mherst - Scoring Punch In two games so far this season the Minutemen have lived up to their new and improved offensive game averaging 75 points in the first two games of the season. In the season opener the Minutemen scored 85 at Iona. Last season, UMass scored 80 or more points only twice in 30 games. The Minutemen scored 87 against Niagara in the season opener and 80 points against Duquesne in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. Five Minutemen scored in double-figures in New Rochelle against the Gaels and were led by Monty Mack’s 21 off the bench. Last season UMass failed to have any contests where five Minutemen scored in double-figures.
The Stopper Senior Mike Babul is known nationally as one of the best defensive players in the country. On Saturday he picked up right where he left off with a lock-down on MAAC preseason player of the year, Tarik Kirksay. Babul, who has been nursing a lower back strain the past three weeks, did not draw the assignment at the beginning of the game and Kirksay would score 15 first half points. The high scoring Gael would fail to register a field goal in the second half after Babul took over on the coverage. Kirksay wouldn’t score until 19 seconds left in the game with the final verdict already decided. Babul will most likely tonight draw Kevin Freeman as his assignment. Last year against the Huskie Babul held All-America Richard Hamilton to 11 points on 3-11 shooting from the field.
|Tarik Kirksay (Iona)*||0-2||0-0||5||13.8|
|Kevin Freeman (UConn)||1-8||0-0||2||13.3|
|*second half only|
vs. Marshall This will be the third meeting between UMass and Marshall University with both schools winning at home. Last season the Thundering Herd rumbled past the Minutemen in Huntington, W.Va., for a 22-point victory, the largest margin of defeat on the year for UMass (SEE BOX). Anthony Oates started for Lari Ketner and Winston Smith was ejected for a flagrant foul in what turned out to be a game that UMass fans would rather forget. The last time Marshall was in Amherst was in 1997-98. UMass squeeked out a 61-59 victory at the Mullins Center.
Overall Series 1-1 Bruiser Flint vs. Marshall 1-1
Last Meeting Marshall (88-66) on 12/5/98 at Marshall
Last Five Meetings 1-1
Most UMass Points 66, (66-88) on 12/5/98 at Marshall
Fewest UMass Points 61, (61-59) on 12/6/97 at Mullins Center
Largest UMass Margin 2, (61-59) on 12/6/97 at Mullins Center
Most Marshall Points 88, (88-66) on 12/5/98 at Marshall
Fewest Marshall Points 59, (59-61) on 12/6/97 at Mullins Center
Largest Marshall Margin 22, (88-66) on 12/5/98 at Marshall
In Overtime: n/a
A Visit with Marshall Marshall University is picked to finish fourth in the East division of the MAC in this year’s preseason poll as voted by the media. They are coming off a pair of victories in the Hoopfest tournament in Binghamton, N.Y., over Canisius (85-77) and Stony Brook (81-52). The Thundering Herd is led by sophomore big man, J.R. VanHoose. VanHoose averages 19.0 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. Cornelius Jackson starts at the point where he led the MAC in assists a year ago with 145.
Keep it Going, Little Man With All-America candidate, Monty Mack, out for most of the preseason, head coach Bruiser Flint has had to go down his bench and look for someone to step up. At 5-9 you may not have noticed it but junior Jonathan DePina has stepped up his game and more. After two games he is averaging 10.5 points with four three-pointers in four tries. Last season DePina had five three-pointers in 26 games. A more confident player in UMass’ uptempo game, DePina is making the smart plays this season and should continue to get minutes even after Mack is back at 100 percent after a stress fracture in his left foot sustained six weeks ago.
Homecoming UMass Athletic Director, Bob Marcum, knows Marshall University well. He should, he grew up in Huntington, West Virginia and attended Marshall where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies and Physical Education in 1959.
