Ho Hum, UMass picked No. 1 again in Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll
By Marty Dobrow, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, 11/10/1995
PHILADELPHIA — The Atlantic 10 Conference, entering its 20th year, has never seen a team like the University of Massachusetts.
The Minutemen have won four straight regular-season championships something no team has ever done. They have won four straight A-10 Tournament championships — something no team has ever done.
And so it was no surprise that UMass was picked to win the East Division of the Atlantic 10 in 1995-96. At the league’s Media Day yesterday the results of a poll of writers and coaches were released, and UMass received 32 of the 40 first-place votes. Arch-rival Temple, picked for second, received the other eight.
Virginia Tech, one of five newcomers to the league, was picked to win the West, garnering 35 of the 40 votes. Second-place George Washington had three, while third-place Xavier and fourth-place Duquesne got one apiece.
This will be the first year of two-division play in the A-10. (UMassHoops.com note: This was incorrect. The A-10 used East & West divisions in the 1982-83 season.) It also will be the first year in the league for newcomers Virginia Tech, Xavier, La Salle, Dayton and Fordham. Gone to the Big East are longtime A-10 squads Rutgers and West Virginia.
While pleased with the respect accorded his team, UMass coach John Calipari seems genuinely concerned about the Minutemen. Speaking in terms that went beyond his usual rhetoric of dampening expectations, he said,
“There is a crisis within the UMass basketball program right now. We know we’re not very good.“
Calipari said the team’s sloppy effort in Tuesday’s exhibition win over Dinamo of Russia illustrated major problems. The effort was so bad, he said, that a couple of players were crying after the game.
“We all start reading our press clippings,” Calipari said. “We all start thinking that you put on a UMass uniform, that means you’re going to be in the Top 10. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“The players have been working hard. But we’ve got to come up with some chemistry.” Coaches who have not seen UMass play this year were quick to heap praise on the Minutemen and their mentor.
Temple coach John Chaney referred to UMass several times as “champions.” Phil Martelli, the new St. Joe’s head coach (after nine years there as an assistant), said, “I think UMass is clearly an extension of their coach. I think that John Calipari demands and gets from his team as much as any coach in America.”
UMass was represented on all four Preseason All-Conference Teams picked by writers and coaches. To no one’s surprise, Marcus Camby was chosen for the First Team, along with Ace Custis of Virginia Tech, Kwame Evans and Alexander Koul of GW, and Tom Pipkins of Duquesne.