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Flint's future with team in doubt
UMass ends on a sour note, loses to Bonnies
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 3/3/2001

AMHERST - It was a day to honor the seniors, but it became a day that seemed to spell doom for the coach.

Photo
Not surprising, the post-game interview topic was Bruiser's status much more than the Bonnies' win.
Unless the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team wins the Atlantic 10 tournament and captures a berth in the NCAA tournament, Bruiser Flint's five-year career as coach may be over. Even winning the tournament holds no guarantee he'll be back, as Flint's chances of returning were dealt a crushing blow by yesterday's 66-59 loss to St. Bonaventure before a skimpy 5,237 at the Mullins Center.

A downcast Flint didn't deny that a change seems inevitable. Yesterday's loss left UMass with a final 13-14 regular-season record - the Minutemen's second losing season in three years - and an 11-5 Atlantic 10 mark that left UMass in fourth place.

"I'm not crazy - I know I followed a guy (John Calipari) who took us to the Final Four," Flint said. "But I'm proud of what I've done here. I've won games, graduated players and we've had no problems. Whether I'm the coach here next year or not, I'll walk out of here with my head held high.

"I think I'm good enough to go someplace else," said Flint, facing the possibility of being fired with one year left on his contract. "And if I'm back here, we'll go at it again."

UMass athletic director Bob Marcum says no decision will be made until after the season is over. But it was clear that as of this point, Marcum doesn't consider Flint's record good enough. "Well, we're on the minus (won-lost) side,"' Marcum said. "We have to win two at the conference tournament just to qualify for the NIT.

"But I guess I'm like the guy who jumps off the Empire State Building," Marcum said. "Even as I'm falling past the last floor, I still think I'll survive."

For UMass, the last floor appears to be the upcoming Atlantic 10 tournament in Philadelphia. To reach the NIT, which would be Flint's fourth postseason tournament in five years, requires UMass to win two games and finish 15-15, since a .500 record is the minimum requirement. Three wins in the A-10 tournament would earn the automatic NCAA berth.

"When the season is over, we'll talk to the coach, the trustees and the chancellor (David K. Scott), and we also have an acting chancellor (Marcellette G. Williams)," Marcum said. "The office of the (UMass) president (William M. Bulger) will also be contacted."

Asked what type of job he thinks Flint has done, Marcum said "I don't think I need to go into that until I talk to the coach."

Senior guard Jonathan DePina scored a career high 16 points in his final home game. Monty Mack went out with less success, scoring 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Mack, who shot 1 for 11 in the second half of Tuesday's 84-69 loss at St. Joseph's, missed his first seven shots yesterday.

Oddly, UMass will face a rematch against St. Bonaventure (18-10, 9-7 A-10), which clinched the fifth seed and a first-round bye yesterday. The Minutemen-Bonnies quarterfinal will be Thursday afternoon (2:30) at Philadelphia's First Union Spectrum.

Yesterday, St. Bonaventure won without center Peter Van Paassen, who sat out with an ankle injury. Forward Kevin Houston scored 26 points, even after suffering a hip injury late in the first half.

Houston scored 17 points in the first half, and J.R. Bremer notched 16 of his 20 points in the second half. Bremer hit three 3-point shots during an 11-2 Bonnies' run that made it 50-40 with 7:41 left.

UMass was within 55-51 with 2:11 left. But Houston's layup with the shot clock running down made it 57-51 with 48 seconds to go.


Seniors' finale very frustrating
UMass notebook
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 3/4/2001

AMHERST - In his last University of Massachusetts home game, Jonathan DePina scored a career high in points, but rarely looked so low afterward.

"Every time we got close, they made big shots," said DePina, who scored 16 points and hit four 3-pointers in yesterday's 66-59 men's basketball loss to St. Bonaventure at the Mullins Center. "You want to win any game, but especially on Senior Day. It's very frustrating.

"We should have been more aggressive," added DePina, whose previous career high had been 15 points against Cincinnati as a freshman in 1997. "We should have been getting the ball inside, driving, and swinging the ball around, but too often, we just held it."

Photo
Kit Rhymer goes for the swat.
In addition to DePina, UMass seniors honored included Monty Mack, Winston Smith and Kitwana Rhymer. Mack scored 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Smith played eight scoreless minutes. He did not appear in the second half until 34 seconds remained.

Rhymer will return next year if he graduates on time this spring, restoring the year of eligibility he lost for academic rules as a freshman. UMass coach Bruiser Flint said Rhymer is on pace to graduate.

