was on the bench during the stretch.

He was sent in a short time later and calmed down the madness, but by then the Flyers were erasing the memory of a 32-percent first half with some big shots.

That 11-0 run grew to 19-3, with David Morris giving the Flyers their first lead of the game, 36-35, with 13:47 left. The reserve guard scored all 10 of his points in the second half, including a deadly trey with 2:13 left for a 54-48 Dayton edge.

UMass crept back within two points on four straight free throws from Mack and had the ball and a chance to tie the game with 35 seconds left when Kirkland forced Dayton guard Edwin Young to dribble out of bounds off an inbounds play.

Kirkland got the ball in the post on the ensuing play and leaned in to force an air ball with 32 seconds left, leading to a Nate Green free throw after the Dayton forward grabbed the rebound. Green hit two more with 13 seconds left after rebounding Mack's missed 3-pointer.

The Minutemen had just paid dearly for their sins.

``We shot 6-22 in the second half - that was the difference. Believe me, I've seen these halves,'' said Flint, who has already seen too many for comfort this season.

Brooks Hall had 13 points and Tony Stanley and Morris 10 apiece to lead the Flyers (13-3, 3-1), who are off to their best start in 21 years.


Flyers rally for first win at UMass
By Bucky Albers, The Dayton Daily News, 1/21/2000

AMHERST, Mass.--The University of Dayton Flyers, who looked hopelessly overmatched in the first half, stormed back with a great defensive effort Thursday night and knocked off Massachusetts, 57-52, in front of all-time low crowd of 4,835 at the Mullins Center.

Dayton outscored UMass, 39-22, in the second half, and freshman forward Nate Green sank three free throws in the last 26 seconds to clinch it.

Photo
Chris Kirkland tries to pick off the inbounds pass.
The victory, UD's first in three tries in Amherst, boosted the Flyers' overall record to 13-3 and their Atlantic 10 Conference record to 3-1. UD leads the A-10's West Division.

"This is a big win for us simply because it's an Atlantic 10 win for us on the road, and those are hard to come by," UD coach Oliver Purnell said. "And they will remain hard to come by for the rest of the season all over the league. Anywhere on the road is a good win and a difficult one. It can help us if we capitalize on it by playing well at home."

Freshman Brooks Hall, rebounding nicely from his 1 for 12 shooting performance in the loss at Fordham, led the Flyers in scoring with 13 points, making three of his four 3-point shots. David Morris made two big treys while matching Tony Stanley's 10 points.

Massachusetts came out playing aggressively on the perimeter, double-teamed UD center Mark Ashman and kept the Flyers from scoring in the first half. Ashman would finish with only 4 points before fouling out with 1:58 remaining.

As bad as the Flyers looked for the first 20 minutes, Purnell assured them that they could win if they kept playing tough defense and stuck together.

And, as UMass coach James "Bruiser" Flint said, "It was like we switched uniforms at halftime."

After giving up a dunk to start the second half, which put them 14 points behind, the Flyers stormed back to force UMass turnovers on five straight possessions and scored 11 consecutive points. They led, 38-35, with 13:30 left and built the lead to seven (47-40) after Yuanta Holland made a drive and a dunk, Hall buried a trey and Stanley sank a 15-foot jump shot.

UMass cut the deficit to one (49-48) with 4:36 left, but the Flyers fought back as Hall sank a jumper from the side and Morris made a trey, the ball circling the basket before dropping.

Photo
Chris Kirkland goes up and under.
Massachusetts had a couple of opportunities to tie the score, but the Minutemen were impatient and jacked up three hurried shots that missed.

After shooting 32 percent (6-19) in the first half, the Flyers made a sizzling 58 percent (15-26) in the second half to finish the game at 46.7 percent. UMass shot 50 percent in the first half and only 27 percent in the second.

The Flyers outscored UMass, 34-29, getting 17 defensive rebounds in the second half.

"We just came together as one and said we weren't going to lose," Green said. "Defense and rebounding did it. On the half-court, we stepped up and played them tough."

"Nate was a key," Stanley said. "He helped out on defense and created a lot of chaos and created turnovers."

