Coverage from:
The Daily Hampshire Gazette - preview
The Springfield Union-News - preview External link

The Boston Globe
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
The Springfield Union-News External link
The Springfield Union-News - notebook External link

Box score


Colonials' style 'fast and then faster'
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/10/2004

AMHERST - After his team narrowly held off George Washington Jan. 10, Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli's description of the Colonials' style of play was direct.

They play fast and then faster, Martelli said.

The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team will try to slow GW while jump-starting its own season at 2 p.m. Saturday when it hosts the Colonials at the Mullins Center.

The Minutemen (5-7) will try to end a three-game losing streak and even their Atlantic 10 record at 1-1.

The Colonials are 7-6 overall and have a 1-1 league mark. They hung with conference favorite Saint Joseph's before falling 90-81, but bounced back to thump Temple 78-60 Wednesday.

The Colonials ended the season for UMass last year, defeating the Minutemen 85-74 in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Mullins Center.

Under coach Karl Hobbs, George Washington has always played uptempo, but the current roster allows it to push the ball even more. The Colonials often play with two points guards on the floor. Last year's point guard T.J. Thompson has moved off the ball as freshman Carl Elliott controls the offense. He's averaging 4.7 assists to go with his 8.2 points.

Freed of ball-control responsibilities, Thompson has flourished, leading the team with 15.5 points per game.

Inside, Mike Hall remains an undersized rebounding force averaging 7.6 per game. Pops Mensah-Bonsu is the team's second leading scorer at 11.7 points per game to go with 5.3 boards despite coming off the bench.

The Colonials lead the conference with 75.3 points per game.

''We can't let the game get wild,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ''It's a different game for them if the score is in the 60s.''

For the Minutemen to keep the score in the 60s, they'll have to play better defense than they did in Wednesday's 78-64 loss to La Salle. Lappas spent a great deal of Friday's practice working on defensive drills.

''We have to close out on guys faster on the perimeter,'' he said. ''They're a good 3-point shooting team, so that's really magnified.''

Sophomore big man Rashaun Freeman has been slowed in recent games as teams have begun to prepare defenses to stop him. Lappas said for Freeman has to expand his game to remain productive.

''He has to become even more relentless on the offensive boards because teams are going to focus on boxing him out. He has to develop other parts of his game,'' he said.

''He never uses his right hand,'' Lappas said. ''I told him for him to really reach his potential he has to develop and use his right hand. He's doing it in practice. It's just a matter of him getting comfortable with it.''

Lappas said for the most part though, he's been happy with how his inside players. have performed offensively.

''Our perimeter guys need to make that step,'' Lappas said. ''They're close enough that they could come out and play great on Saturday. We need to get them to where they can come out and play great five games in a row.''

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


UMass bottoms out in 4th straight loss
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/11/2004

AMHERST -- Is this the low point of the University of Massachusetts men's basketball season? Trailing George Washington by 24 points at halftime at home en route to a 76-61 Atlantic 10 defeat? Being booed by a Mullins Center crowd of 2,487 while leaving the court at intermission?

These are sorrowful times for a young Minuteman team that clearly has more talent and depth than recent years but doesn't have much to show for it. Yesterday marked its fourth consecutive defeat, its third straight loss at home, and the third time in four games it lost by double figures.

Moreover, for the second time in as many games, UMass (5-8, 0-2) was outplayed by a team that is its mirror image -- one that is underclassmen heavy -- and that has endured similar growing pains.

Except that yesterday, GWU (8-6, 2-1) showed it's a steadily improving bunch. The Colonials took control from the opening tip, attacked the UMass interior, and scored the first 12 points.

The Minutemen didn't score until freshman Rashaun Freeman (a team-high 19 points, 10 rebounds) sank two free throws with 15:33 left in the half. Freeman's layup basket with 13:36 to go gave UMass its first field goal. The Minutemen registered just five more baskets for the remainder of the half.

To make matters worse, they turned the ball over 11 times before intermission.

