Minutemen will try to recharge
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 12/19/2000

AMHERST - Energy was scarce at the post-game press conference following the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team's 74-65 loss to Boston College at the Mullins Center Sunday.

Nearly 5,000 miles worth of travel has produced a 2-7 record, lots of frustration and plenty of fatigue.

With 12 days before his team resumes play after finals and Christmas, University of Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint will give his team some time to recharge their batteries and refocus.

"We're going to take a couple days off because we're all tired. Not just because we're losing but because we've been all over the place," Flint said. "We have to sit down and think about and talk about some of the things we've been doing and what we really need to improve on and get in sync together.

"We need to catch our breath because everybody's struggling a little bit," Flint continued. "We need to catch our breath and re-evaluate what we're doing and just go from there."

After his team started the season slowly, Flint pointed to Monty Mack's absence, due first to his suspension and then to his ankle injury, as part of the team's early problems.

"We never really had a preseason," Flint said. "We never had Mont in there working with the first team and having guys getting used to having him there."

Only two games separate the Minutemen from the Atlantic 10 schedule, which begins Jan. 6 when George Washington comes to Amherst.

Any chance that UMass has to turn around its season would have to come from A-10 success. On Sunday Flint said he hoped to use the extended time off as well as the two games next week in the Hardee's Tournament of Champions - against North Carolina (Dec. 29) and either Richmond or College of Charleston (Dec. 30) - as a kind of preseason within the season.

"It comes down to the conference now, anyway," he said. "We'll try to switch some things up. We have no choice. We have to get ready for conference play."

If Mack could find his missing shooting stroke during that time off, it could go a long way toward UMass improving. Mack was a career 41.2 percent shooter entering this year, but he's hitting at a miserable 27.7 percent clip this year.

Despite Mack's struggles, Flint said it wasn't comparable to Lari Ketner's senior slump, which plagued the Minutemen during the 1998-99 season.

"To be honest with you, Lari quit," Flint said. "Monty hasn't played badly. He just missed shots."

Despite his team's problems, Flint has stuck to his assertion that the ship isn't sunk yet.

"I told them it's been a long road, but there's a long road to go," Flint said. "We can still do some things. You've got the Atlantic 10 and two more games after Christmas. Let's get ourselves together."

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