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MHERST - After its longest regular season trip of the season, the University of Massachusetts men's basketball can settle in for a stretch, as the Minutemen won't leave New England again until Jan. 14.
UMass has 11 straight games in either Massachusetts or Connecticut, eight of which will be in the Mullins Center beginning with tonight's 7 p.m. contest against Hartford.
For a team that could use a confidence builder after Friday's ugly 90-50 loss at Texas Tech, Hartford could pose some problems. UMass looks like the favorite on paper, but the Minutemen will need to address their rebounding and ball-handling problems with minimal time on the court after flying home Saturday morning.
The Hawks played Friday as well, opening their season with a 74-55 win over Division II Concordia.
UMass coach Steve Lappas said the Minutemen used Saturday's practice to work on correcting Friday's mistakes and Sunday's to prepare for Hartford. He said the loss, despite the margin will help his team.
''There's no doubt in my mind in that what happened Friday night is going to help us down the road as we grow as players and as a team,'' he said. 'We need to gain something from it and move forward from there.''
Hartford coach Larry Harrison's squad is coming off the school's first back-to-back winning seasons since 1988-89 and 1989-90. Hartford finished 16-13 last year and its 10-6 America East record was good enough for third in the conference.
The Hawks return just two starters from that squad led by 6-foot-4 swingman Jerell Parker. The senior who transferred from Loyola of Chicago, averaged 13.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in his first year in the nation's insurance's capital. He was voted first team all-league.
However, Wright didn't start Friday and he injured himself 12 minutes into the game. His status for tonight is questionable.
Parker is the Hawks' only returning double-digit scorer, but teammate Aaron Cook - last year's America East All-Rookie shooting guard - just missed at 9.9 points per game. He opened the season with 28 against Concordia. Sophomore guard Charles Ford benefited from Wright's absence with 14 points.
Point guard minutes in the Hawks attacking offense figure to be split by freshman Rich Baker and senior Ryan Stys, a reserve a year ago.
Hartford returns two big men who played last year, but there may be more inside promise from players who watched last season. Well-regarded 6-foot-8 sophomore Bernard Lowndes sat out last year as an academic nonqualifier, but is expected to be a contributor this year. He didn't play Friday though. A pair of redshirt freshmen, Alex Zimnickas and Tyler Lang, will also compete for minutes.
NOTES: UMass sophomore rookie big man Rashaun Freeman captured the Atlantic 10's first Rookie of the Week award of the year. Freeman averaged 14 points and 8.5 rebounds in the team's first two games. He was the first Minuteman player to have a double-double in his first game since John Murphy had 16 points and 14 rebounds on Dec. 2, 1972.
Lappas expected Freeman to get increased defensive attention because of his strong early play.
''He has to be ready for different kinds of defenses and for people to want to stop him,'' Lappas said.
Big man Alassane Kouyate will remain out of the lineup with tendinitis in both knees. Lappas left open the possibility that the sophomore may redshirt.
''It is a possibility without question, but we're not there yet,'' Lappas said.
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MHERST, Mass. -- One offensive rebound after another, UMass was tearing down what had been a near-perfect effort, taking away a shot at a milestone victory.
Hartford arrived at the Mullins Center on Monday fighting injuries and inexperience. But with less than three minutes remaining in a game in which they had never trailed, the Hawks clung desperately to a two-point lead that was once 12.
"The thing we talked about in practice the other day is mental toughness," Hartford coach Larry Harrison said. "We didn't quit. They made a run, but we didn't quit."
Harrison would go on to call the 72-66 victory before 2,433 probably the most important in his four-year tenure. Four years ago, Harrison and senior point guard Ryan Stys endured a four-win season. Now they have beaten an Atlantic 10 team on the road.
"It's definitely been a drastic change," Stys said. "It's just nice to come all this way and be rewarded for the hard work."
