UMass tries to avoid ambush by Xavier
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/4/1996
CINCINNATI – All year long they have avoided the letdown after a big victory. Will the trend continue today for the No. 1 University of Massachusetts (20-0), which visits tough Xavier (9-8) today in the Minutemen's first game following Thursday's big win at Temple?
Count on it. While many are scanning the Minutemen's remaining games for teams capable of upsetting them (Virginia Tech, George Washington and Louisville are the likely candidates), UMass refuses to look past its next opponent. UMass remains the only unbeaten team in Atlantic 10 play at 8-0; Xavier is 5-2.
“When the last game is over, we forget about that game and get ready for the next one, we just focus on what we have to do,” said guard Carmelo Travieso. “Sometimes we don't have the start we want to, but eventually we find our stride.”
Facing one of the toughest schedules in college basketball, UMass has risen to the occasion all season. After opening its season with a win over then No. 1 Kentucky, 92-82, UMass rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat then No. 19 Maryland, 50-47, four days later. After an emotional win over then No. 10 Wake Forest, 60-46, Dec. 6, UMass rallied to beat Boston College, 65-57, in the thrilling Commonwealth Classic three days later.
On Dec. 30, UMass handed then No. 13 Syracuse its first loss of the season (65-47), and five days later handed then No. 3 Memphis its first loss, 64-61.
“We prepare in practice for situations like this,” said forward Donta Bright. “We just want to go out and play hard and hopefully win the game. You can't get concerned about letdowns because if you are you will get hesitant.
“I don't know much about Xavier, but I know they're a young team and they'll be playing in front of a sellout crowd. We just try to do our best and make our opponent play a perfect game to beat us.”
UMass has been led by leading national player of the year candidate Marcus Camby, but his supporting cast – particularly forwards Bright and Dana Dingle, who stepped their games up with Camby out a couple of weeks ago – have continued to be reliable with Camby back.
“We need Dana Dingle and Donta Bright making plays because when they do, that takes the pressure off Marcus,” said point guard Edgar Padilla. “When you have Dana and Donta making plays offensively and Marcus doing his thing, I don't think anybody can stop us.”
Xavier is coming off an 84-71 win over St. Joseph's. The Musketeers trailed St. Joe's by 1 at halftime, but following a halftime speech in which Xavier coach Skip Prosser injured his hand after punching it against a chalkboard, Xavier responded in the second half.
Xavier held St. Joe's to 28-percent shooting in the second the half en route to the win. As has been the case through much of the season, Xavier was led by its freshmen, Larry Brown (18 points) and Darnell Williams (14). Freshman Gary Lumpkin leads the Atlantic 10 in 3-point field goal shooting (43 percent).
Prosser lost four of five starters from last year's team (including the top three scorers and top rebounder). With eight newcomers on this year's team, the future looks bright. But Prosser has concerns about depending on his youngsters so soon.
“That's been one of the disappointments to this season,” he said. “You don't like to depend on freshmen this much. I had hoped our veterans would have stepped up more.”
This will be Xavier's first home game against a No. 1-ranked team since Feb. 20, 1978, when it lost to Marquette, 75-53.
Massachusetts (#1) 78, Xavier 74 (OT)
From The Associated Press, 2/4/1996
Marcus Camby scored three of his 26 points in the final two minutes of overtime, helping top-ranked Massachusetts survive another scare with a 78-74 victory over Xavier in an Atlantic 10 battle.
Camby also pulled down 11 rebounds for the Minutemen, who posted their 10th straight overtime win. Massachusetts (21-0, 9-0 in the Atlantic 10) extended its conference winning streak to 15 games and remained the nation's only major unbeaten team.
“That was a great college basketball game. … If you didn't enjoy that game, you have to check your pulse,” said Massachusetts coach John Calipari. “I have to give (Xavier coach) Skip Prosser credit. Xavier made us play a certain way. … I'm just happy we are leaving town. They played with more fire than us.”