"We were turning the ball over, we weren't getting back on [defense], we weren't rebounding. They outplayed us like crazy in the first half," said UMass senior guard Anthony Anderson. "For a team that really needs a win, we came out like we were undefeated in the league or something."

GWU, meanwhile, shot 56 percent in the first half and never allowed the Minutemen to come closer than 7 points once it gained its first double-digit lead. Defensively, the Colonials denied passing lanes, closed on would-be shooters inside, and held UMass without a field goal over the last three minutes of the half.

GWU reserve forward Alexander Kireev's only basket was a baseline jumper at the buzzer that made the score 44-20 at halftime.

"We got frustrated early by missing a lot of makable shots," said UMass coach Steve Lappas, who noted the team's effort was puzzling since it came off two solid practices. "I think that affected us on both ends and we didn't respond well."

But over the first five minutes of the second half, the Minutemen played their most inspired basketball of the game and cut GWU's lead to 48-37 with 14:24 left on a 3-point play by junior center Gabe Lee (11 points, 3 blocks).

Then GWU stepped up its running game and its defense and scored four of its next 10 baskets via fast-break dunks -- the last of which was by guard J.R. Pinnock with 4:55 remaining that gave the Colonials a 70-52 lead.

Ballgame.

"We haven't been a very good team on the road, and I thought [yesterday] we showed a lot of poise," said GWU coach Karl Hobbs, whose team has won consecutive games after losing four on the road. "We came into the game very focused. We really wanted to play defense and rebound the ball and we accomplished both."

In his first season at the helm last year, Hobbs played six freshmen (two starters) and his team finished 12-17 overall. He said he can empathize with Lappas.

"They play so many young guys and depend on so many young guys," said Hobbs. "We're both trying to develop a program where we've brought in a great number of players and we're trying to develop some cohesiveness and we're trying to do it with kids, which is difficult to do.

"The name of the game is patience."

The Minutemen must regroup before facing their first Atlantic 10 road slate: St. Bonaventure, Duquesne, and ninth-ranked St. Joseph's.

Asked yesterday if he is frustrated with how the season is unfolding, Anderson said, "I wouldn't say it's frustrating, but it does hurt. I thought, personally, we would be way better than 5-8 and 0-2 in the league right now."


UMass lackluster in Atlantic 10 loss
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/12/2004

It was easy to point to one aspect of the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team's play as the reason for the Minutemen's recent losses. One night it was rebounding, the next it might be poor defense and another it was shooting woes. But there was no lone gunman in the first half on Saturday against George Washington. Everything conspired against UMass, which didn't rebound, pass, defend or shoot well. The Minutemen dug themselves a 24-point halftime hole and couldn't climb out, falling 76-61 in Atlantic 10 action at the Mullins Center.

''We turned it over. We weren't getting back on D. We weren't rebounding. They just played harder than us in the first half. They outplayed us,'' said senior point guard Anthony Anderson, who couldn't explain the lapse. ''I have no idea. For a team that really needs a win, we came out like we were undefeated.''

Freshman guard Art Bowers agreed.

''We prepared well. We had two good practices. Our coaches did a good job on the scouting report; we just didn't play up to our capability,'' he said.''

UMass (5-8, 0-2 A-10) has now lost four straight games and, dating back to last year, six straight in the Atlantic 10. The Minutemen will try to snap those streaks at 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Bonaventure.

George Washington coach Karl Hobbs, a former Connecticut assistant, watched his Colonials deliver a game-opening onslaught that was similar to the one the Huskies laid on the Minutemen less than a month ago, only worse.

George Washington (8-6, 2-1) opened a 12-0 lead just under 4 minutes into the game, bettering by one UConn's 11-0 tip-off surge.

UMass didn't score until Rashaun Freeman hit a pair of free throws 4:27 into the game. He provided the Minutemen's first field goal two minutes later.

It was a sign of the things to come for UMass. Freeman was the Minutemen's only offensive option before intermission as he scored 14 of UMass' 20 points. Freeman finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds helping him earn his fourth Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honor.

