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UMass runs Rams into ground, 89-50
URI can do absolutely nothing right in a debacle at the Mullins Center
By Paul Kenyon, The Providence Journal Sports Writer, 1/23/2000

AMHERST, Mass. -- Even when the University of Rhode Island has had strong basketball teams, it has had trouble playing at the Mullins Center, the home court for the University of Massachusetts.

Rhode Island had 21 turnovers in an ugly display.
It should not come as a major surprise, then, that the modest two-game winning streak for this year's Rhody team came to an end on the annual visit there yesterday.

What was surprising, though, was how easily the Minutemen disposed of the Rams. They made it look much too easy. UMass, which had been fighting through its own problems, dominated from beginning to end as it drubbed URI, 89-50.

It never was a contest. The Minutemen swept to an 18-3 lead in the first five minutes. In that opening stretch, it was not so much Massachusetts playing well as Rhode Island playing poorly. The Rams made just one of their first 12 shots from the field.

It was a 15-point game at the half, 42-27, before Massachusetts really poured it on the rest of the way.

The Minutemen, who are not noted for their offense, hit 13 of their first 17 shots after halftime, built their lead to 70-35 barely eight minutes in, then coasted home using their subs in the final minutes.

The 89 points were the most Massachusetts has scored in Atlantic 10 regular-season play since it scored 93 in a victory at Duquesne almost four years ago to the day. Even the Minutemen seemed a bit taken aback that they controlled the game so easily.

``It seemed like we got a lot of easy shots, a lot of open shots,'' said UMass guard Jonathan DePina, who came off the bench and had 7 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds.

``They're a good team,'' said Tavorris Bell, who led URI in points (16), rebounds (7) and assists (3). ``But today it seemed like nobody was really there for us.''

``I knew we'd have trouble running our sets versus their defense,'' said URI coach Jerry DeGregorio, whose team dropped to 5-13 overall and 2-3 in A-10 play. ``They are not going to deny and trap a lot. But they are going to play the ball hard. They are going to make it hard for you to run your sets. It's always been like that in the three years since I've been here.

``They really guard the heck out of you, but I didn't think they would score that easily.''

``We basically couldn't make shots,'' Bell said. ``It wasn't so much their defense as us. And we didn't get back on defense.''

Massachusetts (9-8, 3-2) shot 51 percent from the field. But that number is not as impressive as much as how it was done. The Minutemen were just as dominating when they were on offense as they were on defense.

They worked the ball through the URI defense at will, racking up 56 points in the paint. Not usually a running team, the Minutemen also took advantage of 21 URI turnovers, scoring 31 points off the break.

Massachusetts did it all even though its top scorer, Monty Mack, was saddled with foul trouble and played only 20 minutes. Still, Mack had 17 points. Chris Kirkland added 16 and Shannon Crooks 13.

Kirkland had the game's first four points and Crooks six in the opening 18-3 run which set the tempo for the afternoon in the game nationally televised by ESPN.

``The sign for this team is always the first 5, 6, 7 minutes,'' DeGregorio said. ``When we're in the game the first 6 or 7 minutes, we're going to compete with you until the end. Today, we were down 18-3, and I knew at that point that we had dug a whole that would be very hard to get out of.''

When Massachusetts scored so well off URI's man-to-man defense, DeGregorio switched to a 2-3 zone, especially after Mack, UMass's best outside shooter, went to the bench with three fouls just seven minutes into the game. That same zone had worked well for URI in a victory over Duquesne in the team's previous game.

Audio clip: Kit Rhymer's stock continues to rise.
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Courtesey: ESPN
UMass had no such problems, working the around the zone and easily getting the ball inside. Its two centers, Kitwana Rhymer and Micah Brand, combined for 17 points. URI center Luther Clay, on the other hand, had all kinds of trouble with the UMass's physical interior defense, going just 3-for-12 from the field.

There were simply no bright spots for the Rams.

``Our guards shot 3-for-14. Their backcourt was 12-for-21,'' DeGregorio pointed out. ``We always talk about sharing the ball. They had 24 assists, we had eight . . . It just seemed like everything snowballed and kept getting worse.''