Kevin Carr scored 17 points and T.J. Johnson added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Xavier (9-9, 5-3), but Carr fouled out late in the second half and Johnson exited early in overtime.
Tyrone Weeks hit a pair of free throws with 26.6 seconds left in overtime to put the Minutemen ahead for good, 75-73. Lenny Brown hit one of two foul shots with 13.7 seconds to go, cutting the margin to 75-74, but Camby answered by hitting one of two free throws with 10.7 seconds remaining to restore Massachusetts' two-point lead.
Xavier had one final chance, but Edgar Padilla stripped the ball from Gary Lumpkin and fed Charlton Clarke, whose layup before the buzzer established the final margin.
”(Lumpkin) was dribbling the ball behind him and I thought I could knock it down,“ Padilla said.
The Musketeers took a 67-62 lead on Carr's follow with 2:47 left in the second half, but Camby hit a free throw and Donta Bright added a tip-in to lift Massachusetts within 67-65 with 33.2 seconds left.
Johnson's foul shot put Xavier ahead, 68-65, before Padilla tied it with a three-pointer with 15.3 seconds left. The Musketeers missed three shots in the final five seconds, sending the game to overtime.
“It was the toughest game of the year. They gave us a heck of a game,” said Padilla, who missed seven of eight shots before nailing his three-pointer. “I took the ball in a crossover and he went for it. In situations like that, I like to take the shot. The play was to look for a screen for Marcus down low.”
All five starters scored in double figures for Xavier, including Brown with 15 points and Lumpkin with 13. The Musketeers were hosting the nation's top-ranked team for the first time since 1978, when they were beaten by Marquette, 75-53.
“I thought Mass made the plays down the stretch that they've made consistently in games like this,” Prosser said. “We made a lot of big plays, but Mass made a few more. The players will be told how great they played, but this is a game we should have had.”
Xavier retired the number 42 worn by Tyrone Hill, the school's all-time leading rebounder and second all-time scorer. Hill plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Another great escape
Padilla helps No. 1 Minutemen slip upset-minded Xavier in OT
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/5/1996
CINCINNATI – Success had rendered them complacent. All the recent dominance, the heads they had turned, the headlines they had prompted and the growing talk of them going undefeated gave the University of Massachusetts players a false sense of superiority entering yesterday's game against Atlantic 10 counterpart Xavier. The No. 1 Minutemen figured they'd show up, silence a raucous crowd with a showering of 3-point baskets and dunks, and, as UMass forward Donta Bright put it, “beat them by 10 to 15 points.”
Instead, Xavier outhustled, outshot and outexecuted UMass throughout most of yesterday's game, coming within a hair of the biggest upset in college basketball this season.
It took two heroic plays by starting point guard Edgar Padilla – a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to send the contest into overtime, and a steal in the closing seconds of the extra period to preserve UMass' lead – to lift the often sluggish Minutemen past the scrappy Musketeers, 78-74.
UMass center Marcus Camby led all scorers with 26 points and had 11 rebounds, but struggled from the floor (9-for-22 shooting). Bright added 21 points for the Minutemen (21-0, 9-0), who trailed by as many as 11 in the first half, didn't take the lead until the first possession of the second half and – unlike many times this season – couldn't put their opponent away once taking control.
“We doubted them; we didn't think they were this good,” said forward Tyrone Weeks, who had 9 points and 13 rebounds. “We didn't come out high like we should, like we did in the Temple game last Thursday. So they came out kicking our behinds.
“All the papers and ESPN saying how great we are – we can't listen to that stuff. We just have to go out and play hard every night. If we're going to go undefeated, let's just do it. We have to take one game at a time and stop thinking about the future.”
Xavier (9-9, 5-3), which starts three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior, held UMass to just 33-percent shooting in the first half and on offense frustrated the Minutemen from the perimeter and low post. Cheered by a partisan crowd of 10,118, the Musketeers maintained their poise in the second half, after the Minutemen rallied from a 23-12 first-half deficit to close to 32-31 at halftime.
