UNTINGTON, W.Va. - Some personality traits are not going to change, regardless of the coach.
And one of the toughest for UMass fans to handle in recent years re-emerged in last night's disappointing 81-66 loss to Marshall.
The Minutemen (6-4) continue to operate at half strength with Kitwana Rhymer on the bench. The senior center fouled out of his second straight game last night, this time with irreparable damage to his team. He didn't score a point, took only two shots, and grabbed four rebounds, including only one defensive board, in a watered-down, 19-minute appearance.
``We ended up having to make due, and it hurt,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said of the small lineup that ended up on the floor during some of the most mortal stretches of the second half.
``Everyone had fouls,'' he said. ``With the exception of Anthony Anderson, every important guy on this team got taken out at some point because of fouls.''
And they suffered immeasurably as a result, especially once the Thundering Herd (7-4) picked up the pace down the stretch behind the scorching offense of sophomore Ronald Blackshear.
Blackshear, who transferred in the middle of last season from Temple, buried a pair of 3-point daggers in the last six minutes as part of a 26-point, five-trey, eight-rebound performance.
His two final bombs gave the Herd the juice to bury the Minutemen, who lost Rhymer for good with 5:47 left and Marshall holding a 65-59 lead.
The Herd had just received that biggest of signs that the night was theirs, courtesy of a straight-on, backboard-numbing missile that forward Latece Williams banked from 15 feet out.
Blackshear had just drained a deep trey with Shannon Crooks doing everything legally possible, and then some, to stop the shot.
Blackshear then circled out for the killer with 4:43 left - a trey from the sideline in front of the Marshall bench for a 70-60 lead. The 10-point margin was the largest lead by either team to that point, and signaled UMass' final dip beneath the surface.
Though Tamar Slay - along with center J.R. VanHoose the star of this offense - had trouble under the capable coverage of sophomores Raheim Lamb and Jameel Pugh, he still finished with 15 points.
The Minutemen, conversely, continued to struggle despite getting myriad open shots.
Anderson, alone, shot 1-for-13 from the floor, including 0-for-10 from 3-point range.
Overall, the Minutemen shot 41 percent from the floor, including a gnawing 6-for-23 from 3-point range.
``My biggest disappointment on defense was a couple of offensive rebounds that we gave up, but I thought that our defense was actually pretty good,'' Lappas said. ``They didn't get uncontested shots, but they also made those shots. We just couldn't score, though we got good shots. We were 6-for-23 from 3-point range, and I didn't see us take one bad one.''
UNTINGTON, W.Va. - It may take time for the smoke to clear following Ronald Blackshear's scorching performance last night, but there will be a bright side to the UMass side of this unusual story.
At least the Minutemen don't have to face the 6-foot-5 swingman, who scored 26 points in UMass' 81-66 loss to Marshall, during the Atlantic 10 Conference season.
Blackshear, after a well-chronicled falling out with Temple coach John Chaney over the first half of the 2000-01 season, transferred to Marshall. The former Georgia prep player of the year became eligible last week, and responded with a six-point, two-trey effort during a win over Western Michigan.
Last night was a little more in line with the young gunner's reputation.
``Ronald Blackshear is a guy who needed to play in an up-tempo offense,'' said Marshall coach Greg White. ``He'll really thrive here. He'll also take a lot of shots - some that don't look very good - but you have to go with it.
``Coach Chaney is a terrific coach, but the zone defense, and the `Let's pass the ball 10 times before we shoot' philosophy is not for Ronald.''
Obviously not. Blackshear came out firing from NBA 3-point range last night, and hit most of his shots with Shannon Crooks standing on his toes.
``Early in the game he made a couple of tough shots, and then I picked up a couple of fouls on him,'' said Crooks. ``He was on fire. There wasn't too much you could do against someone who is shooting like that.''
No Rhymer or reason
Kitwana Rhymer's scoreless night was predictably a disaster for UMass fortunes, and a throwback to the senior center's first two seasons, when foul trouble was a nightly event.
``I can't really explain it,'' he said. ``I got in foul trouble quick. They gave me some tough calls, but you have to try and work through that.''
