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game19930129_sw_louisiana [2017/10/03 22:18]
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game19930129_sw_louisiana [2018/01/29 17:02] (current)
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 AMHERST -- It was 3 o'​clock in the afternoon. Cold as hell. 1978. Piles of snow had caked to ice on the grounds of the University of Massachusetts. AMHERST -- It was 3 o'​clock in the afternoon. Cold as hell. 1978. Piles of snow had caked to ice on the grounds of the University of Massachusetts.
  
-The kid, a freshman, sat bundled in a lounge chair outside Curry Hicks Cage. A cooler of Falstaff ($4.99 a case) was at arm's length, a copy of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" on top.+The kid, a freshman, sat bundled in a lounge chair outside ​[[curry_hicks_cage|Curry Hicks Cage]]. A cooler of Falstaff ($4.99 a case) was at arm's length, a copy of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" on top.
  
 The kid's professor was walking by, on the way to class, when he spied his student. The kid's professor was walking by, on the way to class, when he spied his student.
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 And it had basketball. Oh, how it had basketball. For the most part, it had small-time, New England basketball, where tall, gangly centers who hadn't caught up to their height and small, slow guards provided a brief respite from frosty nights. And it had basketball. Oh, how it had basketball. For the most part, it had small-time, New England basketball, where tall, gangly centers who hadn't caught up to their height and small, slow guards provided a brief respite from frosty nights.
  
-But it was touched by greatness, too. Dr. J learned how to fly in The Cage. And it earned a reputation as one of the most difficult places for teams to visit.+But it was touched by greatness, too. [[erving_julius|Dr. J]] learned how to fly in The Cage. And it earned a reputation as one of the most difficult places for teams to visit.
  
 Besides the dead spots, which always seemed to produce bounces that went UMass' way, The Cage had fans. Nutty fans. Loud fans. Completely wacky, mostly student, fans. Besides the dead spots, which always seemed to produce bounces that went UMass' way, The Cage had fans. Nutty fans. Loud fans. Completely wacky, mostly student, fans.
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 In 1985, a renovated Cage opened. It remained small, but it was spiffed up so that it became but a shadow of its former dumpy self. Once almost the unchallenged domain of students, The Cage started attracting a cross-section of the region. In 1985, a renovated Cage opened. It remained small, but it was spiffed up so that it became but a shadow of its former dumpy self. Once almost the unchallenged domain of students, The Cage started attracting a cross-section of the region.
  
-Over the last few years, with one of the best young coaches in the country, John Calipari, UMass has become a national program. The team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen last season. Last Sunday, at the Centrum in Worcester, halfway between its campus and where most of its alumni live, UMass drew more than 12,000 people, its biggest regular-season crowd ever.+Over the last few years, with one of the best young coaches in the country, ​[[calipari_john|John Calipari]], UMass has become a national program. The team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen last season. Last Sunday, at the Centrum in Worcester, halfway between its campus and where most of its alumni live, UMass drew more than 12,000 people, its biggest regular-season crowd ever.
  
-And so UMass has outgrown The Cage. After tomorrow'​s game against Southwestern Louisiana, UMass will move down the hill to a shiny new arena that will seat 9,493. It will have more than double The Cage's capacity. It will have none of its character or history. It won't have a dirt floor. It won't have squirrels.+And so UMass has outgrown The Cage. After tomorrow'​s game against ​[[opponent_sw_louisiana|Southwestern Louisiana]], UMass will move down the hill to a [[mullins_center|shiny new arena]] that will seat 9,493. It will have more than double The Cage's capacity. It will have none of its character or history. It won't have a dirt floor. It won't have squirrels.
  
 And this they call progress. And this they call progress.
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 The Cage was dark for two seasons. Because of World War II, UMass didn't play in 1944 or 1945. Perhaps because so many of the young men who in peacetime would have gone to UMass never came back from war, the basketball team didn't have a .500 record for nine years. Former Massachusetts House Speaker David M. Bartley was a guard on those teams of the mid-'​50s that turned it around, "the last white midget on scholarship,"​ as he puts it. The Cage was dark for two seasons. Because of World War II, UMass didn't play in 1944 or 1945. Perhaps because so many of the young men who in peacetime would have gone to UMass never came back from war, the basketball team didn't have a .500 record for nine years. Former Massachusetts House Speaker David M. Bartley was a guard on those teams of the mid-'​50s that turned it around, "the last white midget on scholarship,"​ as he puts it.
  
