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February 22, 1971 - Syracuse vs. UMass

  • Season: 1970-71
  • Date: Monday, February 22, 1971
  • Opponent: Syracuse
  • Start Time: 8:00 PM ET
  • Special Event: Non-conference game, Senior Night
  • Result: UMass 86, Syracuse 71
  • Attendance: 4200 (sellout)


Season On The Line As Redmen Face Orange
By Earle Barroll, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 22, 1971

By Fred Rosenthal, Mass. Daily Collegian

Tonight at Curry Hicks Cage two teams with hopes of being invited to a post season tournament collide head on as the Orangemen from Syracuse University come to UMass to do battle with the Redmen with tap-off set for 8 p.m.

Syracuse is currently one of the hottest teams in the east, coming into the contest with a nine game win streak and an overall season mark of 16-5. So far this season the Orangemen have run up impressive victories over West Virginia, Army twice, St. John’s, 11th ranked La Salle, and took fourth ranked Penn to overtime before losing.

The Orangemen will have a starting five of big 6’11 Bill Smith at center, Mike Lee, 6’3 and Mark Wadach, 6’3, at the forwards, with 6’1 Greg Kohls and 5’11 Tom Green at the guards.

Smith is the key to the Syracuse attack. He’s an All-American candidate and is currently one of the top three field goal percentage shooters in the country. Going into tonight’s tilt he is averaging around 25 points and 14 rebounds per game.

Lee and Wadach are good leapers and consistent scorers and give Smith a fine complement in the frontcourt.

Kohls is averaging 22 points a game and makes about 50 percent of his shots from the floor. The field general for the Orangemen is Green who leads the team in assists and also contributes nine points per game to the Syracuse offense.

Game program cover As a team, the Orangemen are similar to Fordham as they are a zone team, using the full zone press after every field goal and free throw. They use a 2-2-1 full court press and a 1-2-1 full court press to accomplish the zone defense.

On offense Syracuse uses a lot of reverse action plays and likes to set up two-man plays on the opposing defense. One can also look for things such as back door out of the guards and the crossing of the forwards on the inside as part of the Orangeman offensive repertoire.

And with a big 6’11 center the Orangemen will also be going for Smith inside to set the pivot man up for his patented shot that he has made 63% of the time.

Coming off a 21 point victory over UConn on Saturday night at Storrs, the Orangemen will be hungry for victory when they enter the Cage tonight. This is a big one for them, a win meaning a giant step for the post season tournament they are striding for. They will be ready.

For the Redman coach Jack Leaman will be going with the same starters who did the job over the weekend, that being Julius Erving, Ken Mathias and Tom McLaughlin up front, with John Betancourt and Mike Pagliara in the backcourt.

After the weekend games it can also be expected that Rich Vogeley, Chris Coffin and Bob Dempsey will see their share of the action.

With a post season tournament also on the horizon for the Redmen, they will be ready no doubt for this encounter.

This is the big one, the stakes are high, the future looms bright for the winner. All the ingredients are here for a great ball game.


Erving & Company Down Syracuse, 86-71
By Barry Rubenstein, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 23, 1971

Mass. Daily Collegian

Julius Erving played perhaps his finest game ever.

Proving himself once and for all as a solid All-America candidate, Erving scored 36 points and snatched 32 rebounds in a virtuoso performance to lead the UMass basketball team to its most important win of this season over Syracuse, 86-71, before 4200 howling Senior Night fans at the Cage last night. The Redmen are now 20-3 and the Orangemen are 16-6.

Erving simply did everything, and did it to perfection. His 32 rebounds broke his own record of 30 set earlier in the season against St. Michael’s. His scoring output not only was his highest of the season bet also made him the second leading scorer in UMass history with 1278 career points and he’s still got a season to go.

The junior co-captain was by no means alone in his heroics last night though. Ken Mathias, playing his last game at the Cage after a brilliant career, went out in fine style with 13 points and most of the rebounds that Erving couldn’t get to. But more than this, Mathias did a fantastic defensive job on Syracuse’s 6’11 All-American Bill Smith. The giant center came into the contest averaging 23 points and 14 rebounds a game. He left with 14 points and ten rebounds and five fouls.

Julius Erving drives on his defender. Find courtesy @Alcides_Coop

The backcourtmen were exceptional too. John Betancourt, who always seems to have a hot hand in the big games, had 17 points on seven of 13 field goal attempts and made a few nifty passes for Erving hoops in the late going. Mike Pagliara, though he only had seven points, contributed six assists and took control on the floor.

To complete the all-star supporting cast, Tom McLaughlin had six points and six rebounds in only 23 minutes of action. Rick Vogeley and Chris Coffin also helped up front with Vogeley getting a key tap in the late going and Coffin making some spectacular defensive plays.

