Coverage from:
The Boston Herald
The Boston Herald - notebook
The Boston Herald - Anderson & Lamb focus
The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe - column
The Boston Globe - notebook
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - Anderson focus
The Massachusetts Daily Collegian
The Massachusetts Daily Collegian - column
The Massachusetts Daily Collegian - notebook
The Springfield Union-News External link
The Springfield Union-News - notebook External link
The Springfield Union-News - Anderson focus External link

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BC survives Classic collapse vs. UMass: Leads by 26 but settles for 80-78 victory
By Mike Shalin, The Boston Herald, 12/9/2001

No one in the Boston College locker room could be happy with what happened in the final 18 minutes of last night's Commonwealth Classic at Conte Forum - except for the final score.

Raheim Lamb tries what his teammates failed at: stopping Troy Bell.
``We talked about it last year after (beating) UMass, about closing games out, but we're still 7-0,'' Troy Bell said after scoring 10 of his career-high 34 points in the final 8:48 to help the 13th-ranked Eagles hang on and beat UMass, 80-78, before 8,526.

``Hopefully, we'll keep practicing and get it together.''

The Eagles got the win with Ryan Sidney recording a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) in 36 minutes - just 48 hours after having his broken jaw wired shut.

The UMass comeback, aided by sophomores Anthony Anderson (19 points) and Raheim Lamb (12 points, seven rebounds in 23 minutes), was a positive after a dreadful opening 20 minutes. But, as new coach Steve Lappas said, ``You just can't go out and get down like that and think you're going to come back.''

Down? How about 49-23 with 18:16 left - after going 11:17 between field goals? After scoring just 20 points in the second half of a loss to Holy Cross earlier in the week, the Minutemen managed just 21 points in the first half last night - and then came charging back, more than once.

They cut the 26-point deficit down to five and had the ball, before falling behind by 12 again and then roaring back. UMass closed to the final margin on Anderson's third 3-pointer in the final 15 seconds with 2.8 seconds on the clock. BC got the ball in to escape with its 23rd straight home win, its third straight over UMass (two in the Classic).

``It's hard sometimes to make sure you carry through but it's something you have to do,'' said BC coach Al Skinner. ``We did a lot of things in the second half we just can't do if we're going to be a good club.''

It was the second huge lead almost lost by the Eagles at home so far this season - BC squandered all but one point of a 23-point advantage against UNH before holding on.

``Of course, I'm happy with the win,'' Skinner said. ``As I told them, it could have been a great win for us the way we played the first half, but it turned out to be a good win and we'll take that. Considering the health we were in, I'm happy about the results.''

The Minutemen (4-2) shot 25 percent from the floor in the first half, 60 in the second, when they put up 57 points - the most points BC has yielded in a half since Duke put up 55 back on Jan. 16. Anderson, a Lynn native, led five UMass players in double-figures with 19 points, while Everett grad Shannon Crooks had 14 of his 18 points in the second half.

Bell and Andrew Bryant (10 points, five rebounds in 22 minutes) keyed a 6-0 run that restored the Eagles' double-digit lead and it was 70-58 after a Bryant 3-pointer with 3:24 left. Uka Agbai (10 points, seven boards) hit BC's last basket with 2:05 left and the Eagles needed 6-of-8 from the line the rest of the way to hang on as Anderson caught fire.

Sidney bites the bullet
BC-UMass Notebook
By Mike Shalin and Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 12/9/2001

Saying he's already lost 13 pounds in two days with his mouth wired shut, Ryan Sidney knows his ordeal isn't going to get any easier. But that doesn't mean there's any thought in the BC sophomore's mind of not playing.

Ryan Sidney (right) and Kenny Walls swarm on Shannon Crooks.
``What kind of question is that? Don't you know who I am?'' Sidney said after last night's 80-78 win over UMass, when asked if he can continue playing on a liquid diet. ``Of course I can play. I got a double-double tonight and I've got braces in my mouth that I never had before, so, yeah I can play. I just have to get used to it.''

Sidney shot 2-for-12 from the floor and had five of BC's 13 turnovers. But he played 36 minutes, had 10 points and 10 rebounds - adding two assists, two blocks and two steals. He cramped up some and took a couple of hits he thought might have been intentional (Shannon Crooks apologized after knocking Sidney to the floor late). He was ``timid'' in the first half and shaky at the end. He missed close shots he would normally make. But he was there.

Sidney, who now has four double-doubles on the season, admitted he wouldn't have played last night if it was a lesser opponent, which is why you can be sure he won't miss Iowa State Tuesday night.

Rhymer blocks out the pain

Though last night marked the first time this season that Kitwana Rhymer has not blocked a shot, the senior refused to pin blame on his sore left knee.

After twisting it in practice Thursday, Rhymer sat out practice the following two days, instead working on the knee.

He said last night that his availability was never in doubt.

