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A meltdown for Bonnies against UMass
By Brian Moritz, The Times Herald, 1/27/2002

ST. BONAVENTURE - At the Reilly Center this season, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s offense has been as dependable as the sunrise.

J.R. Bremer beats Shannon Crooks and sets his sights on the hoop.
In their first seven home games, the Bonnies had averaged better than 90 points per game.

But Saturday night, Bona’s offense disappeared in the second half, and Massachusetts rallied for a 67-65 Atlantic 10 win in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,000 fans at the RC.

Micah Brand scored on a put-back slam dunk with 9.2 seconds left, and J.R. Bremer missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to snap Bona’s (12-7, 4-4 A-10) 10-game home winning streak.

The 65 points is the fewest the Bonnies have scored this year and is by far their lowest home point total.

“Unfortunately, where our offense has carried us at times, we ran into one of the best defensive teams in our league,” said Bona coach Jan van Breda Kolff. “We didn’t make some shots when we needed to.”

The Bonnies didn’t score in the final 2:30 of the game and didn’t have a field goal in the final 6:52.

“I don’t know what really happened at the end of the game,” said Bona freshman Mike Gansey, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. “We just kind of relaxed on them, I guess. We couldn’t get into a flow towards the end of the game.”

The Bonnies shot a meager 33 percent in the second half, and were just 3-of-11 (27 percent) from three-point land. For the game, Bona was just 7-of-23 from three, tying its season low for threes in a game.

“The shots aren’t going to be there every game,” said Bremer, who scored a game-high 27 points. “We can’t shoot the lights out ever single game.”

Bremer, the school’s all-time leading three-point shooter and the third leading scorer in the nation, had the final shot of the game.

After Brand emphatically slammed home a Shannon Crooks miss to give UMass (9-8, 3-3) a 67-65 lead with nine seconds left, the Bonnies called timeout.

Van Breda Kolff, who said his gut told him to go for a three and the win, designed a play for Bremer.

“We set up a play where J.R. would come off a ball screen and turn the corner,” van Breda Kolff said. “We put Marques in the corner as a three-point shooter, and the play was designed for (J.R.) to turn off the ball screen and attack the basket and either kick out for the three or go all the way to the basket.”

Instead, Bremer peeled off the screen, pumped faked UMass’ Raheim Lamb, drew contact, and threw up a three-pointer. The shot missed, and no foul was called. “I jumped into his body, but I guess he didn’t touch me hard enough for me to get the call,” Bremer said. “I had gotten that call a couple times earlier.”

Van Breda Kolff was irate that no foul was called. He charged after the officials after the final buzzer screaming at them and then started yelling at Bona administrators in anger.

In the press conference, van Breda Kolff was more subdued.

“My thoughts on fouls or non-fouls — it’s not worth even wasting time talking about it, because nobody’s going to listen,” van Breda Kolff said. “So I don’t know.”

Minutemen coach Steve Lappas felt the non-call was correct.

“I can tell you right now that it wasn’t even close,” Lappas said. “That was not a foul. You can watch that on the tape 500 times and that’s not foul. Our kid didn’t leave his feet, (Bremer) shot faked him, (Lamb) put his hands straight up and he threw the ball right into this hands.”

Regardless of the final call, the Bonnies had several chances to put the game away before the final minute. Bona took a 10-point lead midway through the first half, but Brennan Martin — who hadn’t scored all season - hit a pair of first-half three-pointers, including one at the buzzer, to cut the deficit to five at halftime.

Early in the second half, the Bonnies went on an 11-0 run to take a seven-point lead with 12 minutes left. But Bona missed shots in its next two possessions, and UMass slowly rallied.

And with 1:25 to go and Bona up two, Vidal Massiah’s open three-pointer rattled in and out, and UMass tied the game on the next possession.

"I thought we were always one shot from putting us over the top,” van Breda Kolff said. “We never seemed to get that.”