Said UMass coach Steve Lappas: ``(Rhymer) has got to play good for us. We have certain guys who have to bring it every night, if we're going to do anything. Kit, Shannon and Micah (Brand) have to bring it every night.''
Lappas was also visibly upset with the officiating, and drew a technical foul with 55 seconds left. Marshall took 41 free throws to the Minutemen's 16.
UNTINGTON, W.Va. - The University of Massachusetts should be glad Ronald Blackshear transferred from Temple to Marshall. Seeing him once this season was bad enough for the Minutemen.
Playing in his 12th collegiate game, and second for the Thundering Herd, the former Owl, who just became eligible last week, scored 26 points to lead Marshall to a 81-66 win over UMass at the Cam Henderson Center.
''He hit tough, contested shots,'' said Minuteman forward Micah Brand. ''He hit key shots. Every time we'd tie the game or take the lead, he'd come down and hit a three.''
The Minutemen (6-4) led, 59-58, with 7:38 left, but in a run-dominated contest, Marshall (7-4) delivered the knockout blow. The Herd constructed a 16-3 spurt that gave them a 74-62 edge with a little less than three minutes to play. Marshall hit enough foul shots down the stretch to coast to the win.
Shannon Crooks led the Minutemen with 15 points, Eric Williams added 14, and Brand had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Tamar Slay had just 1 point at halftime, but his 14 in the second helped put Marshall over the top.
Foul trouble plagued the Minutemen throughout. Senior big men Kitwana Rhymer and Eric Williams both fouled out, while Crooks played only 26 minutes while picking up four fouls. Frustrated UMass coach Steve Lappas picked up his first technical of the season with 55 seconds left.
''We were in all kinds of foul trouble. We had to make do,'' Lappas said. ''We tried not to let that affect us. But it's obviously going to. Except for Anthony Anderson, every important player we have was taken out for a time for fouls. But I don't blame the officials. I blame us. We missed a lot of open shots.''
The Minutemen are off until Saturday, when they will begin their Atlantic 10 slate against St. Joseph's at the Mullins Center.
The Minutemen led early, but an 8-0 Marshall run turned a 22-17 UMass lead into a 25-22 Herd advantage with 4:48 left in the half, while fouls had three Minuteman starters on the bench. Blackshear hit two long 3-pointers down the stretch as Marshall led, 35-31, at halftime.
With their starters back in the game, the Minutemen opened the second half with a 9-3 run to pull ahead, 40-38.
But two quick fouls each on Crooks and Rhymer landed UMass's leading scorer and rebounder, respectively, back on the bench, and the Herd took advantage again.
Marshall ran off 7 straight points, including a nifty driving reverse layup by freshman guard Ronnie Dawn, to take a 45-40 lead with 13:56 left.
The Herd stretched their lead to 52-45, which forced Lappas to call a timeout with 11:19 left. Out of the break, the exchange of runs continued as the Minutemen put together a 9-1 spurt and led, 54-53.
But UMass's momentum was short-lived as the Herd's final run clinched the win.
''We had a lot of guys out there that had expended a lot of energy and [during that run] we just ran out of gas,'' Lappas said.
UNTINGTON - After registering its biggest nonconference win of the season Saturday, Marshall's overall record reads 7-4.
But make no mistake, the "real" Herd is 2-0.
In just his second game after becoming eligible, sophomore guard Ronald Blackshear poured in 26 points - knocking down 5-of-10 3-point attempts - to lead Marshall to an 81-66 win against Massachusetts before 4,981 at Cam Henderson Center.
"I was really looking forward to tonight's game. When I first got here this evening, I couldn't wait to step on the court," Blackshear said. "These guys were giving me confidence, saying ‘Come on, Black.' I just came in and worked my butt off and we got a win."
Blackshear scored just six points in his Marshall debut, a 77-73 Mid-American Conference win at Western Michigan on Dec. 22. But the addition of Blackshear, who became eligible after sitting out a year after transferring from Temple at midseason last year, allowed Marshall coach Greg White to move freshman Ronny Dawn from shooting guard to point guard. Dawn came up big in that game with 21 points, five assists and just one turnover.
