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UMass Polices Crimestoppers With 135-77 Win Bahamas
Minutemen move to 2-0 on Bahamas Tour as Forbes nets 31 points
From UMass Athletics, 8/19/2006

NASSAU, Bahamas - Led by junior Gary Forbes' 31 points, a trio of Minutemen scored 20 or more points as UMass defeated the Crimestoppers, 135-77 in the second game of their Bahamas Tour on Saturday night at D.W. Davis Gym. The Minutemen are 2-0 after defeating the pro team made up of police officers from the Bahamas. For UMass, Brandon Thomas and Stephane Lasme also added 23 points.

Three other players scored in double-figures giving UMass six members with 10 points or more for the second game in a row. Sophomore guard Chris Lowe tallied 18 points on six 3-point field goals, senior Rashaun Freeman netted 13 points and senior James Life had 11.

The Minutemen made a total of 19 3-point field goals led by Lowe's six. Thomas and Forbes each hit four trifectas as well.

Thomas was on display in the second half with 20 of his 23 points in the final 20 minutes. He had several monster dunks in addition to his strong outside shooting.

Lowe, who struggled from the floor much of last year, was sharp from the floor, showing his improvement as a shooter. Freshman point guard Tiki Mayben handed out 10 assists for the Minutemen, despite not scoring.

The fourth quarter was up-and-down as UMass outscored the police force, 38-28. Lowe canned three of his triples in the final period while senior walk-on Matt Pennie scored all five of his points in the stanza.

UMass' defense was super in the third quarter as they outscored the Crimestoppers, 36-15 with Thomas registering 12 points in the period.

The second quarter saw the Crimestoppers step up as UMass outscored them 29-21 in the period to lead, 61-34 at intermission. Forbes had seven more points - all consecutively to give UMass a 50-26 midway through the quarter. He led all scorers with 18 points in the first half. Lasme had 15 in the first 20 minutes.

UMass broke out to a big lead in the first quarter once again, leading 32-13 after the first 10 minutes. Coming off the bench, Forbes tallied 11 points in the quarter. Also off the bench, Lasme netted seven points. In a starting role, Dante Milligan grabbed seven rebounds in the first quarter. UMass closed the quarter on a 7-0 run closed by a James Life 3-pointer at the buzzer.

On Saturday, during the afternoon the team spend several hours in team building sessions with head coach Travis Ford. Following that, the team hit the pools and water slides at the Atlantis where the Minutemen were the center of attention.

After a day off on Sunday, the Minutemen take on the Rockets on Monday at 7 p.m., in a game that will be played at Loyola Hall in Nassau.


Postgame quotes
From UMass Athletics, 8/19/2006

Head Coach Travis Ford
On the win:
"The thing I was most proud of tonight was our 3-point shooting. We shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter which is something that is contagious. Chris Lowe make 3s, Brandon Thomas, James Life, Gary Forbes, it was exciting to see us shoot the ball very well. Overall, I thought we were a little sloppy. You could see the effects of traveling a little bit, the effects of a blow out last night. It was good to see these guys shoot the ball as well as they did."

On the day off after two games:
"We are going to take tomorrow off. We have a snorkeling trip set for the guys. We are going to do some team building. We will break the tape down as a staff and go over some things. We have not had a chance to get out on the court and work on anything since we arrived. I have been happy with our style of play. One thing we are going against is that, tonight we played against 40 minutes of zone against us. That did not allow us to run any plays. I think our fast break is looking very good. The traps are looking good. In looking at how we played last year and this year, this is a totally different style of basketball and its fun to watch."

On foul shooting:
"We were commenting on the bench at the end of the game how well Rashaun (Freeman) shot his free throws early on. That was good. He lost a little concentration late. With a big lead like that, guys get a little tired. But he did get seven in a row. Stephane (Lasme) shot them well. We have discussed in-depth, about where we stood stat-wise in the league. Things that stood out were free-throw shooting, turnovers, I was not happy with our turnover situation tonight - in the first half. The ball was slippery as it was very, very hot in here. The ball slipped through our hands. Some easy lay-ups slipped through our hands."

Looking ahead to the next three games:
"This has been very good for our team. One thing you don't want to get over confident about is thinking, `we are very good.' But, this is good for us. We are able too play our style of basketball and having fun doing it. This is actually very good for our team, going against these basketball teams right now."

Senior Brandon Thomas
On his impressive game:
"After the first half, I had to step things up. Coach (Ford) talked to me a little bit and my teammates had to give me a little pep talk. After I started knocking down a few shots, I just started flowing."

On his comeback after missing a dunk early:
"I should have passed the ball in the first place, Rashaun was ahead of me and coach got on me for that. He told me this morning, you have to do what's best for the team and not be selfish. With the fast pace of the game, you just want to make the play and it was probably karma that it slipped out."

On his second year with the team:
"Last year was just a big learning experience. You grow so much as a team and as a family. I have grown mentally on the court and off it. This year it has been flowing. They do have me playing the 1, the 2, 3 and 4, mostly I will just be a wing player. So that will make it easier, which I am more suited to. But I will do anything to help the team. I will play back-up point to help if needed, anything to help the team. I feel great at the 2 and the 3."

On the trip to the Bahamas, overall experience:
"The Bahamas is just a beautiful place. It is a beautiful country with great people. We are just trying to enjoy ourselves and at the same time, carry over the training camp. We are running our plays and making sure we have everything right. The water here is just great, it is like Kool-Aid."


