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February 28, 1996 - Saint Joseph's vs. UMass

  • Result: UMass (#2) 68, Saint Joseph's 66, OT
  • Attendance: 9,493 (sellout)


Mass. Daily Collegian

Senior night ends UM’s regular season
By Candice Flemming, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 28, 1996

After getting its 26-game winning streak snapped by George Washington last Saturday, the No. 2 Massachusetts men’s basketball team (26-1) will try to start a new streak tonight against St. Joseph’s.

Tonight’s 7 p.m. matchup at the William D. Mullins Center is also the last home game ever for the five UMass seniors: Dana Dingle, Donta Bright, Rigoberto Nunez, Ted Cottrell and Giddel Padilla.

“It’s their senior night, so Dingle and Bright are going to be on,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “There will be chants for [Marcus] Camby to stay one more year - I’ll be leading the chant for ‘leave, leave, leave.’ It’s going to make it a more difficult challenge for ourselves.

“We’re not going to sneak up on them. We’re not going to surrender. We’re not running up a white flag. We’re going to go up there and see what happens.”

The loss against the Colonials couldn’t have come at a better time for the Minutemen, according to UMass coach John Calipari.

“At times you get intoxicated with success and you think it’s going to be easy,” he said. “I can tell you every year that I’ve been [at UMass], the same thing has happened. You get caught up in [the success]. The little things in a game that you let slip, come back to haunt you. For us, [the loss] comes at a good time.

“The pressure for us right now is to prepare, to get better. It’s time to look in the mirror. We all agree what the solutions are. Wake Forest got beat by 20, UConn goes down to Georgetown and gets blown away - those things happen. What you have to do is learn from them and try to figure out why it happened.”

Calipari calls Bright the “best finisher in the country but the Baltimore native is coming off one of the worst games of his career against GW, in which he missed three dunks and a layup. Camby has been struggling of late also. Against GW, the 6-foot-11-inch junior shot just 8-for-21 from the field.

“[The team] accepts that we have to do some things now,” Calipari said. “We have to step it up. We needed that [loss]. We have kids in a great frame of mind. We have no distractions within our team - none. As long as that’s the case we’re going to be okay.”

“UMass is coming off a loss, that should be fun,” Martelli said. “[This game] will get the juices flowing again [for us] real quick this week.”

As is the tradition on Senior night, all of the UMass seniors will start. Here’s a quick look at each of the seniors:

Dingle has been the top defender for UMass all season and is usually the guy to get the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s top player. He did this against Virginia Tech’s leading scorer Ace Custis and held him to seven points.

Bright, after playing inconsistent ball for his first two seasons, has finally lived up to the lofty expectations put upon him when he entered UMass four years ago. He’s been the Minutemen’s second leading scorer all year with top performances against Wake Forest (22 points), Boston College (24 points), Rhode Island (32 points, nine boards), Pittsburgh (26 points), Xavier (21 points, seven boards), and Virginia Tech (19 points, six boards).

Nunez, (originally) a walk-on, has been a spark-plug off the bench, and his enthusiastic and aggressive play made him a fan favorite. Often one of the first players off the bench for UMass, Nunez’ inspired play earned him a scholarship.

In his four years at UMass, Cottrell has produced solid minutes off the bench, especially this season. Against Fordham, the Annapolis, Md. native saw his most action of the season and responded with six points and three boards in 10 minutes.

Giddel Padilla, the older brother of Edgar, originally walked-on at UMass during the 1992-93 season but left the team during the 1993-94 season. Padilla’s best performances this season have come against Fordham (Jan. 30) when he totaled four points and three rebounds.

Boston Globe

Now No. 2, UMass will try harder
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/27/1996

After his team defeated top-ranked and previously undefeated Massachusetts Saturday, George Washington coach Mike Jarvis said the Minutemen still deserved to be No. 1 in the polls – but he added that voters probably wouldn't agree. He was correct on at least one account.

UMass' nine-week reign – the longest since Duke was No. 1 for the entire 1991-92 season – has ended. Kentucky, which has not lost since being defeated by the Minutemen in its season opener, is No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/CNN polls, while UMass fell to No. 2 in both.