Hartford was the better team from the opening tip, using a 2-3 zone to shut down UMass. The game was close at the end only because the Minutemen were wearing down the young Hawks (2-0).
UMass (1-2), which lost to Central last season, closed to 63-61 on a tipin by Gabe Lee, the Minutemen's fourth consecutive basket off an offensive rebound. But Stys followed with two free thows and, after Rashaun Freeman (19 points) again cut the lead to two, Aaron Cook made a jumper for a 67-63 lead. Two possessions later, Charles Ford broke away from a midcourt pack, took a long inbounds pass from Sean Regan and made an uncontested layup that put the game away.
"It's just a great win," Harrison said. "We didn't crumble."
Cook led Hartford with 20 points. Stys scored 17 for the Hawks, who made 25 of 30 free throws and overcame 17 offensive rebounds by UMass.
"A horrible defensive effort," said UMass coach Steve Lappas, whose team trailed 42-34 at halftime. "Obviously, this is not a good loss."
UMass guards Anthony Anderson, Art Bowers and Maurice Maxwell combined for 22 points on 7-for-29 shooting.
Parker has MRI: The Hawks played without senior swingman Jerell Parker (strained knee muscle). He is day-to-day. An MRI showed no damage.
MHERST - The optimism around the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team of last week seems like a faint memory.
Rashaun Freeman chipped in 19 points to lead the Minutemen.
''It was just a horrible defensive effort, particularly on the perimeter,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ''Obviously this is not a good loss.''
The UMass players blamed themselves for lacking intensity.
''We should be prepared after going to play Texas Tech and losing like we did. (We should have been) hoping for a chance to take it out on somebody,'' junior big man Gabe Lee said.
Senior captain Anthony Anderson agreed. ''You'd think after getting beat by 40, that we'd come out and the intensity would be so high in the first half and it wasn't until the second half,'' Anderson said. ''We didn't come out as intense as they did.''
Heading into the game Lappas said he thought his team had shaken off the Texas Tech loss, but afterward he wasn't so sure.
''There was no reason for me to believe up until now,'' Lappas said. ''But I have to believe that some of our guys got shook against Texas Tech, because we looked like deer in the headlights in the first half.''
Sophomore rookie big man Rashaun Freeman led UMass with 19 points and nine rebounds, but he had only two points and three rebounds after intermission. Lee added 16 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Aaron Cook scored a game-high 20 for the Hawks (2-0), while Ryan Stys added 17.
Trailing 61-51 with 6 minutes and 37 seconds left in the game, the Minutemen ran off eight straight points, including six by Lee, to cut the deficit to 61-59, but Charles Ford scored on a breakaway lay-up to bring the lead back to four.
UMass pulled within one possession three more times, but couldn't close the gap.
The Minutemen have a week off before playing Vermont on Dec. 2. Anderson said the Minutemen can expect a difficult stretch of practice.
''The whole week is going to be rough,'' he said. ''It should be.''
The problems started right away for the Minutemen who had turnovers on their first three possessions. The Hawks led 9-4 when Anderson picked up his second foul with 12:43 left in the first half.
The Minutemen had already struggled against the Hawks two-three zone and it got worse with Anderson on the bench as the offense sputtered with Chris Chadwick and Maurice Maxwell at the controls. Hartford lengthened its lead gradually, using foul shots and 3-pointers to pull ahead 38-28 with 2:37 remaining in the half.
Lappas regretted keeping Anderson out.
''That's the one thing I would have done differently. I'd have tried to play him with the two fouls,'' Lappas said. ''Maybe putting him back in wouldn't have made a difference, but it certainly could have.''
Anderson did lift the Minutemen with 12 second-half points on four 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough to turn the game around.
UMass' rookie guards continued their shooting struggles as Artie Bowers (1-for-9) and Maxwell (2-for-11) combined to go 3-for-20 from the floor. Bowers has made two of his last 25 shots.
''As long as they're good shots, he's got to keep taking them,'' Lappas said.