The loss tarnished one of Bona’s best recent defensive performances. After allowing Fordham to shoot 61 percent from the field and 63 percent on threes on Wednesday, the Bonnies held ‘Mass to 49 percent shooting — 43 percent in the second half.

“Our focus has been on defense the last two days,” Bremer said. “We came into this game looking to stop these guys.”

The Bonnies forced 20 turnovers but couldn’t stop Kitwana Rhymer, who had 23 points and seven rebounds. Shannon Crooks also had 17 points, while Anthony Anderson added 11.

“I just feel bad,” van Breda Kolff said. “We played well enough to win. We did a lot of things to win. We defended, we scrapped, we clawed. We can’t fault our effort. If we could have made a big free throw at the end or a couple layups earlier ... those are all things you look back to later on.”

Bona fans say referee made obscene gesture
By Brian Moritz, The Times Herald, 1/27/2002

ST. BONAVENTURE - Several fans who attended the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball game at the Reilly Center on Saturday night accused one of the referees of making an obscene gesture to the crowd.

Tony Mazzella and Chuck Bremer both said that one of the three officials working the Bonnies game against Massachusetts gestured towards the crowd sitting across from the Bona bench during a timeout late in the second half.

The alleged incident took place with less than two minutes to go in the game and Bona clinging to a two-point lead.

“The ball got knocked out of bounds, and somebody called a timeout,” Mazzella said. “The referee walked back this way, and the fans were getting on him a little bit, and he just turned and smiled and gave the fans the finger.”

Bremer added, ‘I just saw the ref turn around and give the crowd the finger ... with a big smile.”

Mazzella is the stepfather of Mike Gansey, a freshman on the Bona team, while Bremer is the older brother of senior guard J.R. Bremer. Two other fans independently confirmed the report.

Mazzella didn’t identify the referee by name.

“It was the older black gentleman, the shorter one,” Mazzella said.

Leroy Hendricks, Jim Jenkins and George Watts officiated the game.

The Bonnies lost Saturday’s game, 67-65. J.R. Bremer missed a three-pointer at the buzzer after drawing contact with a UMass player. No foul was called on the play, despite the protestations of Bona players and coaches.

Mazzella and Bremer said that no one in the crowd yelled any obscenities at the official before the alleged incident.

“No obscenities,” Mazzella said. “Absolutely did not hear them say one thing.

Bremer added: “No ... and even if they were, he still should have more control in himself not to give the finger to the crowd. I don’t care what they’re saying. I’m more concerned because you’ve got kids up there.”

Bona athletic director Gothard Lane declined to comment on the allegations but said that he would contact Mickey Crowley, the A-10 supervisor of officials.

This loss will linger with the Bonnies
By Chuck Pollock, The Times Herald Sports Editor, 1/27/2002

ST. BONAVENTURE - This one has eight days to gnaw at Jan van Breda Kolff.

Given his druthers, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coach probably would prefer to play this afternoon ... even though his team, physically, could use the break.

Such was impact of last night’s 67-65 loss to Massachusetts before a sellout crowd at the Reilly Center.

After all, Bona is a frantic regulation rally and overtime victory against Duquesne away from being on a three-game losing skid, two of them at home against less-than-elite opposition.

The post-season hopeful Bonnies have lost seven times this campaign, but none of the previous six defeats devastated van Breda Kolff as much as this one ... not even close.

When J.R. Bremer jumped into a UMass defender in a failed bid to draw a foul on a three-point attempt at the buzzer, an inconsolable van Breda Kolff raced onto the court in the direction of Jim Jenkins, the official closest to the play.

Seconds later, the highly-agitated, first-year Bona coach, using expansive gestures and emphatic words, confronted an SBU athletic administrator at midcourt, presumably insisting on a protest to the Atlantic 10.

But, in fairness, van Breda Kolff saw the final play with his heart.

Bremer clearly initiated the contact and wasn’t as much trying to shoot as he was attempting to draw a foul.

