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UMass enjoys its city block party
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 1/21/2001

SPRINGFIELD When Jonathan DePina hit a 3-point shot to give the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team a 15-point lead with four minutes left, the Civic Center crowd stood and cheered.

Jackie Rogers hauls in the rebound.
UMass basketball was back in Springfield and the Minutemen are back in the thick of the Atlantic 10 Conference race, something that seemed highly improbable two weeks ago.

"A lot of this has to do with our attitude," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said after the 80-69 win over Duquesne before 6,837 in the Minutemen's first Springfield appearance since 1995. "Nobody quit or got down when we were 2-9. I told them we could turn it around, and I guess they were listening."

UMass (6-10, 4-1 Atlantic 10 Conference) won on the strength of 13 blocked shots and a balanced attack led by Monty Mack's 25 points. Mack hit nine of 18 shots, the first time he has hit 50 percent in a game this season.

But the UMass big men also seized upon a size advantage against Duquesne (7-11, 1-4), which was missing 6-foot-7 forward Wayne Smith (heel injury) and had only one starter, 6-8 Jack May, taller than 6-5.

Kitwana Rhymer had 15 points with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Flint thinks Rhymer's two-game totals (34 points, 25 rebounds, six blocked shots) should make the 6-10 center Atlantic 10 Player of the Week when the selection is announced today.

"It's fun, getting the ball in the paint, going strong and getting fouled," said Rhymer, who is 23 for 28 from the line in his last three games, including 7 of 8 yesterday. "It's good to know my teammates have the confidence to give me the ball."

Micah Brand scored 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting, with five rebounds and four blocked shots. Jackie Rogers continued to play well off the bench with six points and six rebounds.

UMass blocked nine shots in the first half, and the game was reminiscent of its last Civic Center appearance, when the Minutemen set a school record with 20 blocked shots in a 1995 victory over West Virginia.

External link More pictures at MassLive
UMass is now a half-game out of first place in a tight Atlantic 10 race with St. Joseph's (5-1), Xavier (5-1) and Temple (4-1).

Guard Courtney Wallace had 17 points for Duquesne, which has lost 15 straight road games over a two-year span. May had 14 points and nine rebounds.

"I think our guys adjusted pretty well without Smith," Duquesne coach Darelle Porter said. "We got a lot of shots blocked, but that had nothing to do with Wayne."

UMass, which never trailed, established season highs in points, blocked shots, field goal percentage (55.2) and steals (11), with DePina contributing four steals.

"That's a high shooting percentage for any team," said Flint, whose club was shooting 40.1 percent coming in. "Especially us."

Kit Rhymer slips past the defense and jams it home.
UMass led 34-28 at halftime, and after Duquesne came to within two (45-43) with 15 minutes left, the Minutemen went on a 26-11 run for a 17-point lead. Winston Smith hit a jumper to get the streak going.

"We wanted to force them to hit jump shots," Porter said, "and they made a couple. They're a little more patient than they were at the beginning of the season. Right now, they're playing better than anyone in the league."

Satisfied as he was with the victory, Flint thought the Minutemen became a little too obsessed with shot-blocking at the expense of good defense, and he wants more of a killer attitude at the end.

"We've got to put the foot down on them when they're down, and we didn't do that," he said of the final three minutes, when Duquesne came within nine. "But it's better to learn from a win."

"We want it more now than we did earlier this year," Mack said. "We have more desire, and we're able to put our mistakes behind us."

Downtown return possible
UMass notebook
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 1/21/2001

SPRINGFIELD University of Massachusetts athletic director Bob Marcum says if the Minutemen return to the Civic Center for men's basketball, they would consider a more attractive matchup than last night's game against Duquesne.

That doesn't mean Connecticut or Temple is coming to town, but Boston College might be a possibility, Marcum said. The UMass AD sounded very optimistic about a return to Springfield.

But Marcum does not want to move a top-flight attraction, since he says UMass owes it to their Mullins Center fans to bring the better teams to Amherst.

"I think we've paid our dues in regard to that type of scheduling," he said. That would rule out the best matchups, but Marcum did not rule out Boston College, a rivalry that has suffered in recent years as both teams have struggled.