Debut Three UMass players made their collegiate debuts as a Minuteman in a regular season game at Iona...Junior JoVann Johnson, sophomore Shannon Crooks and freshman Micah Brand all saw gametime in their first opportunity in the maroon & white...Crooks started at shooting guardand finished the game with 11 points on 50 percent shooting from the field... for Crooks it was his first regular season game after sitting out a year last season after transferring from St. John’s University...Brand is the only freshman on the squad...he had a team high seven rebounds coming off the bench in 22 minutes of action...Johnson is a junior college transfer from Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ill. who failed to scored in only two minutes of play.
Center(s) of Attention It is still very early in the season BUT, while Lari Ketner plays for the Chicago Bulls the 1999-2000 UMass big men did look good in their season debut. In fact, senior Anthony Oates, junior Kitwana Rhymer and freshman Micah Brand combined for a total of 39 minutes of playing time at Iona on Saturday. In that span they scored 18 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked a shot. Rhymer, who foulded out with only 11 minutes of action under his belt, was 6 of 8 from the field for a career-high 12 points to go along with seven rebounds. Brand also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and five fouls in 22 minutes of action. Oates provided much needed depth while scoring two points, grabbing a couple of boards and a critical steal late in the game. Rhymer followed his performance against the Gaels with 17 rebounds and seven points against No. 7 UConn in Storrs, Conn. The 17 boards is the most by a Minuteman since Ajmal Basit grabbed 19 at Rhode Island in the 1997-98 season.
Welcome to the Team Senior Dwayne Early is the latest addition to the UMass basketball family. Early is a 6-4, 205-pound walk-on guard from Springfield Central High School. Early will be wearing No. 24 this season. Joining him is C.W. Post transfer, Dale Menendez. Menendez is 5-8, 180 pound point guard who will not be eligible to play this season due to NCAA transfer rules. At Westhampton Beach high school, Menendez led his team to the New York State Class B Championship after posting a perfect 28-0 record. He pulled double duty for Westhampton scoring 1,000 points while also rushing for 1,000 yards in his career as a tailback.
Television Update UMass basketball has been a popular television show in the ‘90s and continues to be a prominant TV player as the new millenium beckons. Three more games have been added to the television slate, giving the Minutemen 20 televised games during the regular season. In Detroit against the Titans, Fox-Detroit is producing the now 3:05 tipoff (previously 4:05), and the game will be aired locally by Fox-New England. The New England Sports Network (NESN) has also announced that it will be televising the Commonwealth Classic pitting UMass against Boston College at Conte Forum, and the UMass-Providence tilt on December 30 at the Providence Civic Center.
Any Time, Any Place, Any Team This season, UMass will have 10 teams on their schedule which appeared in the 1999 NCAA Tournament and two teams that competed in last year’s NIT. This schedule includes a game against defending national champion UConn, and games against perennial national powers Texas and Villanova, 1999 NCAA Tourney participants Detroit, Rhode Island, Temple and George Washington, and NIT participants, Xavier and Providence. The Minutemen will appear on television at least 20 times this year, including seven national telecasts.
Time Out A new timeout policy has been installed by the NCAA and will be in effect this season. The Atlantic 10 has adopted this policy for all games. Media will be guaranteed protection fro 105 seconds during nine (9) timeouts per game. Each “Full media timeout” shall last one minute, 45 seconds from the time the game official signals the timeout. All team-called timeouts, except for the first one, shall last 30 seconds from the time the game official signals the timeout. Nine “full media timeouts” shall be permitted per game. Those include four each half at the first non-shooting dead-ball situation after the game clock has passed 16:00, 12:00, 8:00 and 4:00 minutes remaining. The other “full media timeout” will be the first team-called timeout, whenever it occurs. That timeout does not replace one of the scheduled “full media timeouts.” All other team-called timeouts will be 30 seconds including any timeouts taken during any overtime period. Each team is entitle to five 30-second timeouts and may carry-over four of those timeouts to the second half. Each team is entitled to one additional 30-second timeout during each extra period. Unused 30-second timeouts from the second half may be used at any time.