``(The knee) was all right,'' he said. ``It hurt a little bit. It hurts a little bit now. But all I'm going to do is ice it. It's fine.''

Instead, Rhymer's most painful moment came courtesy of an unknown BC player's elbow during a rebound battle in the first half. He missed a good chunk of the first half as a result, and returned to the court with a heavy bandage covering a four-stitch cut on his forehead.

Rhymer went into last night's game leading the Atlantic 10 with an average of 3.8 blocks per game, though his average over the previous three games against Holy Cross, North Carolina State and Oregon was even higher, at 4.6 per game.

Fleet raincheck

Even though one game is still owed to the FleetCenter, both BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo and his UMass counterpart, Bob Marcum, said that next year's Commonwealth Classic will be at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

``(BC) is up right now and we're not, so this isn't necessarily the best time to do it,'' said Marcum, who added that there is not a deadline for playing the next FleetCenter game.

Growth despite setback
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 12/9/2001

Anthony Anderson scored nine points on three shots in the last 15 seconds last night, and UMass nearly survived because of it.

Raheim Lamb, a quiet sophomore from Boston English who is very respectful of his older teammates, scored in every imaginable way, from dunking off the break to hitting jumpers, while scoring all 12 of his points in the last 13:16.

The opponent was No. 13 Boston College, and the Minutemen fell just short in last night's 80-78 loss.

But their youngsters grew more than a little bit in this game.

``The big positive to come out of this game has to be that, I hope,'' said UMass coach Steve Lappas, with a wary eye on Tuesday's game at the Mullins Center against a UConn team that has tormented the Minutemen even more than Boston College of late.

``Yeah, I felt like I grew,'' said Anderson. ``This is the No. 13 team in the country, and I didn't play this well against any other team this year.''

Little wonder that Anderson was raring for the next game. The sophomore from Lynn nervously bounced on the soles of his feet, hugged family members and smiled at mention of his late-game 3-point explosion.

These were not shallow shots. One was a pull-up from the top of the circle. And though he matched his three assists with three turnovers, be serious: The opposing backcourt was made up of Troy Bell and Ryan Sidney. The Minutemen aren't going to face another guard tandem like this until they open the conference schedule at home on Jan. 5 against No. 18 Saint Joseph's.

``Troy Bell is a great player, an All-American,'' said Anderson, who started the game leading the Atlantic 10 Conference with an assist/turnover ratio of 3.5 to 1. ``He was talking to me tonight - not trash talk, but he was giving me pointers, things to know about the college game, things like that. But when the score started getting close, he didn't talk anymore.''

Somehow, Lamb must have benefited from the same pointers.

``In the first half my shot wasn't there, but I just took my time,'' said Lamb. ``In a big game like this, you just have to be ready. A lot of us on this team are young, but this is going to be a good experience for us in the long run.''

Kitwana Rhymer, for one, is proud of his younger cast members. ``I already call him the Allen Iverson of the squad,'' said Rhymer. ``He's our full-court general. I already told him, `You have to shout at people.' ''

Bell towers for BC
BC 80, UMASS 78
Classic performance helps hold off UMass
By Michael Vega, The Boston Globe Staff, 12/9/2001

Troy Bell had many reasons to be inspired to play Boston College's seventh basketball game of the season last night.

His parents, Fred and Maggie, had flown in from Minneapolis yesterday afternoon to watch their only child play. His backcourt mate, Ryan Sidney, played with a broken jaw suffered in practice Thursday. And, of course, the opponent was the University of Massachusetts.

''It was a little bit of everything,'' Bell said. ''I especially wanted to have a decent performance while my parents were up from Minnesota and I knew I wanted to pick it up a little bit because Ryan was hurt. And I just wanted to beat UMass.''

Bell accomplished all three objectives in leading the 13th-ranked Eagles (7-0) to their 23d consecutive victory at home. He scored a career-high 34 points in BC's 80-78 Commonwealth Classic victory over the Minutemen before a Conte Forum crowd of 8,526.

Bell surpassed his previous career high (32), which he set in last year's season-ending loss to Southern Cal in the NCAA East Regional, by shooting 8 for 14 from the field (including 3 of 7 from 3-point range) and sinking a season-high 15 of 16 free throws. He helped the Eagles withstand a furious UMass rally by scoring 14 of BC's final 31 points.

''I told the team it could've been a great win for us, but it turned out to be a good win,'' said BC coach Al Skinner, whose team took a 44-21 halftime lead, expanded it to 49-23, and watched the Minutemen whittle it to 57-53.

''But we'll take it, given the health of our ball club.''

Sidney, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, turned in a valiant effort. The sophomore recorded his fourth double-double of the season (10 points, 10 rebounds) in 36 minutes.

''What did I do?'' Sidney said, downplaying his performance through a mouthful of metal wires, wax, and rubber bands. ''I just played. I didn't do anything extraordinary. I just played hard.''

