HILADELPHIA — For the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team, it's one down and — two to go for the Atlantic 10 tournament championship.
Playing one of its most methodical games of the season, UMass eliminated St. Bonaventure with yesterday's 79-58 quarterfinal win at the First Union Spectrum.
Monty Mack couldn't be stopped, hitting 8-10 from long range.
"I just wanted to go out and play aggressively and with energy," Mack said. "I wanted to lead by example."
"Monty hit some early shots, and we feed off that," said forward Micah Brand, who had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Center Kitwana Rhymer scored 11 points with nine rebounds for UMass (14-14), which had lost twice to St. Bonaventure (18-11) during the regular season, including last Saturday in Amherst.
UMass will meet A-10 regular-season champion St. Joseph's (25-5), an 82-74 quarterfinal winner over La Salle, in tonight's semifinal at 7. A win would ensure at least a .500 season for UMass, meaning the Minutemen would qualify for NIT consideration.
It would also bring UMass to within a game of the A-10 title game, which the Minutemen have not reached since winning five straight titles from 1992-96.
"We have to get the ball inside, stay on top of their perimeter guys, and be more patient on offense than the last time we played St. Joseph's," Flint said in looking at tonight's game. "And all five guys have to guard, because we're not a team that's going to come out and score 1,000 points."
In its Feb. 27 game at St. Joseph's, UMass led by 19 in the first half but abandoned its inside game and wound up losing 84-69.
Mack had gone cold in the final week of the regular season. But yesterday, he tied his season high in points, and his eight 3-pointers were not only a personal best, but tied the UMass single-game record shared by Carmelo Travieso (twice), Lorenzo Sutton (twice) and Rafer Giles.
Mack even banked one 3-pointer, giving UMass an early 9-0 lead.
"Sometimes you need a little luck on your side," he said. "I didn't call the bank shot, either."
Three players, including Travieso in 1996, had shared the A-10 tournament record of seven 3-pointers in a game.
UMass recorded season highs in 3-pointers (10) and assists (22). Senior point guard Jonathan DePina, inserted into the starting lineup as part of a three-guard set, tied his season high with seven assists. "It doesn't matter what position I play," said Shannon Crooks, who moved from point guard to the wing with DePina running the offense. "Whatever the coach needs me to do, I'll do it."
UMass led 30-22 at halftime. Mack then scored 20 points in the second half, including the Minutemen's first 11, and fourth-seeded UMass finished with 53.2 percent shooting and 52.6 from 3-point range.
No. 5 seed St. Bonaventure, which expects an NIT invitation, was without center Peter Van Paassen, who is out with ankle problems. That left the Bonnies with basically a two-man attack, and even though forward Kevin Houston (18 points) and guard J.R. Bremer (17) were productive, they had little backup help.
HILADELPHIA — Does Bill Cosby knows something about Bruiser Flint's status the public does not?
One of the most famous of University of Massachusetts alumni, the entertainer made his annual appearance at the Atlantic 10 men's basketball tournament yesterday. His brief comments suggested his understanding that Flint will be out as coach — even as UMass athletic director Bob Marcum insists nothing will be determined until the season is over.
"Already got the news," Cosby said when asked about Flint. "It's done."
Cosby declined further comment, but shook hands with Flint as the coach headed to the locker room for halftime of yesterday's 79-58 quarterfinal win over St. Bonaventure at First Union Spectrum.
Cosby also engaged in a long, cordial discussion with Flint's wife, Rene, after which the two shared a friendly embrace. The comedian has been a Flint supporter in the past.
Marcum has claimed nothing is done until the season is done.
"That's always been our stance," Marcum restated yesterday. "Others are speculating. I don't."
Flint's only hope of saving his job is believed to be if UMass wins the A-10 tournament and qualifies for the NCAA tournament. Cosby's comment raised questions of whether even that will be sufficient.
"Whatever happens, happens," Flint said wearily.
Flint is from Philadelphia, where two coaching jobs are also in question. Yesterday, La Salle's Speedy Morris said he felt he deserved to return next season for the final year of his contract.
Drexel fired coach Steve Seymour yesterday after a 15-12 season, fueling speculation Flint's name may come up in the replacement search.
Yesterday, Flint only expressed surprise Seymour was let go.