Xavier went ahead, 67-62, with 2:47 left in regulation after a tip-in by center Kevin Carr. UMass cut it to 4 on a free throw by Camby with 2:24 to go, then got it to 67-65 on a tip-in by Bright with 34 seconds left.
A free throw by Xavier forward T.J. Johnson with 24 seconds left made it 68-65. On UMass' last possession of regulation, Padilla raced down the left side of the court and drained a pull-up 3-pointer. On Xavier's last possession, guard Lenny Brown missed, guard Gary Lumpkin was blocked by Camby and Johnson missed.
“We were supposed to run another play with either Camby or Carmelo Travieso taking the winning shot, but I took my man with a crossover and he went for it, and I thought I had a good chance to hit the shot,” said Padilla. “In situations like that, I like to take shots like that.”
In the overtime, UMass went ahead, 73-70, on a jumper by Camby with 1:58 left, but Xavier stayed close and with 14 seconds left trailed, 75-74, after a free throw by Brown. With 11 seconds left, Camby sank a free throw that put UMass ahead, 76-74.
Xavier quickly moved the ball upcourt and got into a halfcourt set, but Padilla came from Lumpkin's blind side and batted the ball to Bright, who tossed to Padilla. Padilla threw an outlet pass to guard Charlton Clarke, who raced downcourt and scored on a layup just before the buzzer.
“I was just trying to pressure Lumpkin so he didn't have a straight drive to the basket,” said Padilla. “I looked at his dribble, and he was dribbling the ball too much behind, rather than in the front, so I tried to knock it down and I got it.”
“We've been down this road a couple of times,” said Xavier coach Skip Prosser, whose team suffered a similarly close loss to crosstown rival Cincinnati Jan. 17. “I know people will tell my players how good they are, but deep down they know they let this one get out of their grasp.”
The Minutemen played in an atmosphere they probably will see the remainder of the regular season. How they respond to it might determine whether they stay unbeaten. “I think we needed a situation like this,” said Bright. “I think we're going to be more ready for our next opponent.”
Camby plays through ankle pain
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/5/1996
CINCINNATI – The question posed to Marcus Camby was, “Where does it hurt?” And even before the University of Massachusetts star center responded, his facial expression gave the reply: Pick a spot. Any spot.
“Everything is hurting right now,” said Camby, who took several spills in yesterday's 78-74 overtime win over Xavier – one of which occurred midway through the second half when he collided with two Xavier players while going after a loose ball. On that occasion, he fell to the floor and got up limping and clutching the right side of his lower back.
“I hurt my ankle with about eight minutes left in the second half,” he said. “It's bothering me now, but I just had to suck it up and just play through it.”
Bumps and bruises aside, Camby has shown no ill effects of his collapse prior to the UMass-St. Bonaventure game Jan. 14.
In the four games before the collapse Camby averaged 35.8 minutes, 28.8 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. That included an overtime win over St. Joseph's in which he scored a career-high 34 points in 42 minutes.
In the four games since his return to action (he missed four games), Camby is averaging 32 minutes, 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 blocks a game.
Asked after the Temple game if he was surprised Camby has played so well since coming back, UMass coach John Calipari said, “If something was wrong with him, he probably wouldn't able to do this. Marcus' big thing is that he has to take care of his body.
“His body shut down on him and said, 'Hey, you have to take care of me. You have to eat right, sleep right and do the things you're supposed to do. I think he's fine, and I think he understands that.” Calipari said he wants to play Camby an average of 35 minutes a game.
Yesterday Camby struggled against an Xavier team that frustrated him at both ends of the floor.
“Marcus had an OK game,” said Calipari. “He did some things, but he wasn't as good as he's been. He had a double double and five blocks, but he wasn't his normal self today. . . . But I think Xavier made him that way. They did some things to confuse him.”
Xavier scares but UMass survives
By Justin C. Smith, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 5, 1996
Refuse to lose. They simply refuse to lose. It may be starting to sound too cliché, but it’s undeniable.
For the ninth time this season the Massachusetts men’s basketball team trailed at the half and for the third time this season went into overtime, each time escaping victorious.