Climbing the Charts Senior Monty Mack is attacking the UMass career leader boards for three-point shooting. His 86 three-pointers made last season was the third best single season performance in UMass history. He has eight three-pointers on the season and currently sits fourth all-time for three-pointers made at UMass. At his current pace he will pace Carmelo Travieso as the all-time leader in three-pointers made.
3-point Field Goals Made
Player 3FG 3FGA Pct. Years
1. Carmelo Travieso ’97 245 666 .368 1993-97
2. Rafer Giles ’91 221 592 .373 1987-91
3. Lorenzo Sutton ’88 178 424 .420 1984-88
4. Monty Mack ‘00 148 407 .364 1997-
5. Derek Kellogg ’95 138 362 .381 1991-95
6. Edgar Padilla ’97 136 431 .316 1993-97
7. Mike Williams ’95 123 406 .303 1991-95
8. Tony Barbee ’93 116 341 .340 1989-93
9. Charlton Clarke ‘99 113 339 .333 1995-99
10. Anton Brown ’92 92 218 .422 1988-92
3-point Field Goal Attempts Player 3FG 3FGA Pct. Years
1. Carmelo Travieso ’97 245 666 .368 1993-97
2. Rafer Giles ’91 221 592 .373 1987-91
3. Edgar Padilla ’97 136 431 .316 1993-97
4. Lorenzo Sutton ’88 178 424 .420 1984-88
5. Monty Mack ‘00 148 407 .364 1997-
6. Mike Williams ’95 123 406 .303 1991-95
7. Derek Kellogg ’95 138 362 .381 1991-95
8. Tony Barbee ’93 116 341 .340 1989-93
9. Charlton Clarke ‘99 113 339 .333 1995-99
10. Anton Brown ’92 92 218 .422 1988-92
3-point Field Goal Percentage (min. 45 made) Player 3FG 3FGA Pct. Years
1. Carl Smith ’87 54 122 .443 1983-87
2. Anton Brown ’92 92 218 .422 1988-92
3. Lorenzo Sutton ’88 178 424 .420 1984-88
4. Jerome Malloy ’95 86 215 .400 1991-93
5. Derek Kellogg ’95 138 362 .381 1991-95
6. Rafer Giles ’91 221 592 .373 1987-91
7. Carmelo Travieso ’97 245 666 .368 1993-97
8. Monty Mack ‘00 148 407 .364 1997-
9. Tony Barbee ’93 116 341 .340 1989-93
10. Charlton Clarke ’99 113 339 .333 1995-99
Exhibition Season The Minutemen wrapped up a challenging exhibition season with an overtime victory, downing the Converse All-Stars 97-88 at the Mullins Center. Senior forward Chris Kirkland (Timmonsville, S.C.) led the Minutemen with 23 points and eight rebounds, while junior center Kitwana Rhymer (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands) added 15 points and 17 rebounds. UMass trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before cutting the defecit to seven at the half. The Minutemen registered their first lead with 3:59 left in regulation when junior JoVann Johnson (Johnson City, Tenn.) hit both of his free throws to put UMass up 71-70. After 40 minutes of play the game was knotted at 78 a piece. In overtime UMass jumped out to an early lead but fell behind by two after five consecutive points by Converse. The Minutemen put the game away with a 12-2 run in the final 2:16 of play for the nine point victory. Junior Jonathan DePina (Boston, Mass.) posted one of the best games of his UMass career with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Also scoring in double figures was sophomore Shannon Crooks (Everett, Mass.) with 17 points while Johnson added 15 points and seven rebounds. UMass opened the exhibition season with an impressive offensive showing, downing the California All-Stars 103-97 at the Mullins Center. Crooks led the Minutemen with 24 points and seven assists, while Kirkland added 26 points and six rebounds. UMass opened the game with a 17-8 run and never trailed in the contest, behind its potent fast-break offense. The Minutemen saw their lead grow as large as 14 points with just under five minutes remaining in the game, before a late spurt by the All-Stars made the final score look close. UMass scored 30 fast break points on the evening, while also totaling 72 points in the paint. Freshman forward Micah Brand (Middletown, N.Y.), playing his first game in a UMass uniform, totaled 16 points and eight rebounds, including an impressive 10 for 10 performance at the free throw line. DePina had 13 points and six assists, while Rhymer added 10 points and nine boards.