-"I don't think we lost more than two or three times at The Cage during my years,"​ says Bartley, now president of Holyoke Community College. "UMass was a Division 2 program those days. We played teams like Amherst, Williams, Harvard."​+"I don't think we lost more than two or three times at The Cage during my years,"​ says Bartley, now president of Holyoke Community College. "UMass was a Division 2 program those days. We played teams like [[opponent_amherst_college|Amherst]], Williams, ​[[opponent_harvard|Harvard]]."
  
 The games were hard-fought,​ but they were just games. Afterward, there were receptions on the hardwood floor. No one was told to take off his shoes. Bartley remembers the team was held in especially high esteem because its grade-point average was higher than the school'​s median. The games were hard-fought,​ but they were just games. Afterward, there were receptions on the hardwood floor. No one was told to take off his shoes. Bartley remembers the team was held in especially high esteem because its grade-point average was higher than the school'​s median.
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 The J years were the wildest. Kids started lining up early in the afternoon. In the dead of winter, the dining commons delivered "​survival lunches"​ to the hearty souls who braved the elements. The J years were the wildest. Kids started lining up early in the afternoon. In the dead of winter, the dining commons delivered "​survival lunches"​ to the hearty souls who braved the elements.
  
-Erving'​s coach, Jack Leaman, is understandably partial to The Cage. Between 1966 and 1979, Leaman compiled a 99-29 record there, a .773 winning percentage.+Erving'​s coach, ​[[leaman_jack|Jack Leaman]], is understandably partial to The Cage. Between 1966 and 1979, Leaman compiled a 99-29 record there, a .773 winning percentage.
  
-Leaman'​s favorite Cage story is the one about when UMass played Boston College in 1975 for the unofficial New England championship. There was snow on the glass roof, and when some 5,000 people jammed in for the biggest game in decades, the body heat rose to the rafters and melted the snow.+Leaman'​s favorite Cage story is the one about when UMass played ​[[opponent_boston_college|Boston College]] in 1975 for the unofficial New England championship. There was snow on the glass roof, and when some 5,000 people jammed in for the biggest game in decades, the body heat rose to the rafters and melted the snow.
  
 "The condensation caused a cloud to form and it literally rained on the floor,"​ says Leaman. "The condensation caused a cloud to form and it literally rained on the floor,"​ says Leaman.
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 Davis is too hard on himself, because there was something romantic about The Cage. At its peak, The Cage was a temple to the essence of college basketball, and it was the physical embodiment of UMass. Small, dirty, gritty, in-yo'​-face attitude. And never was there more attitude on the floor than when Alex Eldridge played the point. Davis is too hard on himself, because there was something romantic about The Cage. At its peak, The Cage was a temple to the essence of college basketball, and it was the physical embodiment of UMass. Small, dirty, gritty, in-yo'​-face attitude. And never was there more attitude on the floor than when Alex Eldridge played the point.
  
-"​Yo,"​ Eldridge said in 1978, peeling his socks off after UMass had defeated Villanova in The Cage. "You know what I like about this here place? We kick some ass."+"​Yo,"​ Eldridge said in 1978, peeling his socks off after UMass had defeated ​[[opponent_villanova|Villanova]] in The Cage. "You know what I like about this here place? We kick some ass."
  
 He slapped hands with Derick Claiborne. Parliament funk was blasting from a boom box nearby. At no time did UMass have a backcourt that epitomized The Cage as when Eldridge and Claiborne played guard in the mid-1970s. He slapped hands with Derick Claiborne. Parliament funk was blasting from a boom box nearby. At no time did UMass have a backcourt that epitomized The Cage as when Eldridge and Claiborne played guard in the mid-1970s.
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 A young coach, so hyper he resembled a Cage fan in a suit, turned things around. His name is John Calipari. A young coach, so hyper he resembled a Cage fan in a suit, turned things around. His name is John Calipari.
  