UMass (21-0 overall, 9-0 Atlantic 10) tied the game at 68 on a three point bomb by Edgar Padilla with 15 seconds left as Xavier (9-9, 5-3) had three attempts to win in regulation but could not get a basket. In overtime it was Tyrone Weeks who got several key rebounds which led to four of the Minutemen’s ten points in the extra session, helping UMass to the 78-74 win. UMass has also won their last 10 overtime games overall.
Padilla preserved the victory in overtime, after Marcus Camby hit one of two free throws to boost the UMass lead to two, when he stole the ball from Lenny Brown as Xavier tried to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining. Charlton Clarke picked up the loose ball and went in for a layup as the buzzer sounded. The four point lead would be the largest one of the day for the Minutemen.
“We move on,” coach John Calipari said, sounding more relieved than satisfied. “I’m just happy we’re leaving now.”
Weeks picked up three fouls in the first half and after sitting on the bench, came back and played a season high 31 minutes not picking up his fourth foul until late in the second half. Weeks finished with nine points and a career high 13 boards.
The Philadelphia native, Weeks, and bench mate Clarke accounted for all 13 bench points for the Minutemen, while Xavier’s bench could only muster one point.
The Musketeers came out with a vengeance, pressing UMass all over the court and scored the first six points of the game. They build their lead to as many as 11 at 23-12. Xavier’s early burst was keyed by the play of freshman guard Gary Lumpkin (13 points, 2-of-3 from 3-pt range).
Senior co-captain Donta Bright helped keep UMass close early when he scored six of his 21 points during Xavier’s early run.
“We came out thinking we were going to beat them by 15 points,” said Bright, who added seven rebounds. “They came out and took it to us.”
Training 31-21 with less than three minutes remaining in the first half UMass ended an 11-1 run on a Weeks free throw and went to the locker room behind by only one. They would take their first lead of the game on a Marcus Camby turnaround on the first possession of the second half.
Camby, UMass leading scorer on the day with 26 points, was noticeably limping for the last 10 minutes of regulation and overtime after stepping on a Xavier player’s foot but never came out of the game.
“I thought we had ‘em,” said T.J. Johnson, who is the only returning starter from last years team and finished the game with 16 points.
“We didn’t come to give them a good game. We came to win,” said Kevin Carr, who led Xavier with 17 points, but fouled out early in overtime. “We let it slip through our fingers. We should have had it.”
Xavier led 67-62 with just two and a half minutes remaining before the Minutemen closed out the second half on a 6-1 run including Padilla’s heroics. The Minutemen could have made it easier on themselves as they hit only 59 percent of their free throws on the day, well below their season average of .692.
“They [Xavier] were more aggressive, and that’s unusual for us,” Calipari said. “We’re not used to that. They played with more fire than us. We still played with the refuse-to-lose attitude. Different guys made different plays, which is the trademark of this team.”
UMass returns to action tomorrow night at 8:30, when they travel to New York City to play Fordham at Madison Square Garden.
XU almost a giant killer again
No. 1 needs X-tra time
By Jason Beck, The Xavier Newswire, February 7, 1996
As Xavier retired the jersey of former basketball great Tyrone Hill during Sunday's game, few would have connected this season's young Musketeers to the great teams Hill played on during the late 1980s.
In the game that surrounded the ceremony, however, the present-day Muskies forged a connection with Xavier hoops history in two words: giant killers.
The 1990 victory over sixth-ranked Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament that Hill helped orchestrate is regarded as Xavier's biggest win. But only seconds and the roll of a tip-in separated the current XU team from rewriting history and upsetting top-ranked, undefeated Massachusetts.
As fans at the Cincinnati Gardens prepared to storm the court in delirium, UMass point guard Edgar Padilla drilled a three-pointer with 18 seconds left to force overtime. A 5-1 Minutemen run to close the extra period, climaxed by a steal and layup by Charlton Clarke as the buzzer sounded, stole a 78-74 victory from a depleted XU squad.