''We certainly appreciate the effort for him to come out and give us 36 minutes,'' Skinner said. ''It clearly showed how tough the young man is.''

Said Bell, ''I knew Ryan was going to play. If there's any way possible for him to get on the court, he's going to be there. I mean, he couldn't get his normal numbers, but just having him on the court makes us play together.''

His presence helped the Eagles withstand a dreadful 3-for-15 shooting stretch at the start of the second half, which enabled the Minutemen to mount a 17-4 rally and pull within 4 points on Micah Brand's weak-side layup off Kyle Wilson's feed with 7:31 to go.

Anthony Anderson, a sophomore guard from Lynn English, led the Minutemen (4-2) with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. After Bell helped BC pull ahead, 65-54, by putting in a pair of clutch baskets in heavy traffic, Anderson made things interesting when he hit three 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds.

The Minutemen, who shot a season-worst 25 percent (8 of 32) in the first half, atoned in the second half by scoring 57 points on sizzling 22-for-37 shooting. Shannon Crooks added 18 points for UMass before fouling out with 15 seconds left.

''We almost made something crazy happen, especially against a team this good,'' said UMass's first-year coach, Steve Lappas, whose team must regroup before Tuesday's home game against Connecticut.

In the end, it was the inspired Bell whose steadiness kept the Eagles in front.

''I just wanted to play well in front of my parents,'' Bell said. ''I just wanted to go out and play well for them tonight - and for my team as well.''

Hungry Minutemen were back for seconds
By Bob Ryan, The Boston Globe Columnist, 12/9/2001

And so, ladies and gentlemen, the final score for the final time: West 101, East 57.

And also, for those of you with a deeper rooting interest, BC 80, UMass 78.

The 8,526 in attendance at Conte Forum went out examining their ticket stubs, because nowhere in the pregame buildup to the seventh annual Commonwealth Classic did it say anything about a doubleheader. But that's what they got, as BC won the first game by scoring West End 44 points to the Minutemen's 21 at the East End, while the kids from the 413 area code prevailed in the wild and crazy second half by a 57-36 score. Someone had better measure that basket.

But there was that 2-point discrepancy in BC's favor, which means Al Skinner was partially happy. ''Obviously, I'm very happy with the first half and very disappointed in the second half,'' declared the mentor. ''As I told the kids, `If we're gonna be a good basketball team, we can't squander leads like this.' Although I really can't say `squander,' because UMass shot very well and was very aggressive in the second half.''

This disturbing trick-or-treat Eagles capacity surfaced in the very first game against BU and almost cost them a victory against New Hampshire (lose that one and they wouldn't see the Top 20 unless they beat Duke at Cameron). ''We didn't defend, and then we got hurried on offense. We did a lot of things in the second half we can't do if we're going to be a good club.''

The converse was equally true. The visitors did a lot of things in the second half that, if repeated, will make them a good team. I mean, if you shoot 22 for 37 from the floor, you will win some games. The idea is not to shoot 8 for 32 in the first half, and the further idea is not to fall behind by 26 (49-23) before starting to play.

BC needed every ounce of Troy Bell's greatness to win its seventh straight game. The gifted junior guard had a career-high 34 points, and it was his sequence that stopped the major second-half bleeding for the Eagles. Of course, it's not as if this is stop-the-presses stuff.

With the score 60-54, Bell snaked in to retrieve a Ryan Sidney free-throw miss and then banked in a leaner. He then took a Sidney feed on the next BC possession and banged in an 18-footer with 4:28 to play that boosted the lead to 65-54. BC lived off that cushion for the remainder of the game.

''It was time to score,'' reasoned Skinner. ''He understands the game. He realized what he is capable of and what he's not capable of [ed note: whatever that is]. He's got a sense of what time it is.''

Steve Lappas didn't have much to be pleased about in the first half.
Way back there in the first half, when BC was doing everything to the visitors but demanding their meal money, Bell was a monster. ''What was I going to do?'' inquired UMass coach Steve Lappas. ''Yell at them because Bell was making 30-foot leaners from the `C' on BC''? That kid is the Player of the Year in the Big East and a first team All-American. I've had a couple of 'em. It makes a difference.''

The Eagles are ranked 13th, and they are undeniably exciting, but the way they drift in and out of games leaves their followers - not to mention their coach - with an occasional uncomfortable feeling. At times in the first half they were so dynamic and efficient you could have forgiven their fans for yelling ''Bring On Duke!'' But at times in the second half, they were so impatient and sloppy the BC folk had every reason to think a 26-point lead would soon turn into a 10-point deficit. It is a real problem, and they must do something about it.

That said, the second half might very well have been a very important 20 minutes for the Minutemen. It was important for them to realize just what had taken place in the first half. They really didn't play bad basketball. They just didn't make makeable shots.