The day was made even worse for URI when forward Tiger Womack, who has been playing despite a stress fracture on his left foot, reinjured it with 5:25 left in the game, apparently seriously.

The Rams, who have lived through several drubbings this season, said they simply will go back and start over again.

``We're not going to dwell on this loss,'' Bell said. ``We're going to go back to practice tomorrow and go hard.''

Womack reinjures foot, appears to be done for year
URI Basketball Notebook
By Paul Kenyon, The Providence Journal Sports Writer, 1/23/2000

AMHERST, Mass. -- The University of Rhode Island basketball team might have lost more than a game yesterday. It could have lost the services of junior forward Tiger Womack for the rest of the season.

Massachusetts already was well on its way to an 89-50 victory when matters got even worse for URI with 5:25 left in the second half.

Womack, the URI forward who has been bothered all year by injuries to his left foot, reinjured it yesterday, apparently seriously, when he landed after going up for a rebound.

``I just came down and twisted it,'' Womack said.

He fell to the floor in obvious pain as the game continued. URI coach Jerry DeGregorio got up and yelled for help for Womack. Referee Sean Hull came and stood over Womack, but because Massachusetts had the ball, allowed play to continue. When Massachusetts scored about 10 seconds after Womack was injured, Hull stopped play and allowed URI trainer Mike Monteiro to come out and treat Womack.

Womack was not able to put any pressure on the foot, which he broke in September.He suffered a stress fracture in the same foot when he returned to action. He decided to play despite the second injury even though he had been told there was a chance he could suffer a clean break if he played.

The fear is that is what happened yesterday.

``When I went out, he told me `I felt it pop,' '' Monteiro said. ``There's no need for me to poke around now. It's right in the area where the stress fracture was. We won't know until we get back home and have it x-rayed.

Said DeGregorio: ``He told me, `Coach, I think I broke it all the way through,' ''

Womack spent the rest of the game with an ice pack on the foot. After the game, he stayed on the bench and did not leave until a pair of crutches was brought out for him. Monteiro had to realign the crutches to allow Womack, with help from Luther Clay , to get to the locker room.

DeGregorio did not regret having Womack in the game even though a victory was well out of reach.

``That foot could break at any time,'' he said. ``There's no way of knowing. It could happen at practice. He could just be walking up the street.

``He needs to be in game shape. If he's going to help us the rest of the year, he's got to get in some type of game shape. I wasn't going to play him that much longer.''

Womack played 16 minutes and had two points and five rebounds.

The chase is on

URI had a recruit in for the two days -- apparently one of its top targets -- before it left for the Massachusetts game.

The player, according to sources, is Walter Buiwe , a 6-foot-9, 240-pounder from Nigeria.

No one associated with the team is allowed to discuss recruits. But Buiwe apparently is the recruit assistant coach Mike Wilson has been spending considerable time chasing. Wilson missed two recent games because he was in Toronto with Buiwe, sources told The Journal.

The team had hoped to move sooner on Buiwe, but there were problems receiving his transcript, according to sources. Reportedly, that issue has been settled and URI officials are now studying the transcript.

Since classes began last Tuesday, a decision would have to be made soon on whether to admit Buiwe for this semester, which apparently is the goal. If he is admitted and decides to attend URI, he would not be allowed to play this season, thus maintaining four seasons of eligibility.

Marbury's streak ends

Zach Marbury had his streak of scoring at least one 3-point basket in every game snapped as he went 0-for-3 behind the arc against the Minutemen.

Marbury had nine points, only the third time he has not reached double figures this season. He also played just 27 minutes, a season low. He struggled early on and was taken out just 2:28 into the game in favor of Howard Smith .

``I took him out early because I wanted to explain to him some of the mistakes he was making,'' DeGregorio said. ``And I wanted to go with Howard. Howard had two strong performances for us (in the wins over La Salle and Duquesne).''

Smith played 23 minutes and scored four points.

``It was a very tough game for Howard to play,'' DeGregorio said. ``He just made a couple mistakes he doesn't normally make.''

Where is everybody?