Kansas was third, Connecticut fourth and Purdue fifth in both polls. Jarvis' Colonials broke into the AP poll at 24, knocking out Boston College, which lost twice last week.

Yesterday, UMass coach John Calipari said prior to the release of the AP poll that the pressure of being No. 1 and going unbeaten are gone, and now the Minutemen can concentrate solely on improvement.

“The pressure for us now is to prepare for postseason,” said Calipari. “We have pressure to get better. We're not panicking; 26-1 is a good record. We just have to figure out what went wrong.”

After Saturday's 86-76 setback in Amherst, many, including Calipari, anticipated that Kentucky would leapfrog UMass in the polls.

“The team that's going to be No. 1 we beat, but that's fine,” said Calipari. “For us, it's a matter of getting that seed and getting in the NCAA tournament and having some fun.”

Jarvis said Saturday some voters would prefer to see another team No. 1 regardless of the outcome; he was repeating the Atlantic 10 coaches' longstanding claim that their teams seldom get the respect those in other conferences do.

Yesterday, St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, whose team plays UMass tomorrow, echoed those sentiments.

“I'd be stunned if UMass were still ranked No. 1,” said Martelli. “I just watch the way these things work and I sometimes question the sanity of people.

“You have a team like Virginia Tech, who earlier this season lost a game and dropped four spots. Then a team like Clemson loses twice in one week and drops one spot. It's just a matter of perception.”

Second helping for UMass? St. Joe's to see
St. Joseph's wary entering rematch

By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/28/1996

No need to tell St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli what to expect from the University of Massachusetts in tonight's Atlantic 10 matchup at the Mullins Center.

The Minutemen (26-1, 14-1) are probably still smarting from Saturday's 86-76 loss to George Washington at home, which ended both their unbeaten season and their nine-week reign as the nation's No. 1 team (the longest since Duke in 1992). In the last game of the season at Mullins, the Minutemen, now No. 2, will be eager to return to the form that earned them that top ranking.

“UMass coming off a loss? I think it's going to be tough for us no matter what,” said Martelli.

And that's not all St. Joe's has stacked against it.

“It's Seniors Night, so the fans are going to be excited for Donta Bright and Dana Dingle,” said Martelli. “The fans are going to be chanting for junior Marcus Camby to stay another year, and I'm going to be leading the chant of 'Leave, leave, leave!' ”

Martelli, whose Hawks (13-10, 8-6) are looking to secure third place in the Atlantic 10 East Division, said the Minutemen are probably still sore over the GWU loss and “looking to see who to take it out on. It will be more difficult for us because we played them tough at our place earlier this year, so we can't sneak up on them.”

Martelli's reference was to UMass' 94-89 overtime win in Philadephia Jan. 10, when Camby had a career-high 34 points. The Hawks are 9-5 since then and have won four straight. But they have lost six straight to the Minutemen.

In the earlier meeting, there were 17 ties and 22 lead changes. Both teams shot extremely well. St. Joseph's hit 57 percent from the floor, including 59 percent in the first half. UMass was 14 for 24 (58 percent) in each half, 4 for 6 (67 percent) in overtime.

UMass led, 76-70, with 44.2 seconds left in regulation but St. Joseph's outscored the Minutemen, 9-3, to send the game into overtime.

UMass coach John Calipari said he is pleased with how his team responded to Saturday's loss.

“We didn't play well and we know that,” he said. “We took blame for that very well. Marcus took the blame, the guards took the blame. We've watched the George Washington tape to make sure those kind of things don't happen again.”

The unbeaten record and No. 1 ranking are history, but they apparently played a role in increased applications at UMass.

University spokeswoman Kay Scanlon said yesterday the total of applications received before the Feb. 12 deadline (when UMass was No. 1 for the seventh consecutive week) was 10,995 – up 7.5 percent from last year.

“I've spoken with a few persons and admissions, and they said that some of the rise is due to the increased exposure of the team,” said Scanlon. “They said that when they go to high school college fair nights, people are talking about the team.”