''I really didn't yell at them at the half,'' Lappas said. ''We just did not score in the first half. We missed a lot of easy shots, and we missed foul shots (4 for 11). It frustrated the younger kids. And when Bell made some of his shots, it frustrated the younger kids even more. I just told them, `Guys, if we play the same way, and make shots, we can get back into this.'''

Well, guess what? Father knew best. Shannon Crooks (18), Anthony Anderson (19), and Eric Williams (10) began to make shots, and this inspired everyone to dig in on defense. Now it was UMass knocking away passes and winning the loose ball battles, and BC making poor decision after poor decision. UMass got it from 26 to 7 (50-43) in less than nine minutes.

The final margin was the result of a phenomenal run by Anderson, whose final three baskets were threes, the last of which came with two seconds remaining. ''We almost made something crazy happen,'' said Lappas, sighing, who knew the ultimate difference in this game was the day Troy Bell committed to BC.

But the coach at ol' State U can't worry about that now. He's got many games to play and now he's got a 20-minute tape to serve as a ''How-To.''

Losing December battles can lead to successful March conquests. Everyone got something out of this one.

Verdict in from Lappas Subhead: UMass coach says Bell, Sidney No. 1
By Michael Vega, The Boston Globe Staff, 12/9/2001

The best backcourt in the country?

You didn't have to ask Steve Lappas twice. The first-year coach of the University of Massachusetts basketball team had no qualms about bestowing the title on Boston College's guard duo of Troy Bell and Ryan Sidney.

Before last night's Commonwealth Classic between the 13th-ranked Eagles and the Minutemen at Conte Forum, Lappas, who became acquainted with Bell's and Sidney's talents when he coached at Villanova last year, had nothing but raves for BC's backcourt.

''They're the best in the country, it's not even close,'' Lappas said. ''When you've got a guy [Sidney] averaging 21 [points] and 10 rebounds and another guy [Bell] averaging 20 [points] and then you've got the third guy [ Kenny Walls] who's averaging about 15 points a game, that might be the best perimeter in the country.''

CBS commentator Billy Packer even got into the act during the second half of yesterday's Duke-Michigan telecast, extolling Bell and Sidney as the best guard tandem in the Big East and, perhaps, the nation.

Despite suffering a fractured jaw Thursday in practice, Sidney, the 6-foot-2-inch sophomore from Ann Arbor, Mich., returned to the court last night after having his jaw wired shut. Sidney ranks as the Eagles' leading scorer (21.3 points per game) and rebounder (10 per game), while Bell entered last night's game averaging 20.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest.

Walls, a senior forward, is averaging 15.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.

''For a 1, 2, and 3, you find me a better three than that,'' Lappas said, ''because I don't know where they are.''

Homecoming kings

Last night's game marked a homecoming of sorts for a pair of Boston-born UMass players: senior guard Shannon Crooks and sophomore forward Raheim Lamb. Crooks entered the game as the Minutemen's leading scorer (15.0 ppg), while Lamb was averaging 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in a reserve role ... Quiz: Who was the last UMass player to record a triple-double? Answer: Al Skinner against St. Peter's Dec. 28, 1973. Skinner, now BC's coach, led the Minutemen in that game with 27 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists. The last BC player to accomplish the feat was Duane Woodward with 16 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds Jan. 14, 1998, at Rutgers ... The Eagles were looking to extend their home-court winning streak to 23 regular-season games. BC went undefeated at home last year, winning all 17. The last time the Eagles were pinned with a loss at Conte Forum was Feb. 23, 2000, when Pittsburgh notched a 70-68 victory ... Although UMass held a 5-1 edge in the Commonwealth Classic, the teams were tied, 17-17, in the overall series, which dates to 1905.

BC survives UMass comeback
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 12/10/2001

CHESTNUT HILL - The list of what-if's for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team after Saturday's game was a long one.

In the Minutemen's 80-78 loss to No. 13 Boston College at Conte Forum, one more made shot or officials call could have turned a near miss into an upset.

But the Minutemen's impressive comeback came up a foul and a few ticks of the clock short, as BC nearly blew a 26-point second-half lead, but escaped in front of 8,526 fans in the Commonwealth Classic.

With 15 seconds left and BC leading 78-72, Ryan Sidney missed his second of two free throws. The Minutemen rushed the ball up the floor and Anthony Anderson buried a pull-up, long 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.

Without a timeout to set up its defense, UMass didn't notice BC freshman Andrew Bryant take off toward the other end of the floor. Troy Bell alertly threw him a touchdown pass for an uncontested dunk.

"The guys just got confused as to who had him," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "That can happen in that situation."

Anderson hit another long trey over a double-team with two seconds left to make it 80-78.

The Minutemen got their defense set this time and the Eagles took a long time trying to inbound. Even after the UMass coaching staff's pleas for a five-second violation call were ignored, Raheim Lamb nearly stole the inbounds pass, but he couldn't snare it and time ran out.

"There was a lot of what-ifs," said senior Kitwana Rhymer. "What if we got that five-second call? What if we played the way we played in the second half in the first half? We probably would have won that game by 10. It's something to learn on."

