Coverage from:
The Springfield Union-News
The Springfield Union-News - notebook
The Boston Herald
The Boston Herald - notebook
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - column
The Mass. Daily Collegian
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - column


Marquette outmuscles UMass
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 11/21/2000

MILWAUKEE As bad as the Marquette University men's basketball team looked in the early part of last night's game at the Bradley Center, the University of Massachusetts managed to look even worse. Much worse.

It's not easy for a team to miss 17 of its first 19 shots, and still lead at halftime by 10. But with the help of a strong rebounding presence and a UMass offense that looked lost for too long, Marquette did it in a 68-64 victory that threw the first splash of cold water on this UMass season of high hopes.

"I told the team if we didn't win the battle of the boards, we'd lose the game," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. A team whose rebounding had supposedly been restored this season lost a 43-30 rebounding battle, including 26-13 in the first half when Marquette took 34 shots to UMass' 16.

Photo
Kit Rhymer had more fouls than rebounds and points combined.
"When your No. 1 big man (Kitwana Rhymer) plays only 12 minutes, what can you do?" Flint said. "They had 19 offensive rebounds. That was it, really."

Rhymer and Eric Williams fouled out in a game that had 55 fouls and 65 free throws. The Minutemen (1-1) have never started 2-0 under Flint.

This year offered the best chance to do it, but a hapless offense doomed their chances as Marquette (1-1) took a 29-19 halftime lead. Yet as poorly as they played in the first half, the Minutemen still came close to winning.

A 3-point basket by Monty Mack, whose first game following a suspension resulted in 16 points on 4-for-13 shooting, made it 60-59 with 1:03 left. With Marquette leading 64-61, Ronell Blizzard was called for a foul on a screen that killed a UMass offensive possession with 18.4 seconds left.

"I told the ref the guy (Blizzard) hasn't screened anybody in foul years here," Flint said, finding humor amid the disappointment.

Jonathan DePina, who played an outstanding game (13 points, three assists, no turnovers), hit a 3-point shot to make it 66-64 with five seconds left. But Marquette's Brian Barone hit two free throws to clinch it.

Barone made his first two free throws, but had to reshoot the second one because a small object had been thrown out of the stands as he shot. That doesn't happen often to the home team, but Barone calmly made another one.

Shannon Crooks scored 19 points, and foul-plagued Jackie Rogers had 15 for UMass. Winston Smith, who has 11 assists and only two turnovers this year, had a career-high six assists.

But the Minutemen were only 15 for 26 from the line, and is barely over 50 percent (25 for 48) this year. With tighter games being called this year, that could be a killer and last night it was, since Marquette hit 30 of 39.

"It's frustrating, because we're not making foul shots and we're getting outrebounded," said Mack, who said an ankle he had bruised in practice felt fine. "I don't think we were ourselves. We looked a lot better in practice."

An 18-2 first-half run gave Marquette a 25-13 lead. UMass went without a basket for a 6:30 stretch, and Marquette also won most of the loose-ball battles and found its shooting touch after that terrible 2-for-19 start.

The Golden Eagles' best player, senior guard Brian Wardle, twisted an ankle late in the half, but returned and finished with 26 points.


UMass focus
By Ron Chimelis, The Springfield Union-News, 11/21/2000

FOUL TROUBLE: The foul calls are coming at a dizzying rate, and it's becoming clear that the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team doesn't know what to do about it. It didn't cost them last night's 68- 64 loss to Marquette, but it's having a profound effect. UMass coach Bruiser Flint, who felt good about his team's depth this year, found himself playing power forward Ronell Blizzard   —   who has averaged only seven minutes per game as a collegian   —   in last night's critical final seconds at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Flint said Blizzard was in there because he understood the play being called. But the 6-foot-8 Blizzard, who first became needed when the other big men ran into foul trouble, was called for a costly blocking foul with 18.4 seconds left. The broader issue throughout college basketball is whether players who are used to physical play can adjust to the strictly-called games the NCAA has told its officials to enforce. "I think it's hard, because that's the way we play," UMass guard Monty Mack said. "If a guy comes across the lane, we bump him." Kitwana Rhymer and Eric Williams fouled out last night. Micah Brand and Jackie Rogers had four fouls each, though Brand, a sophomore, still had a career-high four blocks in 16 minutes. "That's the way we play - we bump you," Flint said. "But some of the calls are ridiculous. You rub a guy on the back, and they call it. Luckily, we've got enough guys. But the teams that have only five or six guys   —   they'll be done." But if the Minutemen don't make better use of their time on the foul line, they'll be done, too. The increase in calls makes the bonus situation come faster, which makes foul shooting more crucial than ever. "It's a foul- fest, which is bad for us, because we're not shooting foul shots very well," Flint said. "I feel for the refs," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "That's the mandate (from the NCAA). They have to call it this way."

