Demons ignore basics in defeat
By Bill Jauss, The Chicago Tribune Staff Writer, January 25, 1993
De Paul's 79-69 loss to Massachusetts here Sunday was a struggle waged on two levels-the obvious and the subtle.
Nothing was more obvious or visible to the largest home crowd in Massachusetts history, 12,097 fans, and to a national TV audience than the one-man-gang performance by Blue Demons 6-foot-5-inch sophomore Tom Kleinschmidt.
Kleinschmidt scored a career-high 32 points, including the basket that tied the game 66-66 with 2:24 to play. The 215-pound forward from Gordon Tech repeatedly drove into the lane, muscled free from defenders and sank 12 of 20 shots. He went 8 for 8 from the foul line. He made three steals. He made five of his team's seven baskets in the final 10 minutes.
“Kleinschmidt was unbelievable,” said De Paul coach Joey Meyer. “He kept us in the game. The way he was playing, I thought we had an excellent chance to win.”
Just as obvious as Kleinschmidt's career day was the tough defense and smart play by 22-point scorer Harper Williams, 19-point scorer Louis Roe and the rest of the Minutemen, who improved their record to 11-4.
Led by 6-foot-7-inch southpaw Williams, player of the year in the Atlantic 10 last year, UMass reached the final 16 of the NCAA tournament in 1992. The Minutemen demonstrated Sunday why they could advance that far again this spring.
On the subtle side, however, Meyer and his Blue Demons, now 9-8 for the season, went home realizing they might have pulled off an upset on the road-against a team ready to crack the national polls-if they had simply executed one of the ABCs of grammar school basketball.
At critical times, De Paul failed to block out Minutemen on the foul line, so Williams or Roe rebounded missed foul shots and put them back for key baskets. Once, the Demons broke a cardinal rule by failing to block out the free throw shooter, and this too donated a basket to the home team.
The game was much closer than the final score indicates. It was 68-67 with 1:53 to play. Roe, who scored 14 points in the final 10 minutes, padded the final count with free throws.
“We kept fighting,” said Meyer. “We were an inch away. We've showed we can play with anybody.”
De Paul led 64-63 when its failure to block out on the foul line produced the three-point play that gave UMass the impetus to pull away.
Dana Dingle tied the game 64-64 with the front end of a one-and-one. He missed the bonus shot, but Williams clutched the ball and rebounded it for a 66-64 lead.
“Missed free throw. Missed jump shot. Same thing.” said Meyer. “We just didn't get the defensive rebound when it counted.”
De Paul's Kris Hill, who matched his average with a team-leading 11 rebounds, took the blame for not rebounding better on missed free throws.
“They pushed me and (freshman Brian) Currie in the back,” said Hill, “but you have to expect that. Getting those rebounds should be automatic. I take the blame.”
Rather than “blaming” anybody, UMass coach John Calipari credited his players, particularly Williams and Roe, for scoring nine points on putbacks of missed free throws and totaling 17 offensive rebounds.
“There's nothing designed in it,” said Calipari. “That's all effort. Harper Williams and Louis Roe were very active. We need that kind of effort. I've told them it's not the skill level, the athleticism that matters. It's the warrior, the competitor, the fight in you that counts.”
With 1:53 to play, Williams fouled out with UMass ahead 68-66. Kleinschmidt called his teammates around him on the floor and shouted instructions above the din of the crowd.
“I told them that, with Williams out, we'd have a better chance to go inside,” said Kleinschmidt. “So I tried to penetrate and pass off the ball.”
Everything worked except the shots. De Paul's inside men missed converting Kleinschmidt's passes, while Roe was drawing fouls, sinking free throws and putting the game out of reach at the other end of the floor.
With 11 points, Hill was the only other Blue Demon in double figures.