Another team mentioned for a possible game in Springfield or Worcester is Oregon, which played UMass in Portland, Ore., this year and owes the Minutemen a return date, possibly at a non-campus site.

Ohio State is also booked to visit UMass next season, but that game appears set for Amherst.


Marcum said this year's game became possible when the Civic Center and UMass agreed to split the ticket distribution. Marcum said when it became obvious the Civic Center would not use up its allocation, UMass held up the mailing of its share to season ticket-holders, since they were able to reassign them better seats.

Civic Center general manager Stuart J. Hurwitz, who actively sought the return of UMass to Springfield, said he was willing to simply break even financially this year if necessary, just to get the Minutemen back.

Rhymer gave the Springfield fans a solid performance with 15 & 12.
Hurwitz was pleased with last night's turnout of 6,837. The average crowd for a UMass home game at the Mullins Center this season is 4,819.


Duquesne's best player, 6-foot-7 junior Wayne Smith, sat out with an injured left heel. Smith, who is averaging 18.1 points and 6.6 rebounds, suffered the injury Wednesday at La Salle.

Smith has also been recovering from a jammed toe on his right foot.


UMass coach Bruiser Flint and Peter Picknelly of Peter Pan Bus Lines, Inc., combined to donate 600 tickets to the Springfield Boys & Girls Club and the Lynch Middle School of Holyoke.


Most of the UMass veteran players have played in Springfield, though not at the Civic Center. The Greater Springfield Pro-Am League has given summer experience to Monty Mack, Jonathan DePina, Kit Rhymer, Micah Brand, Shannon Crooks and Ronell Blizzard.

Mack also recalled playing AAU ball at Springfield Technical Community College.


UMass played its entire 1984-85 season at the Civic Center, as Curry Hicks Cage underwent renovations. The Minutemen were 7-5 in Springfield that year, during a 13-15 season.

In later years, the Abdow Classic provided much of UMass' exposure, with the notable exception of the 1994 Tip-Off Classic win against Arkansas. That game was technically a neutral-site affair, and saw Lou Roe win game MVP honors in the 104-80 rout.


Cathedral High School band members provided the music, with the UMass band performing at George W. Bush's Presidential inauguration . . . Randy Gratton of Ware won gift certificates to two restaurants, and a night at Boston's Colonnade Hotel, for making a layup, foul shot and 3-point shot in 30 seconds of the Halftime Shoot promotion. Derek Murdza of South Hadley had accomplished the same feat Thursday at the Mullins Center . . . UMass' first 15 opponents owned a 163-75 record, and the 10 teams that had beaten the Minutemen were 114-41. College Basketball News and Jeff Sagarin's rating have the UMass schedule ranked second to Georgia in the nation, while has the Minutemen ranked sixth . . . UMass extended its Civic Center winning streak to 15 games. The skein, which dates to 1991, is the program's last remaining winning streak of significance from the John Calipari era.

Minutemen gain support while carrying out their Civic duty
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 1/21/2001

SPRINGFIELD There's no doubt about it. The University of Massachusetts should not wait another six years to play men's basketball at the Civic Center. Next year is when the Minutemen should be back.

This city doesn't often get credit for supporting its sports, but Springfield and its suburbs came through last night. The 80-69 Atlantic 10 Conference win over Duquesne drew 6,837, more than 2,000 better than what UMass is averaging at the Mullins Center this season and the highest single "home" crowd of the year.

It was also quite a bit better than most people would have expected for a matchup that wasn't exactly a national attraction. Beyond the numbers, though, it was a festive, attentive and supportive crowd, and far less cynical than your average Mullins throng.

No thinking person expected a sellout for UMass' first Springfield appearance since 1995. But Civic Center general manager Stuart J. Hurwitz was clearly pleased, and justifiably so.

UMass athletic director Bob Marcum also sounded optimistic about a return very optimistic, in fact.

"I don't see why we wouldn't be back," Marcum said before the game. He did not say it would happen next year, though it's hard to see what skipping a year would accomplish.

UMass officials have said they want a relationship with Springfield, but at the same time, they have looked at last night as a test case. With only 11 home games, they feel they are taking a small risk by moving one off campus, where they have full control of the operation and do not have to share the proceeds.

UMass has said there was no set attendance number to determine the success of last night's game. It was made clear, though, that simply hovering around this year's Mullins Center average of 4,819 wouldn't be enough.