Indeed, UMass coach Steve Lappas insisted, had a call been made, “I’d have been upset ... absolutely.”

But he also admitted, “I don’t blame Jan ... he’s trying to win a game.”

A game that Bona appeared to have won ... but never did put away.

And that, as much as anything, contributed to his uncharacteristic post-buzzer meltdown.

It wasn’t so much the non-call as it was the “what ifs” that will nag him until the Bonnies next take the court a week from today in Dayton.

“I feel bad because we played well enough to win,” a disconsolate van Breda Kolff said afterward. “We did a lot of things to (create a) win. We defended ... we scrapped ... we clawed. We can’t fault the effort. We came back from Fordham feeling very deflated from that (87-81) loss.”

But the Bonnies were unlucky in seeing their 10-game RC win streak end, seven of those under van Breda Kolff.

Brennan Martin, a 6-6 freshman forward who had played only 18 minutes in seven games for the Minutemen and had yet to score a point, exceeded that total court time against the Bonnies and knocked down 3-of-5 treys, including a killer at the first-half buzzer

“We’ve scored enough points to win our games all year (at home),” van Breda Kolff said, “but we ran into one of the best defensive teams in the league and we didn’t make some shots.

“We had an out-of-bounds play layup we just missed, we had an offensive-rebound pump-fake and just missed and we had a couple of layups that could have fallen that would have opened things up.”

But they didn’t.

And the Bonnies, averaging 92 points at game at home this season — never scoring fewer than 79 — were held to 65.

“We missed a big free throw at the end (Marques Green), a wide-open three (Vidal Massiah) and a couple of layups,” van Breda Kolff lamented.

“We were one shot from putting us over the top ... and we never could get that.”

A-10 investigating charge of obscene gesture by official
By Brian Moritz, The Times Herald, 1/28/2002

The Atlantic 10 is investigating allegations that a referee made an obscene gesture toward the crowd at the Reilly Center during St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball game against Massachusetts on Saturday.

Mickey Crowley, the league’s supervisor of officials, has been informed of the allegations by Bona administrators and is checking them out.

“Mickey’s been made aware of it, and he’s looking into it,” A-10 spokesman Ray Cella said Monday morning.

Several fans sitting in the section across from the Bona bench said that, during a timeout late in the second half of UMass’ 67-65 win on Saturday, Leroy Hendricks, one of the referees working the game, gave the crowd the finger.

Cella said he didn’t know how long the investigation would take nor what could happen as a result.

“We haven’t been down this road before,” he said.

Minutemen tough it out: Get road win vs. Bonnies
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 1/27/2002

OLEAN, N.Y. - The Reilly Center, with its tight-to-the-floor seating and a reputation for some of the most foul-mouthed fans in the nation, let alone the Atlantic 10, has long been a house of horrors for UMass.

J.R. Bremer tries to create space against Raheim Lamb's defense.
Before shaking the curse with last night's 67-65 win over St. Bonaventure, the Minutemen hadn't won here since 1997, Bruiser Flint's first season at the helm.

So in addition to pushing their record to 9-8, including 3-3 in the Atlantic 10, the Minutemen indulged in a delicious bit of payback last night.

But more important, for all concerned on the UMass side of the ball, was the means of victory.

The Minutemen - with two emormous defensive plays by Raheim Lamb and Kitwana Rhymer, in addition to Micah Brand's dunk with 9.2 seconds left for the winning basket - sealed this one with a toughness that coach Steve Lappas has often found lacking in his team this season.

``But it has been there the last three games,'' Lappas said of the Minutemen's three-game winning streak. ``(Last night) we needed it against a tough team, a quality team that plays a tough style.''

But the run-and-shoot Bonnies, who came in last night averaging 90 points a game over what had been a 7-0 home record, were never allowed to shift into overdrive.

Though guard J.R. Bremer finished with 27 points, the nation's third-leading scorer had to work too hard for that total, as evidenced by his 8-of-22 shooting performance, including 4-of-12 from 3-point range.