-It is ironic that Calipari came to UMass from Pittsburgh, and that two players who best exemplified the change at UMass came along with him. A decade ago, when UMass was at its lowest, one of the players of dubious character who had been recruited from Pittsburgh ran up outrageous long-distance bills calling his girlfriend back home on the basketball office'​s phone.+It is ironic that Calipari came to UMass from [[opponent_pittsburgh|Pittsburgh]], and that two players who best exemplified the change at UMass came along with him. A decade ago, when UMass was at its lowest, one of the players of dubious character who had been recruited from Pittsburgh ran up outrageous long-distance bills calling his girlfriend back home on the basketball office'​s phone.
  
-Calipari'​s Pittsburgh kids, however, were Jim McCoy and Will Herndon. McCoy could score. He lit it up, becoming the school'​s all-time scoring leader. Herndon, jumping center at 6 feet 3 inches, had the best vertical leap in the country. He jammed to the mutha.+Calipari'​s Pittsburgh kids, however, were [[mccoy_jim|Jim McCoy]] and Will Herndon. McCoy could score. He lit it up, becoming the school'​s all-time scoring leader. Herndon, jumping center at 6 feet 3 inches, had the best vertical leap in the country. He jammed to the mutha.
  
 They started slowly. In 1989, they finished 10-18. The next year, Calipari delivered the first team better than .500 (17-14) since 1978 -- the year Alex Eldridge last played for UMass. They started slowly. In 1989, they finished 10-18. The next year, Calipari delivered the first team better than .500 (17-14) since 1978 -- the year Alex Eldridge last played for UMass.
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 "I knew if I could get them in the building, they'd see the college atmosphere. The Cage is what it's all about,"​ he says. "I knew if I could get them in the building, they'd see the college atmosphere. The Cage is what it's all about,"​ he says.
  
-ESPN came to The Cage and was born again. As was the UMass program. At the end of 1991, UMass had won 20 games for the first time in 14 years and anything seemed possible. Calipari and the boys then produced a season in which only they and Duke won 30 games, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. It took Kentucky, a team coached by a guy named Rick Pitino who learned how to win as a player in a dump called The Cage, to end a Cinderella season.+ESPN came to The Cage and was born again. As was the UMass program. At the end of 1991, UMass had won 20 games for the first time in 14 years and anything seemed possible. Calipari and the boys then produced a season in which only they and [[opponent_duke|Duke]] won 30 games, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. It took [[opponent_kentucky|Kentucky]], a team coached by a guy named [[pitino_rick|Rick Pitino]] who learned how to win as a player in a dump called The Cage, to [[game19920326_kentucky|end a Cinderella season]].
  
 And now The Cage is Cinderella. The last game is tomorrow, at 1 minute to midnight, after which The Cage turns into a pumpkin. And now The Cage is Cinderella. The last game is tomorrow, at 1 minute to midnight, after which The Cage turns into a pumpkin.
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 The "​new"​ Cage is weird. The lighting is far too good. There are people hawking stuff -- programs, shirts, souvenirs. To the purist, they resemble moneychangers in the temple. The "​new"​ Cage is weird. The lighting is far too good. There are people hawking stuff -- programs, shirts, souvenirs. To the purist, they resemble moneychangers in the temple.
  
-There is even a mascot now. A Minuteman. Or at least a Minuteman who looks like a character in the Miss Peach cartoon strip. His head is gigantic. The Minuteman would not have lasted five minutes in the old Cage. He would have been tackled and pummeled, chopped up like so much confetti, the more to shower upon those dreaded, wicked, white-legged Catamounts from UVM.+There is even a mascot now. A Minuteman. Or at least a Minuteman who looks like a character in the Miss Peach cartoon strip. His head is gigantic. The Minuteman would not have lasted five minutes in the old Cage. He would have been tackled and pummeled, chopped up like so much confetti, the more to shower upon those dreaded, wicked, white-legged Catamounts from [[opponent_vermont|UVM]].
  
 The mascot, however, is safe these days. He will move down the hill, to the new facility named after William D. Mullins, a deceased state representative from Ludlow. Mullins had always believed that one way his beloved UMass could get a better shake out of the skinflints on Beacon Hill was to have a first- class athletic facility. Build it, Mullins said, and they will come. The mascot, however, is safe these days. He will move down the hill, to the new facility named after William D. Mullins, a deceased state representative from Ludlow. Mullins had always believed that one way his beloved UMass could get a better shake out of the skinflints on Beacon Hill was to have a first- class athletic facility. Build it, Mullins said, and they will come.
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 Bob Price, the Methodist minister who has served as official scorer for the last six years and sits directly in front of the foul-mouthed hecklers, forgives them their trespasses. Bob Price, the Methodist minister who has served as official scorer for the last six years and sits directly in front of the foul-mouthed hecklers, forgives them their trespasses.
  
