Minutemen attend Garden party with Rams
By Candice Flemming, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 6, 1996
When the No. 1 Massachusetts men's basketball team faced Fordham a week ago, the result was a much-expected blowout — an 80-50 Minuteman victory.
When the Minutemen match up against the Rams again tonight at the Madison Square Garden, the same result is expected.
But coming off their 78-74 overtime victory over Xavier on Sunday, in which the Minutemen were lucky to escape with the win, UMass must be careful.
Sure the Rams are coming into the game with just two wins (2-16 overall, 0-9 in the A-10) and UMass is the heavy favorite, but the Minutemen were heavy favorites against Xavier as well.
While UMass headed into Sunday’s contest thinking it was going to come away with the easy victory, the Musketeers came in believing they could win. and almost came away with the biggest upset in college basketball this season.
“I don't think the kids gave enough respect to Xavier,” Massachusetts coach John Calipari said. “Skip [Prosser] had them ready. They were fearless. They expected to win. That's a tribute to Skip and the job he's done.”
Now Fordham will try to come away with the biggest upset of the year.
“I would hope that what Xavier did helped us,” Fordham coach Nick Macarchuk said “We were in awe the last time we played [UMass].”
The Rams must play a lot better than they did against the Minutemen on Jan. 30, when they shot just 32 percent and turned the ball over 17 times. Billy Lovett and John Henry (seven boards) led Fordham against UMass, as they scored 12 points a piece.
Marcus Camby led UMass in his third game back after his fainting spell, scoring 24 points and blocking five shots while Edgar Padilla scored nine points and also dished out 10 assists. It was Padilla who rescued the Minutemen against Xavier as his trey with 15 seconds left sent the game into overtime, and then it was his steal in the extra period that sealed the win for UMass.
Padilla hadn't played particularly well against Xavier until his late heroics, while his backcourt mate, Carmelo Travieso struggled against the Musketeers as well, finishing with just five points before fouling out.
Macarchuk was impressed with Padilla and Travieso after last week's contest.
“Their back court is just so sound,” he said. “They are an extension of John Calipari.”
On the Rams' roster, there are no players averaging in double figures, while all five of the Minutemen starters do. Henry leads the Rams with 9.6 points per game while Camby leads UMass with 20 9 points per game.
“If someone plays a perfect game [against us], then we go home with a loss — who cares? This is all about preparing for the tournament,” Calipari said. “We've been through everything this year. It's been a good season for us to learn about our team, we've seen just about all of it.
“I'm not sure how much you learn from a loss. We've won 21 games and those were all hard-fought games, so we've learned.”
Minuteman notes: In the latest Naismith Player of the Year poll, Camby remains the front runner with 55 percent of the voles. Wake Forest's Tim Duncan (23 percent), UConn's Ray Allen (16 percent), Georgetown's Allen Iverson (eight percent) and Villanova's Kerry Kittles (six percent), round out the top five vote-getters.
UMass is everyone's No. 1 target
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/6/1996
NEW YORK – This undefeated/No. 1 stuff is hard work. Opponents pounce on you like a lion that skipped breakfast. There are hostile greetings in enemy gyms. Critics question your prowess and progress, constantly listing teams they think could knock you off.
The University of Massachusetts Minutemen (21-0, 9-0 Atlantic 10) survived for a sixth consecutive week as the No. 1 team in college basketball and appear armed for another week of battles on and off the court.
“Everybody watches us in the warmup line, and they say, 'They're not that good,' ” said UMass coach John Calipari, whose team meets Atlantic 10 foe Fordham for the second time in a week tonight. Game time is 8:30 at Madison Square Garden.
“A newspaper up here in the Northeast said our guards can't play,” added Calipari. “You know what? The best thing about college basketball is that you don't have to talk. There's a tournament at the end of the year that speaks for everybody. You don't have to have any posturing, like in college football. The tournament decides how good you are.”
Until then, the Minutemen must face teams like scrappy Atlantic 10 foe Xavier, which came close to knocking them off Sunday before losing in overtime, 78-74. Prior to that game, a Cincinnati newspaper wondered whether No. 2 Kentucky was playing better basketball than UMass. After the game, Xavier fans added No. 5 Cincinnati to the list.