Last Game In the annual MassMutual “U” Game the Minutemen scrapped and battled the No. 7 UConn Huskies at Gampel Pavilion only to come up short, 65-79. With 8:46 left in the game sophomore Ronell Blizzard hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 54-51 after UConn jumped out to a 13 point lead just four minutes into the second half. Monty Mack led all scorers with 26 points as the Minutemen never got any closer. Junior Kitwana Rhymer grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds against a UConn team that at times had three frontcourt players on the floor standing over 6-10. Mike Babul put the defensive clamps on Kevin Freeman limiting him to two points in 37 minutes but it was not enough for the Minutemen.
Did You Know? The 85-77 win at Iona was the first time UMass has opened a season in an opponent’s home gym with a victory in 22 years. Not since the Minutemen defeated Harvard in Cambridge by a score of 73-66 to open the 1977-78 season under coach Jack Leaman had they accomplished it.
Captain(s) of the Ship Senior leadership has always played an important part of UMass basketball and this year should be a banner year in that department. Seniors Mike Babul and Chris Kirkland were named co-captains this year not only because of their improved play but because of their leadership skills and poise under fire.
Player Updates #0 Anthony Oates — Played perhaps the best game of his UMass career at Iona in season opener...in only six minutes of play he scored two points, grabbed a pair of rebounds, garnered his first career steal and played solid defense.
#1 Jonathan DePina — Hit a career-best three for three from three-point land and finished with 10 points against No. 7 UConn. Scored 11 points in the season-opener at Iona. Currently third on the team with a 10.5 ppg scoring average.
#3 Ronell Blizzard — Has played well in his first two games with five points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in 20 minutes. He hit his first career three-pointer at No. 7 UConn to cut the Huskies lead to three with 8:46 left to go in the game.
#4 JoVann Johnson — A junior college transfer who has seen only six minutes of playing time in the first two games.
#5 Monty Mack — Came off the bench and scored a season-high 26 points at No. 7 UConn. Scored 21 points off the bench in the season-opener at Iona. Passed the 1,000 career points total in the Iona game achieving the feat in only 63 contests. He has been the leading scorer (for either team) in every game this season. In his career Mack has scored 25 points or more in a game five times, 20 points or more in a game 18 times and has scored in double figures 56 times out of 64 games.
#11 Darryl Denson — Has not played this season
#20 Winston Smith — Notched his first basket of the season in the season-opener at Iona.
#22 Chris Kirkland — Registered nine points and five rebounds against the defending national champion UConn Huskies. Scored 15 points and grabbed another five boards in the season-opener at Iona.
#23 Mike Babul — Shut down UConn’s Kevin Freeman holding him to two points on 1-8 shooting from the field. Shut down first team All-MAAC selection Tarik Kirksay, in the second half holding him to five points, all on free throws. Babul did not have the defensive coverage on Kirksay in the first half when the Gaels’ leading scorer dropped in 15 points in the opening stanza.
#24 Dwayne Early — Has not played this season.
#30 Shannon Crooks — Scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out three assists in his first game as a Minuteman in the season-opener at Iona.
#33 Kitwana Rhymer — Scored a career-high 12 points in the season-opener at Iona along with a team-high seven rebounds in only 11 minutes of play. Grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds at No. 7 UConn in Gampel Pavilion. The last UMass player to grab 17 or more rebounds was Ajmal Basit against Rhode Island in the 1997-98 season.
#40 Micah Brand — In his collegiate debut he grabbed a team-high seven boards in the season-opener at Iona. He also registered four points and a blocked shot against the Gaels.