"I was disappointed with the second half," BC coach Al Skinner said. "I told our team that if we want to be a good team we can't squander leads like that. But I'm happy. It could have been a great win; it turned out to be a good win."

Anderson expected the Minutemen to build off their second-half effort.

"If there is a such thing as a good loss, this was one," Anderson said. "The confidence is going to get us up and get us going for UConn."

The Minutemen (4-2) return to action Tuesday when they play host to Connecticut in the annual U-Game at 9 p.m.

BC guard Ryan Sidney played with a broken jaw he suffered in practice Thursday. While he didn't hit his average of 21.3 points per game, he did grab a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points.

Anderson led UMass with 19 points, including 14 in the second half. His numbers helped earn him his second Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honor. Fellow sophomore Raheim Lamb also had a breakout performance with 12 points (all after intermission) and seven rebounds. Shannon Crooks added 18 points and five assists, while Eric Williams had 10 points and eight boards off the bench.

Bell, a junior, had a career-high 34 points, including 15-of-16 free throws, to keep the Eagles undefeated (7-0).

Lappas tried several defenses and defenders against him in the first half, but Bell shot over and drove past all of them for 18 of his 34 points prior to intermission. He nearly outscored UMass by himself as BC opened a 44-21 halftime lead.

"Am I supposed to yell at these guys for him pulling up and making a 30-foot leaner from the C in BC (on the floor)?" Lappas said. "He's a tremendous player."

The Minutemen looked sharp in the first two minutes of the game, taking advantage of their inside players. Rhymer laid in a high-low pass from Micah Brand and then dunked on UMass' next possession to put the Minutemen ahead 4-0.

After Bell buried his first of three first-half 3-pointers, Brand finished a high-low pass from Rhymer to make it 6-3. But Rhymer suffered a cut above his right eye shortly afterward and had to come out.

Things fell apart from there. BC went on a 12-0 run that ballooned to 25-4. Even Rhymer's return couldn't spark UMass, which missed 13 straight shots at one point in the first half.

Despite the deficit, Lappas told his team to stick to its game plan.

"I didn't even yell at the guys at halftime. We didn't score in the first half, we missed a lot of easy shots. I said if we play like this in the second half and just make those shots, we'll be OK. We almost made something crazy happen."

His advice proved to be right. Sparked by Anderson and Lamb, UMass made the game competitive quickly. Using a 16-1 run early, the Minutemen drew within five, 54-49.

The Eagles made 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch.

Anderson seizes Minutemen reins
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 12/10/2001

CHESTNUT HILL - As the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team stood in its pre-foul-shot huddle, Anthony Anderson shouted to Micah Brand over the noise of the Conte Forum crowd and pointed to a spot on the floor.'

Brand nodded almost obediently.

Brand is a veteran and one of the most established members of the Minutemen, while Anderson is a rookie. But just six games into his college career, Anderson's leadership position on the team is obvious.

"I call Anthony the Allen Iverson of our squad," senior Kitwana Rhymer said. "He's the general. He's the commander. We might be the captains, but Anthony is the one out there that is supposed to run us. He can tell us what to do. We listen to him."

He's comfortable in the role.

"As a point guard I have to do that," Anderson said. "Every point guard has to do that whether he's a freshman or whatever, no matter how many seniors are on the team. When I thought we were a little rattled I got everybody in the huddle and I yelled at a couple of people. It's not to bring them down, it's to get them going."

On Saturday Anderson was more than a leader. Against the No. 13 Eagles and arguably the best player UMass will face all year in Troy Bell, Anderson displayed legitimate star potential. In the second half of Boston College's 80-78 win, the only player on the floor who was better than Anderson was Bell. The future NBA first-round draft pick had a career-high 34 points.

"Anthony took big steps tonight," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "His floor game was tremendous. He was an offensive threat, which he needs to be. It's the sixth game of his career, but he didn't play like it."

There is something about Anderson's game that is fun to watch but hard to describe. His ability to accelerate and decelerate without affecting his dribble at all is a small example of how much control he has at all times.

A split second after grabbing a loose ball, he's already laser-beaming it to an open teammate, as though he knows he's going to win the race to the ball and already figuring out what to do with it. It happens so fast and so smoothly that if you're not playing close attention, you don't realize that he's done something special.

At media day prior to the 2000-01 season, just after it had been announced that Anderson wasn't eligible to play, then-senior Monty Mack said the Minutemen would miss his potential contributions.

Mack realized just from preseason pick-up games what the rest of the UMass community has figured out quickly this year - Anderson is very good. For Minuteman fans, it's almost depressing to wonder how last year's team might have been different had Anderson played.

But those fans are enjoying him now.

At this level of basketball, poise is usually acquired over time, but Anderson seems to have a sizable helping of it already.