Mass. Daily Collegian 2/29

Minutemen struggle but come away with OT win
By Candice Flemming, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 29, 1996

When a team shoots just 53 percent from the free throw line and just 34 percent from the field, it usually loses. But when you’re talking about the Massachusetts men’s basketball team, it’s a different story.

The Minutemen shot just 20-of-38 from the line and just 24-of-71, but still managed to come away with a 68-66 overtime victory against St. Joseph’s last night at the William D. Mullins Center. With the win, the Minutemen’s (27-1, 15-1 in the Atlantic 10) chances for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament remained high.

With the score 58-55 in favor of St. Joe’s with 34.4 seconds to go senior Rigoberto Nunez, one of five seniors playing in their last home game, was involved in the play of the game. The Hawks had the ball, the lead and time in their favor, but before St. Joseph’s could get the ball inbounds, Nunez was fouled hard by Terrell Myers. Nunez converted on one of his two free throws to pull UMass to within two and UMass got the ball.

“I was all over him playing defense,” Nunez said. “It was crunch time and I didn’t want him to get the ball. Coach [John Calipari] told me to go out there and don’t let the guy touch the ball. He definitely pushed me. I lost my balance and went down.”

“I just saw Rigo fall. I didn’t see what happened,” Donta Bright said. “I think that play right there won the ballgame.”

Donta Bright hit the fall-away jumper to tie it late. (Click for video.)

After a couple missed opportunities, the Minutemen got the ball back with 18.6 seconds left. After a missed jumper by Donta Bright (15 points, 15 boards) and a missed put-back by Marcus Camby (21 points, 15 boards), Bright sent the game into overtime by nailing a 10-foot jumper with 3.7 seconds left.

“I didn’t know how much time was left,” Bright said. “I just wanted to get [the shot] off before the horn went off.”

After a Reggie Townsend jumper put the Hawks up 60-58 in the overtime period, freshman Charlton Clarke came up with a running jumper off the glass to tie things up. But Myers proceeded to nail a trey with 2:53 left giving St. Joe’s a 60-63 lead. Then Carmelo Travieso came up with one of his usual three-point plays, but this time not from downtown. Travieso followed up on his own missed three-point attempt with a jumper in the paint and got fouled, sinking the free throw attempt to tie it up at 63.

A Camby basket in the paint and two free throws by Tyrone Weeks (12 points, 11 boards) gave UMass a seemingly comfortable 67-63 lead with 38 seconds to go. But the Hawks made it interesting - helped by the Minutemen’s poor foul shooting down the stretch. An Edgar Padilla foul sent Myers to the line with 31 seconds to go. Myers sank the first show and missed the second, but Will Johnson tipped the ball in to pull the Hawks to within one.

Padilla had a chance to give the Minutemen some breathing room when he went to the charity stripe with 16 seconds left but the usually solid free-throw shooter missed both. He went to the line again three seconds later, this time making one of two making the score 68-66. A last second attempt by Myers fell short, preserving the win.

Marcus Camby watches as Edgar Padilla gets control of the long rebound.

“If we’re down by 100 points with two minutes to go, we still think we have a chance to win,” Bright said.

A big reason why UMass was able to come away with the victory was its tenacity on the boards, as the Minutemen held a 60 to 34 advantage on the glass including a 32 to eight edge on the offensive boards.

“The game came down to rebounding. Our No. 1 priority was rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. It was not to play close or to entertain anybody,” St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli said. “[UMass] is one of the finest rebounding teams because they are so relentless. To give up 32 offensive boards, that’s embarrassing.”

“St. Joe’s just came ready to play,” Camby said. “They played a hard-fought game. You can’t take anything away from them.”

The Minutemen led throughout most of the first half and entered the locker room at halftime with a 24-19 lead. They increased that to as much as 10 with 15:56 left. But that’s when UMass started to fall apart. St. Joe’s proceeded to go on a 12-3 run making it 37-36 UMass and then took its first lead since the first half on a Mark Bass free throw with 9:34 left in the game.

“We came up here to win the game and we didn’t get it done,” Martelli said.