Despite their height advantage, the Minutemen barely won the rebounding battle 34-33.
''It's a bad L. There's no question it's a bad L,'' Lappas said. ''It's early and I know these guys are going to get better, but there's no doubt that it's a bad L. You have to get rid of the things that made the bad L come about. That's our job.''
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.
MHERST - Midway through the second half last night, the sparse but partisan Mullins Center crowd grew impatient waiting for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen to rally from a double-digit deficit. "Come on," one patron shouted, "this is Hartford."
Gabe Lee had a solid game in the losing cause, 16 points, 9 boards and 7 blocks.
The optimism UMass generated after a season-opening win over St. Francis seems nonexistent now, and this defeat left the team pondering how it went from a feel-good opening win to consecutive horrid performances so quickly.
This marks the fifth consecutive season UMass has suffered a defeat at home after its first road trip. The Minutemen appeared still stunned by Friday night's 90-50 nationally televised rout by Texas Tech.
Last night, they never led, they turned the ball over on five of their first six possessions, and they trailed, 38-28, with 2:38 left in the first half.
Hartford (2-0) seemed much improved. But this was a winnable game for the Minutemen (1-2), who now have a week to ponder their current state before taking the court against Vermont, the defending America East champion.
"This was a bad [loss]," said UMass coach Steve Lappas, who based on two solid practices had every indication the Minutemen had rebounded from the Texas Tech debacle. "I have to think now that some of our guys got shook against Texas Tech, because we looked like a deer in the headlights."
The Minutemen were led by Rashaun Freeman's 19 points (all but 2 in the first half) and 9 rebounds. Gabe Lee added 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks. But much of their struggles traced back to point guard Anthony Anderson playing just 7 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
Anderson played the entire second half and finished with 12 points but had just 1 assist.
"I learned something -- that he has to play every second," said Lappas.
The Hawks were led by their three-guard unit of Aaron Cook (20 points), Ryan Stys (17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), and Charles Ford (10 points, 4 assists). Their quickness bothered the Minutemen from the outset, particularly on defense. The Hawks' 2-3 zone prevented the Minutemen from establishing an inside offensive attack, challenging them to shoot from the outside.
As a result, Minutemen guards were 2 for 11 from the perimeter in the first half.
"We watched their games last year and this year, and we looked at their shooters and said we would make them make shots before we started guarding them," said Hartford coach Larry Harrison.
Yet for all that, UMass still had a chance to win.
Trailing by 10 with 6:37 left, UMass played its best basketball of the evening and cut the deficit to 61-59 with 4:40 left on a Lee putback. Hartford staved off the Minutemen by matching them point for point over the next four minutes.
Hartford took a 67-63 lead on a pullup jumper by Cook with 1:09 remaining, and then with 19.9 seconds left Ford scored on a breakaway layup to put the Hawks ahead, 69-63. Anderson cut the lead to 69-66 on a trey with 13.7 seconds left. But Hartford put the game away by making three of four free throws.
"It was a horrible defensive effort, a horrible effort on the glass," said Lappas, whose team outrebounded a much smaller squad only 34-33. "Sixty-six points should have been enough to win. We prepared against the zone, and though [Hartford] did a good job, we found enough holes in it. We attacked it aggressively the last few minutes but we didn't the entire game."
Lee said the team didn't come to play.
"I feel like we may have overlooked [Hartford]," he said.
MHERST - The Hartford Hawks put the America East conference on notice with their most significant victory on fourth-year coach Larry Harrison's watch.
Starter Jeff Viggiano was held to 6 points and only 1 rebound.
``Hopefully a lot of people will look at it that way and send a message to the rest of the league,'' Stys said. ``I think a lot of people think we are almost there but not quite there. Hopefully we can sneak up on some teams and have a good season.''