ON GUARD: In his first game back after the end of his suspension, Mack scored 16 points. Closely guarded by Cordell Henry and Brian Barone, Mack shot 4 for 13. Mack now has 1,633 career points, fifth all-time at UMass. Tony Barbee (1,643) is fourth. Among active Division I players, only Centenary's Ronnie McCollum (1,737) has more points than Mack.


UMass drops an ugly one
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 11/21/2000

MILWAUKEE - Rebounding was supposed to be a strength of the 2000-01 UMass Minutemen. Instead, they were outplayed considerably on the boards.

They were supposed to have more options on offense. However, they shot 43.8 percent from the floor, including 31 percent during an ugly first half.

Ultimately, UMass lost to Marquette last night, 68-64, in part because of its horrid first-half play, and also due to the Minutemen frontcourt's inability to cope with the NCAA's latest dictum of referees being more strict about whistling fouls.

Kitwana Rhymer, a perpetual foul-trouble victim last season, fouled out last night after only 12 minutes of action. His backup, Eric Williams, lasted for 19 minutes. Jackie Rogers and Micah Brand each had four fouls.

All four played back on their heels for most of the night, helping to create Marquette's hefty 43-30 rebounding edge.

Photo
Monty Mack scored 16 but only hit four field goals.
The result was a waste of Monty Mack's return after a three-game suspension (two exhibitions plus Saturday's Iona opener). The senior guard scored 16 points on shaky 4-for-13 shooting, to go along with 15 from Rogers, 19 from Shannon Crooks and 13 second-half points from Jonathan DePina, arguably the best UMass player on the floor last night.

Not that it counted for much when Golden Eagles guard Brian Barone drained four free throws over the last 18 seconds. Marquette guard Brian Wardle's 26 points would stand as the game's most overpowering number.

``We weren't our usual selves - we looked a lot better in practice,'' said Mack, who reported no trouble with his healing right ankle. ``But the foul trouble took a lot out of us. It kept us from being aggressive.''

He must have been listening to the coach.

``In the first half they out-scrambled us, and that's what got them the lead,'' said Bruiser Flint, whose team dipped to 1-1. ``I told our team that if we didn't win the battle of the boards, then we wouldn't win. But with all of those fouls, I almost didn't have enough guys to send out there. And we have more depth than a lot of teams.

``It was a foul-fest out there. It was ridiculous. My guys picked up fouls right away.''

But the officials did call things tightly both ways. Each team sank into penalty situations early in each half. The difference was that Marquette (1-1) shot 30-of-39 from the line, including a near-impeccable 8-for-9 over the last two minutes. The Minutemen countered by only hitting 15 of their 26 chances.

Last-minute trifectas from Mack and DePina couldn't overcome a Marquette team that simply didn't make mistakes down the stretch.

After losing the lead early in the first half, the Minutemen finally came back behind the combined forces of the backcourt - with Flint resorting to a three-guard offense - and Rogers. Mack got them the closest with a trey that cut the Marquette lead to 60-59 with 1:03 left. But the Golden Eagles dug in, starting with a Oluoma Nnamaka three-point play for a 63-59 lead, and survived on the strength of three trips by Barone to the line in the last 26 seconds - one courtesy of an illegal screen by Ronnell Blizzard.

``The kid hasn't set a screen in the four years he's been here, and now they're calling him for that?'' lamented Flint.


UMass revisits its past
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 11/21/2000

MILWAUKEE - Jack Leaman woke up to 25-degree weather with snow flurries yesterday morning, and the names of Marquette and UMass featured on The Bradley Center marquee.