“We didn't aim to give them a good game. We came to win,” said center Kevin Carr, who finished with a team-high 17 points. “We should have had it, but we let it slip away.”
Though Xavier may not have slain the giant Minutemen, it certainly put fear in them for 40-plus minutes. All five starters scored in double figures, but the height of terror came at the end of regulation, when the Muskies took three final chances at the basket to break a 68-68 tie. Lenny Brown took an inbounds pass with five seconds to play and fought off two defenders for a baseline jumper. Gary Lumpkin snuck into the low post for the rebound, but was blocked on his layin attempt. T.J. Johnson then reached a hand to the ball, but his tip circled the iron before leaning out.
The Muskies reached the eighth tie of the game after holding a five-point lead with 2:47 to play when Carr delivered a pair of two-handed tip-ins. Carr fouled out blocking 6-11 Marcus Camby on the next possession, and though Brown skied to stuff a Donta Bright layup in the final minute, Bright answered with a tip-in cutting the lead to 67-65 with 34 seconds left. The first of Johnson's two foul shots then rolled in and out with 23 seconds left, setting up Padilla.
“We came out thinking we'd win by 10, 15 points,” said Bright, who scored 21 points. “They came out and took it to us. This game was like an NCAA environment. The crowd supported them all the way up until the end.”
UMass outrebounded the Muskies most of the game, but with Carr, Johnson, and Terrance Payne all fouled out by the opening seconds of overtime, Camby and reserve forward Tyrone Weeks worked the low post. Although Leo Murray grabbed three boards in 10 minutes, he was the only Muskie over 6-3 in the lineup by the end of overtime. Nevertheless, XU held a 73-73 tie with 1:28 left following a Darnell Williams three-pointer, and had a chance to tie or win before the steal.
“We're fighters,” Murray said. “We pride ourselves on that. We don't have any great players.”
Though the second half remained close throughout, Xavier picked a fine time to command the first half of a game. Gary Lumpkin, with eyes of a man possessed, launched three three-pointers in the first 10 minutes, finding nothing but net on two.
Meanwhile, just as Hill and Derek Strong brought down Georgetown's seven-foot duo of Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo six years ago, Johnson and Carr used their bulk to dismantle the mystique of national player-of-the-year favorite Camby. Their inside play drew six UMass fouls in just over seven minutes. At the other end, Camby was unable to move inside on any of his 12 first-half shots.
“That was the game plan,” Carr said. ”[Camby] is a finesse player, and I tried to take it right at him.”
Johnson equalled his game averages of six rebounds and 11 points by halftime, the latter equalling Xavier's biggest lead before a 10-1 run brought the Minutemen within 32-31 at the half. Camby, limping at times in the second half, caught a second wind with the Muskies in foul trouble, finishing with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Weeks added nine points and 13 boards, including seven of the Minutemen's 29 offensive rebounds.
Though the result fell short of players' expectations, it was an answer to XU skeptics. “For the second time this year, people thought we were going to get waxed in our own gym,” head coach Skip Prosser said. “I don't think that's going to happen with this team.”
Getting tickets turns out to be a
By Joel Tantalo, The Xavier Newswire Columnist, February 7, 1996
They did it. They played 45 minutes with the big boys of college basketball – the No. 1 team in the land. They showed that they could play the game with the game's best – and came within a free-throw of winning it. They did it on national television. Sadly, that's where many of their faithful had to watch it.
In their inaugural season in the Atlantic-10, Xavier athletics decided to change the student ticket process. For years, being a full-time Xavier student meant having the privilege of walking into the Gardens to cheer OUR team to victory. This year, the policy changes. Xavier students can no longer just show up at the door in full Muskie garb to cheer and rejoice. This year, students must stand in line at the ticket window in the O'Connor Sports Center for the 700 or so tickets available to students. For the UMass game, that line began around 9 a.m. Tickets were gone by mid-afternoon. Therefore, if you had classes (yes, you remember the REAL reason we come to Xavier), or a job that kept you away from O'Connor that Tuesday morning, you had no real chance of seeing the game first-hand.
