Reservations grow over seeding of Minutemen in NCAAs
By Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe Staff, 3/11/1992
Brendan Raftery and Associated Press contributed to this report.
If you are a UMass basketball fan and hope to see the Minutemen in next week's first- and second-round NCAA tournament East Regional games in Worcester, don't make your reservations yet.
The fate of the Minutemen, who play West Virginia tomorrow night in the Atlantic 10 tournament final, rests in the seedings.
If you take Duke, as the No. 1 seed in the East, and put it in the other East subregional in Greensboro, N.C., then the No. 2, 3 and 6 seeds will be in Worcester.
Barring major upsets in this weekend's conference tournaments, the Minutemen do not figure to merit a No. 3 seed. But they could be either No. 4 or No. 5, which would put them in Greensboro, not Worcester.
One of the criteria used to determine seeds is computer power ratings. The two ratings looked at last week by the NCAA listed UMass ninth and 16th.
If UMass beats West Virginia, an argument could be made to seed it as high as third, but that would take talented teams such as Ohio State, USC, Kentucky and Arizona to all lose over the next few days.
While the tournament committee says it will try to keep teams in their own geographic regions, it was referring to the region as a whole, rather than a subregional site.
UMass could be placed in Greensboro and still wind up in the East Regional semifinals in Philadelphia, which would be in their geographic region.
A TOUGH TICKET
Tickets for the Atlantic 10 final went on sale at 8:30 a.m. yesterday and were sold out by 10 a.m.
According to Pam Cherofsky in the UMass ticket office, students began lining about 8:30 Monday night, during halftime of the UMass-URI semifinal game.
“It was crazy, the police were out there, people had sleeping bags and futons, everyone had fun,” said Cherofsky, who added that the scene was peaceful, with no arrests made.
Cherofsky said approximately 4,000 to 5,000 people were in line by the time the windows opened.
It won't be a secret meeting
Familiar rivals UMass, W. Virginia square off in Atlantic 10
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 3/12/1992
Any major concerns with strategy or personnel would be meaningless at this point. The University of Massachusetts and West Virginia play each other at least twice per season, know each other's strengths and weaknesses and know that it's too late to implement a new defense or trick play.
When the teams meet in the Atlantic 10 tournament final tonight at 9 at Curry Hicks Cage, the primary factor deciding who will walk away with the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament will likely be which team comes most prepared to play.
Other factors have been secondary this year. UMass coach John Calipari talks about West Virginia's size on the front line, but that didn't keep the Minutemen from claiming a 74-69 overtime win at Morgantown Feb. 27. West Virginia coach Gale Catlett talks about UMass' experienced starting lineup (three seniors, two juniors), but his team did what no other Atlantic 10 club has done all season – beat UMass at the Cage (76-75 Jan. 8).
The teams have shown they are deep. Tonight West Virginia will be without sophomore guard Marsalis Basey (left arm), who spearheaded the effort at the Cage with 8 points, 8 assists and 3 steals.
“But his replacement, Mike Boyd, is like a Rod Foster clone,” said Calipari. “It's tough to do things like pressing them because he's so quick he'll go right by you.”
UMass forward Tony Barbee has been suffering from a flu-like virus and was confined to his bed until yesterday. He is expected to play.
Catlett figures UMass is so deep that any shuffling can be easily done without the Minutemen losing much. “Reserve forward Lou Roe is good enough to start for other teams,” said Catlett. “As is reserve guard Mike Williams.”
Thus, both coaches know the key is to get their teams focused. Catlett said he doesn't figure there will be much of a problem in that department. “I don't think you will have a tough time getting these teams to realize what they're playing for,” said the Mountaineer coach, whose 20-10 team needs a win to impress the NCAA selection committee more than UMass, which at 27-4 (ranked 22d in the nation) figures to be a lock for the big dance. Catlett added that his main concern is that his team has just one senior and, since West Virginia hasn't made the conference final since 1987, it will be a new experience.
UMass made the final two years ago, when many of the Minutemen were sophomores and freshmen. But Calipari already is concerned with motivating his team, which struggled against Rhode Island in the semifinals. When Calipari motivates his team well, it appears capable of playing against just about anyone, as Oklahoma (which lost to UMass, 76-63) and Iowa State (which lost, 73-53) found out this season. When the team doesn't get motivated, the players spend the night struggling and the coach spends the night practically losing his voice from screaming.
“We're going to have to try to play with more emotion,” said Calipari. “I looked at West Virginia after they beat Temple 44-41 in the other semifinal, and they were hugging each other, jumping all over the floor. After our game, the first thing the players asked me was, 'Where can we get something to eat?'