LOST OPPORTUNITY:

Flint agreed that from a team standpoint, UMass didn't deserve to win.

"We played terrible the entire game, but we still had chances to take it, and we didn't," he said.

UMass led only once, a 29-28 edge after Mack's 3-point shot opened the second-half scoring. Flint didn't think St. Bonaventure's zone defense took away the UMass inside game as much as self-inflicted mistakes did.

"We got the ball inside, but we didn't catch it," Flint said. "We fumbled it away."

FINISHING FOURTH:

UMass wound up in fourth place in the Atlantic 10 with an 11-5 record. Temple (12-4) slipped into third by beating George Washington yesterday.

By finishing fifth, St. Bonaventure (9-7 A-10) earned a quarterfinal rematch Thursday against UMass. Dayton, which is home against Xavier today, winds up sixth and will have to play a first-round game.

Dayton is 8-7 in the conference, but would lose a tiebreaker to the Bonnies, who won the head-to-head meeting.

Avoiding a first-round game was important to banged-up St. Bonaventure, which yesterday was without center Peter Van Paassen (ankle). Guard Patricio Prato is playing with a heavily bandaged wrist that was broken earlier this year.

Another guard, Marques Green, has been bothered by a charley horse. And forward Kevin Houston scored 26 points yesterday despite landing heavily on his hip in the first half.

CRUCIAL MOMENTS:

UMass let yesterday's game get away with a poor sequence in the second half.

With the Minutemen trailing 39-38, Mack tried a rare behind-the-back pass to Shannon Crooks on a fast break, but the ball went out of bounds. As he leaned off the bench, UMass associate coach Geoff Arnold nearly hit his head on the floor in frustration.

St. Bonaventure's J.R. Bremer followed with a 3-point shot, UMass forward Eric Williams missed a putback dunk, Bremer hit another 3-pointer, and UMass was called for a 3-second violation.

By and large, Williams played well with six points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.


Bruiser remains class act
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 3/4/2001

AMHERST - His wife, daughter and father joined the press conference, because this was one day in which Bruiser Flint a man who has endured relentless pressure with unmatched dignity probably needed the support of his loved ones.

"It's like a morgue in here," the University of Massachusetts men's basketball said in an effort to lighten the mood. But yesterday's 66-59 loss to St. Bonaventure, before 5,327 fans and 4,166 empty seats, left everyone feeling that Flint had coached his last game at the Mullins Center.

"It's been a grind," he admitted. "You lose a game, and all you hear about is Bruiser getting fired. But you've got to keep going."

The question of what to do with Flint goes far beyond the usual coaching issues. Monty Mack, for one, calls Flint his male role model. Flint's case cuts to the very soul of what UMass sports are ultimately supposed to represent.

What he offers is an integrity rare in an era when dollars matter more than sense. Flint's supporters point that out since he became coach, his record ranks in the top three among his A-10 peers.

"My record speaks for itself," Flint said. But it doesn't. Is it the 2-9 nonconference record that's speaking, or the fine 11-5 Atlantic 10 mark that showed such tremendous resilience?

Is it the 44-46 record over the past three years, and this year's lackluster 3-4 finish that included a blowout home loss to Temple, a blown 19-point lead at St. Joseph's and yesterday's flat finale? Or is it those three inspirational wins against Xavier and Temple?

"If I do come back, some things have to be done differently," Flint said. He feels he has been stuck with an impossibly hard nonconference schedule, one designed to grab any available cash for a strapped athletic department, but doomed to failure.

The athletic director is not sympathetic.

"If his perception of the schedule is different than mine, I'm sorry," Bob Marcum said. "I didn't hear anyone complain about the schedule in August. But when your record goes on the minus side, of course there will be questions."

Marcum was asked if the prospect of firing Flint bothered him.

"You think I sit around here and hope he fails?" Marcum asked. "We've got a huge investment in coach Flint."

Well, that was touching.

Because Marcum and Flint are so different one the businessman, the other the humanist everyone wants to lump total blame on one or the other. No one wants to accept that maybe both are at fault.

A schedule with 16 road games, with the UConn game in Hartford only two days after a game at Ohio State, is too hard. Playing at Marquette two days after your opener with four new players getting their feet wet is a recipe for defeat.

So Marcum must accept some responsibility. But the Marquette game was winnable, as was Providence, Richmond and even though the Minutemen are better Holy Cross.