Somehow, Micah Brand seems to play better when sports psychologist Joseph Carr is in the house. With Carr on the UMass bench, Brand had 15 points and nine rebounds.
HILADELPHIA — In terms of style, this was pure UMass - rough and sticky in the defensive end, with just enough offense to nail down a win.
Shannon Crooks tries to get in Marques Green's way.
``They know, without question, what we are up against it here,'' Flint said. ``We're in the playoffs now. We could have won by one point and I would have been happy.''
UMass will play St. Joseph's, the A-10 regular-season champ, tonight in the semifinals, and there couldn't be more contrast. St. Joseph's beat La Salle, 82-74.
The Hawks have point guard Jameer Nelson, one of the most offensively fluid freshmen in the country, and Marvin O'Connor, a frightening scorer who went down in history last week for cramming 18 points into a 57-second stretch against La Salle. The Hawks have an elegant offense that has captured the heart of every basketball purist in Philadelphia.
And UMass gets to don its bogeyman suit today, in front of a hostile Spectrum crowd.
Often clumsy, always on the brink of disaster, the Minutemen (14-14) are everything the Hawks (25-5) are not.
As evidenced by the 36 percent St. Bonaventure shot from the floor yesterday and the game's low-scoring, lumbering pace, the Minutemen flourish when points are scored at the speed of farm machinery.
The day was left for Monty Mack to bury with a 29-point effort on a steaming 9-for-13 shooting performance, including 8-for-10 from 3-point range.
His eight 3-pointers tied the UMass single-game record, held by Carmelo Travieso, Lorenzo Sutton and Rafer Giles, and set an Atlantic 10 tournament record.
For a player who had shot 6-for-27 over the Minutemen's previous three halves, yesterday's performance might as well have been a sign from above.
His second 3-pointer of the game was an improbable banker from the left side.
``You need a little luck on your side sometimes,'' the senior guard said. ``I just went out and took what they gave me. They beat us twice this season. I just wanted to play hard.''
Mack's performance was supplemented by an 11-point, nine-rebound effort from Kitwana Rhymer that included most of the big rebounds down the stretch, a 15-point, 6-for-7 game from Micah Brand and an invaluable display of control from point guard Jonathan DePina, who replaced Winston Smith in the starting lineup.
DePina's start enabled Flint to swing Shannon Crooks to St. Bonaventure's Kevin Houston. The Bonnies forward shot 5-for-16 as a result, and was forced by Crooks to work far too hard for his 18 points.
O'Connor, Crooks' assignment today, will raise the bar. Then again, St. Joseph's as a team raises the bar unlike any other Atlantic 10 opponent.
``I like that we get to play the next day, without taking a day off to think about things,'' Mack said. ``We played with a lot of aggressiveness today, and it showed. I think our energy is going to carry over to (today).''
HILADELPHIA — As a reward for yesterday's Atlantic 10 quarterfinal victory over St. Bonaventure, coach Bruiser Flint invited his Minutemen up to watch videos.
And no horror film could have jolted them more than watching a replay of their Feb. 27 loss to St. Joseph's - a night that ranks as their most schizophrenic performance of the season.
They led by 19 points in the first half and by 16 points at the half. The Hawks roared back with a 40-12 second half run, and UMass never responded in the 84-69 loss.
The Minutemen get their rematch in tonight's semifinal game against the (25-5) Hawks, who beat La Salle, 82-74, in yesterday's quarterfinals.
The only remaining question concerns which UMass team walks onto the Spectrum floor tonight.
Flint claims to have the first-half team trapped in a bottle.
``Yep, I have it bottled, and I'm going to make everyone take a drink of it in the morning,'' Flint said after yesterday's 79-58 win over the Bonnies.
But if that second-half team walks onto the Spectrum floor, the season is finished.
The Minutemen (14-14) need the win to insure at least a .500 record and, as a result, an NIT bid.
Flint needs the win, and most likely one more, to save his job.
But Kitwana Rhymer has a good memory. The UMass center remembers that for 20 minutes, anyway, the Minutemen showed that No. 21 St. Joseph's can be dominated under the basket.
``In the first half me and Micah (Brand) dominated them in the post,'' Rhymer said.
``We didn't stick to it in the second half. I think we got distraught by the way they came back out at us. We didn't keep our heads level. But we know what they're going to do now and how they're going to double- and triple-team us. There's nothing they do that we can't handle.''
