MHERST - Geoff Arnold may remember last night's game at the Mullins Center for quite some time, but it's likely that not too many other people will.
"It's taken on a whole life of its own, and I didn't want it to be this way," said Flint, who watched from a third-floor window at the Mullins Center while Arnold, the associate coach, guided the 70-51 victory over Boston University before 5,847.
Flint suspended himself after using a profane word on Monday's postgame radio show, following a loss to Marshall. He'll be back on the sideline tomorrow at Conte Forum, when UMass (2-2), which snapped a two-game losing streak, visits Boston College.
That last night's game itself was so forgettable was nobody's fault. Not Arnold's, since his team picked up a win it needed badly.
Not Boston University's, for the Terriers just weren't good enough to make it any closer. And as for the UMass players, they played well enough to cruise to an easy victory, even though the opponent was too young and inexperienced to make it very interesting.
Geoff Arnold stepped in for the self-exiled Bruiser Flint.
"The guys told me they'd get one for me," Arnold said. "I told them it wasn't for me, but for them."
Arnold didn't have to do much elaborate coaching against an outmanned opponent. His last move was to call a timeout with 38.4 seconds left, which allowed walk-on guard Dwayne Early to get into his first game.
Early joined Darryl Denson on the court, giving UMass two Central High School graduates on the floor at once. It wasn't quite the Padilla brothers all over again, but it was a nice touch.
Chris Kirkland scored 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting for UMass, which also played pretty good defense and held BU to 35.7 percent from the floor. The Minutemen only shot 41.7 percent, but scored 44 points in the paint and controlled the boards in the telling first half, when they built a 36-22 lead.
"I think the guys were surprised at Bruiser's decision at first, but then we tried to focus on the game," said Kirkland, who snapped out of a scoring slump. "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive."
"I thought Bru was joking at first," said guard Shannon Crooks, who also awoke with 10 points, including his first two successful 3-pointers of the season. "But he has rules, and he follows them himself. That's the type of person he is.
Kit Rhymer needed a little help on this one.
Boston University suffered a setback when point guard Dereck Franklin hurt his groin in the warmups. Franklin played six minutes, but Terriers were disorganized on offense and committed 17 turnovers.
Paul Seymour's 13 points led BU (0-5).
"We have a million young players, and tonight some of our freshmen played like freshmen," BU coach Dennis Wolff said.
UMass guard Monty Mack, who scored 12 points, started for the first time this season. He replaced Crooks in the starting backcourt, a decision Flint made Wednesday after deciding to keep Jonathan DePina in his starting spot.
Flint says he's been trying to watch his language all season, and last night made it clear that to him, sitting out one game was not a small penalty.
"Anyone who says it (missing a game) doesn't belong in coaching," he said. "But some people only see me through coaching, and when I talk like this, they might think I'm a crazy person. I'm not. I still think I'm a pretty nice guy."
MHERST - Boston University coach Dennis Wolff arrived with a lot of hope last night, and it wilted the moment point guard Dereck Franklin strained a groin muscle during pregame warmups.
Stay on your feet Winston!
Smith gets worked around by BU's Jerome Graham.
Franklin lasted for six minutes, and the BU coach was left attempting to coax the most out of his youngsters in the face of a scheduling push for more nationally reputable opponents.
That was the 2-2 Minutemen's role last night - to push around the young Terriers after three unimpressive games.
And the Minutemen responded with enough energy to keep their pennance-seeking coach relatively calm.
Bruiser Flint, who suspended himself for last night's game as a result of using profanity during his Monday night postgame radio show, watched the game from a glassed-in function room high above courtside.
``I didn't come through the window because I thought we played well,'' Flint said of a game that marked the first credible performance of the year for power forward Chris Kirkland, who finished with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
Monty Mack, whose recovery from a fractured left foot appears to be complete, started his first game of the season and finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four steals.
Shannon Crooks, who had started the previous three games with mixed results, came off the bench with his most relaxed performance of the season, with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Associate coach Geoff Arnold filled in for Flint and didn't need much time to fret over a game plan.
The plan, in the wake of a lethargic loss to Marshall on Monday, was simple.