Overall, the Bonnies (12-7) scored their fewest points of the season, in addition to hitting their fewest 3-pointers, with seven.

The Minutemen, on the other hand, received the first truly dominant performance from Rhymer in more than a month. The center hit his first seven shots, grabbed seven rebounds, and finished with 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

Overall, his performance staked the Minutemen to their best stretch performance of the season.

The Minutemen had roared back to take a 63-62 lead with 3:38 left on an Anthony Anderson 3-pointer, which capped an 8-0 run. But the Bonnies took the lead back just as quickly on two Bremer free throws, followed by one from Marques Green.

Rhymer tied the game at 65 with 1:04 left with a turnaround from the lane over Vidal Massiah. The Bonaventure center fouled out on the play.

Rhymer missed the free throw, but he quickly made up for it, blocking Bremer at the other end. The ball went out of bounds off Bremer, and UMass took the ball back with 44 seconds left.

Shannon Crooks missed a jumper from the baseline, and Brand jumped into the lane to grab the deflected rebound, before dunking it with 9.2 seconds left.

All that the Minutemen needed was a stop, and Lamb provided it.

Bremer took the ball at midcourt, drove in front of Lamb, and attempted in vain to draw the foul by jumping into the UMass forward.

Lamb instead held his hands high, and swatted the ball away as the clock ran out, preserving the victory.

Lamb's block saves the day
UMass Notebook
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 1/27/2002

OLEAN, N.Y. - Raheim Lamb, a quiet and studious sophomore, certainly followed his orders to the letter last night.

The result was his block of a J.R. Bremer shot that preserved UMass' 67-65 win over St. Bonaventure.

Bremer, in looking for the last shot, finally lunged into Lamb in a desperate attempt to get a hometown call in 3-point range. Lamb kept his hands high, received credit for the blocked shot, and quietly rejoiced when the only sound he heard was the buzzer.

Though St. Bonaventure coach Jan van Breda Kolff stormed the floor in an animated protest of the noncall, Lamb had little doubt he had done his job well.

``I was playing great defense,'' he said. ``I just knew that I didn't foul him. I knew he was going to try and jump at me to draw the foul. But I have a good 4 or 5 inches on him, so I just stayed on my feet, and the ball went right into my hands.''

UMass coach Steve Lappas had preached that very thing in the timeout that preceded the final play.

``We've been on the guys all year about leaving their feet on shot fakes, but Raheim did the right thing, and the ball went right into his hands,'' Lappas said. ``We told them to switch on every screen, and not to foul if they drove. Above all, don't give them a 3.''

Father doesn't know best

Father Jud is one of the most popular Franciscan Friars on the St. Bonaventure campus, thanks to his willingness to stand in the Reilly Center's boisterous student section and hold up signs.

When Temple's John Chaney came to Olean this season, Father Jud held up a sign that read, ``That's how the Cookie Crumbles,'' in reference to that time two seasons ago when St. Bonaventure fans pelted an irate Chaney with Oreo cookies.

Father Jud came up with another one last night: ``The only Mass I Don't Like is UMass.''

Little wonder that UMass seniors Shannon Crooks and Kitwana Rhymer, who had never won a game in this building, were so elated about, in Rhymer's words, ``Sticking it to those fans. They've killed us since I've been here.''

Shooting time

UMass freshman Brennan Martin, whose value as a shooter is earning him more time, was on the floor for crunch time. He finished with his first points of the season: nine points on 3-of-5 3-point shooting. His 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer cut the Bonaventure lead to 39-34.

``That was an enormous basket in this game,'' Lappas said.

UMass: Silence treatment
Minutemen rally to quiet Bonnies, raucous crowd
UMASS 67, ST. BONA. 65
By Ron Depasquale, The Boston Globe Correspondent, 1/27/2002

OLEAN, N.Y. - The streak is over.

