It's a 1 (UMass) and a 2 (UConn) . . .
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/10/1995
Ask the University of Massachusetts basketball players about being No. 1 and you'll get the standard answer.
Save that question until March.
“It doesn't even mean anything right now, because they switch so much during the year,” said senior power forward Lou Roe, whose team was voted No. 1 in both major polls this week for the second time in school history, the first time coming after the season-opening rout of Arkansas.
“I think it will mean a whole lot to us in March,” said Roe. “If we peak in March and we're No. 1 and we have a whole lot going, it will mean a lot then.”
In the AP poll announced yesterday, North Carolina fell from the No. 1 spot after losing to North Carolina State, UCLA from No. 2 after losing to Oregon, and Arkansas from No. 3 after losing to Mississippi.
Connecticut, one of two unbeaten teams in the top 25 (along with Clemson), moved up to No. 2, giving New England the top two spots in the poll, believed to be a first for the region. Move over Tobacco Road, New England undeniably is home to the best college basketball in the country – at least for a week.
“There really is no sense of New England basketball nationally,” said UConn coach Jim Calhoun. “We've all heard about Tobacco Road and the border war between Indiana and Kentucky, but we're really new on the national scene. Nothing like this has happened before. It's really kind of neat.
“The first game I coached at UConn in 1986 was at UMass. Who would have thought 10 years ago – even five years ago – that this would have happened.”
UMass coach John Calipari does not want his team to bask in this.
“I have to guard against my players and myself embracing success, so we understand what we have to do,” said Calipari. “No. 1? So what. What is it, January? If you tell me that in March I will be real happy.
“Since it's January, we have two months, 25 games, it really doesn't mean a whole lot other than – you know what? – we really have a good basketball team.”
But UMass could remain in the top spot through the next two months. A quick glance at the schedule shows that the Minutemen conceivably could finish the regular season without another loss. In that case, UMass would become the second team to finish unbeaten in the conference in the regular season (Temple accomplished the feat twice).
The Atlantic 10 is in a down year overall, with UMass the only ranked team. Temple (6-1), St. Joseph's (6-2) and George Washington (8-5) are expected to present the stiffest challenges to the Minutemen.
Tonight the Minutemen go on the road to face St. Bonaventure (6-6), which has lost 12 consecutive times to UMass. On Thursday, they host Rutgers (3-6), which hasn't beaten UMass since the 1990-91 season.
Perhaps the biggest nonconference test will come Saturday when UMass hosts No. 21 Penn, which still has several players from its 1992-93 NCAA team that gave UMass a battle before losing, 54-50, in the East Regional first round.
It is believed to be the first time UMass will host a nonconference Top 25 team at the Mullins Center; school officials have had trouble scheduling home games against ranked teams.
In addition to Penn, nonconference foe Louisville could present a problem.
Minutemen get a scare but survive
By Frank Dell'Apa, The Boston Globe Staff, 1/11/1995
OLEAN, N.Y. – John Calipari acknowledged that the University of Massachusetts was outcoached and outhustled by St. Bonaventure last night. But the Minutemen outmuscled the Bonnies in overtime to take an 81-76 Atlantic 10 victory, protecting their No. 1 ranking in the NCAA.
UMass (9-1 overall, 2-0 conference) rallied from a 5-point deficit in the final minutes of regulation and from a 4-point overtime deficit on the inside power of Marcus Camby (28 points) and Lou Roe (14). Camby's 3-point play broke a 75-75 tie with 39 seconds remaining and his foul shot iced the game at 80-75 with 13 seconds to go.
“When we trailed by 5, we called a timeout,” Calipari said. “We said that offensively, we would get the ball into the middle and into the post. And if we can't move in there, if they are jamming in there, we would shoot the three.”
The Minutemen did just that. Mike Williams' 3-pointer gave them a 69-66 lead with 14 seconds remaining in regulation. But David Vanterpool countered with a 3-pointer seven seconds later. Another Vanterpool 3-pointer gave St. Bonaventure a 75-71 lead 2:36 into overtime.
But UMass closed the game with a 10-1 run, starting with Roe's two foul shots to cut the deficit to 75-73 and continuing with Dana Dingle's layup 45 seconds later, then Camby's clinching points.
“They beat us to loose balls, beat us to rebounds,” Calipari said. ''They played with great intensity and they were fearless. They wanted it worse than we did.