The former UMass men's basketball coach, now a color commentator on UMass radio broadcasts, remembers better than anyone the only other time UMass played Marquette.

The Golden Eagles broke a tie with two minutes left to beat the Minutemen, 62-55, in the first round of the 1970 NIT in Madison Square Garden.

Marquette had Dean Meminger, UMass had Julius Erving, and the stars lived up to their hype. So did the opposing coach - Al McGuire.

``Al McGuire, who is really sick now (with leukemia), was a unique individual,'' Leaman, pointing out the fact that McGuire actually turned down an NCAA berth in 1970 to play in the 16-team NIT field, said prior to last night's game.

It is the last time a coach actually snubbed the NCAA tournament, which was on the verge of eclipsing the NIT at the time.

``Marquette was the second-best team in the country that year,'' said Leaman. ``The NCAA was going to put them in Denton, Texas, instead of Dayton (Ohio), and (McGuire) wasn't going to have any part of it. So he called the NIT. That shows the power that the NIT still had back then. But he had a great club. And that was Julius' sophomore year.

``It was my first time in the NIT, and (McGuire) treated me really well. But he was truly unique. The year we played them was really the start of the run to a national title six years later.''



The Mullins Center isn't the only place with attendance problems.

Marquette coach Tom Crean was a bit dismayed when the final attendance was announced for the Golden Eagles' home loss to South Alabama in the first round of the Preseason NIT. Approximately 6,000 fans showed up - bad news for a coach who has come up with a number of inventive ways to build local interest.

His ``Doughnuts, Crean and Coffee'' conferences with the community was one such effort. Another was Crean's rather novel idea to host a series of basketball clinics exclusively for women.


Foul situation for Minutemen
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 11/21/2000

MILWAUKEE - Ronell Blizzard didn't do anything to end his permanent residency in University of Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint's doghouse Monday night.

With 18.4 seconds left and the Minutemen trailing Marquette, 64-61, UMass pushed the ball ahead to Monty Mack in the corner for an attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer. But before the senior guard could pull the trigger, a whistle blew. Away from the play, Blizzard had stuck out his hip and bumped Brian Barone.

"The guy called a block," Flint said. "Blizzard hasn't screened anybody the four years he's been in school. I put him out there because he knows the play from that position and the other guys that knew the play from that position had fouled out."

Barone hit both free throws and the Minutemen never got the ball within one possession again as they fell, 68-64, to the Golden Eagles (1-1) in a foul-filled contest at the Bradley Center.

With the officials calling a much tighter game per order of the NCAA prior to the season, the UMass big men got into foul trouble early. When Jackie Rogers was whistled for a push with 11:51 left, he joined Eric Williams and Kitwana Rhymer with four fouls. As a result, the Minutemen struggled to rebound, losing the board battle, 43-30.

"I told our team that if we didn't win the battle of the boards, we weren't winning the game," Flint said.

"In the first half they out-scrambled us. When your best rebounder (Rhymer) only plays 11 minutes, that doesn't help. The guy was the third leading rebounder in the conference."

Poor foul shooting hurt as well. UMass shot just 58 percent (15-for-26) from the line.

"It's a foul-fest right now and that's bad for me because my team's not shooting them very well right now," Flint said.

"Some of the calls are ridiculous," Flint continued. "There were 55 fouls in the game. My guys picked up fouls right away and that just kills your aggressiveness."

Brian Wardle put his entire offensive repertoire on display before a national TV audience. The Marquette guard scored driving to the baseline, leaning in the lane, from the free-throw line and behind the 3-point arc. His 26 points led all scorers.

Mack struggled in his return from a three-game suspension after being arrested for shoplifting. He scored 16 points, but shot only 4-for-13 from the floor. Shannon Crooks led UMass with 19 points, while Rogers (15 points) and Jonathan DePina (13) finished in double figures.

UMass (1-1) returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday against Holy Cross at the Worcester Centrum.

"I think we have to put it behind us," Mack said of Monday's game. "We've got to concentrate on the little things we didn't do tonight."