``We didn't watch the (Marshall) tape until (Wednesday), and even the players admitted that it looked like they were moving in slow motion,'' said Arnold.
In that respect, the most telling run last night took place early.
The Terriers jumped out to a 5-0 lead, only to give way to an answering 14-2 salvo from the Minutemen, who eventually worked that number up to a 36-22 halftime lead with a wide range of players contributing.
``I think the guys knew that we weren't ready to play against Marshall,'' said Kirkland. ``And I think the biggest disappointment was that we didn't go out and play hard, but we changed that tonight.''
Arnold was thankful for that much.
Though the former St. Joseph's assistant once stepped in to coach the Hawks against UMass when head coach Phil Martelli was ejected, last night marked his first official win.
``I was very relaxed because I knew these guys wanted to play hard,'' he said. ``They went out and executed everything we wanted them to do.''
MHERST - Peter Jennings sent his crew up to interview Bruiser Flint yesterday.
``Good Morning America,'' ``World News Tonight,'' ESPN and ABC radio all called. And their reaction to the coach who suspended himself for swearing on-air baffled the UMass coach.
``To be honest, it scares me that people want to praise you just because you decided to do something like that,'' said Flint, who watched last night's 70-51 win over BU from an upstairs function room. ``I have all these people telling me, `I can't believe you did that.' When a guy simply says something he believes, this is the reaction?
``I know I have bad language. I'm not crazy - I know I have that problem, and it's something I told myself I was going to work on last summer. One day some of my players were over to the house, and I listened to the way they were talking to each other, and I thought, well, maybe that's the same way I'm talking to them. So I decided to work on it. I just don't believe the reaction, that's all. A return to civility - that's what one of these stations called it.''
The UMass players appreciated Flint's move.
``I thought Bruiser was joking, at first,'' Shannon Crooks said. ``But he follows the rules himself, and that tells you something.''
Terriers get their licks
BU coach Dennis Wolff can't say that last night's result was a point of complete despair.
Not with swingman Paul Seymour draining 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and three other players chipping in with eight points each without an experienced point guard on the floor.
But the licks are far from over where this team is concerned.
``The situation with our team is this: We have a million young guys, we're in the middle of a tough stretch, and some of our freshmen played like freshmen,'' he said.
Hoop dreams fight reality
Last night's resumption of the UMass-BU men's basketball rivalry could best be described as moldy.
The teams hadn't played since January 1993, when the up-and-coming Minutemen were more interested in building their national reputation than in preserving old ties.
Instead, then-Umass coach John Calipari scrapped the BU connection altogether.
Though Flint and Wolff have discussed playing more frequently, resumption of the actual series may require more discussion.
``As far as I know, this is just a one-game shot,'' UMass athletic director Bob Marcum said.
Flint said he is amenable to a road game at BU, but only during a season when the Minutemen don't play Boston College in Boston.
``Next year we play BC in the FleetCenter,'' Flint said of next season's slim chances for that to happen.
MHERST - The subplot was more interesting than the game, and even that wasn't particularly interesting. The brief Geoff Arnold coaching era went off without a hitch as the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team cruised to a 70-51 win over Boston University Thursday despite the absence of head coach Bruiser Flint.
Winston Smith tries to work himself out of trouble.
Arnold, who filled in for Flint, said he was comfortable calling the shots.
"For some reason I was very relaxed. I wasn't nervous at all," Arnold said. "I knew these guys wanted to come out and play hard. They went out there and executed everything we tried to have them do."
Senior captain Chris Kirkland said the players didn't let Flint's absence become a distraction.
"Guys were surprised at first, but we tried to stay focused on what we had to do for the game," Kirkland said. "I think we came out and executed on the things we worked on in practice."
Chris Kirkland won't be denied getting the ball upcourt.
"I just had to come out and be aggressive," he said. "I had been just out there and going along with the game. We talked about it and I decided to come out and be aggressive."
Monty Mack added 12, while Shannon Crooks delivered 10. Junior center Kitwana Rhymer continued his dominance on the boards, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
The game was the best in Crooks' brief UMass career after he sat out a year after transferring from St. John's. He knocked down shots more regularly and pushed the offense.