The onus of success for last night's game's was placed upon the Civic Center, and on the fans of Springfield. Nobody wanted to belabor how this year's 2-9 UMass start might affect public sentiment.

Marcum understood, though.

"I'm aware that the marketability factor has something to do with winning," he said. And until two weeks ago, UMass hadn't been winning much.

Some obvious numbers work against the Civic Center, which holds 8,500 for basketball. UMass used to bang out the Mullins Center, its own facility, to the tune of 9,493 every night. Why come here?

But times have changed. Thursday night's crowd of 4,113 against Dayton was the lowest ever at Mullins.

UMass officials have said the size of the Civic Center was never the problem. In the past, they've indicated the relationship between UMass and the Civic Center had deteriorated, for which UMass does not blame itself, and that the people in Springfield had been unwilling to work out a financial package (including ticket distribution) the university could accept.

Those roadblocks are gone. Hurwitz's willingness to make this work has been highly praised by UMass officials.

To make it work, though, people have to show up. Springfield fans were handed a game against one of the least attractive opponents on the schedule, and a UMass team that has only lately come to life.

They could have said, "Where were you when you were really good?" Instead, they said, "We want to be part of this."

Look, it's no secret that Springfield is a tough sports market. But UMass is not drawing well in Worcester, Boston or Amherst. Of recent games, Springfield's turnout was the best of those four markets. That should remove any doubt about a return date. There wasn't a sellout, but there was atmosphere more atmosphere, in fact, than UMass has enjoyed at Mullins lately.

UMass coach Bruiser Flint talked this week about bridging the gap between Amherst and Springfield. After a six-year interruption, it doesn't happen overnight. But in any fair-minded analysis, last night was a most encouraging start.

To offer a balanced sports base, Springfield needs UMass. But to rebuild its fan interest, UMass needs Springfield, too. Once a year cannot help but benefit both sides.

Duquesne falls to Minutemen
By Dave Mackall, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 1/21/2001

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - I think I can. I think I can.

And they did for a long time Saturday night.

Shannon Crooks doesn't make it easy for Kevin Forney.
But in the end, it was just another loss for the Duquesne Dukes - their 15th consecutive road defeat and eighth this season.

Playing without injured leading scorer and rebounder Wayne Smith, Duquesne huffed and puffed and made things unexpectedly difficult for Massachusetts before dropping an 80-69 decision to the Minutemen in front of 6,837 at the Springfield Civic Center.

"We adjusted today without Wayne," Duquesne coach Darelle Porter said. "I thought we did a good job without our leading scorer."

Smith, a 6-foot-7 junior forward who is averaging 18.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season, sat on the bench in street clothes after it was determined his bruised left heel could not withstand the rigors of the game.

He was in such pain after Thursday night's 13-point loss at La Salle that it was feared he might have broken a bone in the foot when he was injured in the first half.

Smith, who did not practice Friday, had not missed a game in his college career until last night.

Duquesne also played much of the game without another guard Charles Stanfield, a starter who went scoreless while playing only 11 minutes because of an ear infection and pink eye.

Add to it a Massachusetts team that now has won four of its past five with a beefy lineup that includes 6-11, 243-pound Micah Brand and 6-10, 256-pound Kitwana Rhymer and it looked like a blowout loss for Duquesne (7-11, 1-4 Atlantic 10 Conference).

"I thought Duquesne played pretty good without Smith," Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint said.

Asked if there was a glaring difference in the way the Dukes' played without their leading scorer and rebounder, Flint responded, "More people get the ball."

And pressed to assess if that would appear to be a positive thing for the struggling Dukes, Flint politely said, "You've got to asked Darelle that."

Porter, who last week downplayed comments by several Duquesne players that the team was playing selfishly, said he was pleased with the way his players handled the demanding elements of the game last night.

"I think our guys adjusted pretty well," Porter said. "We got a lot of shots blocked (13), but I don't think that had anything to do with Wayne. UMass had some great blocks and some questionable blocks."

Brand and Rhymer combined to block nine Duquesne shots.

Duquesne hung around for the entire first half, trailing 34-28 at halftime, and led 37-36 with 17:36 remaining in the second half on a 3-point play by Brad Midgley, who was replacing Smith in the starting lineup.