A crowd of 5,050 took in the game at Mullins, continuing what has been a disappointing trend for the Minutemen.

The team is averaging just under 5,500 for the seven home games it has played, far and away the lowest numbers since Mullins was opened eight years ago. The Dayton game last week drew 4,835, the smallest crowd ever at Mullins. Season tickets are down 1,200 from last year in a building which seats 9,493. The biggest crowd of the season was the 6,643 who were there for a one-point victory over Villanova.

The team once had 47 straight sellouts over five seasons, a streak which ended in December, 1997. UMass was 64-13 overall in Mullins entering this season, but is just 4-3 this season.

UMass blasts URI
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 1/23/2000

AMHERST - Jerry DeGregorio was grasping for ways to illustrate how bad his Rhode Island team played in the defensive end yesterday.

Chris Kirkland tries to corrall the loose ball.
The coach had an overflow of options, including the freakish 51 percent shooting performance that highlighted UMass' 89-50 win over the Rams. The Minutemen (9-8) had averaged 41 percent from the floor before yesterday.

Defense? DeGregorio cast a glance at Kole Ayi, the UMass linebacker who doubled yesterday as the Rhode Island coach's bodyguard. Ayi apparently has another calling, if he so chooses.

``This guy is guarding me better than my team guarded UMass today,'' he said. ``He's been right up on me, the whole way.''

UMass, conversely, was handed an open floor by the Rams, who had been on their best run of the season with wins over Duquesne and LaSalle.

This schizophrenic behavior should sound familiar. The Minutemen put together one of their best stretches with a 2-0 run before giving away a game against Dayton Thursday night.

The memory of that performance, even for this inconsistent bunch, apparently was enough once they stepped in front of a rare national television audience yesterday.

``The guys came out lackadaisical in the second half Thursday, myself included,'' said sophomore guard Shannon Crooks. ``We thought we had it won. It was important to show that we could hold on to our focus. Our main problem was carrying over what we did into the second half. But this time (coach Bruiser Flint) didn't have to say too much. The guys kept it up.''

Crooks finished with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, to go along with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting from Monty Mack and 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from Chris Kirkland. Three other Minutemen had eight or more points.

Offensive outbursts like this are rare from the Minutemen who, as usual, were at their best when running off the opposition's mistakes.

Audio clip: URI couldn't seem to warm up all afternoon.
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Courtesey: ESPN
UMass scored 20 points off 21 Rhode Island turnovers in a game that hit a 15-point margin (42-27) by halftime.

But unlike the Dayton game, when the Minutemen blew a 14-point second-half lead, there would not be a retreat this time.

The Rams, quite simply, never checked in.

``It took us awhile to get into it,'' said sophomore Tavorris Bell, the only Ram with anything to show yesterday (16 points, seven rebounds and three assists). ``But we didn't get back on defense. That killed us, really. They're a good team, but it just seemed today that nobody was really there.''

And once the Minutemen pushed the ball out on the floor, with Jonathan DePina turning in yet another strong mix of control and speed with seven points and nine assists, the Rams collapsed.

Nor did Mack's first-half foul trouble seem to matter. The Minutemen continued to attack with their best scorer on the bench for 13 of the first 20 minutes.

Mike Babul scored 6 points in 14 minutes. He sat out the second half due to the flu.
``Our points off turnovers were big,'' said Flint. ``Monty will have days like that. But the important thing today was that we didn't turn it over for baskets.

``(Rhode Island) wanted to go in transition today, but it looked like they didn't want to go back in transition.''

UMass notes

DePina has put together a four-game stretch that may be his best in a UMass uniform. And the contributions simply are coming from the way he runs the offense.

``He still gets a little tentative at times,'' said Flint. ``But the thing he's really doing better is defending, and getting into things, being a little bug to people, things like that.'' . . .

Rhode Island forward Tiger Womack went into yesterday's game with a stress fracture in his right foot, and lasted 16 minutes before leaving the floor with what may now be a complete break. ``When he went down, he told me, `Coach, I think I may have broken it all the way through,'' said DeGregorio, who defended his decision to play Womack. ``This could have happened on the floor, or walking on the street. That foot could break at anytime, the way it was. But he needed to get into game shape.''

