Unique style works for UMass' Mack
By Mark Murphy, The Boston Herald, 1/25/1999

Monty Mack's game has always been unique.

He doesn't dunk, and he's not happy patrolling the outer circle for 3-pointers.

The UMass guard has what his former AAU coach, Celtics scout Leo Papile, used to refer to as ``the old man's game.''

``Yeah, a little of everything,'' said Mack. ``All of the in-between stuff.''

That in-between stuff is now in high demand where UMass basketball is concerned.

Mack's 27 points - sprinkled generously between 3-point range and the lane - was the major force that held the Minutemen in their 65-57 loss to Temple on Saturday.

The glossiest part of the stat line includes a scenic series of 3-pointers that Mack put together for a 6-for-9 effort from downtown. Overall, he shot 10-for-18 from the floor.

That type of offense from Mack is crucial for the Minutemen.

Mack has averaged 20.2 points over his last four games, and every bit of it has been needed.

Lari Ketner, the struggling 6-foot-10 center who has been wrestling with the role of go-to guy all season, has not been up to the task.

Charlton Clarke, for all of his heart, is not enough of a scorer.

And everyone else on this team, for all of their improvements over the last two weeks, falls squarely into the category of role player.

That leaves UMass with Mack, who had to endure the added pressure of a double team by Temple defenders in the second half.

But none of it would be flowing this smoothly without the so-called ``old man's game.''

Except that Mack apparently strayed, for a while, from what makes it work.

``My high school coach called me, and told me that I have to start driving into the lane again,'' Mack said of Bill Loughnane, the South Boston High basketball coach.

``He was right. I had to start stepping in from the outside a little more. But he knows the game, and he especially knows my game, because I played for him for four years. He told me to stop settling for outside shots all of the time.

``When I'm doing both - shooting and driving - it will keep the defense off balance,'' he said. ``They don't really have any idea of what I'm going to do next in that situation. My mindset is that if we need a big shot, then I'll take it.

``When I was in high school, and the coach would ask who wanted to take the shot, I'd always raise my hand.''

That's a privilege Mack doesn't have to ask for these days.

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