No, not the University of Massachusetts's winning streak, now at three games. The St. Bonaventure home winning streak was halted last night at 10 contests, as the Minutemen prevailed, 67-65.

UMass (9-8, 3-3 Atlantic 10) came from behind to steal a last-minute win from the Bonnies at the Reilly Center as the Minutemen shot 49 percent from the field and were led by Kitwana Rhymer's 23 points and Shannon Crooks's 17.

UMass, initially rattled by the raucous, jeering fans, faced a 7-point deficit with six minutes remaining.

''Tonight was real mental toughness,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ''You're on the road against a quality team that plays a tough style and they pressure the whole game. We've got all first-year guys controlling the ball, and in the first half we were shaky.

''But we were shaky and only down by 5 at halftime.''

A 3-pointer from Anthony Anderson, who had 11 points, gave UMass the lead back with 3:33 left.

Rhymer missed a free throw with a minute left and the score tied at 65, but he atoned at the other end when he blocked J.R. Bremer, the nation's No. 3 scorer who finished with 27 points.

''I haven't won here, I'm definitely happy about this,'' Rhymer said. ''Ever since I've been here, these fans have been killing us. They've been calling us everything in the book. I'm so happy we stuck it right to them.''

Micah Brand, who had only 4 points, made the last 2 count when he grabbed a rebound and went up with the tiebreaking dunk with 9.2 seconds left.

After timeouts by both sides, the Bonnies gave the ball to Bremer, who drove into Raheim Lamb, trying to draw a foul. Lamb stood his ground and got the charge, and UMass had its first win at St. Bonaventure in five seasons.

''He just kept his hands straight up,'' Rhymer said of Lamb. ''I praised God for that block, I was so happy.''

Bonnies coach Jan van Breda Kolff, who has guided his team to a 12-7, 4-4 record, raced onto the floor to protest the non-call.

''I was confused for a split-second,'' Lappas said. ''But then I knew there was no way it was a foul.''

The Minutemen have now rattled off Atlantic 10 wins over Temple, George Washington, and St. Bonaventure since Lapas implemented a three-guard attack.

But the difference between now and the five-game losing streak that ended against Temple, according to Lappas, is contributions up and down the bench. The Minutemen even got three 3-pointers from freshman Brennan Martin, including one as the first half ended.

Down, 39-34, at the break, largely because of 13 turnovers created by the Bonnies' swarming full-court press, the Minutemen returned a more composed, fluid team.

''In the first half, everyone got a little rattled from the noise,'' Brand said. ''In the second half, we weren't worried about the crowd. We just kept poise.''

UMass held the Bonnies, who entered the game ranked fifth in the country in scoring, to a season-low 65 points and just seven 3-pointers, four below their average.

UMass wins at Reilly Center
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/28/2002

OLEAN, N.Y. - St. Bonaventure coach Jan van Breda Kolff stomped around, demanding a foul. The always vulgar Bonnie fans pointed half their profanity toward the referees and the other half toward the University of Massachusetts players and coaches who were celebrating their 67-65 win Saturday, a maroon pocket of joy in a gym full of angry people.

The locals weren't quite sure what to do. The Bonnies don't lose at home very often. They'd been perfect there so far this year.

In each of the last four seasons, whenever UMass went to St. Bonaventure, something always happened that cost the Minutemen the game.

The Bonnies would make a tough shot, a critical steal or the officials would whistle a questionable call and UMass would leave Western New York frustrated.

But Saturday it was the Minutemen (9-8, 3-3 Atlantic 10) who made the clutch plays in crunch time, while the Bonnies left frustrated. The loss snapped St. Bonaventure's 10-game winning streak at the Reilly Center, dating back to last year.

With the score tied 65-65, J.R. Bremer tried to drive the baseline against Minuteman guard Anthony Anderson, but at the last second center Kitwana Rhymer slid over and blocked Bremer's shot. It skipped off Bremer's hand out of bounds, giving UMass the ball.