-At the next-to-last Cage game, after UMass had missed 11 of its first 14 free throws before beating Temple with a buzzer-beater,​ Price admits he said something un-Christian. Under his breath, of course. Something about the place, Price explained, that makes people emotional.+At the next-to-last Cage game, after UMass had missed 11 of its first 14 free throws before beating ​[[opponent_temple|Temple]] with a buzzer-beater,​ Price admits he said something un-Christian. Under his breath, of course. Something about the place, Price explained, that makes people emotional.
  
 Jack Leaman expects to be emotional tomorrow night. He's all in favor of the new arena. But his heart is torn. Jack Leaman expects to be emotional tomorrow night. He's all in favor of the new arena. But his heart is torn.
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 McGuirk worked hard to make Notre Dame East a reality, but the school'​s financial woes sidetracked him before any cement could be poured -- and what began as a promising vision soon became a running gag. McGuirk worked hard to make Notre Dame East a reality, but the school'​s financial woes sidetracked him before any cement could be poured -- and what began as a promising vision soon became a running gag.
  
-"After I left the school, they hired Jack Leaman to coach, and every three months or so, I would call him and say, 'They build the arena yet?' " recalled Orr yesterday. "He would laugh so hard. Then they hired another guy Ray Wilson, and I asked him if they showed him the plans, and he said, 'Yeah, they'​re going to build a new facility,'​ and I'd say, '​Expletive.'​+"After I left the school, they hired [[leaman_jack|Jack Leaman]] to coach, and every three months or so, I would call him and say, 'They build the arena yet?' " recalled Orr yesterday. "He would laugh so hard. Then they hired another guy Ray Wilson, and I asked him if they showed him the plans, and he said, 'Yeah, they'​re going to build a new facility,'​ and I'd say, '​Expletive.'​
  
-"When they hired current coach John Calipari, I called him and asked had he seen the model, and he told me that they were going to build it, and I told him, '​Don'​t be so sure.' "+"When they hired current coach [[calipari_john|John Calipari]], I called him and asked had he seen the model, and he told me that they were going to build it, and I told him, '​Don'​t be so sure.' "
  
-Now, some three decades later, UMass has stopped gagging. The school will unveil its $51 million, state-of-the art William D. Mullins Memorial Center to the public Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The facility, replacing Curry Hicks Cage, will officially become the home of the Minutemen basketball team next Thursday night, when UMass hosts West Virginia.+Now, some three decades later, UMass has stopped gagging. The school will unveil its $51 million, state-of-the art [[mullins_center|William D. Mullins Memorial Center]] to the public Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The facility, replacing Curry Hicks Cage, will officially become the home of the Minutemen basketball team next Thursday night, when UMass hosts [[opponent_west_virginia|West Virginia]].
  
 The center consists of an arena, an Olympic-size hockey facility and a plaza that links the two. It is expected to seat 9,493 for basketball, 8,389 for hockey (also Olympic-size),​ 10,413 for center stage concerts, 9,121 for gymnastics and 10,177 for commencement. The arena also can be converted into a full fine arts theater with a 30-foot by 60-foot stage. The center consists of an arena, an Olympic-size hockey facility and a plaza that links the two. It is expected to seat 9,493 for basketball, 8,389 for hockey (also Olympic-size),​ 10,413 for center stage concerts, 9,121 for gymnastics and 10,177 for commencement. The arena also can be converted into a full fine arts theater with a 30-foot by 60-foot stage.
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 Just when University of Massachusetts men's basketball has reached limelight status, in part because of noisy, rowdy fans at its tiny arena, the school has decided it needs more space. So last night the 60-year-old Cage joined the long list of state employees who have reluctantly accepted early retirement. Just when University of Massachusetts men's basketball has reached limelight status, in part because of noisy, rowdy fans at its tiny arena, the school has decided it needs more space. So last night the 60-year-old Cage joined the long list of state employees who have reluctantly accepted early retirement.
  