The Minutemen got the better of a defensive struggle early, leading 7-2 five minutes into the game, but their offense went from ineffective to nearly invisible as the Eagles scored five straight to tie it, 7-7.

A dunk by Rogers and a jumper by Mack made it 11-7. But Marquette clamped down on defense and found its shooting stroke, reeling off an 18-2 run to take a 25-13 lead.

With Marquette fans shouting "DVD" in reference to the shoplifting case, Mack made one of two free throws. Rogers scored on a lay-in from Williams, ending a 6:29 drought without a field goal for UMass with 1:24 left in the half.

Crooks followed that with two made free throws to make it 25-18.

After Wardle hit a leaner in the lane, Williams hit one of two free throws with 23.6 seconds left.

Marquette called time out to set up for the last shot, but UMass cut off Scott Merritt's move to the basket as time wound down. He kicked the ball to Barone, who caught and fired it while in the air. It dropped in to give Marquette a 29-19 halftime lead.

Riding impressive play from DePina, who scored all his points in the second half, the Minutemen chipped away at the Marquette lead, but the Golden Eagles made 23 free throws after intermission to hold off UMass.


NCAA makes the game drag
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 11/21/2000

MILWAUKEE - You have to hand it to the NCAA. The organization that isn't exactly synonymous with good ideas and smart decisions is well on its way to ruining college basketball this season.

Each year prior to the season, the grand pooh-bahs in Indianapolis come up with goofy experimental rules for the preseason tournaments and new officiating mandates.

The only experimental rule to make a significant improvement in the game was the addition of the 3-pointer, 15 years ago. It seems like the rules committee feels it needs to change things just to justify its existence. How else do you explain experiments such as having the lane shaped like a rhombus and giving each team 10 8-second time outs?

This year's focus has been on officiating. The czars have commanded referees to call games much tighter, focusing on hand checks, screening and rough play.

The result has been a sport with more whistles than field hockey and less action than baseball.

Anything physical is getting whistled. It used to be possible to make contact without fouling. Not anymore.

Also, officials get so used to blowing the whistle that they start to bring the instrument to their mouths before any infraction has even occurred.

In Monday night's University of Massachusetts vs. Marquette game, 54 fouls were called. That is far more than in any Minuteman game last year, even when teams were forced to foul late in the game.

This is not the referees' fault, although fans are certain to blame them for it. The men in stripes are just acting on orders from above.

The NCAA thinks tighter-called games will eventually lead to a smoother offensive game. It's a nice goal, but a completely unrealistic one. You can't expect today's players and coaches to unlearn decades of acceptable physical basketball in the first few months of a season.

So what we're left with is long, boring games lacking any semblance of flow. Just two years ago, the NCAA considered switching to four-quarter games because they thought the game needed to be speeded up. That's apparently not a priority anymore, because these foul-filled free-throw contests drag on endlessly.

Unless the NCAA backs off on its own, the people with the best chance of convincing it to do so are TV executives. On a typical "Big Monday," ESPN runs several games back-to-back. With 50-plus fouls per game, most of these games will spill over their expected time frames. ESPN, CBS and others pay the NCAA an awful lot of cash. Even the NCAA might be smart enough not to bite the hand that pays it.

Without change, fans will stop watching, both in person and on TV. Attendance at games already is down across the country. Dulling the product is only going to make it worse.

The sports-governing body needs to stop tinkering. The game isn't perfect, but at least it used to be a fun to watch. At some point, the NCAA needs to administrate the way K.C. Jones once coached the Celtics - give the players the ball and get out of the way.


Foul shots and frontcourt doom UMass
By Adam White, The Mass. Daily Collegian, 11/21/2000

The good news was that the Massachusetts men's basketball team had its big gun back for last night's showdown with Marquette. The bad news? Officiating would keep most of the Minuteman frontcourt shooting blanks against the Golden Eagles.

Despite the return of preseason Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Monty Mack to the lineup, UMass fell prey to the referees' whistles against Marquette, and lost 68-64 at the Bradley Center. The two squads were flagged for 55 combined infractions over the course of the contest, which was ultimately decided at the charity stripe.

"All my big guys either fouled out or were right there with four fouls," UMass Head Coach Bruiser Flint said. "When we put them on the line, they made their foul shots."