The two teams entered the fray from totally opposite perspectives. The Hawks rolled to a 74-55 victory over Division 2 Concordia Friday night, while the Minutemen (1-2) were getting rolled by Bobby Knight's Texas Tech squad, 90-50.
UMass coach Steve Lappas thought the hangover of his team's thrashing by the Aggies had dissipated with two solid practice sessions. He realized that wasn't the case in the opening five minutes of the game. The Minutemen turned the ball over on five of their first six trips up the court. The only offense UMass produced in the opening eight minutes was a pair of free throws by Art Bowers and a put-back by Rashaun Freeman, who led the Minutemen with 19 points and nine rebounds.
``I had every indication to believe that because we had two very good practices that were very focused,'' Lappas said. ``There was no reason for me to believe up until now that it was a factor, but I have to think that some of our guys got shook up against Texas Tech.
``I have to believe that because we looked like a deer in the headlights in the first half.''
UMass point guard Anthony Anderson of Lynn, who finished with 12 points, thought the lopsided loss in Lubbock, Texas, should have inspired the Minutemen to a better effort.
``We should be better prepared after you go to Texas Tech and lose the way that we did,'' Anderson said. ``We had the chance to take it out on somebody else and we didn't do that.''
Hartford guard Jerell Parker re-injured his right knee in the Concordia game and was out of the lineup. Aaron Cook made up for the loss by scoring a game-high 20 points.
UMass closed a 14-point second-half gap to a bucket, 65-63, on a Freeman put-back with 1:36 to play. But a pair of jumpers by Cook and Ford put the Hawks ahead, 69-63.
hree days after being embarrassed at Texas Tech in the second round of the Preseason National Invitation Tournament, the Massachusetts men's basketball team showed all the signs of a hangover in their return to the Amherst last night.
Freeman continued his impressive rookie season.
"A horrible defensive effort," UMass coach Steve Lappas said. "A horrible effort on the glass, even though you did get nine rebounds each from your four and five men ... and a horrible defensive effort on the perimeter.
"It's hard to explain why; this is not a good loss and really the inexperience of our perimeter really, really showed. The bottom line is we didn't defend the way we needed to defend. Sixty-six points should have been enough to win that game, as bad as it was."
Hawk guard Aaron Cook led all scorers with 20 points, while backcourt mate Ryan Stys chipped in with 17 and Charles Ford added 10 for Hartford.
Sophomore forward Rashaun Freeman paced the Minutemen with 19 points and nine rebounds, despite scoring only two points in the second half. Center Gabe Lee tossed in 16 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven blocks, while junior captain Anthony Anderson contributed 12 points in the losing cause.
"This was just a great team win," Hawk coach Larry Harrison said. "This is my fourth year and this is probably one of the better wins, if not the best win that we've had in the four years that I've been the head coach. There's no question it's our best road win."
The Minutemen cut a 10-point Hawk lead down to two with an 8-0 run, capped off by a Lee tip-in that made the score 61-59 at the 4:39 mark.
Ford pushed the deficit back to four with a layup, before Lee cut it in half again with another tip-in. Stys, however, then sunk a pair of free throws to make the score 65-61 with 2:59 remaining.
After Freeman brought the Maroon and White to within a bucket for the final time with 1:35 remaining, a Cook basket pushed the lead back to four at 67-63.
The Minutemen were then forced to foul, but Cook had a pair of rare misses from the line for the Hawks. Nonetheless, UMass was unable to capitalize and Ford converted a layup on a long inbound pass following a timeout, pushing the Hartford lead to six with 18 seconds remaining.
Anderson gave the Minutemen one last flicker of hope with a long 3-pointer that cut the lead down to one possession at 69-66, but Stys and Sean Regan combined to sink three of four free throws over the final 13 seconds to ice the win.
Massachusetts fell behind early to the Hawks, who were able to take control of the game early with a 5-0 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Stys that made the score 16-10 at the 8:57 mark of the first half.