MHERST - Some players and coaches say it doesn't matter, but to Bruiser Flint, it had better matter.
"Absolutely right," the University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach said when asked if tonight's game against Marshall involved a chance for revenge, or at least redemption, for last season's 88-66 UMass loss in Huntington, W.Va.
"You'd better think that way, especially since they have most of their players back," Flint said of Marshall, which brings a 2-0 record into the game at the Mullins Center.
The game is the home opener for UMass (1-1). The opponent is a Mid-American Conference team that's been far more trouble than almost anyone had originally expected. Originally, it seemed like a cozy matchup that brought UMass athletic director Bob Markum's alma mater into the big time for one night a year.
Instead, Marshall nearly erased a 19-point deficit in the final six minutes of a 61-59 loss at Mullins two years ago, then ripped UMass at home last year. It was one of the worst losses the Minutemen have suffered this decade, and it reduced some of them to tears after the game.
"This is an important game," said sophomore guard Shannon Crooks, who sat out last season because of transfer rules, and was not involved with the blowout loss. "We didn't play to our ability, but this isn't last year."
Crooks will make his UMass home debut. So will freshman center Micah Brand and junior JoVann Johnson, a junior college transfer.
Flint said UMass guard Monty Mack (23.5 points per game) is nearly over the effects of a preseason foot injury. Mack is averaging 31 minutes per game, even though he has come off the bench in each of the first two games, and may continue in his sixth-man role for now.
In the next eight days, UMass will face Marshall, Boston College and Villanova. Only the BC game will be played on the road, so the Minutemen have a chance to do something they couldn't do in Flint's three seasons - push themselves comfortably above .500 in the early going.
"But these are teams we have to play well against," said Flint, whose first two seasons involved difficult early-season scheduling, while last year's team doomed itself with inconsistent play. "They're teams that can beat you if you're not ready to play."
In games against Iona and Connecticut, UMass has been ready to play. Playing so many games in such a short time, however, may put the running game to a test.
"It will definitely be a good test," senior forward Mike Babul said. "Some guys who don't play much in the first two games might get more of a chance in the next two."
After last week's 79-65 loss to Connecticut, Flint called Babul the best defensive player in the country. The 6-foot-6 forward chuckled about that yesterday.
"I did read that," said Babul, who has shut down Iona's Tariq Kirsay (0 for 2 in the second half) and UConn's Kevin Freeman (1 for 8), and who says his preseason back injury is nearly healed. "I take it as a great compliment."
For Crooks, the game gives him a chance to get going after two games that showed flashes of excellence, but also rookie mistakes.
"I had a little anxiety in the UConn game," he said. "It was the first big college game I'd played in. But playing at home is exciting, and I think I'll be ready to start showing some of what I can bring to the table."
"Shannon will be fine," Flint said, dismissing Crooks' shooting struggles (36.8 percent from the floor, 30 percent from the line), five assists and six turnovers in two games. "He's in a position of almost being a freshman right now."
MHERST, Mass. - For one thing, tonight's visit to the University of Massachusetts will test the quickness, depth and defensive resolve of Marshall's guards.
When the Thundering Herd (2-0) faces UMass (1-1) beginning at 6:45 tonight in the Mullins Center, the focal point will be Minuteman guard Monty Mack, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior.
Herd coach Greg White says Mack will be a first-round NBA pick. UMass is touting him as an All-America candidate, and The Sporting News ranks him the 17th-best shooting guard in the country.
Mack averaged 18.1 points per game last year to place third in the Atlantic 10 Conference and, in the Minutemen's 79-65 loss at No. 7 Connecticut last week, he kept his team in contention by scoring 26 points.
"They have extreme quickness on the perimeter,'' said White, speaking primarily of Mack. "He's their go-to guy. He'll take a bunch of shots for them, and as a team, they rebound like crazy.''