The Minutemen (1-1) won the opening tip and gained the upper hand on their hosts behind deft early shooting from Mack. The off guard slid from behind a screen at the right elbow and canned a three for his first points of the season, then picked the pocket of Golden Eagle Brian Wardle and fed teammate Shannon Crooks for a second trey.

Marquette (1-1) closed the early gap with aggressive post play that tied up the Maroon and White defenders and sent the Eagles to the free throw line. MU freshman Scott Merritt knocked down a pair of freebies to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:20 to play in the first half, in spite of the fact that his team had connected on only two of 15 field goal attempts at that point.

The visitors roared right back to regain the lead, as UMass forward Eric Williams blocked a lazy MU shot into the hands of Mack. The fifth-year senior rocketed down the court and dished to a cutting Jackie Rogers, whose flush put the Minutemen back on top.

With the score knotted at 11, Wardle got the Eagles going with a long deuce from the top of the key, and Tom Crean's crew wouldn't look back until it had completed a 14-1 run and had taken a 21-12 lead. The Eagles got big hoops from Merritt and Wardle along the way, as well as a monster two-handed slam from junior forward Jon Harris.

The Bradley Center crowd sucked in its collective breath when, with less than a minute to go in the half, Wardle landed in a heap on the left baseline after coming down on Rogers' foot following a left-handed scoop shot. The senior limped tentatively off the court, but would return to wreak further havoc on the Maroon and White in the second set, finishing the contest with 26 points. MU reserve guard Brian Barone stuck an erratic foul-line jumper just as time ran out on the first half, sending the Minutemen into the locker room with a 29-19 halftime deficit.

Both teams must have gotten a rousing speech in the locker room, as the two squads came out with guns blazing in the second half. The Minutemen also began controlling the glass much better, after being out-rebounded 25-13 over the game's first 20 minutes.

The Maroon and White battled back to within five, 40-35, when Rogers nailed a close quarters put-back at the 13:20 mark. The play followed a picture-perfect transition on which Rogers fed a cutting Crooks for an easy two.

Inspired floor play by tri-captain Jonathan DePina kept it close over the game's final five minutes, as he converted two free throws inside the 2:40 mark to trim the Marquette lead to 57-54. The Boston native then hit a miracle three with five seconds on the clock to pull the Minutemen back within a pail at 66-64. But Barone calmly stroked his ensuing two foul shots to ice the win for the Golden Eagles, who capitalized on 30 of 39 free throws over the course of the victory.

"They scored 25 points from the foul line in the second half," Flint said. "We had more field goals than they did, but they made 30 foul shots."

UMass got nice numbers from Crooks (19 points), Rogers (15) and DePina (13), but managed only a single point from the frontcourt quintet of Williams, Kit Rhymer, Micah Brand and Ronell Blizzard. All four frontcourt stalwarts found themselves mired in foul trouble (a combined 16 personals).


MU's hustle offsets poor shooting night
By Lori Nickel, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/21/2000

These weren't baby steps. . . .

Let's call them leaps and bounds.

After opening its season last week with a disappointing loss to mid-major South Alabama, Marquette came back and played one of it's best games in the Tom Crean era Monday night in the Bradley Center.

Photo
Eric Williams gets up close and personal with Marquette's Oluoma Nnamaka.
Holding off the University of Massachusetts, 68-64, doesn't erase all that ails Marquette. In fact, the poor shooting problem still plagues the Golden Eagles.

This time, however, they had an answer: Hustle.

Despite shooting 32.7% compared to UMass' 43.8%. MU won on the boards, 43-30, and won at the line, converting 30 of 39 free-throw attempts.

"You hold a team to 32 percent from the field, you usually win those games," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "That's being for real, now. But they needed to get to the line and they knocked them down."

Holding on by a thread, 60-59, after a late Monty Mack three-pointer, MU refused to relinquish the lead it had maintained the entire second half.

Junior forward Oluoma Nnamaka drove straight down the lane and scored an important basket with 50 seconds remaining and capped the play with a free throw.

From then on, senior point guard Brian Barone, a career 59% free-throw shooter, hit five of six pressure-cooker free throws in the final 26 seconds to seal the victory for the Golden Eagles.