Nunez makes last home game count
By Justin C. Smith, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 29, 1996

It’s tradition on Massachusetts’ senior night that the graduating Minutemen all start. For Ted Cottrell, Rigoberto Nunez and Giddel Padilla, it was their first start in a Minuteman uniform. Normally when the Minutemen have already secured the win, the three come in for well-deserved playing time.

Last night’s 68-66 UMass win was nothing like that, but Nunez was on the court for, and part of, the most critical possession of the game.

With 34.4 seconds left in regulation and UMass missing five of its last eight free throws, the Minutemen trailed by three, 58-55. In an attempt to make a stop at the defensive end, Nunez was brought in for his defensive expertise.

While guarding Terrell Myers on the inbounds play, the Lawrence native was pushed twice, the second time causing him to fall to the floor of the William D. Mullins Center for an intentional personal foul on Myers. Nunez got two foul shots, but more importantly, gave possession of the ball back to UMass.

After hitting one of two from the charity stripe, Nunez went back to the bench as Donta Bright came back out to the floor. After UMass missed on two attempts to tie, Bright picked up the loose ball of a Marcus Camby miss and hit a leaning jump shot with 3.7 seconds left on the clock, sending the game into overtime.

“I think that play won the ball game for us,” Bright, another senior playing in his last game at the Mullins Center, said. “I wouldn’t be here talking to you about our win if [not for that play].”

The foul called on Myers was not an immediate one. Before the call was made by referee Thom Corbin, the three officials met at half court to discuss the play before going to the scorers table and announcing the foul.

“I saw the play in 100 percent full view,” Corbin said. “The play was off the ball, No. 5 gave a two-handed hard push, [the officials] made the call and took it to the table.”

“It’s a very strange call,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “It’s disappointing. I think he may be able to go to Los Angeles for the Academy Awards, but I’m not sure.”

The former walk-on told his side of the crucial play and commented on his acting career.

“I just didn’t want him to get the ball inbounds,” Nunez said. “He kept telling me, ‘The ball hasn’t been inbounded yet. Get off of me.’ But it was crunch time so I didn’t want the ball to get inbounded so I stayed on him. He pushed me then he pushed me again. I lost my balance and fell. So they called the foul.

“I wish I was [a good actor] and could go to Hollywood. I wish I was that lucky because it’s not a bad thing, but I have no skills for that.”

His coach felt that the proper call was made.

“He got hit,” UMass coach John Calipari said. “That was not an act, he got hit. It was just that one of the referees didn’t want to make the call.

“That’s Rigo though. He’s the best at doing what he needs to do.

* * *

Prior to last night’s contest, all Minutemen seniors were honored for their service to the team over their tenure. Giddel Padilla, Cottrell, Nunez, Bright and co-captain Dana Dingle all were announced to the crowd with their accomplishments as well as the three senior managers, Matt “Cheese” Komer, Lou Castellano, and Craig Goodfriend.

Coach Calipari spoke to the fans with kind words for the UMass basketball Class of 1996.

“How about what these seniors have meant to this school, this state and this program over the past four years,” he said. “This is a hard day for me. What we owe to the seniors and managers, we could never repay.”

Marcus Camby gave the crowd a scare, going down early with an apparent leg injury, but recovered quickly and played 35 of the 45 minutes.

Boston Globe

Play floored St. Joe's
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 2/29/1996

AMHERST – It may have been during the five-minute overtime that Massachusetts officially beat St. Joseph's last night, but if not for an incredible sequence in the final two minutes, the Minutemen never would have gotten that far.

Calipari was stunned as SJU nearly pulled off the upset in regulation.

The Minutemen shut out St. Joe's in the final two minutes – in fact, they barely let the Hawks out of their own end – in rallying to tie the game by scoring the final 6 points of regulation before going on to a 68-66 victory.

“I don't know how we got back in it,” said UMass coach John Calipari.

How they did it was through relentless effort to overcome their stumbling play. In fact, the two-minute comeback was not really highlight film material. There were numerous missed shots, six missed free throws, but an all-out effort on the offensive boards and full-court defense overcame that.

Those two things and a controversial intentional foul call against St. Joseph's made the difference.

St. Joe's led, 58-52, after Will Johnson hit two free throws with 2:01 left. Marcus Camby missed the second of two free throws, but the Minutemen got the offensive rebound.