On Saturday, Blackshear's shooting led the Herd to victory.
"He can make some plays, that's what he does for us," White said Saturday. "In the Western Michigan game, I thought he pressed, but tonight I think he relaxed and played with confidence."
Feeling at home at Cam Henderson, where he has practiced for a year, Blackshear buried 3-pointer after 3-pointer, the biggest coming with 4:43 left in the game from NBA-3 range to put the Herd up 70-60 and all but ice the game.
That range may present MAC defenses with some problems.
"Defenses will have to pick him up at 25 feet and that will open things in the post. They can't pick him up at 20 feet because he can really shoot it. That's why I wanted him for the Auburn game. He's a difference-maker," White said.
J.R. VanHoose puts one up past Kitwana Rhymer.
"At halftime, Coach called me to the side and said, ‘Hey, we're up 4.' I struggled, but Ronald, J.R. and Latece stepped up big," Slay said.
In the second half, Marshall opened a 52-45 lead at the 11:19 mark when forward Latece Williams was fouled on an offensive rebound and made 1-of-2 free throws. Williams finished with 14 points and six boards.
But UMass quickly closed that gap, putting together a 14-6 run powered by 3-pointers by guard Kyle Wilson, forward Eric Williams and guard Jameel Pugh to go up 59-58 with 7:37 remaining.
"I thought we made some runs at Marshall, but we were really hurt by foul trouble. That hurt our depth and took it out of us," said first-year UMass coach Steve Lappas.
Two Minutemen, center Kitwana Rhymer and Pugh, fouled out while three other UMass players finished with four fouls.
After giving up the lead, the Herd put together a strong finish as Slay connected for two points and, after a UMass miss, Blackshear buried a 3. Slay then blocked a shot by Rhymer and Williams banked in a shot from near the free-throw line to put Marshall up 65-59. The Herd outscored UMass 23-7 in the final 7:26 of the game.
"The good thing about this win is we have different guys stepping up now. Against Western, Ronny Dawn came up big. This game, Ronald Blackshear came through," White said.
VanHoose said Blackshear adds another element to this season's Marshall squad.
"It's just a totally different team. I'm sure the fans think the same thing. It's just a totally different club than the one that started 0-3," said VanHoose, who scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, including five offensive boards against the bigger UMass front line.
It's clear White is also pleased with his team's position going into the meat of the Mid-American Conference schedule. Marshall is 2-0 in the MAC and will face defending MAC champion Kent State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Cam Henderson.
"I've said all along that you have to have good players to win. To get this win to put us at seven wins in our last eight gives us tremendous momentum going into the MAC," White said.
While UMass (6-4) wasn't ranked in either poll, the Minutemen were No. 12 in the Ratings Percentage Index. Lappas said he wishes the Minutemen had played Marshall earlier in the season.
"Two games ago, they didn't have Blackshear. He was obviously a big difference. The test will come over time, to see if he can continue to do that," Lappas said.
BRIEFLY: White said the only thing he was upset about in the Herd's win was his squad's free throw shooting. Marshall made just 26-of-54 shots (56.1 percent). ... White said a big key to the win was giving away just a three-rebound advantage to UMass (40-37). "They had outrebounded their last three opponents by a combined 40 rebounds," White said. ... Blackshear likes to yell, "Woo, woo, woo," on the court. Why? "That lets my teammates know I'm open and I want the ball."
UNTINGTON - Unlike the Washington Wizards, who crashed and burned last week when star Michael Jordan was held to a career scoring low, Marshall didn't falter when Tamar Slay wasn't having his best game.
That's because the Thundering Herd have other players who can step up in such a situation.
Ronald Blackshear scored a game-high 26 points in his first game at the Cam Henderson Center, and the Herd defense kept UMass at bay under the basket in an 81-66 win Saturday.
Slay, who had been averaging 20.5 points per game going in, had only one point at halftime. Still, Marshall (7-4) held a 35-31 advantage.