And what about yesterday? So Flint must shoulder some responsibility, too.

"We always play hard we just didn't play with any smarts," he said in sizing up yesterday's loss. That doesn't exactly strengthen his case.

Everybody would be happy if somebody called up Flint today, and offered him a different job. Flint could finally escape expectations he'll never satisfy. Marcum would get his new coach without the unpleasantness of firing Flint.

If you have compassion for one of the most truly decent coaches in college sports, you'll hope somebody makes that call. If it doesn't happen, please understand that while a change of coaches seems inevitable and forthcoming, the day it takes place will also be very sad.


Flint's UMass ship sinks further
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 3/4/2001

AMHERST - Bruiser Flint, masochist that he is, watched Denny Crum's farewell press conference on Friday.

Crum's words hurt, but the UMass coach couldn't stop watching. He has lived with the same insecurity as the Louisville legend all winter.

``I thought about how hard it was for him, and he's been doing it for 30 years,'' said Flint, who is wrapping up his fifth year as a college head coach.

Photo
Shannon Crooks keeps an eye on Kevin Houston here, but Houston got the last laugh with 26 points to lead all scorers.
And yesterday, while watching his once-hot Minutemen melt with a 66-59 loss to St. Bonaventure in their Atlantic 10 regular-season finale, Flint felt his own position starting to sink.

The ``Bye-bye Bruiser'' chant that spat out of the student section with 33 seconds left was merely an indication of the trouble within.

The Minutemen are now 13-14. Thanks to yesterday's collapse against the Bonnies, who were playing without their best player, Peter Van Paassen, they will play St. Bonaventure again in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament on Thursday in Philadelphia. Only this time, St. Bonaventure will probably have the hurting Van Paassen on the floor.

UMass needs two wins to reach .500 and thus qualify for an NIT berth, meaning the fourth-seeded Minutemen probably have to beat conference giant St. Joseph's in Friday's semifinals.

To qualify for the NCAA tournament - the only thing that is likely to save Flint's job - they must win the entire A-10 tournament. A week ago, they were playing well enough to get that far. But Flint admitted that the team he saw on the floor yesterday had a lot more in common with the mistake-prone group that limped off to a 2-9 start.

As a result, with his father, James, outgoing UMass chancellor David Scott, and his wife, Renee, and daughter, Jada, making a rare appearance at his postgame press conference, Flint started to talk about the prospect of life after UMass.

``Whether I'm the coach here or not, I'm going to hold my head high,'' he said. ``I'm proud of my kids, and I know I'm a better coach now. My record speaks for itself. I've done better than most. If it's not good enough, then I'll move on. I know I'm good enough to go somewhere else.

``People will talk about it,'' Flint said of the speculation that is sure to hit a higher level this week about his job. ``We'll see. If it is, it is. I'm proud of what I've done here. I've won games, I've graduated my kids and we've had no problems.

``And I know that if I come back, some things will have to change. I followed a guy who took this team to the Final Four. I knew the expectations that would follow. But I did the things that they asked me to do. So you have to do things on your own terms, and make things work for you.''

Flint wants to change the philosophy behind UMass' nonconference schedule - a slate that has always featured lots of travel and elite competition as a way of earning revenue and exposure for the cash-strapped UMass athletic program. Though athletic director Bob Marcum insists that Flint has veto power over these games, Flint has often felt he was not in a position to say no to his boss.

This season, that meant flying to Milwaukee to play for a guaranteed $35,000 against Marquette, and to Charlotte for a two-game guarantee of $85,000 to tip off a tournament against North Carolina.

At one point this season, the UMass schedule was ranked the seventh-toughest in the nation. Flint has argued that more home games and less early season travel would put his team on track for the annual postseason mission the UMass crowd expects.

Marcum, however, was clear that he intends to continue scheduling the cream of Division 1, regardless of his coach. Asked about whether he felt any personal anguish over the prospect of firing Flint - still a beloved figure on campus - the athletic director chose to speak of all his coaches in general.

``We have a huge investment in coach Flint,'' said Marcum. ``Why wouldn't we want him to be successful? We want all of our coaches to be successful.''

That success failed to show up in other ways yesterday, as well. Monty Mack, Kitwana Rhymer, Jonathan DePina and Winston Smith were all honored during a pregame senior day ceremony in front of a sparse crowd of 5,327.

Sagging attendance and ticket sales have long been one of the prime arguments against Flint.