Despite Freeman's play inside, the Minuteman shot 24 percent from the floor in the first half as UMass' other four starters combined for zero points.

Photo
A cranky Steve Lappas got T'd up in the second straight game.
''When you come out and play a first half like that ...,'' said Lappas, who picked up his second technical foul in as many games. ''We obviously dug too much of a hole for ourselves. I think we got frustrated early by missing a lot of makeable shots. That affected us early and we didn't respond well.''

Artie Bowers was a rare bright spot offensively, scoring 11 points off the bench, and looked comfortable on offense for the first time since spraining his ankle in December.

Tamal Forchion led four Colonials in double figures with 17 points. Mike Hall had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Pops Mensah-Bosu and T.J. Thompson scored 14 and 10 points respectively.

Attempting to undo its first-half mistakes, UMass opened the second on a Jeff Viggiano-led 17-4 run that brought the Minutemen within 11 points, but they couldn't sustain the attack.

UMass outscored George Washington, 41-32, after intermission but never closed the gap to 10 points and never really threatened.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


Minutemen's season slipping away
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/12/2004

At the beginning of last week, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team had an opportunity.

Coming off a disappointing nonconference season where the Minutemen were surprisingly under .500 at 5-6, UMass was set to open conference play with four games that were all winnable. A good run in those games might have been the spark the Minutemen needed to bring things together. A National Invitation Tournament berth still seemed like a potentially attainable goal.

Photo
Long faces showed on Jeff Viggiano, Chris Chadwick and Stephane Lasme.
Two games into that four-game stretch and UMass is trying to keep its season afloat. Flat performances in losses to La Salle and George Washington have left the Minutemen at 0-2 in league play for the third straight year.

UMass coach Steve Lappas said his hopes for a winning season haven't faded.

''They haven't changed. My expectations are to have a winning record this year with a team this young. That expectation remains my expectation,'' he said.

The Minutemen would need to play a lot better for that to happen.

With 15 games left, UMass would have to go 9-6 just to finish at .500 . It would need to win at least once in the Atlantic 10 Tournament just to be eligible for the NIT.

Six losses doesn't leave much room for error with a schedule that includes games with Xavier, Dayton and two each with St. Joseph's, Rhode Island and Temple. UMass is a team with nine road games and no road wins.

Even mentioning a winning season is a preposterous thing right now. If the Minutemen play against anybody the way they did Saturday, they will lose. End of discussion.

As he has for most of the year, Lappas pointed to the youth of his players.

''Right now there isn't a freshman around that doesn't have to think more than play,'' Lappas said. ''When you're relying on so many guys that are thinking, it's tough. I'm a teacher and I have to teach these kids how to play. The difference between teaching math and science and teaching basketball is that basketball is instinctive. The only way things are going to become instinctive is if they're repeated over a long period of time.

''We can't change that right now. We feel that these kids will all be better next year and that they will be better in two or three games. We could be better Wednesday. I hope we are.''

George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said the Colonials' game plan was to put pressure on the inexperienced Minutemen.

'We looked for things that we thought we could take advantage of,'' Hobbs said. ''They play with so many young guys on perimeter. It's so, so difficult to win when you have an entire perimeter of young guys except for (Anthony) Anderson. They're best inside player is a freshman as well. They're still learning the college game as well. ... The name of the game is patience.''

The Minutemen may be young, but they've shown they can play better than they have in the last two games. If the Minutemen can play the way they did against Boston College or even Vermont, they can be respectable down the stretch.

If they play anything like they did Saturday though, this season will quickly be added to the growing number of forgettable campaigns for a program that has grown increasingly irrelevant on the national scene.

The key for Lappas, in addition to developing the players' abilities, is to make sure they still believe they have something to play for this season. That could be hard with a group of players who believed they'd fare better than they have.

''I thought we'd be way better than 5-8, 0-2 in the league,'' said Anderson, the senior point guard. ''I've been through worse, but it does hurt.''

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


Photo
Anthony Anderson scoots under Omar Williams for the layup.

