Redmen Are Best In Hall Of Fame, Upping Mark To 10-0
UMass Nabs Holiday Tourney
By John Sullivan, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Sports Editor, 1/27/1971 (first publication after winter break)
SPRINGFIELD - While UMass basketball opponents Providence College and Holy Cross were competing in the ECAC Holiday Festival Tournament in New York City's Madison Square Garden with the likes of South Carolina, Western Kentucky, St. John's and Manhattan, the Redman hoopsters found themselves in the eight-team field of the First Annual Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Festival Tournament in the Springfield College Memorial Field House with the likes of Long Island University, Valpariso, and St. Michael's.
UMass entered the tourney with a 7-0 slate and exited in 10-0 style, copping the crown after defeating Fairfield University 95-82 on Dec. 28, St. Michael's College 94-59 in a semi-final game on Dec. 29, and Colgate University 79-67 in the championship game on Dec. 30.
The Redmen were the favorited throughout the three-day affair; in fact the tournament was moulded around UMass and its superb junior forward Julius Erving. Neither did the team nor Erving let anyone down, as the 6'6 Redman co-captain swept most valuable player honors.
UMass picked up two spots on the all-tournament squad. One went to Erving, the other to his co-captain counterpart, senior Ken Mathias, who played very strongly.
The Jack Leaman-coached contingent did not play the kind of basketball in the Hall of Fame tourney as it is capable of playing, but the Redmen did put forth a solid-enough effort to win the thing.
Three men were scoring standouts for UMass at Springfield, as Erving's tourney average was 30.7, Mathias' average was 17.7, and junior guard John Betancourt tallied an average of 13 points for the three tilts. Juniors Mike Pagliara and Rich Vogeley owned 8.7 tourney scoring marks, while Chris Coffin, another junior, chipped in at 4.7.
Rebounding was a two-man affair for the Redman cause with Erving averaging a high 25.3 and Mathias a solid 12.3. Both Erving's scoring and rebounding marks were holiday highs among all the players in the tournament fold.
UMass' margin of winning was an evan 20 points, as the Redmen outscored Fairfield, St. Mike's and Colgate at an average of 89.3 to 69.3. From the floor, the Redmen's shooting percentage was 45.1 for the three days as compared to their opponents' 33.4. From the foul line UMass was 65.1, but its opponents were slightly worse at 63.5.
Outside of Erving and Mathias, who earned the two positions on the all-tourney team, LIU's 6'8 junior Walter Jones was a selectee as were Colgate seniors Nick Scaccia and Don Ward. Not a single guard won an all-tourney berth. Scaccia and Ward, at 6'6 and 6'4, are both forwards, as are 6'7 Mathias and Erving.
The following is a game-by-game wrap-up of the Hall of Fame tournament:
DEC. 28 – UMASS vs. FAIRFIELD: Although UMass went on to win this game 95-82, there was much doubt right before the contest that the final spread would be 13 points or even that the Redmen would win.
The reason for that doubt was an ailing Erving. It was learned just prior to gametime that the junior was being hampered by a pesky flu bug, and it showed when he took warmups with the team. He just went through the motions and looked very sluggish in doing so. Erving even took to the bench while his teammates were still warming up. His being below-par physically appeared to affect the entire squad, as the entire pregame drills were run in listless fashion.
But the Redmen had enough of something to jump out of an early 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes. They would never lose the lead for the remainder of the contest. With about nine minutes to go to the half UMass was comfortably in front, 23-10.
By halftime the score favored the Redmen, 43-26. Erving's play didn't suffer a great deal, as his stats at intermission were 11 points and 14 rebounds. For UMass, Mathias and Betancourt had 11 and ten first half points respectively.
In the second half Erving played even better, although the Stags of Fairfield were able to make a run at the Redmen very late in the game. Seven minutes into the half UMass was on top of a 20-point, 59-39, lead and could afford to coast.
Over the next eight minutes the Redmen had only lost three points of that lead and had a Stag by the horns, 81-64, with just over five minutes to play. At this point Fairfield made its move, slicing the lead to eight points, 84-76, in a matter of two minutes time.
However, UMass responded by outscoring the Stags 11-6 the rest of the way for the final 95-82 count.
The game was marred by too many quick whistles; 54 personal fould were called. The Redman record climed to 8-0; Fairfield's dropped to 1-4.
In other first round games, St. Mike's defeated Springfield, 92-72, to move into the semis against UMass. Colgate nipped American International College 88-86, setting itself up for a semi-final match against LIU, which swept by Valparaiso, 73-52.