Point guard Edwin Young, who did a dandy defensive job on Massachusetts' Monty Mack, was delighted to finally win at UMass.

"This is my senior year, and everything is being completed," he said. "We're winning at all the places I haven't won."

Mack, who is averaging 19.8 points, was limited to 14. He made 5 of 16 shots--three of which were layups in transition. He was 0-for-6 from behind the 3-point arc.

Stanley bruised his right knee with 4:26 elapsed and had to go to the bench, but he returned wearing a sleeve on the knee.

Flyer notes: Yuanta Holland, who started 10 games last season, made his first start of the 1999-2000 season against the Minutemen . . . When Mark Ashman lined up for the center jump, it was his 104th start, tying Jim Paxson (1975-79) for the UD record for consecutive starts. The school record for total starts, held jointly by Negele Knight and Ryan Perryman, is 115. . .

Ashman, who has had previous problems with his back and a hamstring, now is undergoing treatment for a sore left foot. He put ice on it after Wednesday afternoon's shooting practice . . . The UD coaches renewed acquaintances with Jeff O'Malley, a graduate of the UD law school and former compliance coordinator in Dayton.

Going into Wednesday's game, UMass had averaged only 5,680 for five games in the 9,431-seat Mullins Center. The last time UD visited, UMass was selling out.

Contact Bucky Albers at 225-2412 or e-mail him at bucky_albers@coxohio.com; For Albers' postgame commentary, call 464-4636, category 3030.


UMass throws it away
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/21/2000

AMHERST - Fate teased the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team with the game on the line.

With 13 seconds left and Dayton clinging to a 55-52 lead, the front end of Nate Green's one-and-one hung on the right side of the rim for a fraction of a second and briefly looked like it would fall out. It dropped in, however, and so did the second free throw, which put Dayton ahead by two possessions and clinched a 57-52 win for the Flyers Wednesday in the Mullins Center. Dayton (13-3) overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to beat UMass in front of 4,835 fans, the smallest men's basketball crowd ever in the Mullins.

"This was a tough loss because we were up at the half and playing well," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint said.

"That was a big win for us simply because it was an Atlantic 10 win on the road," said Dayton coach Oliver Purnell. "The way we came back in the second half was particularly gratifying because we could have easily rolled over in a place like this."

UMass (8-8) led by 14 early in the second half, but its offense dried up after Kitwana Rhymer opened the frame with a dunk. Five consecutive UMass turnovers propelled the Flyers to a 29-8 run that included seven points by reserve point guard David Morris and a pair of 3-pointers by freshman sharpshooter Brooks Hall. The surge gave Dayton the lead, 47-40.

"We just dropped a couple of balls," Flint said. "Not only did we turn it over, but we turned it over for baskets. We lost our concentration for a three-minute span. They weren't even pressuring us or trapping us."

Photo
Chris Kirkland led all scorers with 15 points, but couldn't carry the Minutemen to victory.
UMass rebounded, using a fullcourt press that sparked an 8-2 run to bring the Minutemen within one, 49-48. UMass kept it close the rest of the way. After a Hall jumper made it 51-48, Chris Kirkland missed two free throws. The Minutemen hunkered down on defense and forced the shot clock down to two, but Morris knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 54-48.

"That was huge because it was a three-point game," Flint said.

After four free throws by Mack made it 54-52 with 35 seconds left, Edwin Young stepped on the baseline, which returned possession to the Minutemen.

UMass got the shot it wanted, but Kirkland's would-be game-equalizer was off the mark. Green grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately. He made only one of two free throws, keeping the Minutemen alive.

With 17 seconds left, Mack got an open 3-point look from the left corner, but it didn't fall. Green's two free throws put the game out of reach.

"In the last 35 seconds, we got the ball five feet from the basket and we got a wide-open three and we didn't make either one," Flint said. "We got the shots we wanted."

The Minutemen lost despite limiting the production of Dayton's top guns, Mark Ashman (four points, no rebounds) and Tony Stanley (10 points). Hall led Dayton with 13 points.

"I thought we did a great job on both Stanley and Ashman," Flint said. "We took them out of the game."

