Roe, UMass have some top priorities
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/7/1995
ATLANTIC CITY – For Lou Roe, it's a homecoming. For the University of Massachusetts, it's a potential coronation.
Roe's most vivid memory of the Convention Center is of the time he attended the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks fight and left the arena feeling gypped: “I must have left my seat to get popcorn or something before it started. When I came back, it was over.”
Tonight at 6:45, Roe and the Minutemen will be the main event when they face LaSalle, and there definitely are heavyweight implications to this match. A win would vault UMass back into the nation's No. 1 ranking, which it held for a week after toppling Arkansas in the season opener. A loss to Kansas the following weekend quickly dropped the Minutemen from the summit, but now, as easy as 1-2-3 falling, they're in line to reclaim it.
Since the top three teams – North Carolina, UCLA and Arkansas – lost this week, it stands to reason that the fourth-ranked Minutemen will ascend to No. 1 in next week's polls. Provided, of course, they don't stub their toes today.
On the heels of their 80-74 victory over host Saint Louis Thursday, the Minutemen are taking a decidedly low-key approach to their likely elevation, at least for public consumption.
“To be honest,” said guard Edgar Padilla, “I really don't care.”
“The thing is, we're just trying to concentrate on our team,” said guard Carmelo Travieso. “We're not worrying about No. 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 or 1. We just want to concentrate on getting better. I tell you what, though – it's a good feeling.”
The LaSalle contest will be the third of six games in 12 days for UMass. “It's tough, but . . . we're just going to take them one game at a time,” said coach John Calipari. “We may lose one, but if we do, that's fine.”
Roe has particular incentive not to lose this one. He'll be squaring off with his former Atlantic City High School teammate, LaSalle junior forward Romaine Haywood.
“Going home is a good feeling,” said Roe, who tallied 29 points Thursday. “I never thought a game like this would ever happen. It's good to be playing where I play. I have never played a game in the Convention Center before, though.”
Roe is practically a legend in Atlantic City basketball circles – along with fellow natives Chris Ford, former St. John's standout Willie Glass and former Pitt star Bobby Martin (Roe's cousin). UMass posters dot the bulletin boards of Atlantic City High, where Roe set scoring and rebounding records.
Given the success of the Minutemen (7-1), Roe figures to be swamped with media coverage.
“I don't think that will bother me,” he said. “I think I have been through a lot of that before. I think I will be able to remain focused on what we need to do to win.
“I am going to have a lot of friends and family there. I'm going to spend a lot of time with them. I'm going to spend a lot of time with my daughter. She's 3 years old now, and being away from home, I haven't been able to spend a lot of time with her.”
Roe played an integral role in the Minutemen's success against Saint Louis, which trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half but mounted several rallies, only to watch the Minutemen silence each.
“We feel very comfortable going on the road and going into teams' places and playing them,” said Roe. “Being a top-ranked team like we are, we have to be willing to do that.”
UMass makes its move
In fighting off La Salle, Minutemen look for No. 1
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/8/1995
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – It's true you can go home again. But if you play for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team, you better think twice about it.
Seems each time the Minutemen take the court in one of their player's hometown, that player stages one of his worst outings of the year. Last night was no exception: UMass' leading scorer Lou Roe, an Atlantic City resident, played as if he was featured on the latest cover of Sports Illustrated.
Roe's teammates, frustrated by La Salle's 1-3-1 zone trap, followed suit early. Then the fourth-ranked Minutemen made adjustments and blew open a close game in the second half to register an 87-64 nonconference victory before a sellout crowd of 8,033 at the Convention Center.
UMass improved to 8-1 overall and avoided becoming the fourth Top 5 club to lose to an unranked team in five days. With the three teams ranked ahead of them – North Carolina, UCLA and Arkansas – all losing, the Minutemen seem poised for a return engagement as No. 1 in this week's poll.
La Salle, which dropped to 7-3, also featured an Atlantic City resident: junior guard Romaine Haywood, a teammate of Roe's at Atlantic City High School. Before a throng of family and friends, the two could not match the outputs that made them crowd favorites during their high school days.
Haywood, who averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds as a high school senior, finished with 5 points on 1-of-7 shooting and no assists. His only bucket was a 3-pointer with 5:30 remaining in the game.