“We didn't believe three freshmen and a sophomore in Xavier's starting lineup could beat us,” said Calipari. “They came at us and they expected to win the game.
“I think that for us to have the emotional game we had against Temple, to play well against Fordham and do good things against them and then to win at Xavier shows we've been through just about everything. We've been in three overtime games this year. We've either trailed at the half or been tied at the half nine times.
“It's been a good season to learn about the team. We've learned how we play against zone, how we play against the press, how we play when down at the half.”
Last week, Fordham was the least of UMass' worries. The lowly Rams (2-16, 0-9) shot 23 percent in the first half, trailed by 15, and went on to lose, 80-50.
Fordham coach Nick Macarchuk, coming off an 87-75 loss to Duquesne Sunday, hopes to use the Xavier game as a motivating tool for his players, who he said were in awe of UMass the first time.
“We want to get them to relax against UMass,” he said. “If we do, we might be able to play better and cut down on our turnovers.”
In all three wins last week, UMass guards Edgar Padilla, Carmelo Travieso and Charlton Clarke played major roles offensively and defensively. They continue to disprove critics who claim the backcourt is UMass' weak link.
“Our guards play off of each other, they play smart and they defend,” said Calipari. “They're steady players. They're not flashy, and they're not the kind of guys who will dominate a game, unless you leave them open and then they will dominate a game.”
“I think the thing that makes them work is their backcourt,” said Macarchuk. “They're an extension of John. They play the way he wants them to play, so they don't go out there and make a lot of mistakes.”
Massachusetts (#1) 73, Fordham 47
From The Associated Press, 2/6/1996
Marcus Camby scored 10 of his 19 second-half points in a 20-2 run that blew the game open and lifted unbeaten and top-ranked Massachusetts to a 73-47 rout of hapless Atlantic 10 foe Fordham at Madison Square Garden.
Camby finished with 26 points for the Minutemen, who improved to 22-0 overall and 10-0 in the Atlantic 10, their seventh straight season with 10 or more conference victories. Massachusetts leads the all-time series, 8-5, and has won four straight against Fordham. The Rams have not beaten Massachusetts since January 18th, 1982.
“The perfect record is not the burden, travel is,” said Massachusetts coach John Calipari. “We have had a long road trip. The kids have two days off now. I don't think we are physically tired, we have just been on the road.”
Darren Deschryver led Fordham (2-17, 0-10 A-10) with 12 points – all in the first half. Billy Lovett and Chris DiMascio each had eight points for the Rams, who are in search of their first-ever win in the conference and have a 10-game losing streak.
“They are not as talented as some teams we have played against, but they have chemistry,” said Fordham coach Nick Makarchuk. “I wish I had this. I am envious of their coach.”
Fordham trailed by a point at halftime and was within 36-33 with 15:03 left when Camby exploded. He had six points in a 10-0 surge that gave the Minutemen a 13-point lead with 11:11 remaining. He added four more in a 10-2 spurt that closed the game-breaking run and increased the bulge to 56-35 with 7:04 left.
“They presented a tremendous problem for us in the second half,” Makarchuk said. “They are a very good team. They defend well and we went about eight minutes without a basket in the second half. That was the difference.”
Camby was 11-of-17 from the field as Massachusetts shot 48 per cent (30-of-62). The Minutemen had trouble from the foul line, converting just 11 of their 23 attempts (48 per cent), but held a 38-27 rebounding edge.
“We are alright,” Camby said. “A lot of guys are physically tired, coming off the Temple game and stuff. We have been away from school for a week or so. We have some catching up to do. I'm not tired, I feel great. My ankle is still sore, but I just had to play through it.”
Fordham trailed 27-26 at the half as Deschryver scored all of his points. U-Mass built a 21-8 advantage over the first 14 minutes of the game before Camby sat down. The Rams seized the opportunity with a surprising 17-0 run, headed by six points apiece from DiMascio and Deschryver, to grab a 25-21 edge with 68 seconds left.