The lead ballooned to as high as 10 in the first half, as Taylor and Cook both sunk a pair of foul shots to put Hartford up 38-28 with 2:38 left before halftime.
After Tyler Lang re-established a 10-point edge with 57 seconds left on the clock, two Freeman free throws sent UMass into the intermission trailing 42-24.
Hartford enjoyed its biggest lead of the game at the 13:25 mark of the second half, when a Cook layup pushed the Hawks' edge to 12 at 54-42.
A 7-0 Maroon and White run cut into the deficit with 11:32 remaining after Anderson connected for three to make the score 54-49.
The lead grew back to double-digits for the Hawks, however, as a pair of free throws from Cook established a 10-point lead at 61-51 with 6:37 left.
Massachusetts returns to action a week from today when they host defending America East champion and NCAA Tournament qualifier Vermont. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.
|at the Mullins Center|
Official Basketball Box Score Hartford vs Massachusetts 11/24/03 7:00 p.m. at Amherst, MA(Mullins Center) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VISITORS: Hartford ( 2- 0) TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 23 GOODE,Trevor........ f 3-7 0-0 3-4 1 3 4 4 9 0 1 0 1 26 34 TAYLOR,Robert....... f 0-4 0-0 6-6 1 3 4 4 6 1 3 0 0 23 04 COOK,Aaron.......... g 7-15 2-5 4-6 1 1 2 2 20 1 3 0 3 39 10 FORD,Charles........ g 4-10 0-0 2-2 1 3 4 0 10 4 4 0 1 31 20 STYS,Ryan........... g 5-9 2-3 5-6 2 4 6 3 17 4 1 0 0 38 05 LANG,Tyler.......... 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 8 22 BAKER,Rich.......... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 3 0 1 0 0 5 33 REGAN,Sean.......... 0-0 0-0 5-6 2 5 7 2 5 1 2 0 1 22 55 ZIMNICKAS,Alex...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 3 0 0 2 0 1 8 TEAM................ 3 1 4 1 Totals.............. 21-48 5-9 25-30 13 20 33 19 72 11 18 0 7 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-26 46.2% 2nd Half: 9-22 40.9% Game: 43.8% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 5-7 71.4% 2nd Half: 0-2 0.0% Game: 55.6% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 13-14 92.9% 2nd Half: 12-16 75.0% Game: 83.3% 2,4
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Massachusetts ( 1- 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 8-11 0-0 3-4 9 0 9 3 19 0 3 0 1 27 22 VIGGIANO,Jeff....... f 3-6 0-2 0-2 1 0 1 3 6 3 3 1 1 22 02 LEE,Gabe............ c 8-10 0-0 0-4 3 6 9 2 16 0 1 7 2 34 12 ANDERSON,Anthony.... g 4-9 4-9 0-0 0 3 3 5 12 1 3 0 1 27 34 BOWERS,Art.......... g 1-9 1-6 3-4 1 3 4 4 6 4 2 0 0 28 00 MARTIN,Brennan...... 1-5 1-5 0-0 1 1 2 1 3 0 0 0 1 15 05 LASME,Stephane...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 8 11 MAXWELL,Maurice..... 2-11 0-6 0-1 1 1 2 2 4 3 1 0 0 28 13 CHADWICK,Chris...... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 2 2 0 0 11 TEAM................ 1 2 3 Totals.............. 27-62 6-28 6-15 17 17 34 24 66 14 15 8 6 200
TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-28 46.4% 2nd Half: 14-34 41.2% Game: 43.5% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-11 18.2% 2nd Half: 4-17 23.5% Game: 21.4% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 6-13 46.2% 2nd Half: 0-2 0.0% Game: 40.0% 3
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: Gene Monje, Olandis Poole, Bill McCarthy Technical fouls: Hartford-None. Massachusetts-None. Attendance: 2433 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total Hartford...................... 42 30 - 72 Massachusetts................. 34 32 - 66