At the other end, Shannon Crooks missed a 3-point try from the left corner, but Micah Brand grabbed the rebound and threw down a two-handed dunk with 9.2 seconds left.

Both teams called time out to set their final strategy although there was little doubt about who would get the ball for St. Bonaventure. Bremer entered the game averaging 25.3 points per game, making him the third leading scorer nationally, and he already had 27 points.

The only question was whether he'd try a 3-pointer for the win or drive to the basket.

Crooks guarded Bremer off the inbounds pass until he crossed halfcourt, but when the Bonnies set a screen, UMass switched defensively and Raheim Lamb moved to guard Bremer as the clock ran down.

Lamb was too close for Bremer to get off a clean 3-point attempt, so he tried to draw contact by jumping into Lamb. However, Lamb stayed on his feet, held his arms up and blocked the shot as the buzzer sounded. Van Breda Kolff and 6,000 Bonnie fans screamed unsuccessfully for a foul.

"I knew he was trying to get me off my feet, but I kept saying to myself, stay on my feet, and I made a play," Lamb said.

UMass coach Steve Lappas was adamant that no foul was committed.

"It wasn't even close," Lappas said. "That was not a foul. You can watch that on the tape 500 times and that's not a foul. Our kid didn't leave his feet, He shot-faked him, (Lamb) put his hands straight up and he threw the ball right into this hands."

"It's not worth even wasting time talking about it, because nobody's going to listen," van Breda Kolff said.

Senior center Kitwana Rhymer showed no signs of the slump that rendered him ineffective for most of the last month. Against an undersized Bonnies front line, Rhymer had 23 points and seven rebounds.

Crooks scored 17 points and Anderson added 11.

Bremer's 27 led the Bonnies (12-7, 4-4 A-10), while Mike Gansey added 17 points and seven rebounds.

St. Bonaventure's 65 points was its lowest total of the season, as were its seven 3-pointers (on 23 attempts). Sophomore Marques Green, who had been averaging 16.1 points per game, was held to a season-low six as Anderson did an impressive job guarding him.

The Minutemen will try to extend their winning streak to four Tuesday when they play host to Dayton at 7:30 p.m. at the Mullins Center.

St. Bonaventure's potential to explode offensively was evident midway through the first half as Gansey scored the first five points of an 11-0 run that turned a 15-14 UMass lead into a 25-15 Bonnie advantage.

The Minutemen struggled against Bona's full-court pressure defense throughout the first half. They turned the ball over 13 times, including five by Anderson.

The Minutemen showed some explosiveness of their own with an 11-3 run that finished with a 3-pointer from Brennan Martin, the first points of his career.

St. Bonaventure stretched its lead back to eight points, but Martin drained another three at the buzzer. UMass trailed, 39-34, at halftime.

UMass scored the first eight points of the second half to take a 42-39 lead, but another 11-0 St. Bonaventure run gave the home team a 54-47 advantage with 12:45 left to play. The Bonnies held the seven-point advantage and led 62-55 with 6:08 left, but couldn't put UMass away.

After two free throws by Crooks and one by Rhymer, Vidal Massiah's shot rimmed out and Lamb grabbed the rebound. At the other end Rhymer hit his seventh straight shot, a jump hook. Bremer missed and Anderson sank a three to give UMass a 63-62 lead.

Bremer hit two free throws and Green hit one of two with 2:30 left to make it 65-63. After Crooks missed a three, Massiah had a chance to ice the game with 1:25 left, but his 3-pointer was well off the mark. Crooks snared the rebound.

Rhymer hit another spin hook, tying the game at 65-65 and setting up the final sequence.

After the game, Rhymer, who'd been taking his share of abuse from the Bonnie fans, admitted he didn't mind sending them home disappointed.

"Since I've been here these fans have been killing us, saying everything in the book to us," Rhymer said. "This year I'm just happy we stuck it right to them."