Dana Dingle was fouled but made only one of two. St. Joe's had to call time out when it couldn't inbound the ball, then threw it away.

Edgar Padilla was fouled and missed both free throws. Camby got the rebound and UMass put up four shots before Tyrone Weeks was fouled on a follow.

He missed the first and made the second. St. Joe's again was forced to call time.

Rigo Nuñez comes up hurting after being fouled late.

Before the ball could be inbounded, Rigoberto Nuñez hit the floor with a thud. The referees huddled and called an intentional personal foul on St. Joe's Terrell Myers. That meant two free throws and possession of the ball.

“That was the worst call in college basketball – ever,” said Myers. “I didn't even push him.”

Referee Tom Corbin saw it differently. “I had a 100 percent sure-shot look at No. 5 Myers, who, off the ball, gave a two-hand hard push.”

St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli was hesitant to criticize the call but said, “The kid may have to go to LA for the Academy Awards.”

“He pushed me,” said Nunez matter-of-factly.

Nunez made only the second of two free throws. UMass trailed, 58-56, but still had the ball.

The Minutemen botched a play in the lane, but the ball went out of bounds off St. Joe's. Off the inbounds pass, Padilla missed a jumper and Camby's tip missed. Then Donta Bright grabbed one of 32 offensive rebounds for UMass on the night and sank a turnaround 12-footer with 3.6 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

St. Joe's Mark Bass took the inbounds pass and finally got the Hawks back over half-court, but his 40-footer didn't come close. And ultimately, UMass dodged another close call.

Sidebar: Atlantic 10 reprimands St. Joe's Martelli
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 3/1/1996

After the University of Massachusetts defeated St. Joseph's Wednesday in a game that included a controversial intentional foul against the Hawks, losing coach Phil Martelli ran up to the game officials and gave them a piece of his mind.

Yesterday Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno gave Martelli an official reprimand, saying that he “attempted to contact the game officials in an inappropriate manner.

“Coach Martelli realizes his actions were not in keeping with our code of conduct and is apologetic for those actions,” Bruno added.

“Like all of our coaches, student athletes and administrators, Coach Martelli is expected to conduct himself in an appropriate manner. He has demonstrated that throughout the year, and I know an incident like yesterday's will not happen again.”

According to the Atlantic 10 code of conduct, a second violation could result in more severe penalties.

Martelli was angered by an intentional foul against St. Joseph's guard Terrell Myers, who was called for a personal against UMass forward Rigoberto Nunez during an inbounds play near the end of regulation. Nunez fell to the floor, holding one side of his face. Thanks to the foul, UMass was able to tie the game and went on to a 68-66 overtime victory.

During the postgame press conference, Martelli was reluctant to criticize the call but said Nunez “may have to go to LA for the Academy Awards.”

Mass. Daily Collegian 3/1

In final home game of the season, Rigoberto gives fans reason to cheer
By Andrew Bryce, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, March 1, 1996

The game on Wednesday was put on hold for a brief time for good reason. The Massachusetts basketball team was playing its final home game of the season; meaning five seniors were playing in the last game of their careers on the hardwood of the William D. Mullins Center. The players were escorted to center court by their families and/or loved ones, and the fans got a chance to show their appreciation.

One of the seniors got a particularly large amount of applause, as the ovation started before public address announcer Jack O’Neill even said his name. He was the only one who had his name chanted. He is known by all, and loved by the same. The name is short, but sufficient.


John Calipari continued in his commendable tradition of starting seniors in their last home game. Rigoberto Nunez earned the first start of his career on Wednesday against the St. Joseph’s Hawks. Actually, earned cannot be stressed enough just by the use of measly italics.

Not in the case of Rigo.

Four years ago, the Lawrence native showed up on the UMass basketball team’s doorstep. The Anton Brown - Jim McCoy - Will Herndon trio who made it to the Sweet 16 in 1992 was lost to graduation. Spots opened up. Scholarships were given. Walk-ons had a chance to show what they could give the team. Rigo tried out, and eventually walked on.

In fact, Rigo worked hard enough to be a walk-on for the next two seasons. Enough to earn a scholarship for this, his final season at UMass.