-A sellout crowd of 4,028 was on hand for the farewell party, which included a game at midnight televised by ESPN. UMass entertained Southwestern Louisiana (nicknamed the Ragin' Cajuns, get it?) in the finale. The Minutemen will move down the street to Mullins Memorial Center Thursday.+A sellout crowd of 4,028 was on hand for the farewell party, which included a game at midnight televised by ESPN. UMass entertained ​[[opponent_sw_louisiana|Southwestern Louisiana]] (nicknamed the Ragin' Cajuns, get it?) in the finale. The Minutemen will move down the street to [[mullins_center|Mullins Memorial Center]] Thursday.
  
 Folks in these parts knew very little about Southwestern Louisiana prior to the game. The Ragin' Cajuns (11-8) showed they were a competitive,​ scrappy bunch, but not scrappy enough. The game was close throughout the first half, but the Minutemen (12-4) then took charge, jumping out to a 15-point lead with 9:36 left on the way to an 84-74 win. Folks in these parts knew very little about Southwestern Louisiana prior to the game. The Ragin' Cajuns (11-8) showed they were a competitive,​ scrappy bunch, but not scrappy enough. The game was close throughout the first half, but the Minutemen (12-4) then took charge, jumping out to a 15-point lead with 9:36 left on the way to an 84-74 win.
  
-With three seconds left, UMass coach John Calipari called timeout and both teams headed for the locker room. Calipari warned the fans not to vandalize The Cage. "We still have to practice here. The Cage will always be here," he said. "​You'​re the greatest fans in the world. Don't mess the building up."+With three seconds left, UMass coach [[calipari_john|John Calipari]] called timeout and both teams headed for the locker room. Calipari warned the fans not to vandalize The Cage. "We still have to practice here. The Cage will always be here," he said. "​You'​re the greatest fans in the world. Don't mess the building up."
  
 Just prior to fan admittance, security and police were warned of rumors that some persons had planned to enter with crowbars, screwdrivers and other tools, planning to take a piece of The Cage with them for souvenirs. There were even security personnel placed in bathrooms. One shirtless student was thrown out about 90 minutes before the game after refusing to stay off the court. At halftime, captains of all UMass teams that played in either the NCAA or National Invitation Tournament were recognized. Just prior to fan admittance, security and police were warned of rumors that some persons had planned to enter with crowbars, screwdrivers and other tools, planning to take a piece of The Cage with them for souvenirs. There were even security personnel placed in bathrooms. One shirtless student was thrown out about 90 minutes before the game after refusing to stay off the court. At halftime, captains of all UMass teams that played in either the NCAA or National Invitation Tournament were recognized.
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 By Joe Burris, [[http://​www.boston.com/​globe|Boston Globe]] Staff, 1/31/1993 By Joe Burris, [[http://​www.boston.com/​globe|Boston Globe]] Staff, 1/31/1993
  
-AMHERST -- John Calipari could hardly take his eyes off the stat sheet early yesterday morning. The reporters wanted the University of Massachusetts coach to deliver some memorable parting words about the last men's basketball game at Curry Hicks Cage. All Coach Cal could do was read from the paper in his hand.+AMHERST -- [[calipari_john|John Calipari]] could hardly take his eyes off the stat sheet early yesterday morning. The reporters wanted the University of Massachusetts coach to deliver some memorable parting words about the last men's basketball game at [[curry_hicks_cage|Curry Hicks Cage]]. All Coach Cal could do was read from the paper in his hand.
  
 "Hey, what about Harper Williams tonight?"​ said Calipari. "​He'​s a warrior -- 23 points. He sat out nine games with a broken hand, and he's come back with more passion than he had prior to the injury."​ "Hey, what about Harper Williams tonight?"​ said Calipari. "​He'​s a warrior -- 23 points. He sat out nine games with a broken hand, and he's come back with more passion than he had prior to the injury."​
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 Sure, coach. But how about the last game at The Cage? Sure, coach. But how about the last game at The Cage?
  