``They're our seniors,'' said Marcum. ``I would have liked the place to be full. Did I expect it to be? No. Did we have any indication that it would be? No. You'd like it to be better for your seniors, but that was not the case.''

That leaves this week's trip to Philadelphia as the final test, with three wins needed to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Asked if that would help Flint's cause, Marcum said heartily, ``You'd better believe it will.''


ST. BONAVENTURE 66, UMASS 59
Loss may be Flint's finale
By Mark Blaudschun, The Boston Globe Staff, 3/4/2001

AMHERST - It wasn't a concession speech, but it was close. He talked about the pride he has in his players. He talked about the future, with a proviso that if he does return, there will have to be some things done differently.

As Bruiser Flint spoke yesterday, his father, James Flint Sr., wife, Rene, and daughter, Jada, sat a few feet away in the interview room at the Mullins Center.

It was Senior Day and an announced crowd of 5,327 came to say their goodbyes at the Atlantic 10 regular-season finale between the University of Massachusetts and St. Bonaventure.

Photo
Micah Brand cuts off Vidal Massiah.
But after the lackluster 66-59 loss by the Minutemen (13-14, 11-5), there was a feeling it might also be Flint's final home appearance as the UMass coach.

Flint, finishing up his fifth season at the helm, has been living with the uncertainty about his coaching future for three years. But it has peaked recently, with constant questions, reported sightings of former Indiana coach Bob Knight on campus, and a growing sentiment that when the season ends, so will Flint's UMass coaching career.

''It's been tough,'' admitted Flint, referring not only to the loss to the Bonnies, which dropped the Minutemen to the No. 4 seed in this week's A-10 tournament and set up a first-round rematch with St. Bonaventure (18-10, 9-7) Thursday, but to the off-the-court chatter as well. ''We were 2-9 at the start, but then we fought back [to finish 11-5 in the A-10].''

Then Flint kicked it up a notch. ''Whether I coach here [next season] or not, my record speaks for itself,'' he said. ''I'm proud of my kids. When you look at it, I've done better than most. I followed someone [John Calipari] who took his team to the Final Four.''

He then paused and dealt with the lingering questions. ''If I'm not here, I'll move on,'' he said. ''If I come back, some things have to change. We have to do some things differently.''

Asked to be more specific, Flint talked about a schedule many of his supporters believe was too tough and included too many nonconference road games.

''The biggest thing is scheduling,'' said Flint, who said it would have to be toned down, and include more home games.

When UMass athletic director Bob Marcum was relayed Flint's comments, he shook his head. ''Every game we scheduled, the coach had a chance to say yea or nay,'' said Marcum, sitting in his office after the game.

Flint said over the last five years he has compiled the third-best record of any A-10 coach. He said his players graduated and stayed out of trouble. But what Flint has heard is that it is not good enough. That the empty seats are as much a factor as whether he wins enough games.

The Minutemen should have won yesterday's game, especially considering the Bonnies' best player, 6-foot-11-inch center Peter Van Paassen, did not play because of tendinitis in his right ankle. Beating St. Bonaventure was essential to regaining some confidence. They also needed the win to ensure a .500 record (and an almost-certain National Invitation Tournament bid no matter how they do in the A-10 tourney).

Against the Bonnies, the Minutemen came out flat and trailed, 28-26, at halftime. After briefly grabbing the lead on a Monty Mack basket at the start of the second half, the Minutemen never led again, falling behind by as many 10 under a barrage of 3-point shots by forward Kevin Houston (game-high 26 points) and guard J.R. Bremer (20 points). Mack (15 points) finished just 5 of 16 from the floor, including 2 of 9 from behind the arc.

The frustration by Flint after the game was evident. Marcum said it was understandable for the coach to be down after another loss. And Marcum said he, too, was bothered by the speculation concerning Flint's future.

''Are you kidding?'' Marcum said, when asked if it affected him personally. ''Do you think I sit around here and hope he fails? We've got a huge investment in Coach Flint.''

Flint, who has one year remaining on his contract, will wait and see how the week plays out. ''We'll sit down and talk when the season is over, like we always do,'' said Marcum. ''And we'll make some recommendations.''

Marcum dismissed yesterday's gloom-and-doom attitude. ''It's like the eternal optimist: If he jumps out of the Empire State Building, as he passes the last floor he still thinks he's got a chance,'' he said.