Women's coach stays
UMass athletic director Bob Marcum announced yesterday that he extended the contract of women's basketball coach Joanie O'Brien for one year.
Marcum justified the move by stressing that despite the team's 12-17 overall record this season, which included a 6-10 mark in the conference, O'Brien's team was hurt by injuries this season.
The women's program was also the target of litigation by two former players two years ago.
Though Flint's own situation is also up for review at the end of the season - and is expected to be judged by a far more stringent standard in terms of wins and revenue - the coach was especially happy for his peer yesterday.
``We have a great relationship,'' he said. ``I was here when the women's team wasn't winning any games. I was even on the committee that hired her. I was one of the people who showed her around campus.
``Injuries have really killed the team her whole time here,'' he said. ``Every year she has lost one of her better players.''
HILADELPHIA — No Peter Van Paassen. Way too much Monty Mack.
The loose ball gets away from James Hayden and Kevin Houston.
Bona's slim chance at a second straight NCAA berth quickly fizzled Thursday in a 79-58 quarterfinal loss to Massachusetts before 7,121 at the First Union Spectrum. Mack, UMass' star guard, hit a tournament-record eight three-pointers and poured in 29 points as the Minutemen avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Bonnies.
The Bonnies (18-11) now await word Sunday night on their first-round opponent in the National Invitation Tournament. UMass (14-14) advanced to a semifinal with top-seeded St. Joseph's (25-5) tonight at 7.
Mack was 9 for 13 from the field - including 8 of 10 from three-point range. He had been just 12 for 31 overall and 6 for 16 from long range in the regular season against Bona.
With Van Paassen, Bona's senior center, on crutches due to a stress fracture in his right foot diagnosed Monday, the Bonnies had virtually no inside game. Backups Quadir Habeeb and Elton Ruddock combined for just six points and five rebounds and provided none of the post passing skills possessed by Van Paassen, who sat glumly on the bench in a warmup suit.
Forward Kevin Houston led the Bonnies with 18 points before leaving with an undetermined knee injury with 1:08 left after a collision with UMass' Shannon Crooks.
"When you don't have an inside game, that really hurt us," said coach Jim Baron. "Now you're forced to do everything on the perimeter. They've got some good inside players, and we just fell short there. With Peter being down, it really caught up to us."
"The worst thing is when you're actually out there and not able to do anything but this comes close," Van Paassen said of his cheerleading role. "I was shouting stuff from the bench but I can't go out there and communicate key things at key times in the game, to settle everybody down, execute the game plan and do the right things."
The 6-foot-3 Mack did just about everything right in breaking the tourney mark of seven three-pointers, most recently equaled by Xavier's Maurice McAfee in last year's quarterfinal loss to the Bonnies.
"Last time we played, we did a really good job shutting him down," said Baron, whose club held Mack to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting in last Saturday's 66-59 win at UMass. "But he's a good player. He got good space and I have to give him credit. He played a heck of a game."
Mack hit all five of his second-half three-pointers. He made a leaping catch of a crosscourt pass and quickly fired home a trey with 8:35 left to give UMass a 53-41 lead. The Bonnies closed within seven (55-48) before Mack put the dagger in their hearts with another trey from the right of the key with 5:52 to play.
That broke the tourney record and keyed a 9-2 run. UMass outscored the Bonnies, 24-10, in the final six minutes to blow the game open.
"There were guys in his face and it seemed like most of his shots weren't even hitting the rim," Van Paassen said. "Hitting 8 out of 10 like he did is just incredible."
"I just go out to take what they give me, go out and play with some aggression," Mack said. "I wanted to play with heart and lead by example."
Mack set an early example as UMass broke to an 11-1 lead after six minutes. He hit a three-pointer to open the scoring 24 seconds into the game and banked home a 22-footer from the right of the key to make it 9-0 with 17:40 to play in the half.
"You need a little luck on your side once in a while," said a smiling Mack.
"That shot off the backboard really built his confidence," noted Bona guard J.R. Bremer. "It was a deep shot and it went in. He was hot all day."
The Bonnies trailed at halftime, 30-22, and were within six (36-30) early in the second half. But Vidal Massiah fouled Mack on a three-point attempt and Mack hit all three free throws to push the gap back to nine. Trailing by as many as 12, Bona used a 7-2 run to get back to within seven before Mack's eighth three shut the door on any comeback.