UMass: Minutemen impress
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 1/23/2000

AMHERST - There may not be another men's basketball team in America that has won three of its last eight games by 30 points or more, yet still faces so many questions about where it's headed.

Before and after: Kit Rhymer sends one down.
Yesterday, at least, the University of Massachusetts was pointed forward again, breezing to an 89-50 Atlantic 10 blowout over Rhode Island at the Mullins Center. The victory margin was the largest in Bruiser Flint's four-year coaching career, surpassing the difference in a 102-65 win over American University of Puerto Rico (a Division II team) exactly one month earlier.

It also came two weeks after an 82-52 rout over Fordham, and gave UMass (9-8, 3-2 Atlantic 10) its third win in four games as it enters a tough four-game stretch starting with Duquesne and Virginia Tech on the road, followed by Temple and Texas at home.

The catch is that Rhode Island (5-13, 2-3) may be the worst team in the conference, even though the Rams had won their previous two games. For UMass, though, satisfaction came in stringing together two good halves, which hadn't been the case when a 14-point second-half lead disappeared in Thursday's 57-52 loss to Dayton.

"It was important for us to show we could come out and beat a team by that large a number," said point guard Shannon Crooks, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half, when Monty Mack was limited to seven minutes with three fouls. "It was a matter of carrying it over into the second half."

"There have been games when we've been up at halftime and then made mistakes," added backup point guard Jonathan DePina, whose nine assists tied a career high. "On Friday, we talked about not letting up after getting a lead at halftime."

Leading 42-27 at the break, UMass outscored Rhode Island 28-8 in the first eight minutes of the second half. It was 87-41 with four minutes left.

Mack finished with 17 points and Chris Kirkland had 16 for UMass, which led 18-3 after six minutes. Rhode Island's only two baskets in the first 8 minutes came on rebounds of the Rams' own missed shots.

But to Rhode Island coach Jerry DeGregorio, it was his team's defense that left it no chance.

"The security guard here (UMass football star Kole Ayi) did a better job of guarding me than we did of guarding them," DeGregorio cracked. "UMass isn't a team that usually shoots a high percentage, but we let them get the ball two feet from the basket and score in transition, and that's the answer right there."

UMass scored 31 points off turnovers, shot 51.4 percent, recorded 24 assists and held Rhody to 28.3 percent shooting. Crooks had five of the Minutemen's 14 steals.

"It seemed liked nobody was really there for us," said forward Tavorris Bell, who led the Rams with 16 points.

Starting with the second half against St. Bonaventure Jan. 6, UMass has strung together eight good halves out of nine. The only slip was the second half against Dayton, but it's kept the Minutemen from putting much space between themselves and .500.

"Our whole thing is to play with confidence on offense," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "I've told them that we're going to miss shots anyway, so there's nothing to lose by taking them. But if we make plays within the offense and don't turn the ball over, we can win every game we play, because I know we're going to play defense."

UMass backcourt offers assistance
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 1/23/2000

AMHERST - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball point guards were ready to lend assistance yesterday.

Jonathan DePina tied his career high with nine assists, and Shannon Crooks had four in the 89-50 waltz over Rhode Island at the Mullins Center. In a combined 57 minutes, DePina had only two turnovers and Crooks had one.

"Shannon helped me out because he can bring the ball up, too," said DePina, who was often paired with Crooks as foul trouble limited Monty Mack to 20 minutes. "I'm just trying to get everybody involved, shoot when I'm open and play a little defense, too."

Audio clip: DePina may be the smallest guy out there but he's not the weakest.
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Courtesey: ESPN
The 5-foot-9 DePina has 52 assists and 33 turnovers this season. Yesterday, he also scored seven points with six rebounds.

"I also think he's been doing a better job defending lately," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said.

As for Crooks, UMass is 7-2 when his assist total equals or exceeds his turnovers, and 2-6 when it doesn't.


Yesterday's point total was the fourth-highest for UMass in 112 games under Flint, and the highest against an Atlantic 10 opponent. The Minutemen scored 90 against both Wyoming and Boston College in 1996-97, and 102 against American University of Puerto Rico, a Division II club, last month.