Yesterday, Flint sounded like someone who was making that fall, whether he was pushed or jumped being the only question.

''I've had a lot of fun here,'' he said. ''Whether I'm the coach here or not, I'm going to walk out of here with my head held high.''


UMass outplayed by Bonnies
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/5/2001

AMHERST - Most people in the Mullins Center were waiting for it, but the run never came. Against an undermanned St. Bonaventure team that played sloppy basketball throughout, people waited for the University of Massachusetts to make one surge that would put it over the top, but it never happened.

Riding brilliant offensive performances from Kevin Houston (26 points) and J.R. Bremer (20 points) the Bonnies ruined UMass' Senior Day as the home team fell, 66-59, in front of 5,327 fans at the Mullins Center.

"We played terrible the entire game," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "We had opportunities to take it but threw the ball away. We didn't come up with loose balls and big rebounds. We missed big foul shots. That was it right there. It's frustrating because we had a chance to finish second or third in the league and we played the way we did."

The loss dropped the Minutemen (13-14, 11-5) into the fourth seed in this week's Atlantic 10 Tournament in Philadelphia. They face a rematch with the fifth-seeded Bonnies (18-10, 9-7) Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

"It doesn't matter who you play now," Flint said. "It's do or die for everybody."

"We have to see what we didn't do right this time and play a lot better," said senior Jonathan DePina. "We know we're a good team and we've played well in the A-10, so we're going in there confident."

The defeat wasted one of the best offensive performances of DePina's career. In his final home game he started and scored a team-best 16 points, his career high. Fellow senior Monty Mack added 15.

"It was tough," DePina said. "You really want to win on any night out there, but especially on senior night."

In addition to Mack and DePina, Winston Smith, Kitwana Rhymer and student manager Matt Collier were honored prior to the game. If Rhymer, who arrived at UMass as a nonqualifier, completes his degree requirements by the end of the summer, he can regain his lost year of eligibility next year.

After the tear-filled Senior Day celebration, the Minutemen were flat out of the gate. Houston scored eight points in a 12-2 St. Bonaventure run that put the Minutemen on their heels quickly.

Without injured center Peter Van Paassen, St. Bonaventure used different defensive looks in a two-three zone and a box-and-one on Mack to neutralize the Minutemen's inside presence. It was effective. After going 0-for-11 in the second half against St. Joseph's Tuesday, Mack missed his first seven shots Saturday.

"Without Peter, we wanted to key on Mack and really try to pack it in iside," St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron said. "I think we were really effective with that."

After St. Bonaventure expanded its lead to 22-11, the Minutemen rallied. Mack finally found the basket in a 15-6 run that also included six of Micah Brand's seven points, and brought the Minutemen within two, 28-26, at the end of the first half.

The Mullins Center erupted when Mack's 3-pointer put UMass ahead, 29-28, to open the second half, but the lead was the only one the Minutemen held all day. Bremer's 3-point bucket 21 seconds later, put the Bonnies ahead to stay.

With just under 13 minutes to play and UMass trailing 39-36, Eric Williams turned to Mack as the two ran down the court to play defense.

"I'm open," Williams said.

Mack nodded and heeded.

When he collected the ball just outside the 3-point line, Mack drove toward the basket, drawing the Bonnie defense. Mack whipped the ball to Williams, who was as open as advertised for the easy basket.

Down just 39-38, the crowd's excitement began to rise again. After the Bonnies turned the ball over, Mack led a fast break, but his ill-advised behind-the-back-pass sailed out of bounds.

Bremer sealed UMass' fate with back-to-back NBA-range 3-pointers to put Bona up, 45-38, and the Minutemen never recovered.

St. Bonaventure swept the regular-season series for the second straight year and has taken four straight from the Minutemen.


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Flint's days may be numbered
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/5/2001

AMHERST - As Bruiser Flint sat in the postgame press conference giving heartfelt thoughts on his five-year performance as the men's basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts, the feeling hung in the room that his days were numbered, and that he knew it.

Photo
Bruiser tried to wake his team up but they couldn't overcome a slow Senior Day start.
"I'm proud of what I've done here, no matter what anybody says. I've won games. I graduate my kids. We haven't had any (off-court) problems. I've done pretty much everything they asked me to do," Flint said. "Whether I'm the coach here or not, I'm going to hold my head up high. I've done a good job with my kids. I've become a better coach. What more can I say?