Roe, the 1991 New Jersey High School Player of the Year (26.1 points, 15.0 rebounds as a senior), finished with 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 4 fouls; he played just 18 minutes because of foul trouble. It was Roe's lowest point total since his freshman season, when he scored 2 against West Virginia and St. Bonaventure.
Asked what it was like to play against Haywood, Roe said, “I don't know; I didn't get a chance to. I felt a little embarrassed about the way I played at first, but then my teammates stepped up.”
Not at first, however. UMass struggled in the early going under La Salle's zone trap, yielding four turnovers and an airball on its first eight possessions. With 8:14 left in the half and Roe on the bench with three fouls, things looked bleak for the Minutemen. La Salle forward Derick Newton hit a free throw to put the Explorers up, 21-12.
Then UMass got on track, in part due to a trapping, full-court press that yielded three turnovers and an offensive foul in three minutes. The Minutemen attacked the zone with its post-up offense and outscored LaSalle, 13-2, to take a 25-23 lead with 5:02 left in the half.
“When it was 21-12 I thought we were in good shape,” said La Salle coach Speedy Morris. “That was the first time the press hurt us all year. Maryland tried it against us and had to take it off. Arizona tried it and had to take it off.
“We had a few young players in there that got rattled, but when we put the other guys back, we were still up by 1. But we just didn't play like we had in the first 10 minutes.”
La Salle tied it twice, the latter on a turnaround jumper by guard Paul Burke (18 points). Then UMass staged a 12-5 run, capped by back-to-back 3- point baskets by Derek Kellogg (a team-high 18 points) to take a 41-34 lead with 1:10 left in the half. UMass led, 41-36, at halftime.
“Don't look at the first half and say we played poorly,” said UMass coach John Calipari. “La Salle came out and played exceptionally well and frustrated us with their 1-3-1. We hadn't seen that and it confused us.”
In the second half, La Salle stayed close for a while, cutting the lead to 45-43 with 16:06 left on a bucket by Jasper Van Teeseling. Then UMass pulled away for good. Roe, realizing his offense was off (his first attempt, with 13:18 left, went in and out) opted to create shots for his teammates.
With 13:12 left, center Marcus Camby (15 points, 11 rebounds) scored on a feed from Roe to put UMass ahead, 54-46. With 10:34 left, Kellogg took a Roe pass and drained a 3-point hoop for a 62-50 lead. UMass wasn't threatened thereafter.
“That kind of thing happens,” said Calipari of Roe's outing. “When former UMass standout Tony Barbee went back to Indiana, he went 1 for 12. When former player Tommy Pace went back to Denver he was about 1 for 7. Forward Donta Bright played the best against Maryland in his native Baltimore this year and he wasn't that good. But the other players stepped it up.”
Minutemen look out for No. 1
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/9/1995
ATLANTIC CITY – When the fourth-ranked University of Massachusetts trailed La Salle, 21-12, in the first half of Saturday night's nonconference game, thoughts shifted to North Carolina, UCLA and Arkansas.
Those three teams, each in the top five in both national polls, lost to unranked teams last week. UMass appeared on its way to joining the group.
Instead, the Minutemen once again utilized one of college basketball's deepest rosters to overcome their adversary. In a week in which many of the game's top teams had their weaknesses exposed, UMass showed its ability to offset its shortcomings before the final buzzer.
As a result, UMass likely will begin the week as the No. 1 team in the land – an honor it held for one week after its season-opening win over then-No. 1 Arkansas. UMass fell from the top spot after losing to Kansas in its second game of the year.
“We're not even thinking about that much,” said UMass coach John Calipari. “The only thing we're guarding against right now is individuals embracing success.”
Top spot or not, it is clear UMass is one of the best five teams in the country – in a year in which there isn't much separating Nos. 1-5. What separates UMass from most teams is its depth; few programs go two-deep at every position.
That has enabled Calipari to keep trying lineup combinations until he has the most effective unit on the floor. With 17:30 remaining in the first half against La Salle, he substituted his entire starting lineup, then subbed at various positions until he had the right combination.
“Surprisingly the other top teams losing wasn't going through my mind,” said senior point guard Derek Kellogg. “I just feel that with how many guys we have, if someone is thinking that way, another guy is going to come in and step up.