"We got off to a slow start and we were fighting back the whole game," Bremer said. "Every time we got it close they hit a key shot to put it (the lead) back up."
The Bonnies hit just 18 of 50 from the field and 5 of 24 from three-point range. Houston was just 5 for 16 and 2 for 8.
"Definitely they wanted to play a physical ball game today and bump me to keep me off guard," said Houston.
"We just wanted those guys (Houston and Bremer) to get out of their comfort zone," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "They still got their points but we wanted them to always feel people when they were shooting."
UMass, meanwhile, was 25 of 47 from the field and 10 of 19 from three-point range. UMass big men Micah Brand (15 points, nine rebounds), Kitwana Rhymer and Jackie Rogers combined for 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting.
"We just didn't come out with the fire and focus that we needed to," Van Paassen said. "And that was a shame."
"Tournament play allows you to get new life," Baron said. "Once you start hitting shots, you get some confidence and they did a good job of doing that."
HILADELPHIA — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team couldn’t make its shots on Thursday.
Monty Mack of Massachusetts couldn’t miss.
Jonathan DePina breaks the Bonnie trap.
“They stepped up and made some shots,” said Bona coach Jim Baron. “We were trying to key on their inside people, and they made their shots.”
As a result, the Bonnies (18-11) will now wait to see if they will make the NIT, which starts next week. The NIT field will be announced late Sunday night, after the NCAA Tournament brackets are revealed.
“I think we’re in good position to make the NIT,” Baron said. “We’ve got nine wins in the league, we’ve won six of our last nine games even with all the adversity we’ve faced. I think this team deserves to continue to play.”
Bona didn’t have Peter Van Paassen, who missed the game due to a stress fracture in his right foot.
The Bonnies didn’t have an answer for Mack, either.
The A-10 First-Team All-Conference pick scored a game-high 29 points for the Minutemen (14-14) and set an A-10 Tournament record with eight three-pointers.
“The last time we played (66-59 Bona win on Saturday), we shut him down to a point,” Baron said. “He played a heck of a game.”
Bona forward Vidal Massiah added, “Monty Mack was on fire. He showed that he deserved to make First Team All-Conference.”
Mack finished the game 9-of-13 from the field, including 8-of-10 from three-point land. He hit his first two three-pointers to give the Minutemen an early lead, and he hit all five of his threes in the second half to seal the win and lift UMass into a semifinal showdown with St. Joseph’s tonight. St. Joe’s beat La Salle in another quarterfinal on Thursday, 82-74.
“It’s tournament time, you either do it or you die,” Mack said. “I wanted to play with some aggression, play with some heart and play with some energy.”
As they did in their win in Amherst on Saturday, the Bonnies started the game in a 3-2 zone defense. But unlike Saturday’s game, the Minutemen hit their outside shots on Thursday.
Mack and Shannon Crooks combined for three three-pointers in the first three minutes, as UMass scored the first nine points and built a quick 11-1 lead.
While UMass was on fire on offense, the Bonnies were cold. Bona shot just 29 percent from the field in the first half (6-of-21) and went more than six minutes before hitting a basket.
“We got off to a slow start,” said Bona junior J.R. Bremer. “We fought back, but whenever we got close, they hit a big shot.”
After falling behind by 10, the Bonnies quickly cut the lead to two points thanks to a 10-2 run.
But UMass, buoyed by its early run, went on a 16-5 run of its own to build an 11-point lead.
“When you start hitting shots, you start gaining confidence,” Baron said. “They made their shots, and when you do that, it gives you a lot of energy to play on offense and to defend.”
Kevin Houston kept the Bonnies close in the first half, scoring 12 of his 18 points before halftime as Bona cut the lead to eight at the half, 30-22.
A couple times in the second half, Bona drew to within to six points. But the Minutemen always had an answer and stayed in control of the game.
“Every time we got it down, they’d get some play — a shot, a rebound — to put them back up,” Houston said.
Bona made one last run midway through the second half. A 7-0 spurt, capped by a Patricio Prato basket, cut UMass’ lead 55-48, with six minutes left.
But on the ensuing possession, Mack hit a long three-pointer with Prato in his face to give his team a 10-point lead.
That was Mack’s final three-pointer and his biggest one, as the Bonnies never recovered after that. UMass outscored Bona, 24-10, in the final six minutes.