"The record speaks for itself as far as what I've done at UMass," he continued. "I've done better that most. If I'm not here I'll move on and I know I'll be able to coach somewhere else. If I'm back, we'll go at it again."

After Saturday's loss to St. Bonaventure on Senior Day, the Minutemen's road in the postseason became remarkably tougher. At 13-14 UMass would need to at least advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament finals to even qualify for the National Invitation Tournament. Even if the Minutemen reached the finals and lost, the Minutemen wouldn't be a lock to be invited with their 15-15 record.

In some ways, UMass getting a first-round bye hurts. A preliminary-round game would have provided an opportunity for an extra win, which would have made it easier to be eligible for the NIT.

UMass Athletic Director Bob Marcum said no decision has been made on Flint's status. While Marcum didn't rule out Flint returning, he also didn't guarantee that even making the NCAA Tournament would ensure Flint's job.

"I know it looks bad right now for us," Marcum said. "But there are still games to be played. I wouldn't want to speculate on that until the season is over."

Marcum said his won't be the only considered opinion in the decision process.

"When the season is over I'll talk to the coach, the trustees, the chancellor, the acting chancellor and the office of the president," Marcum said.

Current Chancellor David Scott is stepping down after this academic year, while Marcellette Williams serves as acting chancellor.

Flint said even if he is retained, some things would have to change.

"Being a young coach, I've pretty much done everything they've asked me to do," he said. "One of the things I've learned is you have to do some things on your own terms and make it easier on yourself and I haven't done that since I've been here. That's my fault. I know if I come back some things have to change."

Flint cited UMass' difficult non-conference schedule as a source of frustration.

"The biggest thing is the schedule and everything else will be OK," Flint said. "You have to give yourself a chance. You can't play a top-20 schedule every year and play 65- to 70 percent of your games on the road. You have to give yourself a chance."


Bonnies pounce on the Minutemen
By Adam White, The Mass. Daily Collegian Staff, 3/5/2001

Each snap of the twine was another dagger. The ball dropped through, the numbers on the scoreboard tumbled and host Massachusetts watched its regular season crumble away.

The UMass men's basketball team had chosen Saturday to commemorate its four departing seniors, but had to absorb more loss than that as visiting St. Bonaventure left town with a 66-59 victory. SBU junior guard J.R. Bremer sucked the life out of the William D. Mullins Center crowd by burying four second-half threes as the Bonnies (18-10, 9-7 Atlantic 10) slammed the coffin lid shut on a regular-season sweep of the Minutemen (13-14, 11-5 A-10).

"That's how we beat them the first time - we hit our three-point shots," said SBU coach Jim Baron, who watched him team lock up a first-round A-10 Tournament bye with the win. "[Bremer] has an uncanny ability to do that."

Bremer (20 points) and senior swingman Kevin Houston (a game-high 26) provided the bulk of the offense for the Bonnies, who connected on 8-of-19 from downtown. The Minutemen lacked paint punch despite glowing outside numbers from two of their celebrated seniors, Monty Mack (15 points) and Jonathan DePina (a career-best 16).

"We weren't strong inside," said UMass coach James "Bruiser" Flint. "Every time we caught the ball, we fumbled it. Our guys have got to be able to finish."

The Bonnies led by as many as 11 points in the first half, as Houston banged home seven of his first 12 field goal attempts en route to 17 points at the break (the nearest high was six by both DePina and teammate Micah Brand). The struggling Maroon and White frontcourt forced the guards to fire up a barrage of threes (only 2-of-12 dropped), a big reason for UMass' 28-26 deficit at the break.

"We weren't penetrating from the wing and being strong with the ball," DePina said. "We should've been a little more aggressive on the outside, swinging the ball, driving and kicking it out."

The Bonnies got a scare with under a minute to go before halftime, when Houston bit on an upfake from UMass' Eric Williams and tumbled over the junior forward, landing hard on his left hip. Though he lay writhing on the hardwood for a full five minutes and needed help getting off the court, Houston would return to score nine more points in the second half.

"He's a warrior," said Baron of Houston. "He was banged up, and they were real physical on him, but he still got it done."

Mack tore back the lead for UMass with a left-corner three a mere 28 seconds into the second half, but that's when Bremer began opening fire. His first trey was launched from almost three feet behind the top of the circle at the 19:13 mark, and his fourth dropped in from another time zone to cap a 22-11 spurt that left the Bonnies up 50-40.

"He was almost at halfcourt," said Flint of Bremer's final bomb. "What do you do? But we still had our chances."