Needless to say, Rigo has made a name for himself. It’s not his statistical output that tells the story. It’s not what he produces in a scheduled game. It’s about a chance. A chance for big-time, for a local guy to hitch on with a nationally-ranked Division I basketball team. It’s a willingness to accept the fact his skills do not resemble that of the Cambys and the Brights, and who voluntarily endures a rigorous practice-player role, despite how minute his game time minutes may be.

And Rigo as a person? See him at a UMass women’s basketball game, as he leads the cheers of the young children in attendance. They love him. See him at a UMass men’s basketball game, as he acts like a fan in a Minuteman jersey, waving the towel as he bounces up, down and around. We love him.

And so on Wednesday, we were all excited to see Rigo play once more here on campus. We saw him play the first three minutes of the game before being taken out. We all knew the rousing applause given when Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso replaced Giddel Padilla and Rigo wasn’t for Edgar and Carmelo. We knew it was for Giddel and, most of all, Rigo.

We knew he wasn’t going to play much, since St. Joe’s was playing the Minutemen tough. We knew if the game stayed close, we may see him in the end for defensive purposes. We understand that if other players are in foul trouble, Rigo has five to use up in the closing minutes.

So with 34.4 seconds left in the game and UMass down 58-55, we didn’t think much of Rigo entering the game. We thought he’d be back on the bench once the Minutemen had the ball. We would never have been able to predict what Rigo was about to do.

Before the ball was inbounded, Rigo took a second shove from Hawk Terrell Myers before falling on his back. The referee blew the whistle, and the result was an intentional foul. Deadball foul equals two shots and the ball. Rigo made one of two free throws, which led to the possession on which fellow senior Donta Bright hit a short jumper to send the contest into overtime.

In essence, Rigo had taken no time off the clock, was not called for a foul but took one, made a free throw, and gave his team the ball in the crucial seconds of the game. On a day to commemorate the efforts of his career, Rigo’s effort on that very night were on display for all to see. It typified what he is all about, what his role is and how he performs it, why he is coined “the emotional sparkplug.” Rigo was the hero on the special night.

His #44 jersey won’t be hanging from the Mullins Center rafters anytime in the future. Several years down the road, you won’t find his name in any of the UMass all-time best lists. Neither a piece of cloth nor an old media guide can fill in the full detailed account of Rigoberto Nunez.

Doesn’t matter. A true UMass fan will not forget Rigo.

Andrew Bryce is a Collegian columnist.

Senior fans enjoy last game
By Matt Vautour, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, March 1, 1996

We were scared there for a second, well actually for quite a few seconds.

The 9,493 of us that witnessed UMass’ OT win over St. Joseph’s were frightened. In a it-almost-happened, the hoop team almost lost on Senior Night. After going 34-2 at home in the past four seasons, the Minutemen almost sent their senior fans out on a sour note.

Yes, Senior Night is nice for the players, but their seasons aren’t over. In addition to one more regular season game, there is tourney time as well.

For senior fans however, especially those who don’t have the cash to take their support on the road, Senior Night is it, the finale, the last time to sit in the student section and watch their team.

Like so many times before, on Wednesday the Minutemen did indeed pull out the W, and sent their fans home, some of them for the last time… smiling.

Being a fan at Massachusetts is comparable to being a fan in a lot of big time schools… standing the entire game, painting faces… and, well, acting like a complete idiot for the sake of school spirit.

There is however, one notable exception. This is still a relatively new concept to us.

About two days after I made my final decision to attend UMass, I was fumbling through the sports page and saw that Massachusetts had checked into the AP Top 25.

Massachusetts?” I, a mild college hoop fan at best, thought.

Yes, the University of Massachusetts, the same school that had long been mentioned in the same breath as South Dakota and Northern Wyoming State, i.e. not at all, was all of a sudden a contender.

For me and for so many other fans it completely changed our college experience.

When I first applied to become a Minutemaniac, I was the third person on the list. No lottery to get involved, just go over to Boyden, pay the $25 and you were in. If I recall correctly, the list didn’t even fill.