Feel for the game is hard to acquire. Plenty of players who are blessed with immense talent and athletic ability never seem to have a true feel for the game. Anderson is different.

"Anthony has a tremendous understanding of the game just naturally," Lappas said. "It's not from me. He has a great feel. You can just see the way he carries himself out there."

Anderson scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, including two huge 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds that almost put UMass in position to win. One of those shots came from well behind the line and over a double-team.

Every BC fan in Conte Forum walked out relieved, knowing if Anderson and the Minutemen had another 10, or even five seconds left, they might have won.

As for UMass fans, their disappointment over the loss was mixed with excitement over Anderson's second-half effort, knowing that they may have witnessed a breakthrough performance from a future star.

Historic comeback falls just short
By Eric Soderstrom, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, 12/10/2001

CHESTNUT HILL - The Minutemen were counting. It is a shame the baseline official wasn't.

Down 26 points at halftime, the Massachusetts men's basketball team fought its way back to within two points of Boston College with two seconds remaining, thanks in part to an amazing trio of 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds from Anthony Anderson.

And on the final inbound, it looked like the Minutemen had locked up the Eagles on their five second allotment, and had been given a chance to complete one of the greatest comebacks this state has ever seen.

But that is a tough call to make, especially in front of 8,526 at Boston College's Conte Forum, where the No. 13 Eagles held off UMass, 80-78 Saturday night, to capture their second consecutive Commonwealth Cup.

"We were playing good in the first half, but our shots just weren't falling, and in the second half, we just went out there and played [defense] and we went on that big run," said Boston native Raheim Lamb, shaking his head.

"Man, I still think that was a five second count too, at the end."

Boston College (7-0) cruised to a 44-21 halftime advantage, and led 49-23 with just over 18 minutes remaining, but UMass (4-2) engineered a 30-8 run to cut the Eagles' lead down to 57-53 with 7:31 left. BC responded with a mini-run of its own, capped by an Andrew Bryant 3-pointer to take a 70-58 lead at the 3:23 mark, but the Minutemen made a final surge and found themselves down only 78-75 with 10 seconds left after Anderson's second of three late treys.

On the ensuing inbound though, confusion in the UMass press defense allowed Bryant to break out into the open court and throw down the winning hoop for BC. After Anderson's last long-ranger, the Eagles just ran out the clock.

"We almost made something crazy happen," said Head Coach Steve Lappas, whose team hosts UConn Tuesday and will look to break its two-game losing streak. "Especially against a team this good."

Troy Bell led Boston College with a career-high 34 points, a bucket better than his 32 points last year in his team's loss to Southern California in the NCAA East Regional. The junior shot 8-for-14 from the field (3-for-7 from 3-point range) and connected on 15 of 16 free throws. He netted 18 of his points in the first half and scored 14 of BC's final 31, including a huge 13-foot jumper with 4:24 left to play to give BC the 65-54 lead and send the home crowd into a frenzy.

"Am I supposed to yell at these guys for him pulling from 30 feet, making 30-foot leaners from the 'C' in BC?" asked Lappas. "He's a tremendous player. When you have one of the best players in the country on your team, it's a tremendous advantage. That kid is the Player of the Year in the Big East, First Team All-American. I've had a couple of them. It makes a difference, believe me."

Ryan Sidney, who came in leading the Eagles at a 21.3 clip, managed only 10 points but added 10 boards. The sophomore played despite fracturing his jaw in practice Thursday.

Anderson led UMass with a career-high 19 points, dishing out three assists and grabbing four steals in the effort. Shannon Crooks tallied 18, Lamb and Micah Brand added 12 each and Eric Williams contributed with 10. All of Lamb's points came in the second half, leading to his career-night.

In fact, most of the Minutemen's points came in the second half, as they outscored BC 57-36 in that stanza. In the first half, UMass shot 25 percent (8-for-32) from the floor while going 1-for-10 from behind the arc and 4-for-11 from the charity stripe. But in Act II, the Minutemen shot 59.5 percent (22-37) from the field, while going 6-for-11 from 3-point range and 7-for-10 from the line. The 57 second-half mark is the highest BC has allowed in a half since Duke tallied 55 on Jan. 16.

"If we play hard for both halves - just come out with the aggression and the pressure that we did in the second half - who knows what can happen. It's just something to learn on," said Kitwana Rhymer, who scored seven points in a season-low 17 minutes. The fifth-year senior saw limited action due to a twisted left knee and a gash over his right eye that ordered five stitches in the first half.

"There's a lot of what if's. Like, what if we got that five-second call? What if we played the way in the first half that we played in the second half? We probably would have won that game."

Second half comeback gives UMass moral victory
By Justin Pearson, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, 12/10/2001

CHESTNUT HILL - A man once said, "As if it matters the way a man falls, when the fall is all he has left, it matters greatly."