But Massachusetts guard Monty Mack, who led all scorers with 25 points, nailed a jumper and followed with a 3-pointer to put the Minutemen back in front for good. Duquesne kept the lead under 10 until Brand scored the third of three consecutive baskets with 8:17 to go to give Massachusetts (6-10, 4-1) a 60-50 lead.

"We played better as a team," said Duquesne guard Courtney Wallace, who led four Dukes in double figures with 17 points. "Dudes got tired of playing their own way. Sometimes we go individually. We knew we could play together as a team."

Teammate Kevin Forney, one of the players critical of the Dukes' play after the loss to La Salle, agreed.

"It is a positive step," Forney said. "We came out and played as a team. We talked about it (Friday) night. We wanted to play as a team."

Brand added 16 points and Rhymer 15 to go with a game-high 12 rebounds for Massachusetts.

Joining Wallace in double figures for Duquesne were Jack May, who scored a career-high 14 to go with a team-high nine rebounds; Forney with 11; and Jamal Hunter with a career-high 10.

UMass teaches Dukes a lesson
Lose, 80-69, without Smith, but offense more balanced
By Ray Fittipaldo, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer, 1/21/2001

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Duquesne lost another game last night, but the Dukes might have learned something in the process.

For the first time since he set foot on campus more than two years ago, Wayne Smith wasn't in the lineup. Smith, their leading scorer and rebounder, sat out with a bruised left heel.

Micah Brand cuts off the lane from Aaron Lovelace.
The Dukes played like a team again and received a balanced scoring effort with four players in double figures, but they had no answer for Massachusetts' post players or first-team Atlantic 10 Conference guard Monty Mack and lost, 80-69, at the Springfield Civic Center.

"We pulled together as a team," said sophomore guard Kevin Forney, who was critical of the team's performance after a 13-point loss Wednesday at La Salle.

"We played great as a team. We made the extra pass. We played unselfish. We talked about it last night as a team. We wanted to play as a team. We wanted to stick together as a team no matter if we won or lost."

Dukes Coach Darelle Porter echoed those sentiments.

"We played much better than we did against La Salle," Porter said. "This is something we can build on."

Two Dukes' players had career-highs. Sophomore forward Jack May scored 14 points and junior guard Jamal Hunter scored 10 points. May and senior point guard Courtney Wallace tied for the team lead in shots with 16 apiece. May was 7 for 16 from the field; Wallace 6 for 16.

"The way they played us dictated who took the shots," Porter said. "They dictated that. We just made the extra pass and then took the shot."

While the offense was improved, the defense, especially the interior post defense, struggled against the mammoth front line of Massachusetts. Micah Brand, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, was 8 for 11 from the field and scored 16 points. Senior center Kitwana Rhymer (6-10, 260) had 15 points. The Minutemen (6-10, 4-1) were led by senior guard Monty Mack with 25 points.

"We weren't helping down low," Wallace said. "We didn't do a good job."

That duo also posed problems for the Dukes' offense as they combined for nine of the team's 13 blocks.

Despite Massachusetts' dominance inside, the Dukes were able to stay competitive late into the game.

The Dukes (7-11, 1-4) struggled early to find their rhythm without Smith. They went scoreless for nearly 6 1/2 minutes early in the first half, but Massachusetts failed to take advantage, leading just 12-8 after the Dukes' dry spell.

Massachusetts took its biggest lead of the first half on a Jonathan DePina 3-pointer with 7:47 left for a 23-13 lead, but the Dukes were able to stay close and cut the lead to six at halftime when May and Forney led a 6-2 spurt in the final minute.

The momentum carried over into the second half when the Dukes scored eight of the first 10 points after intermission and took their first and only lead of the game when Brad Midgley completed a 3-point play with 17:36 remaining.

But the lead was short-lived. Mack restored the lead with a basket and then a 3-pointer 13 seconds later for a lead the Minutemen never relinquished.

The Dukes trailed by only eight with six minutes remaining, but the Minutemen went on an 8-0 run to put the game away.

Forney had 11 points. Midgley nine and junior forward Aaron Lovelace eight as six players took six shots or more.

"I thought they played pretty good without Smith," Massachusetts Coach Bruiser Flint said. "More people get the ball when he's not in there."