Yesterday's game drew 5,050 fans, slightly more than the 4,835 for Thursday's game against Dayton that marked the smallest men's basketball turnout in Mullins Center history. Yesterday's crowd is now No. 2 on that dubious list.


Rhode Island coach Jerry DeGregorio had some explaining to do after 6-foot-9 LSU transfer Leroy "Tiger" Womack, one of the Rams' better players, went down with a possible broken left foot with 5:21 left and the Rams losing 85-41.

Womack has been playing with a stress fracture in his left foot, and the obvious question was why he was still out there in a 44-point game.

"We need him in game shape," said DeGregorio, claiming that once the decision was made for Womack to play with the injury, it was pointless to coddle him. "That foot could break any time, even walking down the street."

Womack played 16 minutes yesterday, and the decision to keep him in a blowout for conditioning purposes could have tremendously negative consequences. According to DeGregorio, Womack told him he felt something crack and believes the bone may have been broken all the way through.


Six new members of the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame were inducted this weekend. They were James Ralph (team physician), Kalekeni Banda (women's soccer coach), Phil Tarpey (baseball), Jackie Gaw (softball, soccer), Megan Donnelly (field hockey) and Russell Kidd (hockey, football, lacrosse).


Bogged down by the flu, UMass forward Mike Babul played only 14 minutes, but had six points and two blocks . . . Center Kit Rhymer has made 13 of his last 14 free throws.

UMass gets big win over URI
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/24/2000

AMHERST - Leading Rhode Island 42-27 at halftime Saturday, University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Bruiser Flint didn't even mention Thursday's collapse against Dayton. From the attitude in the locker room, he knew he didn't have to.

His intuition proved to be right. His Minutemen didn't repeat Thursday's 12-point collapse as they kept their foot on the gas pedal all the way and hammered the overmatched Rams, 89-50.

Chris Kirkland and Jon DePina set the Ram-trap.
"We didn't really talk about Thursday," said junior guard Jonathan DePina. "We just talked about not letting up and just keeping the pressure on."

Sophomore guard Shannon Crooks agreed.

'It was very important to show that we can beat teams by that large a number," he said. "The main problem for us has been carrying it over to the second half and we did that today. Today Bru didn't really have to say much to us."

The Minutemen (9-8, 3-2 Atlantic 10) led by as many as 46 points before the Rams (5-13, 2-3) closed the game on a 7-0 run against a reserve-filled UMass lineup.

Video clip: Kit Rhymer demonstrates the UMass hustle attitude.
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Courtesey: ESPN
"UMass' intensity was the highest I've seen in a while," said Ram coach Jerry DeGregorio. "They're a team that doesn't shoot very well from the field and when you allow them to catch the ball two feet from the basket and allow them to get transition baskets, there's the answer.

"They really guard the heck out of you," DeGregorio continued. "But I didn't think they'd score that easily."

UMass scored 31 points off URI turnovers and 31 on the fast break. The Minutemen outscored the Rams, 56-21, in the paint.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak against the Rams for UMass, which was swept by its New England A-10 rivals last year. It was UMass' biggest margin of victory in Flint's career and the widest advantage since the Minutemen beat Duquesne, 103-53, almost exactly five years ago on Jan. 24, 1995.

With Monty Mack on the bench with foul trouble, Chris Kirkland and Crooks led the offense early. Kirkland had seven of UMass' first 14 points. His three-point play with 15:14 left in the first half put the Minutemen ahead, 14-3. Their lead never dipped below double figures for the rest of the game.

"I knew at that point that we'd dug a hole that would be very difficult for us to get out of," DeGregorio said. "It just snowballed and got worse and worse."

After the early onslaught, the Rams didn't let the Minutemen extend the lead to any more than 17 before halftime, but couldn't seem to make a dent in their deficit, either.

Anthony "Big O" Oates goes up strong.
In the second half, UMass wrapped two 10-0 runs inside a 27-4 run that essentially KO'd the Rams. The Minutemen had just one second-half turnover.