Kirkland led UMass with 15, but only four came in the second half. Mack had a rough shooting night, missing six of seven second-half shots en route to 14 points.

The Minutemen play host to Rhode Island Saturday at noon.


Uniforms switched at half?
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/21/2000

AMHERST - Bruiser Flint hit the nail on the head.

"It was like we switched uniforms at halftime," said the University of Massachusetts coach, shaking his head.

In the first half, UMass looked to be continuing the strong play it displayed in consecutive wins over Fordham and St. Joseph's.

UMass shot 50 percent from the floor, forced 10 turnovers and built a 12-point lead. The Minutemen outrebounded the Dayton Flyers, 18-12.

Dayton, on the other hand, didn't look much like a 12-3 team, shooting just 6-for-19 from the floor. The buzz around the Mullins Center was that UMass appeared to be on the verge of a three-game winning streak.

But whatever 20-minute virus plagued the Flyers in the first half moved to the Minutemen in the second. UMass made only six of 22 shots from the floor in that frame and went 7:11 without making a field goal, as its first-half lead evaporated. Dayton shot 58 percent in the second half and seized the rebounding advantage, 22-11.

In previous losses, Flint criticized his players' effort. That was not the case Thursday night. He admitted that his team lost focus for a three-minute stretch early in the second, but his culprit wasn't lack of effort.

"It comes down to one thing with this team: Can you make baskets? That's the bottom line. We held them to 57 points. We rebound with them to a standstill. We hold their two best players down. They were averaging 73 points. You hold them 16 points below their average and you lose by five," Flint said in frustration. "We shot 6-for 22 in the second half, that was the key right there. You gotta score. You put too much pressure on your defense to win the game. This isn't football. You have to score.

"I think my team is playing hard," Flint continued. "But you can't keep coming down and not scoring. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. Twenty-seven percent... You can't play ball games like that."


Dayton Flyers 57
Massachusetts Minutemen 52
at the Mullins Center

DAYTON (57)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Hall            29   5-6   0-0   1-6  0  1   13
Holland         24   3-5   1-2   1-3  0  2    7
M Ashman        26   1-7   2-4   0-0  0  5    4
Stanley         29  4-10   2-4   1-2  0  1   10
Young           30   2-4   0-0   1-5  0  2    4
Green           24   1-2   5-6   2-7  1  4    7
Fitz             5   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
J Ashburn        1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Morris          27   4-9   0-1   1-5  6  0   10
Cooper           5   1-2   0-0   0-1  0  4    2
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 21-45 10-17  7-29  7 20   57
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.467, FT-.588. 3-Point Goals:
5-13, .385 (Hall 3-4, Stanley 0-3, Young 0-2,
Morris 2-4). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 4
(Holland 2, Green, Morris). Turnovers: 18 (M
Ashman 5, Stanley 3, Young 3, Green 2, Hall 2,
Fitz, Holland, Morris). Steals: 9 (Hall 3, Morris
3, Green, M Ashman, Stanley).

MASSACHUSETTS (52)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Kirkland        33  6-11   3-7   3-3  0  5   15
Babul           29   1-2   1-3   1-2  0  0    3
Rhymer          25   3-4   5-6   1-9  0  4   11
Mack            36  5-16   4-4   1-5  4  3   14
Crooks          29   3-9   0-0   0-0  2  2    7
Oates            8   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Depina          25   0-2   0-0   0-3  3  1    0
Blizzard         2   0-1   0-0   1-2  0  0    0
Smith            1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Brand           12   1-3   0-1   1-2  0  2    2
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 19-48 13-21  8-26  9 17   52
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.396, FT-.619. 3-Point Goals:
1-11, .091 (Mack 0-6, Crooks 1-4, Depina 0-1).
Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 2 (Rhymer,
Mack). Turnovers: 16 (Mack 4, Crooks 3, Depina 2,
Kirkland 2, Babul, Blizzard, Oates, Rhymer,
Smith). Steals: 11 (Mack 4, Crooks 3, Kirkland 2,
Depina, Rhymer).
__________________________________
Dayton             18   39  -   57
Massachusetts      30   22  -   52
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 4,835. Officials: Ed
Corbett, John Cahill, Gene Monje.

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