an van Breda Kolff's most recent memory of UMass is of his senior guard, J.R. Bremer, jumping into Raheim Lamb in an attempt to draw a foul in the closing seconds of a 67-65 loss to the Minutemen on Jan. 26 in Olean, N.Y.
The furious St. Bonaventure coach ran onto the court to protest the call, to no avail. But that much is history, and for that he is thankful.
The Bonnies (14-8, 6-5 Atlantic 10), in Amherst for tonight's rematch with the Minutemen (10-11, 4-6), are playing better basketball these days, according to van Breda Kolff.
The numbers bear that out, for the Bonnies managed to sandwich wins over Xavier and Dayton around a loss to Richmond.
``Maybe we're a different team now,'' van Breda Kolff said. ``The last time we were coming off a tough game against Fordham. But we're playing better now than we did before.''
The wins over Dayton and Xavier, the latter by a point last Saturday, were a testament to van Breda Kolff's ability to patch together strong play under the basket from a relatively small frontcourt that includes Vidal Massiah, Robert Cheeks and backup Elton Ruddock.
And van Breda Kolff's explosive array of perimeter players - the lifeblood of this stop-and-pop group - also managed to hit enough shots to offset Xavier's interior game.
The Bonnies finished with five players in double figures, including the customary 26 points from Bremer, the A-10 scoring leader.
Look for the big, but little-used Ruddock, to get more playing time as a way of combatting the Minutemen's size tonight.
Especially now that UMass - with the mercurial Kitwana Rhymer and Micah Brand both turning in solid performances in Saturday's win over La Salle - is receiving improved play inside.
``There's no question that Elton has a big body and plays good against bigger players, like the players that Xavier and Dayton has,'' said van Breda Kolff. ``UMass would be a good matchup for him.''
MHERST - The lesson learned by the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team in its first game against St. Bonaventure was a simple one.
If the Minutemen can limit turnovers and control the tempo, they can win. If not, they're in trouble. The two teams play again tonight at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.
On Jan. 26 at the Reilly Center, the Minutemen trailed 39-35 at halftime after turning the ball over 13 times.
But in the second half, UMass settled down, turning the ball over just seven times and rallied to win 67-65.
"We did a much better job in the second half of that game," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "In the first half, the tempo was a little fast because we turned the ball over. In the second half when we didn't turn the ball over, we were a lot better."
In that game Raheim Lamb blocked a 3-point attempt at the buzzer by J.R. Bremer to clinch the win for the Minutemen.
The Bonnies force an average of 18.6 take-aways per game, tops in the A-10, with intense full-court pressure.
UMass sophomore point guard Anthony Anderson said the Minutemen learned how to deal with the pressure from the last game.
"The pressure was a big thing. This game we're going to try to stay away from getting turnovers," Anderson said. "Last time me and Kyle had like 11 turnovers and we only won by two. If we don't turn it over maybe we can pull off a big win."
St. Bonaventure arrives on the heels of an 80-79 upset of Xavier, which was previously undefeated in league play.
The game marks both teams' first Atlantic 10 repeat opponents. The return engagement ratchets up the importance of strategy as both teams try to adjust to what the other did last time.
"You're definitely going to have to make some guesses. We did some things defensively that I don't think they had seen earlier in the year," Lappas said. "They're probably going to have to make some kind of adjustment. It's hard to say what that would be. We have to be ready to make some adjustments at halftime or as the game unfolds."
One thing Lappas learned from their first engagement is that freshman Mike Gansey needs to be accounted for. He surprised the Minutemen with 17 points and seven rebounds.
"There are less secrets about him now," Lappas said. "We know who he is and how good he is."
St. Bonaventure's top gun Bremer scored 27 against the Minutemen, but it took him 22 shots to get there as UMass played strong defense against him.
His 25.2 points per game is third in the nation and best in the Atlantic 10.
"I watched the tape of him against Xavier. He's a great player," Lappas said. "We did a much better job against him than we could have expected. We're really concerned about him."
Bonnie coach Jan van Breda Kolff said the Bonnies have improved since their last meeting with the Minutemen.
"We're a little different team now than we were then," he said. "We're playing better. We just didn't shoot the ball well or play well last time."
UMass won the battle on the glass last game, utilizing a significant size advantage.
Van Breda Kolff inserted rarely used 6-foot-8 reserve Elton Ruddock, against Xavier, also a bigger team than St. Bonaventure. He grabbed six rebounds and helped slow reigning A-10 player of the year David West.
Ruddock could be a factor again tonight.
"Elton has a big body and is good against some bigger players," van Breda Kolff said. "UMass would be a good matchup for him."
NOTE: No opposing team has ever won three straight games in the Mullins Center, but the Bonnies have won on their last two trips to Amherst.