“St. Bonaventure sprinted back on defense and they slowed the game down. They controlled the tempo. I was outcoached, no question about it.”
But the Bonnies did not have enough answers for UMass' depth and height, even though Donta Bright was scoreless and Roe was not in the starting lineup, then failed to score until the final minute of the first half. Edgar Padilla kept the Minutemen on track from the point guard position but fouled out with 3:35 remaining in overtime.
“They are the No. 1 team in the country and they hit some big shots,” St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron said. “If one of them is not getting it done, they bring in someone else. They have two or three pros on that team. You are only going to stop them so much.”
Mostly, UMass stopped itself. The Minutemen performed well in two-minute bursts, then had their momentum disrupted by timeouts or their own lethargy. An early 13-2 run appeared to set the tempo, and Camby's third dunk made it 19-14 midway through the first half.
Most UMass strategies were countered easily. The Bonnies matched UMass' quickness and they had little difficulty with the press. Padilla's resourcefulness kept UMass from falling prey to chaos, and the frontcourt covered up other deficiencies.
“I think we need close games,” Calipari said. “If people think we are going to be playing in the NCAAs and we are going to win every game by 25 points, they are nutty.
“I thought for a while that this was going to be a good loss. Then I slapped myself, because it is not my job as a coach to think that way; I would be cheating the kids. There are no good losses, but you can learn from them. There is going to be a point when we need a loss to get their attention, but not now.”
UMass appeared to have worn down St. Bonaventure following Camby's fifth dunk for a 57-56 lead with 7:45 remaining in regulation. But the Bonnies regrouped following Camby's third-chance tip-in. A 3-pointer by Jeff Quackenbush, a jumper by Nii Nelson-Richards and a foul shot and bank shot by Sidney Shelton gave St. Bonaventure a 64-59 lead with 2:50 remaining.
But Padilla reentered and solved the Bonnies' zone by simply sending entry passes to Camby. That opened the outside, and Padilla landed a 3-pointer and Williams hit two 3-pointers in the final two minutes.
“When we were No. 1 before, we said it didn't matter, but it did matter, man,” Calipari said. “Now we've done it before, so it's a different feeling. But it's about doing it in March.”
MASSACHUSETTS (81) – Dana Dingle 4-6 1-4 9, Donta Bright 0-5 0-0 0, Mike Williams 3-14 0-0 8, Edgar Padilla 5-7 0-0 13, Derek Kellogg 0-3 0-0 0, Louis Roe 3-8 8-11 14, Marcus Camby 10-13 8-9 28, Carmelo Travieso 2-2 0-0 5, Tyrone Weeks 1-3 0-0 2, Rigoberto Nunez 0-0 0-0 0, Inus Norville 1-2 0-1 2. TOTALS: 29-63 (46.0%) 17-25 (68.0%) 81.
ST. BONAVENTURE (76) – Brian Satalin 0-0 0-0 0, Rashaan Palmer 2-7 0-0 4, Jamie Moses 0-0 0-0 0, Shandue McNeill 4-10 4-5 12, Nii Nelson-Richards 3-11 2-4 9, Kenny McFarland 0-0 0-0 0, James Singleton 0-0 0-0 0, Sidney Shelton 3-4 4-5 10, Jeff Quackenbush 5-14 0-0 11, David Vanterpool 8-16 6-11 25, Jerome Spellman 2-3 1-3 5, Chris Lumsdon 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 27-65 (41.5%) 17-28 (60.7%) 76.
HALFTIME: St. Bonaventure 35, Massachusetts 33. REGULATION: Massachusetts 69, St. Bonaventure 69. 3-POINTERS: Massachusetts 6-13 (Padilla 3-4, Williams 2-7, Travieso 1-1, Kellogg 0-1), St. Bonaventure 5-22 (Vanterpool 3-6, Nelson-Richards 1-6, Quackenbush 1-6, McNeill 0-4). REBOUNDS: Massachusetts 42 (Camby 10), St. Bonaventure 44 (Shelton 12). ASSISTS: Massachusetts 14 (3 with 3), St. Bonaventure 12 (McNeill 6). FOULED OUT: Padilla, Shelton, Spellman. TOTAL FOULS: Massachusetts 24, St. Bonaventure 24. ATTENDANCE: 6,000. RECORDS: Massachusetts 2-0/9-1, St. Bonaventure 0-3/6-7.
Massachusetts 33 36 12 -- 81 St. Bonaventure 35 34 7 -- 76