Mack led UMass with 17 points despite playing just 20 minutes due to foul trouble early and to UMass' big lead late. Kirkland added 16, while Crooks had 13. Freshman center Micah Brand had nine points and 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes.

The most well-rounded stat line belonged to DePina, who had seven points, a career-high nine assists (two turnovers), and six rebounds, including a team high four offensive rebounds.

"I try to do a little bit of everything and play a little defense too," DePina said. "I try to get everybody involved and run the team."

Tavorris Bell led Rhody with 16 points and seven boards.

The Minutemen begin a two game road trip this week when they take on Duquesne Thursday and Virginia Tech Saturday.

Mack foul trouble no problem
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/24/2000

AMHERST - When Monty Mack, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team's only consistent scoring threat, picked up his second foul less than three minutes into the game, things didn't look good for the Minutemen. They came into Saturday's game against Rhode Island still reeling from a second-half fold against Dayton in which they couldn't seem to score, so the lack of Mack could have been disastrous.

Instead, Mack's foul trouble proved to be a blessing. Too often on offense, some Minutemen bide time with the ball until Mack can get open, as they count on him to shoulder too hefty a portion of the UMass scoring.

In short, they get caught watching him or looking for him on offense instead of creating opportunities for themselves.

"When you have Monty Mack with three fouls in the first half, I thought our chances were good," said Rhody coach Jerry DeGregorio. "I thought if we went into a two-three zone, we could just guard for a while."

But with Mack wearing a towel over his head on the bench for all but seven minutes of the first half, the rest of the Minutemen got more aggressive on offense.

Mack re-entered the game briefly but collected his third foul with 7:44 left in the half, keeping him bench-bound until halftime.

With Mack out of the game in the first half, UMass outscored Rhody, 26-13, as opposed to a 16-14 advantage while he was on the court. During that stretch, all seven Minutemen who played scored at least one basket.

Of the 16 UMass points scored while he was in the game, Mack had seven.

In the second half, Mack joined a now-offensively confident unit on the floor and blew the Rams away.

Mack had 10 second-half points, but the offense remained balanced as Rhode Island couldn't keep up with UMass defensively.

"I don't like playing without him," admitted junior point guard Jonathan DePina, who played with Mack at South Boston High School before reuniting with him at UMass. "But I'm glad we played good without him. In case he gets into foul trouble in other games, we know we can still do good."

This isn't the first time this scenario has played out. Mack was on the floor most of the second half against Villanova, but his shots didn't fall. His teammates picked up the slack offensively that night, and the Minutemen rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat the Wildcats, 52-51.

UMass coach Bruiser Flint said his team's ability to take smart shots and take care of the ball in Mack's absence was critical.

"He's going to have some days like that when he gets in foul trouble," he said. "I thought we took our time on offense. We got some points off turnovers. That was one of the biggest things and we didn't turn the ball over for baskets."

As Crooks goes, so goes UMass
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/24/2000

AMHERST - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball coaching staff knew that when Shannon Crooks became eligible this year, he had a chance to be an important part of the Minutemen.

But a look at his statistics prompts the conclusion: As Crooks goes, so does UMass.

Monty Mack, who arguably is the team's most valuable player, can put up awful shooting numbers (i.e., 9-for-24 in an 82-52 win over Fordham) and UMass still can win. He also can deliver good numbers (i.e., 7-for-14 in a loss to Southern Illinois) when the Minutemen lose. The same is rarely true for Crooks.

The 6-foot-2 point guard from Everett has shot nearly 10 percentage points better (43.0 percent) when UMass wins than when it loses (33.7 percent).

In a UMass loss, Crooks has never shot better than 40 percent. His worst shooting performance in a win was his 2-for-13 effort against Villanova and it was UMass' tightest victory - 52-51.

His passing numbers further illustrate how crucial Crooks' play is to UMass' success. As WHMP broadcaster Bob Behler noted during his broadcast, UMass is 7-2 when Crooks' assists are equal to or better than his turnover numbers, but 2-6 when he has more giveaways than assists.