"We didn't call as many set plays tonight," Porter said. "We adjusted without Wayne. I thought we did a good job without our leading scorer."

NOTES -- Duquesne assistant coach Jarrett Durham stood by Duquense players as they were interviewed by reporters outside the Dukes' locker room, a reaction after what some players said after the La Salle game. ... Senior guard Chuck Stanfield (pink eye, ear infection) played 11 minutes, did not score and fouled out. ... The Dukes have now lost 15 consecutive games on the road and 16 in a row to Massachusetts. ... The Dukes return home Tuesday night against George Washington, the first game of a four-game homestand. They played four of their first five conference games on the road. ... Attendance was 6,837 for Massachusetts' first game in Springfield in six seasons.

Minutemen come up big vs. Duquesne
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 1/21/2001

SPRINGFIELD The Atlantic 10 Conference title is clearly up for grabs this season.

And UMass continues to drive home the point that despite the 6-10 overall record, and despite the horrible start, the Minutemen are as much of a conference factor as Temple, St. Joseph's, Xavier or Dayton.

Last night's 80-69 win over Duquesne at the Springfield Civic Center pushed the Minutemen's conference record to 4-1.

There are now two A-10 teams (St. Joseph's and Xavier) with 5-1 conference records, and two more (UMass and Temple) at 4-1. St. Joseph's, after losing to Xavier (14-3) yesterday, is 14-4 overall. Temple (10-9) lost a nonleague game to DePaul, 65-64, yesterday.

Duquesne coach Darelle Porter, after watching the Minutemen beat his Dukes (7-11, 1-4) from all angles last night, said he expected to see the same UMass team that has thrived of late.

``They did the same thing to Dayton that they did against us with their size,'' said Porter, who was handicapped by the absence of leading scorer Wayne Smith, the 6-foot-7 forward who missed last night's game with a hand injury. ``They're one of the hottest teams in the league. I know they'll fare well against any of the teams that we've played so far.''

The Minutemen hit the road for Philadelphia this week, first with a game against La Salle on Thursday, then heading over to North Philly for a game against Temple on Saturday that now looms particularly large.

``One, (the players) knew we were playing badly, and two, they know we can win the league,'' UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. ``I told them that it was a new season - 0-0 - in January. But we started to understand why we were losing early. We're hitting the free throws we missed before and getting the rebounds, and we're not turning the ball over for layups.''

And it's all rooted in efforts like the one last night, when the Minutemen started with a 1-2 inside punch from center Kitwana Rhymer and power forward Micah Brand, drifted out to Monty Mack, and then came back inside to finish off the small Duquesne frontcourt.

Rhymer, who has 34 points and 25 rebounds over the last two games, finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks last night. Brand, on the way to a 16-point, four-block performance, scored most of the vital inside hoops that opened up the UMass lead down the stretch.

And though Mack finished with his requisite 25 points, this time on sound 9-for-18 shooting, the senior guard once again had inside support.

The balance has made the Minutemen a more difficult team to defend than anyone thought imaginable in early to mid-December.

``Everyone has a little more confidence in each other,'' Mack said.

Last night, the bulk of those votes went to the frontcourt, after the Dukes cut what had been a nine-point UMass lead down to 54-50 with 9:41 left.

Brand got the call and responded with three straight hoops on a hook, a put-back and a layup off a Jonathan DePina bounce pass for a 60-50 edge with 8:17 left.

Duquesne's Jamal Hunter stepped in with a drive for a three-point play, but Brand came back again, this time with a difficult spin for a finger roll off the baseline and a 62-53 edge. That lead grew to 71-54, courtesy of a subsequent 9-0 run, before the Minutemen started to drift back toward earth.

The Dukes cut the UMass lead back to 75-64 on Courtney Wallace's 3-pointer with 1:18 left.

UMass notes

The Minutemen combined for a season-high 13 blocks, with four different players swatting two or more. Curiously enough, the school record of 20 was recorded against West Virginia on Jan. 3, 1995 - the last time the Minutemen played in the Springfield Civic Center. . . .

Since the start of Atlantic 10 play five games ago, Rhymer has averaged 14.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. . . .

Last night's ``home'' crowd of 6,837 was a season high - eclipsing all four games at the Mullins Center this season.