"I just tried to stay patient and just try to go with the flow and not be too anxious," Crooks said. "I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I talked to some people and decided to just have fun and play basketball the way I can."
"We told him to relax," Arnold said. "We told him that he can't get a year back in two games. He said 'you're right' and just started to focus and slow down."
"I thought this was Shannon's best game," said Flint, who watched the game from the Mullins Center VIP room and spoke with the media after the game. "He took good shots. He didn't have a lot of crazy turnovers. He made good passes on the break. I think he needed this."
UMass returns to action Saturday when it takes on Boston College at Conte Forum.
BU (0-5) scored the first five points of the game, but that was the extent of its highlights. A 3-pointer by Mack and two free throws by Jonathan DePina tied the game, and a jumper by Kirkland gave UMass (2-2) the lead to stay.
The Minuteman hit double digits at 20-10 on the first 3-pointer by Crooks in a UMass uniform. With Mack leading the charge, UMass extended its lead to 36-20, before Jacob Kudlacz hit two free throws with 2 seconds left in the half. UMass led, 36-22, at the break.
Despite some sloppy play, the Minutemen increased their lead on the overmatched Terriers. A Mike Babul lay-in with just under seven minutes to play brought the lead to its 23-point zenith at 62-39.
The Terriers sliced into the UMass lead late, but the outcome was long-since decided. Walk-ons Darryl Denson and Dwayne Early both made their 1999-2000 debuts in the final minute of the game, when Arnold emptied the bench.
Flint praised his assistant's handling of the team.
"He did a good job," Flint said. "I'm not going to try to beat anybody by 40. Geoff and those guys know that. I'm not that kind of coach. We weren't trying to really blow them out. Those things come back to get you."
|Boston Univ. Terriers||51|
|at the Mullins Center|
BOSTON U (51) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Costello 30 3-8 0-0 1-4 4 4 8 Rodriguez 16 2-8 1-2 3-3 1 5 5 Avebe 22 3-8 2-4 3-7 0 1 8 Franklin 6 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 2 0 Turner 29 2-8 0-0 0-3 0 1 5 Seymour 30 5-10 1-2 2-3 1 1 13 Michalek 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Crane 4 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 Kudiacz 26 3-12 2-3 3-9 1 1 8 Sadusky 18 0-0 0-2 0-0 1 0 0 Graham 18 2-2 0-0 0-3 0 2 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 20-56 6-13 12-34 9 17 51 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.357, FT-.462. 3-Point Goals: 5-14, .357 (Costello 2-5, Turner 1-4, Seymour 2-5). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 5 (Seymour 2, Kudiacz 2, Avebe). Turnovers: 17 (Turner 4, Costello 3, Franklin 2, Kudiacz 2, Avebe, Crane, Graham, Sadusky, Seymour). Steals: 7 (Costello 4, Seymour 2, Avebe). MASSACHUSETTS (70) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Kirkland 35 10-15 3-4 2-4 2 3 23 Babul 20 2-4 1-2 0-3 3 0 6 Rhymer 33 1-7 6-6 4-11 0 2 8 Depina 25 1-4 2-2 1-4 2 1 5 Mack 33 5-12 0-0 0-4 0 0 12 Oates 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Blizzard 5 0-1 0-0 1-2 0 1 0 Denson 1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Smith 16 0-4 0-0 1-1 3 0 0 Early 1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Crooks 21 4-7 0-3 1-4 4 3 10 Brand 9 2-4 2-3 3-4 0 3 6 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 25-60 14-20 13-37 14 13 70 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.417, FT-.700. 3-Point Goals: 6-13, .462 (Babul 1-1, Depina 1-3, Mack 2-5, Blizzard 0-1, Smith 0-1, Crooks 2-2). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 7 (Rhymer 3, Babul 2, Mack, Brand). Turnovers: 13 (Crooks 4, Babul 2, Depina 2, Kirkland 2, Mack 2, Early). Steals: 11 (Mack 4, Crooks 2, Depina 2, Early, Rhymer, Smith). __________________________________ Boston U 22 29 - 51 Massachusetts 36 34 - 70 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 5,847. Officials: Joe Mingle, Carl Labranche, Joe Lindsay.