The 6-foot-9, 205-pound Beckley native was 4-of-10 from the field on the night and didn't hit his first field goal until the 13:22 mark of the second half.
In his place stepped Blackshear, the Temple transfer who made his Marshall debut in last Saturday's win at Western Michigan. Blackshear scored 13 points in the first half to aid in the Herd's four-point edge.
Blackshear was 5-of-10 from three-point range on the evening, and all of them came from long range.
"You've got to pick him up from 25 feet out, and that opens the post wide open," Marshall coach Greg White said. "You can't pick him up at 20 feet or he will kill you."
Blackshear was ineligible to play for Marshall for one year, but has been practicing with the team since he arrived last December.
"When I first came here this evening to practice, I was feeling it," Blackshear said. "I couldn't wait to step out on the court tonight. I came in and worked my butt off, and (we) got a 'W.'"
Blackshear's performance was huge while Slay tried to get back on track, which he did in the latter part of the game.
It was Slay's turnaround jumper with 7:28 remaining that started a 12-1 run that turned a one-point deficit into a 70-60 lead with just 4:43 left to play.
Slay finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
"What I have to do is keep my composure because there's going to be nights like that," Slay said. "Ronald Blackshear and Latece (Williams) and J.R. (VanHoose) stepped up in the first half."
White was pleased with his team's performance down low. UMass won the rebound battle 40-37, but the Minutemen had outrebounded their previous three opponents by a combined 40.
Marshall had 27 defensive rebounds and UMass had 13 on offense.
Williams finished with 14 points for Marshall, and VanHoose had 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Minutemen (6-4) were led by Shannon Crooks' 15 points.
Marshall hosts Mid-American Conference East division foe Kent State at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday.
ompared with a year ago, UMass is driving a tank into the start of their Atlantic 10 Conference schedule.
Saturday's opener at home against a much-hyped St. Joseph's team will be bolstered by the fact that UMass (6-4) is in a far better frame of mind than the crew that stumbled to a 2-9 record over the first two months last season.
And yet some of the same problems continue to nag the Minutemen. As their 81-66 loss to Marshall on Saturday showed to a painful degree, the Minutemen can be a horrible offensive team.
But at least one opponent familiar with the roster is preaching patience.
``They are going to be good,'' said Marshall coach Greg White, who has now run up a 3-1 record against the Minutemen over the last five seasons, and has two remaining games scheduled against UMass in Amherst over the next two seasons.
``But Steve (Lappas) needs time to get his system, and his kind of players, in place before he can do what he wants,'' White said. ``Until he gets his kind of players, and especially some shooters onto that team, he's going to go through some offensive trouble. It's really a process, and you have to be patient with it.''
Lappas found it hard to be patient when looking at Saturday's box score, however.
Of particular distress was the fact that the Minutemen shot a brutal 6-for-23 (26 percent) from 3-point range, despite defensive coverage designed to give them those shots.
Like everyone else this season, Marshall dared UMass to shoot, and clearly picked the right option.
The Minutemen have now shot 14-for-70 from 3-point range over the last three games.
The ghosts of Carmello Travieso and Monty Mack would not be happy with this.
``There's no explanation for it,'' said sophomore point guard Anthony Anderson, who contributed to the problem with an 0-for-10 performance from 3-point range. ``I know that every shot I took was wide open. You can't excuse all of the missed layups. But with 3's, sometimes they go in, and sometimes they don't.''
Or in the case of the Minutemen and their inexperienced perimeter unit, most of the time they don't.
``Our shot selection is good,'' senior guard Shannon Crooks said. ``The shots are there, and it's just a matter of making them.''
Or as White noted, perhaps it's a case of Lappas eventually finding better shooters.
``We just couldn't score,'' Lappas said. ``We got good shots (against Marshall), and we couldn't put it in. We were 6-for-23 from 3-point range, and I didn't see us take one bad shot.''
St. Joseph's isn't a team that takes many bad shots, either, except for during those particularly explosive stretches when Marvin O'Connor morphs into Vinnie ``The Microwave'' Johnson. At times like that, however, even O'Connor's wild stuff goes in - not a luxury the Minutemen have enjoyed this season.