“This team has character,” said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. “We knew we could get in the Atlantic 10 (tournament) and win some games.”
Thanks to UMass’ tenacious man-to-man defense, the Bonnies struggled on offense all day, shooting just 36 percent from the floor.
“We played well on the defensive end,” Flint said. “Our whole team did a good job on defense. We wanted to get their guys out of their comfort zone. We did a better job of stepping out on their shooters.”
UMass’ forwards harassed Houston into a 5-of-16 shooting effort, while Bremer finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Without Van Paassen, Bona had no inside threat on offense. Quadir Habeeb and Elton Ruddock combined for just six points and five rebounds.
“We didn’t have any inside presence tonight,” Massiah said.
Without a go-to guy in the paint, Bona had to try to win from the perimeter. Almost half of Bona’s shots (24 of 50) were three-pointers, and the Bonnies hit just five of those.
“When you don’t have that inside presence, it puts a lot of pressure on your perimeter guys to make shots,” Baron said. “It forces you to do everything from the perimeter.”
Micah Brand had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Minutemen, while Kitwana Rhymer had 11 points and nine boards.
“They have a good inside presence,” Baron said. “I think not having Peter really caught up to us today.”
HILADELPHIA — Vidal Massiah has seen enough of the Massachusetts men’s basketball team.
Jackie Rogers and Vidal Massiah battle for the rock.
Massiah shot just 2-of-8 from the floor, including 1-of-4 from three-point land. He fouled out of the game with more than six minutes remaining.
“They were mostly the same shots I hit this season,” Massiah said. “I just missed them this time. They weren’t really doing anything special, I just missed them.”
On Saturday, when the Bonnies beat the Minutemen in Amherst, Mass., Massiah was shutout, missing all seven of his shots.
Massiah said that not having Peter Van Paassen in the Bona lineup has hurt his game. Van Paassen’s out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his right foot.
“I miss him a lot,” Massiah said. “He gets me open, when I drive to the hoop he comes over and helps, or he draws the double team from me.”
Other leftover stats, facts and figures from Thursday’s game:
• Bona is now 4-10 all-time in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals and 11-22 all-time in the A-10 Tournament.
• This is the second time that UMass has eliminated Bona from the A-10 Tournament. In 1996, the Minutemen beat Bona in the quarters, 69-56, while in 1993, UMass won a first-round meeting, 75-62.
• UMass had 22 assists on its 25 baskets. Jonathan DePina had a game-high seven assists.
• Bona forced 16 UMass turnovers — 11 in the first half.
• The Bonnies were outrebounded, 39-28. It marks the third consecutive game in which Bona’s been outrebounded.
Kevin Houston had five rebounds to lead Bona, while Massiah and J.R. Bremer had four apiece.
This year, the Bonnies are 5-10 when they are outrebounded.
• Bona center Elton Ruddock set a career high with four points. He also had three rebounds.
• The Bonnies shot 63 percent from the free-throw line, hitting 17-of-27. Meanwhile, UMass was 19-of-26 from the foul line — 73 percent.
• Thursday’s game had a touch of celebrity content. Bill Cosby, a Philadelphia native and long-time Temple fan took in the game from press row.
Also, injured Philadelphia 76er Roshown McCloud — the brother of Bona forward Robert Cheeks — watched the game.
• Bona falls to 4-2 in hockey arenas this year.
HILADELPHIA - Monty Mack broke out of his shooting slump and snapped the University of Massachusetts' St. Bonaventure jinx in the process.
Mack's teammates were wearing smiles all afternoon watching the senior drain 9 of 13 shots from the field.
"This is the playoffs. It doesn't matter if we won by two. We'd still be happy," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said.
The Minutemen (14-14) will make their second consecutive trip to the tournament's semifinals tonight where they will face top seed St. Joseph's at 7. The Bonnies (18-11) likely are bound for the National Invitation Tournament. UMass needs to beat the Hawks to become NIT eligible.
Mack led all scorers with 29 points, while Micah Brand added 15 points and nine rebounds. Kitwana Rhymer matched Brand's rebounding total and added 11 points.
Kevin Houston paced the Bonnies with 18 points, while J.R. Bremer added 17.
Mack said the win was big for the team's confidence.