-"​We'​ll miss it. Hey, Derek Kellogg, he had a great game for us, didn't he? Look at this -- 6 assists and not a single turnover."​+"​We'​ll miss it. Hey, [[kellogg_derek|Derek Kellogg]], he had a great game for us, didn't he? Look at this -- 6 assists and not a single turnover."​
  
 Yeah, not a single turnover. Now can we turn this into a Cage discussion? Yeah, not a single turnover. Now can we turn this into a Cage discussion?
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 "Great game, the fans were great tonight. Hey, Tony Barbee -- just 8 points, but 5 assists. He took just four shots. He played unselfishly for us." "Great game, the fans were great tonight. Hey, Tony Barbee -- just 8 points, but 5 assists. He took just four shots. He played unselfishly for us."
  
-Coach Cal didn't purposely avoid Cage conversation. He was simply aware that the event could easily have been one of the most memorable losses in Cage history. As Southwestern Louisiana staged layup drills prior to the game, which began at midnight Friday, the partisan crowd chanted, "​Goodbye,"​ and ''​It'​s all over." But when the game began, it became apparent that it would be a while before the fans chanted that again.+Coach Cal didn't purposely avoid Cage conversation. He was simply aware that the event could easily have been one of the most memorable losses in Cage history. As [[opponent_sw_louisiana|Southwestern Louisiana]] staged layup drills prior to the game, which began at midnight Friday, the partisan crowd chanted, "​Goodbye,"​ and ''​It'​s all over." But when the game began, it became apparent that it would be a while before the fans chanted that again.
  
 When most schools celebrate the opening or closing of an arena, they usually host a creampuff team to assure themselves of a crowd-pleasing victory. But the Ragin' Cajuns showed they were no St. Leo, silencing the boisterous gathering with clutch shots throughout the first half. When most schools celebrate the opening or closing of an arena, they usually host a creampuff team to assure themselves of a crowd-pleasing victory. But the Ragin' Cajuns showed they were no St. Leo, silencing the boisterous gathering with clutch shots throughout the first half.
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 "We couldn'​t worry about that," he said. "​You'​re talking about a wide- open team in Southwestern Louisiana. If you don't go into that game ready to play, you're going to get beat." "We couldn'​t worry about that," he said. "​You'​re talking about a wide- open team in Southwestern Louisiana. If you don't go into that game ready to play, you're going to get beat."
  
-"​They'​re a pretty good club; they came out ready to play," said UMass forward/​center Lou Roe (15 points, 11 rebounds). "They figured they had nothing to lose."+"​They'​re a pretty good club; they came out ready to play," said UMass forward/​center ​[[roe_lou|Lou Roe]] (15 points, 11 rebounds). "They figured they had nothing to lose."
  
 "At halftime, we came in and said that the only way we're going to win this game is with defense,"​ said Williams. "That has always been the key to our team, good defense."​ "At halftime, we came in and said that the only way we're going to win this game is with defense,"​ said Williams. "That has always been the key to our team, good defense."​
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 It was the key to a 10-0 run that turned a 3-point lead into a 64-51 advantage. During the spurt, the Cajuns failed to score on eight consecutive possessions,​ committing a turnover or foul on the first five. It was the key to a 10-0 run that turned a 3-point lead into a 64-51 advantage. During the spurt, the Cajuns failed to score on eight consecutive possessions,​ committing a turnover or foul on the first five.
  
-"This is a great win for us, against a quality team," said Calipari, who finally answered a few questions about The Cage and the new Mullins Arena, which UMass is set to christen Thursday against West Virginia.+"This is a great win for us, against a quality team," said Calipari, who finally answered a few questions about The Cage and the new [[mullins_center|Mullins Arena]], which UMass is set to christen Thursday against ​[[opponent_west_virginia|West Virginia]].
  
-"​We'​ve enjoyed it, but you know, I'm really not the person to talk about it," he said. "This night meant most to former UMass coach Jack Leaman. He built the program in this building. The Cage has been great, and we'll miss it, but we're now ready to move on to a bigger arena."​+"​We'​ve enjoyed it, but you know, I'm really not the person to talk about it," he said. "This night meant most to former UMass coach [[leaman_jack|Jack Leaman]]. He built the program in this building. The Cage has been great, and we'll miss it, but we're now ready to move on to a bigger arena."​
  
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game19930129_sw_louisiana.txt ยท Last modified: 2018/01/29 17:02 by mikeuma