Men’s hoop opens season with 84-61 win
Minutemen top Southern Conn. With 18-point second half run
By Jim Clark, Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, 11/28/1988
Throw out all those early entries. Saturday night’s men’s basketball game at the Curry Hicks Cage was the season opener that really mattered.
And the University of Massachusetts, despite a sluggish start, rebounded to roll to an 84-61 win over Division II Southern Connecticut State University.
The game was the official start of the 1988-89 season for the Minutemen, and the official debut for first-year head coach John Calipari. All scrimmage and exhibition games aside, this was the one that will go down in the books, as UMass starts the year on a bright note with a 1-0 record. Southern Connecticut falls to 0-2.
In the end, it was a total team effort that did the trick. The Minutemen got solid contributions from seniors David ‘Beetle’ Brown, who led the team with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Duane Chase, who tossed in 13 points and nine caroms with a trio of the crowd-pleasing slams that have come to be expected of him.
“Duane played hard. The kind of effort he showed was good,” Calipari said.
Then, there were the freshmen. In what may be an unprecedented move in these parts, Calipari went with rookies Jim McCoy and Anton Brown as his starting backcourt. The two didn’t let anyone down, as Brown dropped in 17 points and McCoy added 13. Each had a pair of assists and Brown had four steals.
“Jimmy McCoy can play, and Anton Brown can play,” Calipari said. “They’ll be [starting] until someone else proves that they deserve it.”
So far, there have been no arguments that the freshmen deserve the honor. Brown had a particularly strong game from the point, and McCoy showed the flair to nail the jumper and drive to the hoop.
“Anton did a very good job. We needed stability [at point guard] and we were hoping for an upperclassman, but he’s worked hard,” Calipari said.
It could have easily been a lot worse for UMass, though. The visiting Owls came in undaunted and held their own against the Minutemen, battling to a 33-all deadlock at the half.
“I was disappointed in [the Minutemen]. I was a little embarrassed with what happened,” Calipari said. “They started off a little bit afraid.”
But the Minutemen dispelled any thoughts among the 1,100 on hand of a major upset, by running off the first 18 points of the second half over a span of just 4:23.
McCoy started the spurt with a drive to the hoop for a three-point play and then a rebound follow from the baseline. Next he set up Chase with a patented alley-oop dunk and Beetle for a fast break gimme.
Then Anton converted his own steal for an easy two and then nailed a three-pointer to put UMass up by 14, 47-33.
Some more hustle from Anton created another steal, as the Minutemen were scrapping and pressing the Owls all over the floor. He then fed McCoy for a heavy-duty dunk before finishing off the spurt with a coast-to-coast run through the lane.
From that point on, it was just a matter of putting the Owls to bed. Southern Connecticut never got closer than 16 the rest of the way. The lead grew to as much as 30 with 3:36 to play on Beetle’s 10-foot kiss off the glass.
The Minutemen went much of the second half with a three-guard offense, with redshirt freshman Ishmael Butler filling the third spot for the most part. In his first collegiate game, the walk-on from Seattle scored six points.
“Maybe our best team is with three guards,” Calipari said. “He [Butler] has been great. He’s been on the third team all year, but when we went to the small lineup, we put him in. He’s been working hard, so I played him.”
Calipari would take no credit for what had transpired in the early goings of the half. He said that it was all a matter of the team getting itself in the right frame of mind to hammer the Owls all the way back to New Haven.
“They made the effort in the second half. They played harder and I’m proud of them,” Calipari said. “We’re just looking for effort. There were no changes and we didn’t do anything fancy. They knew that if they picked it up a little, they could win. They’ve got to have that inner drive.
“In the first half it didn’t seem like we had it. In the second half, all five players came out and played hard,” he said. “We didn’t come to play. We have to start the game the way we started the second half.”
The Minutemen simply didn’t have it together in the early going. Despite a tremendous height disadvantage, the Owls were holding their own on the boards, and the backcourt play of brothers Mike and Angelo Parenti was creating good penetration.
UMass knocked home the first four points on a pull up jumper by Anton and a jumper by Chase, before the Owls, behind game-high scorer Rick Radicioni (24 points, 12 rebounds) came back to take a 5-4 edge. The Minutemen moved back ahead at 10-7 on Anton’s baseline drive.
With 13:53 left and Aaron Martin preparing to go to the line for SC, the scoreboard above center court began to smoke. It wasn’t because the teams were lighting it up. They weren’t. It was later attributed to a motor which had burned up inside.
After some deliberation, the board was lowered to the floor and disconnected, and play resumed 26 minutes later with the time and score being kept on the sidelines. But what a way to ice down a free throw shooter.
After that break, UMass twice had leads of nine points before the Owls fought back to force a tie at the half.
“At halftime I went out to my car and I was going to drive home. One of the assistants had to come out and get me,” Calipari joked.
After the second half showing, Calipari was glad he stuck around.
Format: Field Goals Made, FTM-FTA, Total Points
Massachusetts (84): David Brown 8 2-2 18; Duane Chase 6 1-3 13; Ben Grodski 0 2-4 2; Anton Brown 7 1-1 17; Jim McCoy 6 1-1 13; Rafer Giles 2 1-1 6; John Tate 3 0-0 6; Chris Bailey 0 0-0 0; Cary Herer 0 0-0 0; Matt Anderson 1 1-2 3; Sean Nelen 0 0-0 0; Michael Byrnes 0 0-0 0; Ishmael Butler 2 1-2 6. Team Totals: 35 10-16 84.
Southern Connecticut (61): Aaron Martin 3 1-4 7; Rich Radicioni 10 4-6 24; Greg Johnson 0 0-2 0; Mike Parenti 0 2-2 2; Angelo Parenti 3 4-8 12; Matt D'Amico 0 2-2 2; Phil Valentin 0 0-0 0; John New 0 0-2 0; Joe De Crescenzo 0 0-0 0; Wayne Mackey 2 0-0 4; Ryan Richard 2 0-0 4; Wilson Boyce 2 0-0 4; John Mik 1 0-1 2. Team Totals: 23 13-27 61.
Three-point goals: A. Brown 2, A. Parenti 2, Giles, Butler.