"He showed what kind of leader he is; he showed what kind of confidence he has," said Crean. "He's a fifth-year guy; he's been through it and he's very hungry to succeed."

There were other heroes.

Senior Brian Wardle, playing on a tender and sprained left ankle, came through with 26 points. Nnamaka added 13, and shot 9 of 9 from the free-throw line. MU also held up without center Scott Merritt, who injured his ankle with 13 minutes remaining, and did not return.

Barone and junior point guard Cordell Henry held potential UMass All-American Monty Mack to 16 points on 4-of-13 shooting. It was an ugly game with 55 fouls called and seven players hampered with four or more.

The buildup to this thrilling finish was as entertaining as it was bewildering.

MU came out of the gate hitting just two of its first 19 shots in the first 12 minutes. Soon after, the Golden Eagles found their pot of gold in second, third and fourth-effort shots.

"We're a blue collar team," said Crean. "We have to understand we're not going to be a team that's going to be all flash and dash, we're not a finesse team, we're not a team that's going the 100 point barrier, or maybe even the 80-point barrier very much right now. We have to do the very best with what we have. And that's what they did."

The Golden Eagles raged through a 12-1 run to take a commanding 25-13 lead with 2 minutes 28 seconds left until halftime. How they did it, with offensive rebounds, was critical, since this MU team has never been a good shooting group.

Merritt scored a sweet three-foot baseline jumper after running down two Odartey Blankson misses. Blankson collected the board on a missed Merritt free throw that led to a Jon Harris dunk.

When Wardle scored on a fast break, the entire MU bench was on its feet screaming. Nnamaka rewarded them seconds later with an offensive rebound and putback. Didn't matter if the Golden Eagles had their shots rejected or stalled out with the incessant whistle blowing, they kept pounding the boards, gobbling up any crumbs they could.

Fourteen of MU's first 26 rebounds were offensive.

"I thought in the first half, they just really outscrambled us," said Flint. "There was a five-minute period where they just came away with every loose ball, every loose rebound. That's what got them the lead."

The victory helped soothe the loss to South Alabama.

"We were all disappointed after that loss," said Wardle. "Guys didn't get much sleep that night. After the lead at halftime today, we all looked at each other, like 'Remember the feeling we had after that South Alabama game. The disappointment.' It seemed that everyone recalled that feeling and we knew we couldn't let that happen again."


MU knows the value of free throws
By Dale Hoffman, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/21/2000

In the brief intervals between free throws Monday night, Marquette University won its first basketball game of the season, and the noise was deafening.

Some of it even came from the customers, but you'll have to forgive visiting Massachusetts if it left here thinking the Bradley Center was an 18,000-seat train station. The next whistle the Minutemen hear could send them screaming into Boston Harbor.

Photo
Kit Rhymer gets ready to take a swipe at John Mueller.
The visitors' last chance evaporated with an offensive foul, a term they would consider redundant. When a team is credited with 10 fewer field goals than personals, it's either criminally inclined or terminally unacquainted with college basketball's new rules interpretations.

Brian Wardle scored 26 points for Marquette, establishing him as the fourth-most active man on the floor. Jim Burr, Art McDonald and Jim Jenkins made Marquette's eager senior look like he was mainlining Valium, but they had the advantage of wearing stripes.

A total of 55 fouls and 65 free throws blemished an enthusiastic effort by the Golden Eagles, who won the kind of pre-conference game they should have been play ing for the last 10 years.

It might take a while for the faithful to notice that Marquette is bringing in opponents worth paying for. They've been fooled before.

Math lesson

Monday night's crowd, announced optimistically at 7,941, got its money's worth, particularly if the entertainment was priced by the hour. It takes time to stage a parade.

In this case, the procession was restricted to the distance between the free throw lines, and the Golden Eagles were clearly the better marchers. They made 30 of 39 attempts from the stripe, compared with UMass' 15 for 26.

In a 68-64 game, that will have an impact on the outcome. And Bruiser Flint was perfectly capable of doing the math.

"It's a foul fest out there," said the Massachusetts coach. "That was bad for us, because we're not shooting foul shots very well right now. Some of the calls . . . I mean it's ridiculous. You rub a guy on the back, and it's a call.