A year ago in Huntington, the Herd routed UMass 88-66 and limited Mack to 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting, but the Minutemen have abandoned their half-court game and transformed themselves into a running team.
"Last year we wanted to run more, but we were limited by the types of players we had,'' said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "This year, we're very athletic and are much more capable of running the ball and creating some easy baskets in the transition game.''
They ran with UConn, the defending national champions, on Nov. 22 in Storrs, Conn., and rallied to within 54-51 with 8:46 left in the game on consecutive 3-pointers by Mack, Jonathan DePina and Ronell Blizzard, but fell to the Huskies' superior rebounding.
Marshall's guards, said White, are good enough to deal with the UMass transition game.
"We have five extremely athletic guards,'' he said, listing Travis Young, Cornelius Jackson, Tamar Slay, Deon Dobbs and Monty Wright. "And they're reaching the final stages of maturity.''
In the Herd's season-opening victories over Canisius and Stony Brook in the Binghamton, N.Y., Hoopfest, White estimated that the Herd applied full-court defensive pressure 80 percent of the time.
"It doesn't always get steals,'' he said of the pressure defense, "but it makes the offense start from 94 feet. A team will usually crack if we keep it up and keep it up. We want to wear them down. That's how we like to play.''
In the loss to UConn, UMass junior Kitwana Rhymer collected 17 rebounds. He's a 6-10, 257-pound center who did not start last year and averaged 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds.
In addition to Mack, UMass' returning starters are 6-6 forward Chris Kirkland, who averaged 10.2 points and 6.7 rebounds last year, and 6-6 forward Mike Babul, who averaged 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds and was chosen to the Atlantic 10's all-defensive team for the second straight year.
"This will be a good challenge for us,'' said White. "They're physically gifted. They have a team that can compete for the Atlantic 10 championship. They're better than last year, not individually, but as a team.''
BRIEFLY: The UMass center last year was Lari Ketner, a 6-10, 285-pounder, who was taken in the NBA's second round. ... Marshall hit 33-of-44 free throws in last year's win over UMass. ... Two years ago at UMass, the Herd fell behind 20-2 and trailed by 15 at halftime but lost by just 71-69. Young's 3-point try at the buzzer bounced off the rim. ... The Minutemen were 14-16 overall and 9-7 in the Atlantic 10 last year. ... In Mack's first two games, he shot only 13-of-40 from the field, including 8-of-24 from 3-point range. ... UMass freshman Micah Brand, a 6-11 freshman, was rated the nation's 15th-best high school senior center by Full Court last year. He also had a 3.9 grade-point average at Milford (Conn.) Academy and graduated as valedictorian.
MHERST - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team already was reeling when it arrived in Huntington, W.Va., last year at 1-2.
That Saturday night at the Henderson Center, the already shaky wheels came off. Senior center Lari Ketner didn't start after violating team rules, and when he did get into the game, he wound up being ejected. UMass trailed 34-21 at half-time and ended up taking an 88-66 pounding at the hands of the Herd.
It was a bad omen for things to come: The Minutemen struggled all year.
But with the 1999-2000 season still in its infancy, UMass already has exorcised one demon, when it paid back Iona for a 77-58 loss from a year ago with an 85-77 win at New Rochelle on Nov. 20.
The Minutemen hope to expunge another bad memory tonight when Marshall returns to the Mullins Center for a 6:45 game.
"They kicked us," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "Last year the two teams that beat us bad were Iona and Marshall. Everything else was pretty close."
Flint said this year's Iona game helped fuel his optimism about this season.
"If you're going to be a good team, you have to win games like that down there in a hostile environment, with a tough crowd," said Flint, who, conversely, still was frustrated by the subsequent loss to Connecticut. "(Against UConn) we had opportunities. They're a good team, but we were right there and had our chances, but we didn't take advantage of it. Everybody talks about 'you had a great effort down there.' Forget about the effort. We just didn't take advantage of it."