Shedding slumps in Bahamas
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 8/21/2006

NASSAU, Bahamas -- When last season ended for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team, Chris Lowe was struggling to score from the outside and Brandon Thomas was struggling just about everywhere.

Those slumps looked far in the past Saturday as the two looked impressive in the Minutemen's 135-77 win over the Crimestoppers at D.W. Davis School in Nassau.

Lowe's first 3-pointer banked in off the glass. The next five were true. Lowe only made five 3-pointers all last season and UMass coach Travis Ford told Lowe to spend the summer working on his jump shot. Including a two-week stretch with his friend and Chicago Bull Ben Gordon, Lowe seemed to have found that range.

Nobody is going to confuse the Crimestoppers with Xavier or even Duquesne. But Lowe missed or wouldn't even take open 3-pointers last season, so this is clearly progress.

''I spent a lot of time on my jump shot this summer,'' Lowe said. ''(Ben Gordon) showed me some things fundamentally and told me a I had to have more confidence. It feels real good. I'll have confidence in my jumper going into the season.''

''We were very excited to see him make some 3s,'' Ford said.

Thomas started the 2005-06 season strong. But after bouncing back and forth from point guard to the wing, Thomas couldn't find any rhythm down the stretch. He's looked much more comfortable so far. He had 17 points Friday against the Explorers and followed that with 23 points against the Crimestoppers.

''I'm much more comfortable in the system,'' Thomas said. ''I'm at the wing only, not playing different positions. I'm just playing my game. Last year I was thinking way too much about everything. Now everything is flowing. It feels good.''

Gary Forbes continued his strong island play with 31 points and showed he could respond to a challenge. After the Minutemen had missed several 3-pointers in a row, one Crimestopper fan began heckling a bit.

''They can't shoot. They can't shoot,'' he yelled.

The next time down the floor, Forbes got the ball and pulled up from NBA range, right in front of the heckler. As the ball swished through Forbes looked at him.

''Who can't shoot?'' Forbes asked as he set up to press.

The man laughed.

''OK, he can shoot,'' he shouted in concession.

The locals were most impressed with Stephane Lasme, who delivered several impressive dunks among his 23 points. James Life scored 15 points and Rashaun Freeman added 13. Tiki Mayben was the only Minuteman without a basket, but he added 10 assists.

Crimestoppers is an all-star team made up of police officers from several law enforcement squads on the island. They were more formidable and more physical than the Explorers, who UMass defeated 128-59 Friday.

The Minutemen weren't sharp early Saturday and Ford made his displeasure known.

''I was not happy at halftime,'' Ford said. ''We had 16 turnovers at halftime. I wasn't happy with our execution. It was a wake-up call. It was good to see them turn it around. It's not about the score right now. ... This is about the big picture. We have to work on the things that make us successful. I didn't like our attitude in the first half. But in the second half we were a totally different team.''

TECHNICAL '' Forbes was assessed a technical late in the second quarter for delay of game, resulting from a misunderstanding of the international rules.

SECOND-GAME STARTERS '' Ford went with five completely new starters for the second game of the trip sending Luke Bonner, Dante Milligan, Etienne Brower, Mayben and Life out to open the game. While Bonner was by far the tallest player on the floor, it was Milligan who tipped for the Minutemen.

MISCELLANEOUS '' A local official said he hopes the island's role as a host for American teams might help bring it an in-season tournament in the future at the Sir Isaac Kendall Gymnasium. UMass was supposed to play there, but the venue is hosting the Caribbean Volleyball Championships.

UMass resumes play at 7 tonight against the Rockets at Loyola Hall.

SUNDAY '' The Minutemen spent their only off day Sunday snorkeling from a catamaran off Paradise Island.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. For more UMass coverage, including a frequently updated UMass sports blog, go to www.dailyhampshiregazette.com/umsports.


Note: Bahamas team rosters are unofficial, and game statistics were done by hand during the game. Every effort was made to record accurate stats, but may not be exact.
Massachusetts Minutemen 135
Crimestoppers 77
Exhibition
at the D.W. Davis School
Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas

UMass 135 (FG FT-FTA= Pts)
Dante Milligan 1 2-3=4, Etienne Brower 2 0-0=5, Luke Bonner 1 0-0=2, Tiki Mayben 0 0-0=0, James Life 4 0-0=11, Stephane Lasme 9 5-6=23, Brandon Thomas 9 1-4=23, Gary Forbes 11 5-8=31, Rashaun Freeman 3 7-11=13, Chris Lowe 6 0-0=18, Matt Pennie 2 0-0=5. TOTALS 48 20-32=135

Crimestoppers 77
Carter 1 0-0=2, Baker 3 3-6=12, Pinder 3 6-7=11, Ferguson 2 0-0=4, Sands 6 1-3=13, C. Knowles 10 5-12=25, DeVoe 0 1-2=1, S. Knowles 0 0-0=0, Hines 2 0-0=4, Lowell 0 0-0=0, Dorsett 0 0-0=0, Sanders 1 0-0=2, Thompson 1 0-0=2, TOTALS 29 16-30=77

Score By Quarter
UMass 32-29-36-38=135
Crimestoppers 13-21-15-28-77

3-Pointers: UMass: Lowe 6, Forbes 4, Thomas 4, Life 3, Brower 1, Pennie 1. Crimestoppers: Baker 3.


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