"We just wanted to go out there and play with energy and show we can play with these guys," Mack said. "We have to try to carry this energy over."
After watching his team lose 66-59 to the same Bonnies Saturday, Flint was pleased with his team's improved effort.
"We did a better job stepping out and rebounding," he said. "We finished off things. We didn't do that Saturday."
Back-to-back threes by Mack and Shannon Crooks launched the Minutemen on an 11-1 run to start the game. Led by Houston, the Bonnies woke up and answered with a 10-2 run that made it 13-11, but Mack hit a trey to slow the Bonaventure momentum.
UMass led from tipoff to final buzzer. The Minutemen expanded their lead to double digits on a three-point play by Brand that made it 25-15 with 6:20 remaining. If not for their 11 first-half turnovers, the Minutemen might have finished off the Bonnies by halftime. Even with the giveaways, however, they led 30-22 at intermission.
Mack began the second half the way he did the first, with a three from the corner. He scored UMass' first 11 second-half points, and Minutemen led 41-30 4:34 into the half.
"Monty Mack stepped up big time," St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron said. "The last time we played, we shut him down to a point."
The lead hovered around 10 points for most of the half. The Bonnies made a final push with a 5-0 run to slash a 12-point UMass lead to seven at 55-48 with 6:25 to play, but Mack answered again. His A-10 tourney-record eighth 3-pointer started a 9-2 run that pushed the Minutemen's lead to 14 and St. Bonaventure waved the white flag.
"We got off to a slow start and whenever we got close they hit a big shot," Bremer said.
UMass fans who made the trip down got a treat at the end. The Minutemen's final points came on a high-flying alley-oop from Willie Jenkins to Jameel Pugh.
HILADELPHIA - With just over nine minutes left in the game and the University of Massachusetts leading St. Bonaventure 47-39, Monty Mack raced from the corner around a screen. He and Jonathan DePina's pass arrived at the same time. Mack caught the pass and fired all in one motion.
After Marques Green made two free throws, Shannon Crooks moved the ball up the court. His pass to Mack in the corner appeared to be destined for the Spectrum's second row of seats, but Mack leapt up and hauled it in. As soon as he hit the floor, he shot.
As the ball dropped through, Mack pumped his first and St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron shook his head. The scoreboard read 53-41.
The two baskets highlighted one of the best performances of Mack's career. His 29 points led the Minutemen to the 79-58 Atlantic 10 quarterfinal win over the Bonnies.
St. Bonaventure hadn't been one of Mack's favorite opponents this year. In January he appeared to be fouled on the final play of the game, but there was no whistle and the Minutemen fell, 66-65.
Less than a week ago, Mack missed his first seven shots and the Minutemen fell, 66-50.
But Thursday he hit his first shot, a 3-pointer from the right corner, and many more after that. His eight 3-pointers (out of 10 tries) tied a UMass single-game record and broke an Atlantic 10 Tournament record. His 29 points tied his season high.
"He had a good night," Flint said. "He was patient he did good things. We've seen him do it before."
Mack now has 527 points this season and became the second Minuteman ever, following Jim McCoy, to record three straight 500-point seasons.
FLINT MOVES UP WIN LIST: Thursday's victory gave Flint 85 career wins, moving him past Harold "Kid" Gore on the school's all-time list. he now trails only Jack Leaman (217 wins) and John Calipari (193).
DEPINA SOLID: Five days after producing his career-high in points (16) against the Bonnies on Senior Day, senior point guard Jonathan DePina matched his season high in assists with seven. He had five in the second half as the Minutemen pulled away.
MISCELLANEOUS: UMass is now 3-0 all-time against St. Bonaventure in A-10 Tournament play. The previous two times, in 1993 and 1996, the Minutemen went on to win the tournament ... UMass is now 8-8 vs. catholic schools, 3-2 vs. schools from New York state and 3-1 vs. teams from Pennsylvania ... Minuteman recruit Eddie Basden has been selected to play in the prestigious Capital Classic High School All-Star game.
Temple undergrad and UMass grad-school alum Bill Cosby was at the Spectrum for Thursday's game. The former pudding pop spokesman stayed for both sessions, joking with the teams' bands, cheerleaders and fans.
HILADELPHIA - The University of Massachusetts exorcised one of last week's demons and will get a chance to banish the other tonight at 7.