“I couldn't really yell and scream,” Calipari said. “I don't feel that well, so I couldn't do that. What we did was run everything close to the basket, so if we missed we could get the rebound.”
“I think we took them lightly in the first half,” Weeks said. “Enthusiasm is what turned the game around. We had enthusiasm in the second half.”
“Tyrone Weeks is playing better and better,” said Makarchuk. “When they have Camby and Weeks out there together all I can do is grab my rosary. … There is no such thing as moral victories, we are 2-17. Everyone has been patting them on the back. I had to say some nasty things to them. I'm grateful they fight hard, but there's no such thing as a moral victory.”
Lovett left the game late in the second half with an elbow injury and did not return for Fordham, which shot 36 per cent (16-of-45) from the field.
UMass is half-decent
Late-starting Minutemen get a little scare from Fordham
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/7/1996
NEW YORK – Sunday's scare at Xavier was not a fluke; it was a warning. The No. 1 team in college basketball is sluggish, drained and ripe for an upset.
Two games ago, the University of Massachusetts looked invincible after an awesome display of aggression and precision against Temple. Since then, the Minutemen have been fortunate to battle two teams that couldn't sustain enough firepower or concentration to send them home with a defeat.
On Sunday, Xavier pushed the Minutemen to the brink before botching a couple of plays at the end of regulation and overtime. Last night lowly Atlantic 10 foe Fordham, a 2-17 team that lost to UMass by 30 points last week, rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit with a 17-0 run to take a 4- point lead.
Only then did the Minutemen battle back with a 17-4 run that helped turn the game into a 73-47 rout, and afterward, they uttered a lot of the same quotes they did Sunday, when they complained of taking their opponent too lightly.
“We were just out there toying around instead of playing hard,” said power forward Tyrone Weeks, who had 8 points and seven boards for the Minutemen (22-0, 10-0). “We let them come back. When you look at Fordham, you say, 'They're not supposed to be a great team,' but they made it a game.”
“At halftime, Coach John Calipari said, 'You didn't come to play tonight, and you didn't come to play on Sunday, either,' ” said center Marcus Camby, who had a game-high 26 points, including 7 in the big run that put UMass up, 46-33, with 11:10 left. “Coach Cal said, 'If you keep doing this, you're going to get beat.' ”
Had they played a more formidable opponent, they probably would have. Even as it built a 21-8 lead over the first 14 minutes, UMass was off its game. Outside shooting was practically nonexistent (2 for 10 from 3-point range) as the Minutemen relied on second-chance shots (outrebounding Fordham, 41-32, in the half) to establish their lead.
“A lot of guys are physically tired, even though I'm not,” said Camby. “After the Temple game last Thursday and the Xavier game on Sunday, it's nice to get two days off and come back to practice Friday and Saturday to get ready for a tough one on Sunday.
“We think we can win every game, but we just have to become more focused and go from there.”
The Minutemen became focused after the second-half surge, and the game quickly became a bore. With 9:09 left, Camby scored on a dunk to put UMass up, 54-35. With 5:31 left, Weeks scored on a layup to increase the lead to 62-39. Guard Edgar Padilla hit a driving layup to give the Minutemen their biggest lead, 68-41, with 4:18 to go.
“We've had a long road trip,” said Calipari, who wasn't as animated as usual (he said he ate something that disagreed with him). “Our kids played well in the second half, but you have to give credit to Fordham. They played the way they had to in order to win. They played physical and they rebounded.”
That kind of play, and a raucous crowd, helped the Rams submit perhaps their best stretch of basketball all season. They beat UMass on back-door plays, hit 3-pointers and scored while being fouled to go ahead, 25-21, with 1:09 left before intermission.
But coach Nick Macarchuk, whose team dropped to 0-10 in conference play, hardly took solace in the effort.
“When you are 2-17, there are no moral victories,” he said.
Clean getaway by UMass
Team keeps itself in perfect position
By Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe Staff, 2/7/1996
NEW YORK – Can they run the table?
This is the question folks were asking after the best basketball team in the land came to the most famous gym in the world last night.