Last year, Xavier Athletic Director Jeff Fogelson told us that entering into the Atlantic-10 would be great for our sports, great for our fans, and great for our school. There is no doubt that the A-10 has been an athletic success. Nearly all Xavier sports will benefit by the increased exposure, funding and competition that the conference provides. There is also little doubt about the effect it has had on the school. Playing nationally televised sporting events must be a great recruiting advantage.
Our move to the A-10 has even been great for the fans – at least those who have been able to get into the games. However, for many other fans, the move – or more precisely, the change in student ticket distribution – has found ill will. Many of Xavier's faithful have been forced to watch from the outside, as others, with little or no Xavier affiliation, get to see the game firsthand. Why were several hundred turned away at the ticket counter? Why aren't all full-time students welcome at home games anymore? Why is it that when the No. 1 team in the country walks into our house, key members of our “family” are grounded?
MONEY. That is what Mr. Fogelson left out of the story he told us last year. Great for sports, great for the school and great for some students – but, most importantly: MORE MONEY. In the interest of ticket sales, the students were locked out. Many are true fans. Problem is, they are also students. Some will never see a Xavier-UMass game as a student. This was their only chance. The game was sold out – and so were the students.
The game could have been a big party. If the students were all let in, we might have been able to be that sixth man coaches always talk about – maybe even enough to push in just one more point, the difference between an “L” and a “W.” Xavier basketball was once discussed in the context of who the team represents: the students. In the past, when Xavier won a game, “we” won the game. And when the team was less fortunate, “we” lost. But this year, things have changed. This year “we” lost, because too many of “us” are excluded. Sunday, before the nation, “they” played a great game – one of the best I have ever seen. It's too bad we weren't all there to see it.
MASSACHUSETTS (78) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Dingle 20 4-10 0-2 5-7 1 5 8 Bright 39 8-17 5-6 4-7 1 4 21 Camby 43 9-22 8-14 3-11 2 3 26 E Padilla 45 2-12 0-1 5-7 3 3 5 Travieso 35 2-6 0-0 1-2 2 5 5 Clarke 10 2-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 4 Weeks 31 3-10 3-4 7-13 1 4 9 Nunez 1 0-0 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 Norville 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 225 30-79 16-27 26-48 11 25 78 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.380, FT-.593. 3-Point Goals: 2-10, .200 (Bright 0-1, Camby 0-1, E Padilla 1-5, Travieso 1-3). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 10 (Camby 5, Bright 2, E Padilla 2, Travieso). Turnovers: 10 (E Padilla 4, Camby 2, Travieso 2, Bright, Nunez). Steals: 8 (Camby 2, E Padilla 2, Bright, Clarke, Travieso, Weeks). XAVIER OH (74) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp T Johnson 35 5-10 6-9 2-11 1 5 16 Williams 38 4-10 3-5 4-4 1 2 12 Carr 27 7-7 3-4 4-6 0 5 17 Brown 36 2-9 10-11 2-5 2 3 15 Lumpkin 43 4-12 3-4 2-6 6 1 13 Kelsey 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Anderson 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Harvey 4 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Murray 10 0-2 1-2 1-3 0 1 1 Payne 13 0-0 0-0 1-3 1 5 0 Brit 15 0-3 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 225 22-55 26-35 16-38 11 24 74 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.400, FT-.743. 3-Point Goals: 4-11, .364 (Williams 1-2, Brown 1-3, Lumpkin 2-3, Harvey 0-1, Murray 0-1, Brit 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 4 (Williams, Carr, Brown, Payne). Turnovers: 17 (Brown 3, Carr 3, Lumpkin 3, Payne 2, T Johnson 2, Williams 2, Brit, Kelsey). Steals: 5 (Brown 2, Carr, Harvey, T Johnson). _______________________________________ Massachusetts 31 37 10 - 78 Xavier Oh 32 36 6 - 74 _______________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 10,118. Officials: Larry Lembo, Tim Higgins, Jerry Donaghy.