The Minutemen were held at bay down the stretch by the Bonnie defense, an aggressive zone scheme that kept the lanes clogged and forced UMass to execute from the outside-in. Baron felt that the zone played right into the strengths of his players, while Flint grumbled about how such a defensive scheme can affect the style of officiating.

"Some referees won't call fouls when the other team plays a zone," Flint said.

Aside from the fireworks of DePina and Mack, the other seniors on the UMass squad turned in hot-and-cold performances on their big day. Center Kitwana Rhymer racked up game-highs in rebounds (nine) and blocks (two), while swingman Winston Smith registered two rebounds in only eight minutes of floor time. Smith had complained after practice Thursday about a sore knee, but Flint seemed to know nothing about such an injury.

This marked Mack's second Senior Day celebration, as he was honored last season before earning back another year of eligibility. Rhymer appears ticketed for a similar situation should he be able to graduate this spring.

"Kit should be back. You see that guy back there, with the glasses?" Flint said in the press conference, motioning toward Academic Advisor Matt Komer. "That's his job."

By virtue of the loss, UMass will this week's Atlantic 10 Tournament as the No. 4 seed. That sets up a second-round rematch with St. Bonaventure and a possible semi-final showdown with St. Joseph's. The Minutemen have fallen to both of those teams within the last six days.

"The last game-and-a-half, we just haven't played smart basketball," Flint said. "I just hope our guys can keep fighting."


Senior Day Pictures
2001 UMassHoops.com

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Video clips
2001 UMassHoops.com

All clips in MPEG format.
Video clip Monty Mack closes out the starting lineup introductions, his final at the Mullins Center. (file size = 328k)
Video clip The Minuteman hams it up for the ESPN camera. (152k)
Video clip Micah Brand hits the J to end the first half. (240k)
Video clip Shots like this helped Jonathan DePina to lead the Minutemen in scoring with 16 points. (763k)


More Pictures
2001 UMassHoops.com

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St. Bonaventure Bonnies 66
Massachusetts Minutemen 59
at the Mullins Center

ST BONAVENTURE (66)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Massiah         32   0-7   0-0   2-5  2  3    0
Houston         38  8-16   7-8   1-4  1  2   26
Habeeb          21   2-2   0-0   1-4  1  5    4
Bremer          36  6-12   4-6   0-4  2  0   20
Hayden          15   0-2   0-0   0-2  0  0    0
Green           14   1-3   4-4   0-2  1  1    7
Cheeks           8   0-0   4-6   0-1  0  0    4
Prato           17   1-2   0-0   1-1  0  1    2
Ruddock         19   1-1   1-4   2-4  0  3    3
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 19-45 20-28  7-27  7 15   66
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.422, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals:
8-19, .421 (Massiah 0-1, Houston 3-10, Bremer
4-6, Green 1-2). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots:
2 (Habeeb, Ruddock). Turnovers: 15 (Houston 4,
Bremer 2, Cheeks 2, Hayden 2, Massiah 2, Prato 2,
Habeeb). Steals: 9 (Massiah 3, Bremer 2, Houston
2, Green, Habeeb).

MASSACHUSETTS (59)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Smith            8   0-1   0-0   1-2  0  1    0
Brand           22   3-6   1-2   2-5  0  2    7
Rhymer          27   1-2   2-4   3-9  1  3    4
Depina          36  6-14   0-0   0-1  4  4   16
Mack            37  5-16   3-6   1-3  3  1   15
Rogers          17   2-4   0-0   2-3  1  4    4
Blizzard         1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Jenkins          1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Williams        13   3-6   0-0   5-6  0  1    6
Pugh             1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Crooks          37  3-12   1-2   2-5  4  4    7
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 23-61  7-14 16-34 13 21   59
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.377, FT-.500. 3-Point Goals:
6-24, .250 (Depina 4-9, Mack 2-9, Williams 0-1,
Crooks 0-5). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 4
(Rhymer 2, Brand, Williams). Turnovers: 14
(Crooks 3, Brand 2, Depina 2, Mack 2, Rhymer 2,
Blizzard, Rogers, Williams). Steals: 8 (Crooks 3,
Mack 2, Brand, Depina, Rogers).
__________________________________
St Bonaventure     28   38  -   66
Massachusetts      26   33  -   59
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 5,237. Officials: Jeff
Clark, John Moreau, Steve Turner.

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