With a 73-47 decimation of Fordham, the top-ranked University of Massachusetts is now 22-0, and hoop gurus are asking coach John Calipari about Bobby Knight's 1976 (32-0) Indiana Hoosiers.
“It's not a burden,” Calipari said. “Travel is our burden. Our goal is to win a national title. If we achieve some other things along the way, so be it.”
UMass has been ranked No. 1 for six weeks. Only seven regular-season games remain. Then comes the Atlantic 10 tournament. Then comes the large cotillion (a k a “The Big Dance”). If they win 'em all, the Minutemen will finish a whopping 38-0. Seven NCAA teams have gone unbeaten, but nobody has won 38 games in a season.
NCAA hoop perfection might be too much to ask in 1996. Led by Bill Russell, San Francisco went 29-0 in 1956. A year later, Frank McGuire's North Carolina team upset Wilt Chamberlain and finished 32-0. UCLA went undefeated in 1964, '67, '72 and '73 – each time with a record of 30-0. UCLA had Gail Goodrich, then Lew Alcindor, then Bill Walton. UCLA also had John Wooden. Finally, Grandmaster Knight took a team of future pros (Quinn Buckner, Scott May, Kent Benson & Co.) to 32-0 in 1976.
“It's nice we can be thought of in the same breath as a team that had five NBA No. 1 draft picks,” Calipari said. “And their coach is in the Hall of Fame, isn't he? So I think they're slightly better than we are.”
In addition to those seven undefeated NCAA champs, 10 schools went undefeated before losing in the NCAA tournament. The last team to go unbeaten prior to the tournament was UNLV in 1990-91. The Runnin' Rebels didn't didn't even have a close game until Duke beat them in the NCAA semifinals.
It's hard to believe by the final score, but UMass actually was in a game for 25 minutes last night. Fordham outscored the Minutemen, 17-0, in a first- half stretch and held a brief lead early in the second half.
Calipari hoped to get this one over with early so he could rest his overworked starters, but Fordham managed to drag the game down to a lower level. Fordham's center is named Connie Mack – fairly appropriate for a school that gave the world Vince Lombardi and Frankie Frisch. The immortal Darren Deschryver torched UMass for 12 points in the first 20 minutes.
Fordham coach Nick Macarchuk certainly had no false hopes concerning his team's prospects. UMass beat the Rams, 80-50, in Amherst last week and the Fordham coach took the Paul Gaston route Monday, telling us that his team stinks. He said he recruited kids to play against Lehigh, not against the No. 1 team in the nation. He said he hoped this game did not embarrass the university. Nice pep talk.
One would figure that Calipari didn't have to warn his kids about overconfidence. Just three days ago, the Minutemen were taken into overtime by tiny Xavier.
“This has been a long road trip,” Calipari explained. “I really didn't scream and yell at them at halftime. I just went up to each one and said, 'This is you – what are you doing?' ”
UMass blew it out with a 46-21 second half. Tyrone Weeks conceded, “We came out and took them for granted in the first half.”
It's been an interesting few days for the unbeaten Amherst gang. The Minutemen came directly to New York after the scare in Ohio and watched the Pistons-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden Monday night. They were hoping to see former teammate Lou Roe play for the Pistons, but Detroit coach Doug Collins spoiled the party and kept Roe on the pine all night.
Calipari's guys were back at MSG for shooting practice early yesterday, and last night a few of them came out and sat in the stands to watch Manhattan beat Notre Dame. Marcus Camby was hounded for autographs as he sat in Loge 83.
Camby wound up with 26 points last night.
“We look at every game as a game we can win,” said the star center. “But if we play like we did in the first half tonight, we can be knocked off easily.”
The Minutemen will be back in Amherst against Temple for the annual John Chaney "I'll kill you, Calipari" Sunday matinee. Then comes a tough game against nationally ranked Virginia Tech. The closer at Louisville also figures to be a battle. There didn't figure to be many other tough games until the tournament, but then again, it's a Big Country.
UMass spoils Fordham’s Garden party
By Candice Flemming, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 7, 1996
NEW YORK – The Massachusetts men’s basketball team should just throw its black uniforms away, because they have never been anything but bad luck.