If you asked nearly any of the 8,526 fans in attendance at the Conte Forum on Saturday night, they would say that the fall was all UMass (4-2) had left in the second half. After falling behind 44-21 at No. 13 Boston College (7-0) in the opening stanza, things looked bleak for the Minutemen as they reemerged from the locker room at halftime. But head coach Steve Lappas was optimistic and confident that his team could turn it around in the final 20 minutes.

"I didn't even yell at the guys at halftime, we missed a lot of easy shots and a lot of foul shots and that frustrated our young guys," Lappas said. "But I told them, if we play like this in the second half and just make those shots we'll be okay."

And they did start to make those shots and they did find a way to fight and claw their way back into the game, almost pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in school history.

Leading the ferocious second half comeback was a trio of players from the Boston area. Shannon Crooks, Anthony Anderson and Raheim Lamb combined for 40 of the Maroon and White's 57 second-half points on 15-of-25 shooting. However, it was just not enough as the Eagles held on for the 80-78 victory in the seventh annual Commonwealth Classic.

Trailing by 23 at the break, it would have been easy for the Minutemen to put their heads down and accept their fate. However, the team came out inspired and opened the half on a 32-11 run to cut the lead, which at one point was as large as 26, down to four.

Crooks, Lamb and Micah Brand had seven points apiece during this run to get UMass back into the game and help set the tone for the game's final seven and a half minutes. But it was the play of Anderson, Lappas' sophomore point guard, that shone brightest in the second half.

Anderson, who collected his second Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award on Sunday, ran the UMass offense near flawlessly for 19 minutes in the second half, collecting three assists and two steals as well as scoring 14 points, including three three-pointers in the final 15 seconds, en route to a career-high 19 on the night. But it was his floor leadership that most impressed Lappas.

"He took big steps tonight. He had three turnovers in 36 minutes against a team that averages 10 steals a game," he said. "I thought that part of his game was tremendous, his floor game was excellent and obviously he knocked out some shots at the end. He was an offensive threat tonight which he needs to be because he's a good player."

"That's one of the things that Coach Lappas talks about all the time, not turning the ball over," Anderson said. "As a point guard I can't have five, six or seven turnovers a game so I try and limited my turnovers, and do."

With Anderson running the show and handling the BC press, the rest of the Minutemen focused on other aspects of their games. Crooks intensified his defensive effort on Troy Bell, BC's All-American, and began to knock down some shots of his own at the other end, while Lamb was beginning to find his scoring touch.

"In the first half my shot wasn't really there, that's why I wasn't taking it," Lamb said. "In the second half I just took my time and let the game come to me."

Lamb tallied a career-high 12 points on the evening, all of which came in the second half. With 8:28 remaining he got the traveling contingent of UMass fans into an uproar with a vicious two-handed dunk along the baseline off a feed from Eric Williams (10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.) The flush cut the Eagle lead to five at 56-51 and started chants of "We Can't Hear You" from the Minuteman faithful toward the suddenly silent BC majority.

Despite the comeback falling short, the Minutemen know that the effort put forth in the second half went a long way toward making a statement about the heights that this team can achieve as the season progresses.

" If there is such a thing as a good loss, this is one of them," Anderson said. "The confidence is going to give us something to get us going Tuesday against UConn."

UMass basketball notebook
By Eric Soderstrom, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, 12/10/2001

CHESTNUT HILL - Minuteman Raheim Lamb was already in the game, so he didn't notice when Jermaine Watson walked over to the scorer's table early in the first half of Saturday's contest at Boston College. But when Watson stepped on the floor and was assigned to guard him, it made it easier for Lamb to settle in to his familiar surroundings.

"That's my man. I love that dude," said Lamb, who lives about five minutes from BC's Conte Forum and played with Watson in the Boston Athletic Basketball Club's (BABC) AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) program for a few years, not to mention on the street courts of Beantown. "I knew he was going to go to BC. And it was great just playing out there, playing 1-on-1 with him."

Lamb scored a career-high 12 points, including a violent baseline jam with 8:28 left to play to cut the BC lead to five at 56-51. The sophomore also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked one shot in 23 minutes.

Watson only played 12 minutes and scored three points, but the kid from Roxbury faces a tougher challenge than Lamb in cracking his team's starting lineup, with All-America candidates Troy Bell and Ryan Sidney in the Eagle backcourt.

Still, both found the time to try to psyche each other out.

"I was out there talking trash, but that's part of the game, just having fun," Lamb said. "That's how he is too. Actually, after the game he told me to call him."

It was almost a perfect night. The only unfavorable condition was the 80-78 losing count.

"All my family was here, this is hometown for me, so I was up for the game from the beginning," said Lamb, whose 12 points all came in the second half. "I was only able to have 12 tickets, but I had a lot [more family members] who wanted to come.


Anthony Anderson has done more than solidify his spot in the UMass starting backcourt. He's already gained the respect of his elders.