"There were 55 fouls in the game. Fifty-five. We're lucky we've got enough guys at least to keep it more even. My guys picked up fouls right away, and then forget about it. That takes away your aggressiveness."

Marquette's defense took away everything else in the first 20 minutes as the Mitten Men, er Minutemen, stone fingered their way to nine turnovers.

These were favors gratefully accepted by the home team, which clanked 17 of its first 19 shots and still trailed only, 11-9, with 7 minutes 40 seconds to go before intermission. This is as close to a pointless exercise as college basketball is likely to get.

"We've got to shoot the ball better," admitted Tom Crean, "but that will come."

A new game

Any change would be an improvement, a cliche that would apply just as effectively to this year's revised approach to infractions. NCAA legislators are hellbent on reducing physical play, and while they remedy the disease, the game stands a good chance of dying from the cure.

Burr, McDonald and Jenkins were merely doing their job as it's been described to them, but if their ardor for the task is matched coast-to-coast and all season long, nobody's going to want to watch.

Flint says his team is particularly vulnerable to the approach because it likes to swap bruises. If that's true, imagine how the Michigan States and the Cincinnatis are going to cope.

Or Marquette for that matter. Crean is fond of calling his team "blue collar," which is a polite way of saying its long on leaning and short on finesse.

"Everybody prides themselves on being somewhat physical," said the coach. "You've just got to do the best you can do to play the game the way it's called."

That will work for a while, but this madness can't go on all year. At least Flint hopes not.

Asked if the NCAA will eventually adjust to reality, he said, "You're asking the wrong guy."

And he was in the wrong place Monday night.


Massachusetts Minutemen 64
Marquette Golden Eagles 68
at Marquette

MASSACHUSETTS (64)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Rogers          28  7-11   1-4   2-5  1  4   15
Smith           28   0-1   0-0   0-2  6  3    0
Rhymer          12   0-2   0-0   1-3  0  5    0
Mack            37  4-13   5-8   0-4  3  3   16
Crooks          29  6-10   6-9   1-2  2  3   19
Depina          25   4-6   2-3   1-2  3  2   13
Blizzard         5   0-1   0-0   1-2  1  2    0
Jenkins          1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Williams        19   0-2   1-2   0-4  1  5    1
Brand           16   0-2   0-0   1-2  0  4    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 21-48 15-26  7-26 17 31   64
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.438, FT-.577. 3-Point Goals:
7-17, .412 (Mack 3-9, Crooks 1-3, Depina 3-4,
Williams 0-1). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 7
(Brand 4, Mack, Williams, Rhymer). Turnovers: 15
(Crooks 4, Mack 3, Williams 3, Blizzard 2, Brand,
Jenkins, Rogers). Steals: 3 (Crooks 2, Mack).

MARQUETTE (68)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Blankson        28   1-4   0-0   1-2  0  3    2
Nnamaka         24   2-6   9-9   3-6  0  4   13
Mueller         26   0-3   4-6   1-5  0  3    4
Henry           21   2-7   0-1   1-2  2  5    4
Wardle          36  8-21   8-9   3-6  2  2   26
Merritt         14   1-5   3-6   5-9  1  1    5
Barone          20   1-2   5-6   0-0  2  2    7
Harris          24   3-7   0-0   4-9  0  4    6
Sanders          6   0-0   1-2   0-2  2  0    1
Clausen          1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 18-55 30-39 18-41  9 24   68
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.327, FT-.769. 3-Point Goals:
2-10, .200 (Blankson 0-1, Nnamaka 0-1, Henry 0-2,
Wardle 2-5, Barone 0-1). Team rebounds: 2.
Blocked shots: 5 (Mueller 2, Merritt, Barone,
Harris). Turnovers: 14 (Wardle 3, Merritt 2,
Nnamaka 2, Barone, Blankson, Harris, Mueller).
Steals: 2 (Harris, Wardle).
__________________________________
Massachusetts      19   45  -   64
Marquette          29   39  -   68
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 7,941. Officials: Jim
Burr, Arnie Mcdonald, Jim Jenkins.

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