The first time the Minutemen wore black was last season and they lost their No. 1 ranking in a 78-75 setback at George Washington (Feb 4. 1995). The next time they donned black was in this season’s first exhibition game against Dinamo of Russia, and in that contest which despite winning, UMass didn’t play particularly well.
Last night, UMass wore black for just the third time in its matchup with Fordham. The Rams were just 2-16 and the Minutemen came in as 29 point favorites. No problem, right?
Wrong. After falling being 21-8 early on, the Rams staged a remarkable comeback (17-0 run) temporarily taking the lead, before falling to the No. 1 ranked Minutemen, 73-47 at Madison Square Garden.
It was the inspired play of Chris DiMascio that keyed the Rams’ run. The 6-foot-6 sophomore grabbed two big steals and drilled two huge treys, the first pulling the Rams within four and the second giving Fordham its first lead 22-21 with 2:29 left in the half.
“You have to give Fordham credit, Nick [Macarchuk] had them ready to play,” UMass coach John Calipari said. “They played physical and out-rebounded us in the first half.”
Darren Deschryver was big in the run as well, scoring eight points including the first and last baskets of the Rams’ incredible 17-0 run, that turned a 13-point deficit into a four point lead for the Rams. Fordham increased their lead 25-21 before UMass regrouped to take a one-point half-time lead 27-26.
“That was one of the greatest feelings being up 25-21, but looking at our record, it doesn’t feel as good,” said Deschryver. “We were hustling, playing with so much enthusiasm out there, but in the second half, it wasn’t there.”
After a slow start in the second half, the Minutemen finally woke up putting the game out of reach with a 27-7 run after intermission. Marcus Camby keyed that run with nine points.
“In the second half, after coach Cal ripped us, we got it going,” Camby said. “[From now on] everybody has to come to the games more focused, myself included.”
A Tyrone Weeks basket (eight points, seven boards) underneath with 5:31 left, increased UMass’ lead to 23 and from then on the lead never dipped below that amount. A Camby (26 points, two blocks) slam with 4:32 left gave the Minutemen a 66-41 lead and put the finishing touch on the victory.
“When you’re 2-17, there’s no such thing as a moral victory,” Fordham coach Nick Macarchuk said. “You either win or lose. There’s no such thing as coming close or just working hard, we lost.”
Deschryver finished with a team high 12 points while DiMacio and Billy Lovett finished with eight points a piece. Donta Bright finished with 12 points and three steals as Edgar Padilla had nine points, four assists, and a game high five steals.
Weeks turned in another solid performance off the bench, finishing with eight points, seven boards, and one block.
“Weeks is turning into a very good player,” Macarchuk said. “He’s becoming better and better as time goes on.”
“I think Tyrone is playing great basketball right now,” Calipari said.
Fearless guard play has keyed UMass
By Justin C. Smith, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 7, 1996
NEW YORK – In last year’s NCAA Tournament game with Oklahoma State, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team was without the services of guard Edgar Padilla. In that 68-64 loss, the ankle injury to the UMass point guard of the future, went a long way in keeping the Minutemen from the Final Four.
That injury to Padilla pushed fellow sophomore Carmelo Travieso into the starting line-up, as he was the only other true guard on John Calipari’s bench.
Travieso stepped up with 11 points, exactly his average this season. But it wasn’t enough as UMass’ season ended. The lack of depth in the position hurt last year’s post-season run, and many felt it may be the Minutemen’s downfall this season as well. It turned out to be a strength.
Even with freshman Charlton Clarke breaking a bone in his foot during the Kentucky game, it has been the play of the guards that gets as much attention as leading Player of the Year candidate Marcus Camby. It may be that the two entities make each other that much better.
The four games in which Camby was out of the line-up, the UMass backcourt was forced to collapse into the lane, allowing opposing clubs to shoot a higher percentage from the outside. The best three-point shooting performance against the Minutemen was Duquesne’s 8-14 (.571 percent) shooting from downtown, in UMass’ third game without its center.