It started humbly enough, a 78-55 win over the mighty Central Connecticut State, but you could immediately feel that you had stepped into something special.

Nothing however compared to what transpired on Jan. 29, 1993…

It was 5 p.m. and two friends and I, as well as about 15 other people, were waiting outside to get into the basketball game.

If 5 p.m. doesn’t seem particularly early to you, it was when you realize that the game started at midnight! It was of course the final game in the legendary Curry Hicks Cage, better known as the “Final Rage in the Cage.”

We stood for hours chanting UMass cheers, singing drinking songs and begging for them to open the doors and relieve us from the sub-freezing temperatures.

When the doors finally opened, the atmosphere was unmatched. The noise shook the old building like never before.

When the Class of 1996 leaves the Happy Valley, the Cage will be something UMass students will have just heard stories about. The program has grown too big for the Cage’s cozy confines, but it was hard to not wish that the atmosphere created in that building couldn’t last forever. For some of us it will.

The Mullins Center began its own tradition a week later with an exciting overtime win against West Virginia. The Minutemen stayed perfect in their new home until last Valentine’s day.

And the fans loved every minute of it.

It was at Mullins that we saw Marcus Camby’s last second dunk to beat GW, Mike Williams heroics, and the continued blossoming of the Temple rivalry.

While I loved my year as a media member and travelling with the team, there is something irreplaceable about sitting with your friends and just letting lose.

The atmosphere around big time college basketball is unmatched. Maybe it’s because I saw with the coolest bunch of fans in the building, but I bet everybody there would make the same claim.

It was a helluva ride, I’m going to miss it.

Matt Vautour is a Collegian columnist.

Other content

Box Score

St Josephs Pa (66)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Domani          36   1-2   4-7   0-2  0  5    6
Townsend        40  7-16   0-1  2-11  6  3   14
Johnson         40   4-6   4-5  4-10  0  3   12
Bey             33   3-9   1-2   1-1  4  4    8
Bass            37   2-9   6-6   0-0  1  2   10
Myers           19  4-10   3-4   1-4  1  4   14
Petrovic         9   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  3    0
Page             3   0-0   2-2   0-0  0  0    2
Simmonds         8   0-1   0-0   0-1  0  4    0
Totals         225 21-54 20-27  8-30 12 28   66

Percentages: Fg-.389, Ft-.741. 3-Point Goals:
4-13, .308 (Domani 0-1, Bey 1-2, Bass 0-3, Myers
3-6, Simmonds 0-1). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked
shots: 4 (Johnson 3, Myers). Turnovers: 16 (Bey
6, Townsend 3, Domani 2, Petrovic 2, Bass, Myers,
Simmonds). Steals: 6 (Bey 3, Bass, Domani, Myers).

Massachusetts (68)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Dingle          35   3-6   3-7   2-4  0  0    9
Nunez            3   0-0   1-2   0-1  0  0    1
Cottrell         3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
G Padilla        3   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Bright          33  7-17   1-2  9-15  0  3   15
Clarke          21   1-1   0-0   0-0  1  1    2
E Padilla       36   1-8   1-6   2-4  2  4    3
Camby           35  8-20   5-8  7-15  2  4   21
Travieso        26   1-8   1-3   3-4  1  4    3
Weeks           22   2-6   8-9  5-11  0  4   12
Norville         8   1-3   0-1   1-3  0  3    2
Totals         225 24-71 20-38 29-57  6 24   68

Percentages: Fg-.338, Ft-.526. 3-Point Goals:
0-6, .000 (G Padilla 0-1, Bright 0-1, E Padilla
0-1, Travieso 0-3). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked
shots: 3 (E Padilla, Camby, Travieso). Turnovers:
19 (Bright 5, E Padilla 5, Camby 4, Weeks 4,
Dingle). Steals: 11 (E Padilla 6, Bright 2,
Camby, Dingle, Travieso).
St Josephs Pa      19   39    8  -   66
Massachusetts      24   34   10  -   68
Technical fouls: None.  A: 9,493. Officials:
Brent Kerbs, John Corbett, William Koskinen.
game19960228_saint_josephs.txt · Last modified: 2021/02/27 21:06 by mikeuma