"I already call Anthony the Allen Iverson of our squad," said Kitwana Rhymer, the fifth-year senior. "He's the commander. I mean, I may be one of the captains, but I call him the full-court general. Coach is coach. But Anthony is the one out there who is supposed to run us."

Including Saturday's contest, in which he had a career-high 19 points (14 in the second half), Anderson now has only nine turnovers in six games. To that, he has 24 assists, which is a team high.

"He has a tremendous understanding of the game, just naturally," said Head Coach Steve Lappas on the Lynn, Mass. native. "He just has a great feel for the game. And they know he has a great feel. You can just tell by the way he carries himself out there. He's important to this team."

Rival arrival

Connecticut is up next for UMass, as the Huskies travel to the Mullins Center Tuesday night (ESPN, 9 p.m.) for the sixth MassMutual "U" Game. After Saturday night's 80-44 win over Northeastern, UConn now stands at 4-1, with its other victories coming over Vanderbilt (84-71), New Hampshire (110-58) and George Washington (84-76). The Huskies lost to Maryland 77-65 last Monday.

Video clips

All clips in MPEG format.
Video clip Shannon Crooks beats the defense for 2. (file size = 475kb)
Video clip Eric Williams finds Raheim Lamb open in the corner. (699k)
Video clip Crooks breaks free to the hoop. (506k)
Video clip Lamb dunks one in BC's face. (474k)
Video clip Micah Brand gets the hoop and draws the foul. (474k)
Video clip Crooks shows Ryan Sidney how it's done. (602k)

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Massachusetts Minutemen 78
Boston College Eagles (#13) 80
The Commonwealth Classic
at Boston College

Massachusetts vs Boston College
12/08/01  8:00 p.m. at Conte Forum (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
VISITORS: Massachusetts 4-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
01 JENKINS,Willie       f  0-4    0-2    0-0    1  1  2   1   0   0  3  0  0  12
33 RHYMER,Kitwana       f  3-5    0-0    1-4    2  1  3   2   7   1  3  0  0  17
40 BRAND,Micah          c  5-9    0-0    2-4    1  5  6   5  12   0  2  1  0  35
12 ANDERSON,Anthony     g  7-12   5-9    0-1    1  3  4   3  19   3  3  0  4  36
30 CROOKS,Shannon       g  7-17   2-7    2-2    2  4  6   5  18   5  3  0  2  37
00 MARTIN,Brennan          0-1    0-1    0-0    0  2  2   0   0   0  0  0  0   3
03 BLIZZARD,Ronell         0-3    0-1    0-2    3  0  3   1   0   0  0  0  0   6
11 WILSON,Kyle             0-3    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   3   0   3  3  0  1  22
21 WILLIAMS,Eric           4-5    0-0    2-2    2  6  8   3  10   3  3  0  1  22
34 LAMB,Raheim             4-10   0-0    4-6    4  3  7   3  12   0  1  1  0  23
TEAM ........................................   3  3  6
TOTALS                    30-69   7-21  11-21  19 29 48  26  78  15 21  2  8 213

TOT-FG 1stH: 0-0 00.0% 2ndH: 30-69 43.5% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 43.5% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 0-0 00.0% 2ndH: 7-21 33.3% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 33.3% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 0-0 00.0% 2ndH: 11-21 52.4% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 52.4% 5

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Boston College 7-0 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 00 AGBAI,Uka f 4-15 0-0 2-3 4 3 7 5 10 2 1 2 2 36 21 WALLS,Kenny f 3-9 2-7 3-6 1 3 4 1 11 2 2 0 2 33 13 DOORNEKAMP,Nate c 1-1 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 5 2 1 0 1 0 15 02 BELL,Troy g 8-14 3-7 15-16 2 3 5 2 34 2 3 0 3 38 05 SIDNEY,Ryan g 2-12 1-4 5-9 3 7 10 2 10 2 5 2 2 36 04 WATSON,Jermaine 1-3 0-0 1-2 1 1 2 1 3 0 2 0 0 12 34 BRYANT,Andrew 4-8 1-4 1-2 2 3 5 2 10 1 0 0 0 22 45 ROSS,Brian 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 8 TEAM ........................................ 2 3 5 TOTALS 23-62 7-22 27-38 18 25 43 20 80 10 13 5 9 200

TOT-FG 1stH: 0-0 00.0% 2ndH: 23-62 37.1% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 37.1% Deadbl 3pt-FG 1stH: 0-0 00.0% 2ndH: 7-22 31.8% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 31.8% Rebs FThrow 1stH: 0-0 00.0% 2ndH: 27-38 71.1% OT: 0-0 00.0% Game: 71.1% 3

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OFFICIALS: John Cahill, Bernard Clinton, Gene Monje TECHNICAL FOULS: Massachusetts - none Boston College - none ATTENDANCE: 8526 SCORE BY PERIODS: 1st 2nd OT1 OT2 OT3 OT4 TOTAL Massachusetts 21 57 78 Boston College 44 36 80

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