UNTINGTON, W.V. - After looking helplessly down his bench for an answer, University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Steve Lappas glared at referee Keith Herring as he ran by.
With his Minutemen trailing Marshall 52-45 with 11:19 left in the game, Lappas had potential solutions to his team's deficit sitting on the bench - in the form of seniors Shannon Crooks and Kitwana Rhymer - but both had four fouls and Herring got an earful about it as he ran by.
Lappas tried to hold things together with smoke, mirrors and reserves until he could re-insert his starters.
It worked for a while. In a game dominated by runs, the Minutemen put together a 9-1 spurt to pull ahead, 54-53.
After the teams traded leads one more time, a Jameel Pugh 3-pointer put the Minutemen (6-4) ahead 59-58 with 7:38 left. However, the Herd reeled off a 16-3 stretch for a 74-62 edge with just under three minutes to play. Marshall (7-4) hit enough foul shots down the stretch to coast to the 81-66 win at the Cam Henderson Center.
"We made a good run to get back into it," said sophomore guard Anthony Anderson. "But I guess we got tired and they went on a run of their own and we couldn't get back into it."
Lappas said, "We had a lot of guys out there that had expended a lot of energy and we just ran out of gas."
The Minutemen return home Saturday to start Atlantic 10 Conference play. Saint Joseph's will visit the Mullins Center at 2 p.m.
Foul trouble plagued the Minutemen throughout. Rhymer and fellow bigman Eric Williams fouled out. Crooks, Anderson and Micah Brand all finished with four fouls. Lappas picked up his first technical of the season with 55 seconds left.
"We were in all kinds of foul trouble. Except for Anthony Anderson, every important guy on our team got taken out tonight at one time or another because of fouls," Lappas said. "I didn't make one substitution tonight just for the sake of subbing or someone being tired.
"We ended up kind of having to make do," Lappas continued. "We had to ad-lib really. We tried not to let that make us deviate from the plan, but obviously it's going to. We didn't want to have smaller guys guarding bigger guys, but we ended up having to do that."
UMass was whistled for 30 fouls, sending Marshall to the line 41 times. The Herd's inability to hit free throws (23-of-41) kept the score from getting even more out of hand.
"I didn't know what to expect," Rhymer said. "I didn't know what was going to be called and what wasn't going to be called."
Despite his time on the bench, Crooks led the Minutemen with 15 points, while Williams added 14. Brand had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Rhymer was scoreless for the Minutemen in just 19 minutes, while sophomore Anthony Anderson had just three points. He missed 12-of-13 shots, including 10 3-point attempts.
"I had a lot of open looks. I just couldn't hit a shot tonight," Anderson said.
While Crooks still put up numbers offensively, his defensive presence was missed when he wasn't on the floor. Temple transfer Ronald Blackshear led Marshall with 26 points, 15 of which came when Crooks, who had been guarding him, was on the bench.
Tamar Slay, who had just one point in the first half, scored 14 in the second half to help put the Herd over the top.
UNTINGTON, W.V. - If Saturday was any indicator, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team can be glad that Ronald Blackshear transferred to Marshall from Temple. Facing him once a year is better than twice.
In 1999, current Marshall senior Tamar Slay scored 24 points, his breakout game against the Minutemen. On Saturday, Blackshear's breakout was better. In just his second game eligible after transferring, the ex-Owl led all scorers with 26 points, including some long 3-pointers.
"He's never seen a shot he didn't like and one he wouldn't take," said Marshall coach Greg White. "He has an arsenal to his game. He does a lot of things."
UMass junior forward Micah Brand tipped his hat.
"He hit tough, contested shots, but he also hit key shots during the game," Brand said. "We'd be tied or down one or up one and he'd come down and hit a three. It wasn't as if we were giving him open threes. We contested every one. He just hit them."
Even with him out of the Atlantic 10, the Minutemen will see plenty of Blackshear. The Thundering Herd is scheduled to come to Amherst each of the next two years.
LAMB, A BRIGHT SPOT: Sophomore forward Raheim Lamb, who had struggled since entering the UMass starting lineup, broke his slump with 10 points. He also played tough defense on Tamar Slay, who scored 15 points, 5.5 below his season average.