“I was impressed with how Mike Williams 12 points, 4 assists and Tyrone Weeks 12 points, 5 rebounds stepped up. I feel that no matter what the situation is, we have guys who will step it up. So, if somebody is thinking about No. 1, somebody else is thinking about playing time.”
If Jerry Stackhouse and/or Rasheed Wallace has a subpar outing for North Carolina, the Tar Heels are in trouble. Ditto the O'Bannon brothers for UCLA. Saturday night, UMass' leading scorer, Lou Roe, finished with his lowest point total (2) since his freshman season; the entire starting lineup had 13 of the team's 22 turnovers.
Yet the reserves, many of whom would be starting for other teams, responded. It marked the second consecutive game the Minutemen had adjusted to such misfortunes.
Center Marcus Camby sat out Thursday night's game against Saint Louis because of a death in the family, yet thanks in part to freshman forward Inus Norville, the UMass interior attack remained effective.
“That really shows the strength of our bench,” said Roe. “If you were watching on the sidelines, I was in foul trouble, but I was cheering them on. I didn't do anything, but I was trying to give them advice on the sidelines.”
La Salle players, who already have faced Arizona and Maryland this season, were impressed with UMass' depth.
“No doubt about it; Lou Roe is their leading scorer and we took him out of the game, and the rest of the players took their game to another level,” said La Salle guard Romaine Haywood. “Hey, they're No. 1.”
SIDEBAR: HOPING TO STAY ON TOP OF GAME
UMass has a second shot at No. 1 in the coaches poll – with the Associated Press likely to follow today – and hopes to stay there longer than last time.
One month later, some would say the Minutemen have played its most difficult games and could stay on top for a while. But one of its toughest tests comes Saturday night at the Mullins Center against Pennsylvania, winner of eight straight, including Michigan and St. John's.
The Atlantic 10 isn't as strong as it has been, and St. Joseph's, which upset UMass last season, could be the biggest challenge (Feb. 1 at Amherst, Feb. 25). Other tests figure to come against Temple Jan. 21 (home) and Feb. 23, and George Washington Feb. 4 (road) and Feb. 14.
MASSACHUSETTS (87) – Dana Dingle 3-6 0-1 6, Donta Bright 2-5 6-6 10, Mike Williams 3-4 4-4 12, Edgar Padilla 1-4 0-0 2, Derek Kellogg 7-11 0-0 18, Louis Roe 1-4 0-1 2, Marcus Camby 7-10 1-4 15, Carmelo Travieso 0-2 0-0 0, Tyrone Weeks 5-8 2-3 12, Ted Cottrell 0-0 0-0 0, Rigoberto Nunez 0-0 1-2 1, Inus Norville 4-4 1-4 9. TOTALS: 33-58 (56.9%) 15-25 (60.0%) 87.
LaSALLE (64) – Olof Landgren 0-1 2-2 2, Steve Fromal 0-0 0-0 0, Kareem Townes 6-14 3-4 20, Mike Gizzi 0-1 1-3 1, Romaine Haywood 1-7 2-5 5, Paul Burke 6-14 4-7 18, Derick Newton 5-8 3-9 13, Brian Flickinger 0-0 0-0 0, Jasper Van Teeseling 2-3 1-2 5, Everett Catlin 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20-49 (40.8%) 16-32 (50.0%) 64.
HALFTIME: Massachusetts 41, LaSalle 36. 3-POINTERS: Massachusetts 6-15 (Kellogg 4-7, Williams 2-3, Travieso 0-1, Dingle 0-2, Padilla 0-2), La Salle 8-22 (Townes 5-12, Burke 2-7, Haywood 1-2, Landgren 0-1). REBOUNDS: Massachusetts 45 (Camby 11), LaSalle 23 (Newton 7). ASSISTS: Massachusetts 11 (Williams, Roe 4), LaSalle 6 (Burke 4). FOULED OUT: Haywood, Van Teeseling. TECHNICAL FOULS: Camby. TOTAL FOULS: Massachusetts 24, LaSalle 19. ATTENDANCE: 8,033. RECORDS: Massachusetts 8-1, LaSalle 7-3.
Massachusetts 41 46 -- 87 LaSalle 36 28 -- 64