The Minutemen, who lost their last two regular-season games to St. Joseph's and St. Bonaventure, will try to follow Thursday's win over the Bonnies with an upset of the No. 22 Hawks in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals tonight. The game will be televised on tape delay on FSNE.
After dominating in the first half last Tuesday, the Minutemen blew a 19-point lead to the Hawks and wound up losing, 84-69. The Hawks won the regular-season title.
St. Joe's is in the semifinals after defeating a pesky La Salle team, 82-74, Thursday. In that game freshman point guard Jameer Nelson nearly reached a triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
"Career highs are nice," Nelson said. "I'm just happy with the win."
Despite St. Joe's rank, record and recent history against the Minutemen, the UMass players think they can win.
"The way we played today, I think the energy we played with will carry over to tommorow," senior guard Monty Mack said.
The Minutemen took their 19-point lead last time by going into the paint on offense, a strategy they got away from after intermission. They plan to go back to that approach tonight.
"We just have to be more aggressive," said senior center Kitwana Rhymer. "In the first half last time we went to the basket every time."
Even Mack said he'd be willing to give up shots if it led to a victory.
"If we have to go inside every possession I'll do it to get a victory," Mack said. "The big guys did very well in the first game. We'll look to go to them again."
UMass coach Bruiser Flint said his team didn't react well when St. Joe's began cutting into its lead last week.
"We started pressing and we started taking bad shots," Flint said. "They had it going and the crowd was going. We panicked a little bit. You have to learn from those things. We have to understand what we did wrong."
If you believe in superstitions, there are a couple competing against each other tonight. UMass is 0-9 on Fridays in Flint's career as a head coach, including 0-1 this year with a 91-60 loss to North Carolina.
On the other hand, the Minutemen are 7-1 in games called by play-by-play man Matt Devlin, who works for ESPN and the Atlantic 10 network. They are 6-0 when Doris Burke provides color commentary. The two combined on Thursday's game and will do tonight's game as well.
|St. Bonaventure Bonnies (5 seed)||58|
|Massachusetts Minutemen (4 seed)||79|
|Atlantic-10 Tournament Quarter-Final|
at the First Union Spectrum,
ST BONAVENTURE (58) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Massiah 27 2-8 0-0 2-4 0 5 5 Houston 38 5-16 6-9 2-5 0 3 18 Habeeb 16 1-2 0-0 1-2 0 5 2 Bremer 36 6-11 4-8 2-4 4 2 17 Hayden 11 0-0 1-2 0-1 0 1 1 Green 25 1-7 4-4 1-1 3 2 6 Cheeks 13 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 2 0 Prato 7 2-5 0-0 0-1 0 1 5 Siegrist 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Ruddock 24 1-1 2-4 1-3 0 4 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 18-50 17-27 10-23 7 25 58 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.360, FT-.630. 3-Point Goals: 5-24, .208 (Massiah 1-4, Houston 2-8, Bremer 1-6, Green 0-2, Prato 1-4). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 11 (Bremer 5, Green 2, Houston 2, Habeeb, Prato). Steals: 6 (Green 2, Bremer, Habeeb, Houston, Prato). MASSACHUSETTS (79) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Crooks 27 1-4 2-4 0-0 3 4 5 Brand 20 6-7 3-3 3-9 0 4 15 Rhymer 30 2-3 7-8 1-9 2 3 11 Depina 36 2-9 1-2 1-2 7 3 6 Mack 37 9-13 3-5 0-5 2 1 29 Rogers 18 3-4 0-0 1-4 0 3 6 Blizzard 6 0-0 0-0 1-2 2 1 0 Jenkins 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 Smith 13 0-4 1-2 1-3 3 1 1 Williams 11 1-1 2-2 2-3 2 1 4 Pugh 1 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 25-47 19-26 10-37 22 21 79 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.532, FT-.731. 3-Point Goals: 10-19, .526 (Crooks 1-3, Depina 1-6, Mack 8-10). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 2 (Rhymer 2). Turnovers: 16 (Crooks 3, Depina 3, Rogers 3, Mack 2, Smith 2, Blizzard, Jenkins, Rhymer). Steals: 5 (Depina 2, Brand, Crooks, Pugh). __________________________________ St Bonaventure 22 36 - 58 Massachusetts 30 49 - 79 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. Officials: Larry Lembo, Fran Connolly, Jeff Clark.