Photo
Rashaun Freeman gets stripped by Pops Mensah-Bonsu and J.R. Pinnock.

Photo
Gabe Lee gets his hands on Mike Hall's effort to get the rebound.


George Washington Colonials 76
Massachusetts Minutemen 61
at the Mullins Center

Official Basketball Box Score
George Washington vs Massachusetts
01/10/04  2:00 p.m. at Amherst, MA(Mullins Center)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
VISITORS: George Washington ( 8- 6, 2- 1)
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 WILLIAMS,Omar....... f  2-4    0-0    1-2    3  5  8   1   5  4  2  3  1  34
03 HALL,Mike........... f  6-10   1-1    3-4    2  6  8   3  16  0  1  0  0  31
44 FORCHION,Tamal...... f  7-10   0-0    3-6    3  2  5   3  17  1  1  0  0  22
05 THOMPSON,T.J........ g  3-8    1-4    3-4    0  2  2   0  10  6  1  0  1  35
25 ELLIOTT,Carl........ g  2-5    0-1    0-0    0  2  2   1   4  4  2  0  2  24
02 PINNOCK,J.R.........    4-9    0-1    0-0    1  0  1   3   8  2  2  1  2  20
11 LUCAS,Ricky.........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   2
12 JOHNSON,Lafonte.....    0-2    0-1    0-0    0  2  2   1   0  1  1  0  0  10
13 KIREEV,Alexander....    1-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   2  0  0  0  0   3
21 MENSAH-BONSU,Pops...    6-8    0-0    2-2    1  2  3   4  14  0  2  0  3  15
34 COLLUCCI,Greg.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   1   0  0  0  0  0   4
   TEAM................                         1     1             1
   Totals..............   31-57   2-8   12-18  11 22 33  18  76 18 14  4  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 19-34 55.9% 2nd Half: 12-23 52.2% Game: 54.4% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-5 40.0% 2nd Half: 0-3 0.0% Game: 25.0% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 4-7 57.1% 2nd Half: 8-11 72.7% Game: 66.7% 5

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Massachusetts ( 5- 8, 0- 2) TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 01 FREEMAN,Rashaun..... f 5-13 0-0 9-11 6 4 10 3 19 1 3 1 1 31 22 VIGGIANO,Jeff....... f 3-5 1-3 0-0 1 1 2 3 7 1 3 0 1 19 02 LEE,Gabe............ c 5-11 0-0 1-1 3 1 4 3 11 1 1 3 0 32 11 MAXWELL,Maurice..... g 1-8 0-5 0-0 1 1 2 0 2 4 4 0 1 26 12 ANDERSON,Anthony.... g 2-7 1-5 2-2 0 3 3 2 7 4 3 0 1 38 05 LASME,Stephane...... 1-2 0-0 2-2 2 1 3 2 4 0 1 1 0 12 13 CHADWICK,Chris...... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 2 3 0 1 18 34 BOWERS,Art.......... 4-9 3-5 0-1 1 1 2 0 11 1 0 0 0 24 TEAM................ 1 1 2 Totals.............. 21-56 5-18 14-17 15 14 29 15 61 14 18 5 5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 6-25 24.0% 2nd Half: 15-31 48.4% Game: 37.5% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 0-4 0.0% 2nd Half: 5-14 35.7% Game: 27.8% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 8-10 80.0% 2nd Half: 6-7 85.7% Game: 82.4% 1,2

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: Gene Steratore, D.J. Carstensen, Frankie Bordeaux Technical fouls: George Washington-None. Massachusetts-TEAM. Attendance: 2487 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total George Washington............. 44 32 - 76 Massachusetts................. 20 41 - 61

Points in the paint-GW 40,UMASS 28. Points off turnovers-GW 24,UMASS 13. 2nd chance points-GW 15,UMASS 8. Fast break points-GW 16,UMASS 2. Bench points-GW 24,UMASS 15. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times. Last FG-GW 2nd-03:49, UMASS 2nd-00:58.

Back to the home page