"Raheim had a strong game tonight," Lappas said.
FOUL TROUBLE: Kitwana Rhymer fouled out for the second straight time and the third time this season. He has fouled out of 14 career games.
HENDERSON COURT ADVANTAGE: Marshall is now 28-1 in its last 28 nonconference home games at the Henderson Center. The Minutemen account for two of the 28. The Herd is 63-10 in the building under White.
MISCELLANEOUS: Assistant coach Chris Walker did not accompany the Minutemen to Marshall. He was away attending to a family member who is ill.
Brand's 11 rebounds were a career high. He had grabbed 10 boards on two previous occasions.
Eric Williams' 14 points were his best this season and tied his career high, which he scored in his first game in a UMass uniform last year against Iona.
The Minutemen now have lost 23 straight games when giving up 80 or more points, dating back to the 1995-96 season.
|Marshall Thundering Herd||81|
Official Basketball Box Score Massachusetts vs Marshall 12/29/01 7:36 p.m. at Huntington, WV -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VISITORS: Massachusetts 6-4 TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 12 ANDERSON, Anthony... * 1-13 0-10 1-3 0 2 2 4 3 4 3 0 2 33 30 CROOKS, Shannon..... * 4-7 3-4 4-4 1 2 3 4 15 0 2 0 1 26 33 RHYMER, Kitwana..... * 0-2 0-0 0-0 3 1 4 5 0 1 3 1 0 19 34 LAMB, Rahiem........ * 4-6 0-0 2-2 1 2 3 2 10 2 1 0 2 32 40 BRAND, Micah........ * 6-9 0-0 0-2 3 8 11 4 12 2 0 0 0 32 01 JENKINS, Willie..... 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 03 BLIZZARD, Ronell.... 1-1 0-0 1-1 1 2 3 1 3 0 0 0 0 8 11 WILSON, Kyle........ 1-2 1-1 1-2 0 1 1 2 4 3 1 0 0 12 21 WILLIAMS, Eric...... 6-11 1-3 1-2 1 5 6 5 14 1 3 0 1 21 24 PUGH, Jameel........ 2-9 1-5 0-0 1 3 4 3 5 0 2 0 1 13 TEAM................ 1 1 2 Totals.............. 25-61 6-23 10-16 13 27 40 30 66 13 16 1 7 200 TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-28 46.4% 2nd Half: 12-33 36.4% Game: 41.0% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-8 25.0% 2nd Half: 4-15 26.7% Game: 26.1% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 3-3 100 % 2nd Half: 7-13 53.8% Game: 62.5% 2 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Marshall 7-4 TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 01 SLAY, Tamar......... * 4-10 1-5 6-10 1 5 6 3 15 1 6 2 2 39 10 DAWN, Ronny......... * 2-3 0-1 1-2 1 3 4 1 5 6 2 0 0 29 11 BLACKSHEAR, Ronald.. * 7-15 5-10 7-11 0 8 8 4 26 1 2 0 0 40 40 VANHOOSE, JR........ * 5-11 0-0 3-6 5 6 11 3 13 2 1 0 3 36 41 WILLIAMS, Latece.... * 5-9 0-0 4-7 3 3 6 2 14 1 1 1 1 29 21 BUTLER, William..... 3-6 0-1 2-4 0 1 1 0 8 0 0 0 1 14 25 WILSON, Richard..... 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 13 TEAM................ Totals.............. 26-54 6-17 23-41 10 27 37 15 81 13 12 3 7 200 TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-28 42.9% 2nd Half: 14-26 53.8% Game: 48.1% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-9 33.3% 2nd Half: 3-8 37.5% Game: 35.3% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 8-13 61.5% 2nd Half: 15-28 53.6% Game: 56.1% 8 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: Keith Herring, Rodney Holland, Victor Montgomery Technical fouls: Massachusetts-TEAM. Marshall-None. Attendance: 4981 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total Massachusetts................. 31 35 - 66 Marshall...................... 35 46 - 81