Wilson suffers ankle sprain
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/28/2002

OLEAN, N.Y. - University of Massachusetts freshman guard Kyle Wilson suffered a sprained ankle after Saturday's win against St. Bonaventure and is questionable for the Minutemen's game against Dayton at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Mullins Center.

In the team's postgame celebration, Wilson jumped up and landed on an unknown teammate's foot, causing the injury.

Wilson was on crutches Sunday, but was putting weight on both feet.

Wilson struggled against St. Bonaventure's pressure, with a career-high six turnovers with no points.

If Wilson can't play, sophomore point guard Anthony Anderson likely would handle the bulk of the point guard duties, with Shannon Crooks backing him up.

MARTIN BREAKS OUT: After Wednesday's win over George Washington, UMass freshman forward Brennan Martin talked about being anxious to finally score his first collegiate basket.

He got his wish and then some Saturday. After playing 18 minutes in seven games combined prior to Saturday, Martin played 22 minutes against the Bonnies.

He broke his scoreless streak with 4:33 remaining in the first half with an open 3-pointer from the left corner.

After collecting an assist on a Kitwana Rhymer basket two minutes later, Martin buried another three at the first-half buzzer that gave UMass momentum.

"Once I hit the first one tonight it was like, OK, it's time to play," Martin said.

He finished with nine points, a rebound and two assists and played quite a bit in the final five minutes.

"I was loving every minute of it. In crunch time I want to be on the floor," Martin said. "I want to make something happen."

Lappas was impressed.

"How 'bout that guy? Tonight we said we were going to give him a shot," Lappas said. "He's a good shooter. If you leave him alone, he's going to knock it down."

NEXT UP: Dayton (12-5, 4-2 A-10) arrives at the Mullins Center for a Tuesday 7:30 p.m. game after getting swept in its season series with Xavier, 75-59, in Cincinnati.

MISCELLANEOUS: This game marked the third time this season that UMass trailed by 10 and came back to win.

Rhymer’s doing everything right
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/28/2002

OLEAN, N.Y. - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball staff doesn't know where the switch is or how to flip it, but it was extremely evident Saturday that the Minutemen are a much better team when Kitwana Rhymer is in the "on" position.

In a game few people thought UMass would win, Rhymer put the Minutemen on his back offensively. His 23 points and St. Bonaventure's complete inability to guard him was the difference between a win and a loss for UMass.

How often Rhymer can approach that level of play will go a long way toward determining how good the Minutemen will be the rest of the way.

"He's got to play like that every night. I told him he's the beast," said Shannon Crooks, a fellow fifth-year senior and captain. "He has to believe that. I told him you're the man you have to go out and play like the man."

The Minutemen are 5-1 this season when Rhymer scores in double figures and 4-7 when he doesn't. UMass' four-game losing streak earlier this month coincided with a Rhymer slump. He had just 11 total points over those four games.

Rhymer has been slump-prone throughout his career, going into significant scoring droughts over several stretches. The problems are hard to figure out and fix because, for the most part, they aren't technical. During his recent skid he got a lot of quality shots, but they didn't fall.

One technical adjustment Rhymer did make was putting the ball on the floor less, thus limiting his chances of getting it stripped from him.

"I just try to bury them as deep as possible so I don't have to make many moves," Rhymer said.

Beyond that, his problems were more mental and harder to correct.

"If I'm missing shots, I can't dwell on it. That's what I was doing," he said. "Then it started bothering me so much it put me deeper in a hole. I'm just playing now."

Throughout the year Lappas has made no secret of how much he likes Rhymer as a person. At one sports luncheon, he proudly told the assembled crowd about how a professor who had worked with Rhymer on an independent study had called Lappas to tell the coach how much he enjoyed working with Rhymer.

Lappas' affection for Rhymer made it that much harder to see him struggle on the court, so Rhymer's resurgence has pleased the coach.