The coach is looking forward to putting his team's new up-tempo style in front of the home crowd.
"Our next four are at home. The fans will get to see games that count and how we're going to play," Flint said. "Plus, they haven't seen Mike (Babul) and Monty (Mack) this year. It's going be exciting. If we get some momentum going I think we'll get some great crowds."
As of Sunday, Flint hadn't decided whether to re-insert Mack into the starting lineup, although his star guard has played more than 30 minutes in both games off the bench. He is recovering from a foot injury.
"He actually got X-rayed this week and everything was fine," Flint said Wednesday.
The Herd won't look too different from the team that smacked UMass last year. It checks in at 2-0 with wins over Canisius (85-77) and Stonybrook (81-52).
Sophomore center J.R. VanHoose has been great in Marshall's first two games, averaging 19.0 points per game in leading four starters averaging in double figures.
"They return just about everybody. They return four starters, but they lost a couple of key bench guys that hurt us last year," Flint said. "They have a great backcourt. Travis Young has played great against us. Cornelius Jackson has played pretty well for them."
The game starts a stretch of four games in eight days for UMass. According to Flint, having Iona and UConn just a day apart was helpful.
"Having UConn and Iona so close, the guys understand how we're going to prepare between games. They have to pay a lot more attention," Flint said. "We're not going to be doing a whole lot of physical stuff."
or Channel 40's Duke Castiglione, the quandary, admittedly, is a small one.
In his role as the sideline reporter for his station's TV broadcast of tonight's men's basketball game between the University of Massachusetts and Marshall in Amherst, Castiglione is trying to decide what to say when he throws the broadcast back to the play-by-play man.
"Should I say, 'back to you, Joe, or back to you, Dad?' " he wondered.
Dad, of course, is Joe Castiglione, well known in New England as the radio voice of the Boston Red Sox. His warm, relaxed style can be heard throughout the region from April to October.
Tonight, however, he'll be the voice of the Minutemen when Channel 40 picks up the UMass home opener. Sports Director Scott Coen will handle color commentary. The station is scheduled to broadcast three UMass games this year (Feb. 6 vs. St. Bonaventure and Feb. 19 vs. St. Joseph's) and the elder Castiglione will do the first two. He'll be in Spain during the third, so an as-yet-to-be announced broadcaster will handle the call.
Both father and son are excited about tonight's event.
"This will be fun," Duke said. "This is a different opportunity for memory's sake."
"It should be a lot of fun with him being part of the broadcast," said Joe, who added that his parents might be the most excited about the event. "They live in Hamden (Conn.), but they might go to my brother's house in West Hartford to try to get News 40. They're really fired up."
Duke Castiglione has been at News 40 for two years, working as both an anchor and a field reporter. Previously, he had previously done play-by-play for the Colorado Rockies' AA affiliate in New Haven. Not surprisingly, his love of broadcasting was inherited.
"I've known what I wanted to do from day one," Duke said. "He never pushed me, but he's been very helpful," he said of his father. "It's nice because if I want to talk about something or I'm having a problem, he knows what I'm talking about."
Duke had to work on Thanksgiving, but the two spent a lot of time together this weekend. After listening to the UMass vs. Furman football game on the radio, they worked out together and talked about the coming basketball game.
"We talked about Kitwana Rhymer and his background and him taking over for Lari Ketner, and who is the second-best defender on the team and the three-guard offense and stuff like that," Duke said. "He over-prepares. He's been on the Web looking at Marshall and he called their sports information director."
While most people associate him with the Red Sox, whose games he has called for 14 years, Joe Castiglione did some Cleveland Cavaliers broadcasts, as well as some Northeastern games for NESN during the Reggie Lewis era.
"I love college basketball," Joe Castiglione said. "I did some UMass games years ago when they played Northeastern, when they weren't very good."
Despite all his experience, he had no advice for Duke on which way to throw the broadcast back to him tonight.
"He's on his own," Joe said with a chuckle.