“We're going to have to play with more passion. In the first tournament game (a 106-94 win over Rutgers), I thought that we played with emotion, but it was because some of my players were upset with who received awards at the awards banquet the night before. Now we need something else to motivate us.”
From the UMass Basketball 1992-93 Media Guide, published by UMass Athletics
The Minutemen raced to a 34-9 advantage, hitting 14 of their first 20 shots in the first 12 minutes, and brought UM its first Atlantic 10 title, an automatic NCAA tournament berth and 12th-straight win in front of a nationally televised ESPN audience. This was the 21st straight UM home game against Division I competition that would be sold out.
Harper Williams, who was named the tournament's MVP after being named the 1991-92 Player-of-the-Year, scored a team-high 18 points to lead five UMass players in double figures for the 11th time this season. Lou Roe, who joined Williams, Anton Brown and Jim McCoy on the All-Tournament team, had a career-high 17 points including 12 in what Coach John Calipari termed the “best first half of basketball we have played all season.” Roe led UMass with ten rebounds, six offensive.
The Minutemen shot 60 percent from the field in the first half en route to a 52-28 halftime advantage. West Virginia never came closer than 15 until the final two minutes.
UMass roars by W. Virginia into NCAA Tourney
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 3/13/1992
AMHERST – The past seems so distant now. Two wins in 1980? Three in 1981? Home crowds small enough to fit in the back seat of a Honda Civic? Conference opponents whose mouths watered when they came to town? The present state of the University of Massachusetts basketball program seems so far removed from those years – and the future may make them ancient.
UMass continues to reach milestones in the greatest season in school history, each time making more people take notice. Last night the top-seeded Minutemen jumped out to a 26-point first-half lead, then held off a late West Virginia rally to defeat the third-seeded Mountaineers, 97-91, for the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament championship. The win raised the 22d-ranked Minutemen's record to 28-4 and gives them an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The basketball program continues to shed its claim to fame as the school that produced Dr. J but little else.
“We're excited about the bid, but we knew three games ago that we were going to the tournament,” said UMass coach John Calipari. “Right now it's a matter of seedings, where do we go and who do we play.”
“They've done a great job all year long, and I think they'll do very well in the NCAA tournament,” said West Virginia coach Gale Catlett, whose team slipped to 20-11 but will more than likely earn an NCAA bid as well.
UMass junior center Harper Williams, who was named tournament most valuable player, led five double-figure scorers with 18 points as the Minutemen shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half en route to a 52-28 halftime lead. The Atlantic 10 player of the year scored 7 points, spurring the Minutemen to a 9-2 lead.
The home crowd had gotten into the game with UMass' opening surge. But things really got noisy when forward Jim McCoy blocked a jumper by WVU sharpshooter Chris Leonard seconds later. It was just one of many possessions on which West Virginia came away empty; poor shooting was the major culprit.
UMass, meanwhile, continued its blazing start. The Minutemen outscored WVU, 14-1, to take a 23-5 lead with 12:27 left in the half. West Virginia scored on a turnaround jumper by Pervires Greene with 11:59 left to break a five-minute drought.
“In the first five, we acted as if we were half a step behind,” said Catlett. “In the second five, we were a step behind, and it just went downhill from there. When we played here in the regular season, we were down, 19-10, but we came back to lead at halftime, and in the second half, we dictated the tempo. This game we couldn't do that.”
UMass kept mounting surges, its next an 11-4 run that raised the lead to 34-9 with 8:51 left in the half. West Virginia cut it to 34-16 but could never stage a serious threat. With 1:20 left, Anton Brown hit a 3-point basket, giving the Minutemen a 48-22 lead.
“The first half was as good as we've played all year,” said Calipari. “I know there were some coaches who tuned in the first half and said, 'Oh no, I don't want to play them in the tournament.' But if they tuned in the second half, they said, 'Oh yes, I'd like to play them.' ”
That's because West Virginia staged a dramatic comeback to make the game interesting. UMass led, 79-59, with 7:08 left before West Virginia (which shot 38 percent from the floor in the first half) began to hit shots that would not fall before intermission. The lead was cut to 90-79 with 1:26 left and 90-81 with 1:10 to go. But UMass hit seven of eight free throws in the last minute to seal the victory.
|Fast break points||31|
|Points off turnovers||15|
|Second chance points||13|
|Points in the paint||54|
|Fast break points||22|
|Points off turnovers||19|
|Second chance points||10|
|Points in the paint||46|
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||OT1||OT2||OT3||Final|
|Officials||Gerry Donoghy, Art McDonald, Murph Shapiro|