Minutemen hold off Dukes' charge
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/22/2001

SPRINGFIELD - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team didn't play much like a team that is now a half game out of first place (behind St. Joseph's and Xavier, which are both 5-1). Fortunately for the Minutemen, they didn't have to.

UMass overcame sloppy defense and couldn't quite develop a bench-clearing lead, but it still improved to 4-1 (6-10 overall) in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 80-69 win over Duquesne at the Springfield Civic Center Saturday.

Monty Mack led the Minutemen with 25 points, while Micah Brand added 16. Kitwana Rhymer had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Courtney Wallace led the Dukes (7-11, 1-4 A-10) with 17 points, while Jack May added 14.

UMass heads to Philadelphia for a two-game stretch, playing La Salle Thursday at 7 p.m. and Temple Saturday at noon.

Despite missing top player Wayne Smith (18.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game), who was sidelined with a heel injury, the Dukes hung around.

The Minutemen kept their lead around 10 points late in the first half and held a 34-24 advantage with 1:06 left until intermission.

But Duquesne missed the memo that it was expected to roll over without Smith. Instead, the Dukes made a halftime-crossing 13-2 run that included seven points by May to take a 37-36 lead over the surprised Minutemen.

Mack, who had a seven-point off night against Dayton Thursday, took it out on Duquesne. He put the Minutemen back ahead, 38-37, with a driving floater on the baseline.

Wallace tried to respond, driving at the other end, but Brand blocked his shot, starting a fast break that Mack ended with a 3-pointer.

The Dukes had to spread their defense back out to try to slow Mack. UMass answered by pounding the ball back inside.

Four straight baskets by Brand kick-started a 17-4 Minutemen run that put the UMass ahead, 71-54, with 3:19 left.

Thinking the game was in hand, the Minutemen got sloppy on defense in the final three minutes, allowing Duquesne to make the score more respectable. When Aaron Lovelance made two free throws with 27 seconds left to cut the UMass lead to 78-69, Flint was angry on the sidelines.

"Hey!" he shouted to his team as it set up to inbound. "The game is not over."

"We started turning the ball over and they started coming back," Mack said. "That's the time we have to concentrate on little things."

But when Rhymer swished two free throws, it was over, and the Minutemen walked off the court winners of four of their last five.

"I told them in the locker room, we need to put the foot on them," Flint said. "You have to step on their neck. We didn't to that. But it's better for us to learn from a win than it is from a loss."

UMass standing tall in A-10
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/22/2001

SPRINGFIELD - With 6:47 left in the game and the University of Massachusetts leading, 60-53, Duquesne's Kevin Forney threw the ball to Jack May on the right block.

The 6-foot-8 center spun right, but he was met by 6-10 Kitwana Rhymer, hands raised. May kicked the ball out to the perimeter and the Dukes worked the ball around, looking for a shot. Running out of options, Jamal Hunter drove to the hoop and tried to beat the 35-second clock, but 6-11 Micah Brand was waiting for him and swatted his shot, forcing the shot-clock violation.

At the other end of the floor, the Minutemen got the ball to Brand on the left block, where 6-5 Brad Midgley tried to guard him.

Brand spun on him and dropped in a 7-footer. As he ran back down the court, Midgley looked at coach Darelle Porter as if to say, "What am I supposed to do with that?"

Porter didn't have an answer. He's not alone.

Unable to match up with the Minutemen inside, the Dukes suffered the same fate as George Washington, Xavier and Dayton.

That list is likely to get longer. The Atlantic 10 isn't exactly a stockyard when it comes to beef inside. No other team in the conference has two players who are 6-10 or taller. UMass' frontline depth makes it even tougher to deal with.

Reserves Jackie Rogers (6-8) and Eric Williams (6-9) have played well lately, and Ronell Blizzard (6-8) is a matchup problem at either forward spot.

"Most of the teams in the league, with the exception of Temple, are two-, three- or four inches shorter than us," Brand said. "We have to take advantage when we get the ball inside."

Saturday, Rhymer and Brand took turns frustrating Duquesne with 15 and 16 points, respectively. Rhymer's two-game totals of 34 points and 25 rebounds earned him the Atlantic 10 player of the week honors.