Crooks' defense has been impressive as well. He harassed URI star freshman point guard Zach Marbury all game Saturday. Marbury scored just nine points, 6.6 below his season average, which had been eighth best in the A-10.

WEEKEND WARRIORS: It's too bad for the Minutemen that basketball doesn't schedule like football, because UMass has been a much better team on weekends than during the week.

The Minutemen are 6-1 on weekends compared with 3-7 the rest of the week. Their worst day is Thursday, when they're 1-3.

The Minutemen play Duquesne Thursday on the road.

The big lead allowed Rhymer, Kirkland & Brand to cheer on their seldom-used teammates.
EMPTY BENCH: Walk-ons Darryl Denson and Dwayne Early saw action in their fourth game of the season, as every player on the roster got into Saturday's game. Neither walk-on, who both played at Springfield Central, scored.

Winston Smith scored nine points, the most he's had since he tore his ACL early in his sophomore season. Smith had 10 against Wake Forest and California as a freshman.

SPEAKING OF GUARDS: If playing pro football doesn't work out for Kole Ayi, URI coach Jerry DeGregorio might recommend him for another line of work.

Ayi, who works for Mullins Center security in the offseason, often is assigned to the opposing coach.

"This guy here has been guarding me better that my guys guarded UMass," said DeGregorio, who didn't realize that Ayi was a star linebacker.

"You're doing a heck of a job, my man," he said to Ayi.

When clued in, the coach added: "Well, he's guarding me like an All American."

2000 ESPN

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Rhode Island Rams 50
Massachusetts Minutemen 89
at the Mullins Center

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Henry           17   0-4   0-0   1-1  0  1    0
Bell            30  7-15   1-2   6-7  3  2   16
Clay            34  3-12   1-2   3-6  0  1    7
Vinson          32   1-8   3-4   2-5  0  1    5
Marbury         27   2-6   5-6   0-1  2  2    9
Casper           2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Wafula           5   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Bracic          11   3-6   0-0   0-2  1  0    7
Prescott         3   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Womack          16   0-4   2-2   0-5  0  3    2
Smith           23   1-4   2-2   0-5  2  3    4
TOTALS         200 17-60 14-18 12-33  8 14   50
Percentages: FG-.283, FT-.778. 3-Point Goals:
2-10, .200 (Bell 1-1, Vinson 0-1, Marbury 0-3,
Bracic 1-2, Womack 0-1, Smith 0-2). Team
rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (Henry, Wafula).
Turnovers: 21 (Marbury 4, Bell 3, Clay 3, Smith
3, Vinson 3, Henry 2, Wafula 2, Casper). Steals:
9 (Vinson 4, Bell, Henry, Marbury, Smith, Womack).
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Kirkland        29  6-11   4-5   1-5  2  1   16
Babul           14   3-4   0-0   0-1  2  0    6
Rhymer          18   3-6   2-2   1-6  3  2    8
Mack            20  6-10   2-2   0-3  1  3   17
Crooks          27  6-11   1-1   2-4  4  4   13
Oates            7   0-1   0-2   0-0  0  0    0
Depina          30   2-4   2-4   4-6  9  4    7
Blizzard         9   2-4   0-0   0-0  1  0    4
Denson           4   0-3   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
Smith           20   4-6   0-0   1-5  1  1    9
Early            3   0-2   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Brand           19   4-8   1-3  3-10  1  2    9
TOTALS         200 36-70 12-19 12-41 24 18   89
Percentages: FG-.514, FT-.632. 3-Point Goals:
5-13, .385 (Mack 3-5, Crooks 0-2, Depina 1-1,
Blizzard 0-1, Denson 0-2, Smith 1-1, Early 0-1).
Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 6 (Babul 2,
Blizzard 2, Brand 2). Turnovers: 12 (Kirkland 3,
Brand 2, Depina 2, Mack 2, Babul, Crooks, Oates).
Steals: 14 (Crooks 5, Depina 2, Mack 2, Smith 2,
Babul, Denson, Kirkland).
Rhode Island       27   23  -   50
Massachusetts      42   47  -   89
Technical fouls: None.  A: 5,050. Officials:
Larry Lembo, Joe Mingle, Sean Hull.

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