Since Camby’s return, Padilla and Travieso, along with a now healthy Clarke, have been able to worry about guarding their own men and extending the defense. Case in point, opponents are shooting 17 percent from behind the arc since the Hartford native’s return from his collapse. That included an 0-15 shooting performance by arch-rival Temple, who used the trey to beat the Minutemen in their previous trip to McGonigle Hall, when the Owls hit 64 percent of their long range bombs. (UMassHoops.com fact check: That 64% stat was erroneously used. Temple hit 64% of their free throws in the 2/23/1995 game, but went a close-to-average 38% from three that day.)
Defense isn’t the only way the UMass guards can beat you. The Minutemen used clutch shooting by Travieso to knock off upset-minded Pittsburgh (27 points) and Duquesne (33 points). The confidence that the duo has developed has also made the backcourt fearless in situations where it needed to perform.
Last night after a lackluster, at best, first half, Padilla picked up the Minutemen with his defense making several steals and assists to help UMass pull away and cruise to a 73-47 victory. Padilla finished with nine points, but more importantly five steals and four assists while committing only one turnover.
In the Minutemen’s pursuit of perfection, the latest scare was provided by Xavier on Sunday. After hitting only one lay-up all game, Padilla knocked down a pull-up three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. In OT, his fearless attitude ended the game for the Minutemen.
Acknowledging Camby’s presence in the middle, having the ability to block or alter shots, Padilla was allowed to overplay the ballhandler. He poked the ball away from behind and Clarke went in for an uncontested layup, providing the winning 78-74 margin.
MASSACHUSETTS (73) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Bright 24 6-12 0-1 4-4 3 4 12 Dingle 24 2-5 1-2 4-8 0 3 5 Camby 27 11-17 4-7 2-3 2 2 26 E Padilla 29 4-7 0-0 0-1 4 4 9 Travieso 30 0-5 1-2 2-4 2 1 1 Weeks 20 4-4 0-0 2-7 0 2 8 Norville 12 2-4 0-0 3-5 0 1 5 Cottrell 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 Clarke 15 1-3 2-5 0-2 0 0 4 Nunez 7 0-2 2-4 2-3 1 1 2 G Padilla 4 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Burns 2 0-1 1-2 0-0 0 0 1 Maclay 1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 30-62 11-23 19-38 12 21 73 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.484, FT-.478. 3-Point Goals: 2-10, .200 (Bright 0-2, E Padilla 1-3, Travieso 0-2, Norville 1-1, G Padilla 0-1, Burns 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 3 (Camby 2, Weeks). Turnovers: 15 (Bright 3, Camby 3, Weeks 3, Clarke 2, E Padilla, G Padilla, Nunez, Travieso). Steals: 15 (E Padilla 5, Bright 3, Dingle 2, Norville 2, Camby, G Padilla, Travieso). FORDHAM (47) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Berrien 35 1-3 2-3 3-7 2 4 4 Henry 34 2-6 2-5 1-4 2 3 6 Mack 13 1-6 1-2 0-1 0 5 3 Lovett 25 3-8 2-3 0-1 3 2 8 Dimascio 26 3-6 0-0 0-2 1 1 8 Deschryver 24 5-10 2-2 3-5 1 3 12 Mascia 16 1-4 0-0 0-2 2 1 2 Baxter 14 0-1 0-0 1-2 1 1 0 Carroll 10 0-1 4-6 1-2 0 0 4 Barrett 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Browne 1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 Kissane 1 0-0 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 16-45 13-23 9-27 12 20 47 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.356, FT-.565. 3-Point Goals: 2-6, .333 (Berrien 0-1, Lovett 0-1, Dimascio 2-4). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 24 (Baxter 4, Berrien 4, Henry 4, Deschryver 3, Lovett 3, Mack 3, Carroll, Dimascio, Mascia). Steals: 8 (Dimascio 3, Baxter 2, Berrien, Henry, Lovett). __________________________________ Massachusetts 27 46 - 73 Fordham 26 21 - 47 __________________________________ Technical fouls: Fordham 1 (). A: 9,695. Officials: Phil Bova, Gene Monje, Rich San Fillipo.