"Coming into the game, we knew we had the height advantage," Monty Mack said. "We knew we wanted to post the ball a lot and that's exactly what we did. Micah, Kit and Jackie (Rogers) did a great job."

Brand's block of Hunter was one of a team season-high 13 rejections in the game by the Minutemen, who lead the league with 88. Rhymer who is the top individual swatter with 36 (2.25 per game) rejected six. Brand blocked four and Blizzard and Rogers had two each.

Rhymer said UMass' inside unit is enjoying its size advantage.

"It's fun," Rhymer said. "We just have to make sure we stay low and play defense."

GAIN, NO PAIN - Senior guard Monty Mack, who scored only seven points while suffering from a toothache Thursday, rebounded with his fourth game of 25 points or more. He's cleared the quarter-century mark 14 times in his career.

Mack's 25 points moved him within striking distance of Lou Roe, whose No. 2 position on UMass' career scoring list is precarious. Mack has 1,886 and needs 20 to pass Roe's 1,905.

CIVIC SUCCESS: Despite the lack of a prestigious opponent and weather warnings, the return to the Springfield Civic Center was successful from an attendance standpoint, as 6,837 fans took in the game.

"It was a great crowd," Flint said. "They came to the game and they were enthusiastic. I thought it was a great atmosphere."

MISCELLANEOUS: The Minutemen now have beaten Duquesne 16 consecutive times. The Dukes are the only A-10 team that has never beaten Flint... UMass' 80 points and 11 steals were season highs.

Video clips

All clips in MPEG format.
Video clip Micah Brand cleans up after Jackie Rogers. (file size = 144k)
Video clip The Duke defense came in too late to stop Brand. (120k)
Video clip Brand gets space in the lane and puts up a soft shot. (136k)
Video clip Jonathan DePina knocks down the 3-ball. (200k)
Video clip Give the assist to DePina and the 2 points to Brand. (216k)
Video clip Kit Rhymer shows some post moves. (168k)

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Duquesne Dukes 69
Massachusetts Minutemen 80
at the Springfield Civic Center

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Midgley         33   4-6   1-1   1-4  1  0    9
Lovelace        33   1-7   6-7   4-5  2  3    8
May             34  7-16   0-1   4-9  0  1   14
Wallace         31  6-16   2-2   2-4  1  3   17
Forney          30  4-10   3-4   2-2  0  3   11
Hunter          17   4-8   2-2   0-1  1  0   10
Stanfield       11   0-4   0-0   1-3  0  5    0
Clark           11   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
TOTALS         200 26-67 14-17 14-28  5 15   69

Percentages: FG-.388, FT-.824. 3-Point Goals:
3-9, .333 (Midgley 0-1, Wallace 3-5, Hunter 0-2,
Stanfield 0-1). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots:
1 (Lovelace). Turnovers: 17 (Stanfield 4, Forney
3, Wallace 3, Hunter 2, Lovelace 2, Midgley 2,
May). Steals: 6 (Lovelace 3, May 2, Stanfield).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Smith           21   1-2   0-1   0-0  4  1    2
Brand           23  8-11   0-0   1-5  0  2   16
Rhymer          33   4-9   7-8  6-12  1  3   15
Mack            37  9-18   5-8   1-5  3  2   25
Crooks          26   3-4   0-0   0-3  2  4    6
Depina          21   2-3   0-1   0-1  3  3    6
Rogers          18   3-6   0-0   3-6  1  2    6
Blizzard        18   2-5   0-0   2-2  2  2    4
Williams         3   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
TOTALS         200 32-58 12-18 13-34 16 19   80

Percentages: FG-.552, FT-.667. 3-Point Goals:
4-13, .308 (Mack 2-9, Crooks 0-1, Depina 2-3).
Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 13 (Rhymer 5,
Brand 4, Rogers 2, Blizzard 2). Turnovers: 18
(Mack 4, Smith 4, Crooks 3, Rogers 2, Blizzard,
Brand, Depina, Rhymer, Williams). Steals: 11
(Depina 4, Smith 3, Rhymer 2, Crooks, Mack).
Duquesne           28   41  -   69
Massachusetts      34   46  -   80
Technical fouls: Duquesne 1 (Wallace).  A: 6,837.
Officials: Leroy Hendricks, Terrance Murphy,
Andrew Walton.

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