"It's tremendous. I'm happy for him. I really like the kid," Lappas said. "If he scored two points tonight he'd be just as happy as he is now. That's why he's a tremendous kid. For him to get 23 and for us to do this, I'm even happier for him because I know he feels a little bit relieved and he feels good."

Rhymer appreciates the fact that Lappas has stuck with him.

"I'm happy we got the win. I'm happy I'm starting to play the way I'm supposed to," Rhymer said. "He's been pushing me, getting on me all the time. I'm definitely happy that he's showing that much love that he's pushing me that much."

Rhymer wasn't ready to declare himself totally back yet, though.

"I'm not going to say anything. I'm just going to play as a hard as I can, day in and day out," he said.

Massachusetts Minutemen 67
St. Bonaventure Bonnies 65
at St. Bonaventure

Massachusetts vs St. Bonaventure
01/26/02 7:00 p.m. at Reilly Center (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.)
VISITORS: Massachusetts 9-8, 3-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
40 BRAND,Micah          f  2-4    0-1    0-0    2  5  7   3   4   1  1  1  0  19
33 RHYMER,Kitwana       c  8-9    0-0    7-11   3  4  7   3  23   1  1  0  0  30
11 WILSON,Kyle          g  0-3    0-3    0-0    1  0  1   0   0   0  5  0  1  17
12 ANDERSON,Anthony     g  4-9    3-6    0-0    1  4  5   2  11   2  6  0  0  37
30 CROOKS,Shannon       g  6-16   3-7    2-2    0  2  2   3  17   3  6  0  2  39
00 MARTIN,Brennan          3-6    3-5    0-0    0  1  1   1   9   2  0  0  0  22
03 BLIZZARD,Ronell         0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0   0  0  0  0   4
21 WILLIAMS,Eric           0-0    0-0    0-1    1  2  3   0   0   0  1  0  0  10
34 LAMB,Raheim             1-2    0-0    1-2    2  4  6   3   3   0  0  1  0  22
TEAM ........................................   0  2  2
TOTALS                    24-49   9-22  10-16  10 25 35  15  67   9 20  2  3 200

TOT-FG 1stH: 12-21 00.0% 2ndH: 12-28 49.0% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 49.0% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 6-10 00.0% 2ndH: 3-12 40.9% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 40.9% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 4-7 00.0% 2ndH: 6-9 62.5% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 62.5% 1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: St. Bonaventure 12-7, 4-4 TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS No. N A M E FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 01 MASSIAH,Vidal f 3-9 0-4 0-0 0 4 4 5 6 2 2 1 0 35 10 CHEEKS,Robert f 0-1 0-0 1-2 1 0 1 4 1 0 1 0 0 16 02 BREMER,J.R. g 8-22 4-12 7-8 0 2 2 1 27 3 1 0 1 39 04 GREEN,Marques g 2-9 0-2 1-2 0 5 5 2 5 6 1 0 5 39 20 PRATO,Patricio g 4-6 0-1 1-1 1 5 6 4 9 0 3 0 3 36 03 GANSEY,Mike 6-8 3-4 2-2 5 2 7 0 17 0 0 0 0 31 24 METHOT-LOTTIN,Pat. 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 44 RUDDOCK,Elton 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 TEAM ........................................ 0 1 1 TOTALS 23-55 7-23 12-15 7 20 27 17 65 12 8 1 9 200

TOT-FG 1stH: 14-28 00.0% 2ndH: 9-27 41.8% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 41.8% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 4-12 00.0% 2ndH: 3-11 30.4% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 30.4% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 7-8 00.0% 2ndH: 5-7 80.0% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 80.0% 3

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OFFICIALS: Leroy Hendricks, Jim Jenkins, George Watts TECHNICAL FOULS: Massachusetts - none St. Bonaventure - none ATTENDANCE: 6,000 SCORE BY PERIODS: 1st 2nd OT1 OT2 OT3 OT4 TOTAL Massachusetts 34 33 67 St. Bonaventure 39 26 65

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