Redmen Battle HC Tonight
By Barry Rubenstein, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Assistant Sports Editor, February 2, 1971
Tonight at Worcester Auditorium, the UMass basketball team faces perhaps its most challenging battle of the season when it takes on the Crusaders of Holy Cross at 8 p.m. The Cross stands at 12-4 on the year while Redmen are 12-2.
Besides the fact that the Crusaders are one of the best teams in New England, UMass will be faced with other problem in this encounter. The Redmen will probably be without the services of senior co-captain Ken Mathias who has not fully recovered from the illness which kept him out of the Northeastern game. It is extremely unlikely that the 6’7 forward will see any action at all.
Mike Pagliara, the other flu victim on the team, has recovered somewhat and will play although it is not known how much. All of this adds up to a giant-sized problem for coach Jack Leaman. When asked whom he would start against the Crusaders, he leaned back in his chair and somewhat optimistically said, “John (Betancourt) and Julius (Erving)“ will be out there. After that it’s anybody’s guess.”
With this in mind, the Holy Cross game looms even more important for the Redmen. Even with a full complement of players, UMass would have its hands full with the Crusaders. With things as they are the game should be a real battle
Holy Cross presents the Redmen with a lot of problems. The Worcester team is a balanced, deep unit which can hurt its opponents in several areas, and can score a lot of points. The Crusaders are averaging over 86 per game and scored 138 against St. Michaels.
Leading the Crusaders is co-captain Bob Kissane. The 6’9 All-American candidate is playing as well as ever although his stats might indicate differently. He is only averaging 17 8 points and 10 rebounds per game but this drop from last season is easy to explain. Kissane is supported by a better all-around cast then he was a year ago.
The main addition is 6’6 forward Jim Schnurr. UMass fans will remember Schnurr from the way he demolished the Redman frosh last year. This season he is performing just as well for the varsity as he is scoring 12.2 point and grabbing 10.5 caroms a game.
“To support these two, the Cross has three more players averaging about 10 points per game They are co-captain Jack Adams, forward Stan Grayson and guard Kevin Stacom. All are starters. Adams is the team leader and floor general and has started 64 of Holy Cross’ 65 games since he joined the Crusaders.
Grayson is best noted for his defensive ability. For this reason, Grayson will be covering Erving and this match-up should have a great deal to do in deciding the outcome of the game. Stacom is another sophomore who broke into the starting unit and is an excellent outside shooter.
If that starting five sounds imposing, Holy Cross becomes even more so when you consider who they have sitting on the bench. For openers there is a kid named Buddy Venne who three years ago led Massachusetts schoolboys in scoring with a 37.7 average. Last year he scored 17 per game but he has been pushed from the starting lineup by Stacom. Another backcourt man available for action is sophomore Bruce Grentz, the team's best dribbler.
Helping out up front are 6'8 Gene Doyle and Don Sasso. Sasso was a starter last year but has been hampered by injuries and had an operation just prior to preseason practice. He is recovered now, however, and could play against UMass. Doyle also ran rampant against the UMass frosh last season and he too has stepped into an important varsity role.
With so much balance, depth and height, the Crusaders should be tough to handle, especially since the game is to be played in Worcester. However, the game is one that the Redmen almost must win. With a loss to Providence already in the background, UMass can hardly afford another NE loss if they are to retain their No. 1 in New England ranking given them by UPI.
LAYUP LINES - Contrary to popular opinion, the game will not be televised.
Erving Keys 2nd Half Surge
By Barry Rubenstein, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Assistant Sports Editor, February 3, 1971
Worcester - Paced by an unbelievable second half performance by Julius Erving, the UMass basketball team won its biggest game of the season by downing the Crusaders of Holy Cross last night in an exciting, tense struggle before 3300 fans at Worcester Auditorium, 60-58. The Redmen are now 13-2 while Holy cross slipped to 12-5
Erving, UMass' All-American co-captain netted 25 second-half points (32 for the evening), pulled down 18 game rebounds and was clearly the difference in the contest. At one point, he scored six consecutive UMass hoops.
He was hitting consistently from both corners as well as driving for the hoop. If he was devastating enough on offense and rebounding, he also stole numerous passes and turned them into easy UMass baskets.
Tom McLaughlin, in his second Redmen start, came through again with a big half. When his scoring was needed in the first stanza, he pumped through 10 points. In the second half, with Erving having the hot hand, he passed off and tried to set up his teammate.
It is impossible to leave anyone out in this one. John Betancourt and Mike Pagliara ran the offense perfectly, and Chris Coffin nabbed 10 rebounds against the taller Crusaders. To make it simple, everyone did his job beautifully.
The first half was close with the Cross on top most of the way. The Crusaders broke quickly, jumping ahead 9-1 with less than five minutes gone behind the shooting of guard Jack Adams. UMass sliced the gap to four, 9-5, on hoops by Erving and Betancourt and the lead see-sawed between four and six points for about the next 10 minutes.
Doing the brunt of the UMass scoring was McLaughlin, who was being guarded by 6’8 forwards Jim Schnurr and Gene Doyle. Bob Kissane had six points in this period for the Crusaders.
With the Cross ahead 25-18 with just over four minutes to go, things began to break for the Redmen. Coffin netted a pair of charity tosses and McLaughlin, Erving and Betancourt scored consecutive hoops to put the UMass boys on top for the first time of the game. 26-25, with only 1:53 to go.
Doyle tapped in a missed Crusader shot with 0:35 left and the half ended with the Crusaders ahead by only one, 27-26.
It was McLaughlin’s shooting and Erving's rebounding which had kept the Redmen in the contest thus far. Though much the shorter team the Redmen amazingly enough managed to outrebound the Crusaders in the first stanza 21-19. That fact explained the closeness of the contest.
As close as the first half was, the second was even tighter. No team led by more than six at any point and with 1:15 to go the Redmen held a slim two point edge.
With 3:40 on the clock Coffin was fouled by Kissane and sank a pair of clutch free throws to make it 58-54. Schnurr made a charity toss, but Erving seemed to ice the verdict with an eight foot bank shot at 1:29.
Kissane came right back with a three point play and with a minute to go it was 60-58. But the Cross got the ball back twice more on UMass miscues but could not put it in the hoop. With 0:02, Holy Cross had the ball out of bounds but Kevin Stacom’s shot from mid-court was off the mark and too late, and the Redmen had the ball game.