UMass was unable to open up any breathing room for the first 32 minutes of play. In the first half neither team was able to open up a margin of more than six points, with the Redmen leading twice by that count, 26-20 and 28-22. The Orangemen came storming back, though, and actually went ahead by three, 33-30, on a Smith layup at 2:34 of the period.

The Redmen then scored three straight hoops on an Erving tap, a Mathias layup, and a Betancourt jumper from Pagliara to open up a three point margin, 36-33, with seconds left in the stanza. Smith, however, snuck in for a layup and UMass took a precarious one point edge into the dressing room.

The second half was more of the same. UMass would open up leads of six or seven points only to see the determined Orangemen come storming back.

The Redmen finally took the lead to stay at 17:15 on a fifteen footer by Mathias which was the beginning of an eight point Redman streak. Mathias followed with a bank shot, Erving hit three free throws and Betancourt one to put UMass on top, 50-43, with 15:12 left.

Mass. Daily Collegian

Syracuse began to charge once again, nipping the lead to one, 53-52, but the Redmen responded with six straight points, the highlight of which was Vogeley’s tap. From then on, the Orangemen could get no closer than four and when Smith fouled out with 5:08 to go, it was 75-62 and UMass was just about home free. It was all in all a great night for three seniors Bob Dempsey, Bill Greeley, and Mathias to go out at the Cage. But hopefully, these three still have a lot of Redmen basketball to play before their careers end.

LAYUP LINES - UMass hit 49% of its field goal attempts while the Orangemen only scored on 38%… The win had to boast UMass post-season tournament stock immensely as the Orangemen own wins over Lafayette, La Salle and St. John’s… Mathias, Greeley, and Dempsey all received standing ovations when they left the game… The crowd changed, “NIT, NIT, NIT” for the final minutes of the game.

Hoop Season Lies Ahead
By Earle Barroll, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 24, 1971

The toughest and most crucial stretch of this basketball season ended Monday night with the Redman hoopsters going three for three in four nights. Rhode Island, Maine and Syracuse found the Redmen not to be the same team that went down to defeat at Springfield and had the skeptics wondering if UMass was as good as many had said it was.

A week ago today co-captains Ken Mathias and Julius Erving told a large gathering at the UMass Varsity M Club luncheon of their dejection over the Springfield game and what they and their teammates would do in the remaining six games. Their theme was hard work, their theme was dedication, their theme was to win them all

With half of these games completed the message expressed by these two has become the driving force behind the UMass drive to a post season tournament.

It began Friday night with an improved and more active Redman attack at the expense of the Rhode Island Rams. The next night Maine took it on the chin as the Redmen put together one of their finest efforts in a while. And then came Monday night and Jack Leaman's hoopsters played probably their best game of the year in routing highly touted Syracuse before a wild crowd at the Cage.

Coach Leaman has said during the past couple of weeks, “the season lies ahead for us.” And after this display of basketball over the weekend the season ahead looms bright and rewarding for the Redmen.

* * * *

UMass’ Mike Pagliara has been selected as the Yankee Conference's top backcourt player for his performance last week. The 5’10 junior guard made 21 of 37 field goals, scored 43 points and had 14 assists as UMass rebounded from a 63-62 loss at Springfield to beat Rhode Island, 83-71. and Maine, 85-57, to clinch at least a tie for the YanCon championship.

Named as the top frontcourt and sophomore players were Mike Gregory of New Hampshire and Jim Ducey of Vermont. Gregory, a 6'3 junior forward, hit 20 of 29 field goals and nine of 11 free throws for 49 points as UNH won two of three games.

Ducey, a 6' sophomore guard, sparked a win over Middlebury with 16 points, including eight of 11 free throws, and scored 19 with seven rebounds and three assists in a loss to UConn.

* * * *

The Redmen travel to Madison Square Garden on Saturday for a 1:30 encounter with George Washington University. The Colonels have a season record around the .500 mark against some pretty stiff competition, Walt Szczerbiak is the spark for the Colonels averaging 21.9 points per game and hitting on 60% of his field goal attempts which ranks him near the top in the nation in this category. Tickets for this game are still on sale in the Boyden ticket office.

* * * *

Monday night was a doubly big night for seniors Mathias, Bob Dempsey and Bill Greeley as they were honored before the game for their contributions to Redman basketball during their four years at UMass. This emotional occasion was very fitting for these three popular Redmen who have been part of the UMass rise to prominence in their three varsity seasons.

Mass. Daily Collegian photo

Box Score

Julius Erving goes up for the shot.

Alt. box score source:

game19710222_syracuse.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/25 09:55 by mikeuma