UMass men's basketball attempts to end struggles at La Salle
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 1/7/2012
AMHERST - No matter what La Salle's record or resume is, Sunday's 2 p.m. game is a concerning one for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team.
La Salle has been a perennial thorn in UMass' side in recent years, especially in Philadelphia. The teams split last year, but La Salle has won five of the last six, including three straight at Tom Gola Arena. Last year's 72-51 drubbing in Philly started UMass' season-ending four game losing streak.
“We may not even get to their gym” until the game, UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We're going to try to do something different. I don't remember the last time UMass had success at La Salle. Making a few shots would be nice. We've lost and lost going away my three years here. It's been the most difficult place to play. I don't know if it's the gym, where we stay, where we have lunch. We're going to change something up.”
But even teams with no history would have reason to be concerned with playing the Explorers (11-4, 1-0 Atlantic 10). Coach John Gianini's team has won four straight and nine of its last 10 games. The most recent of those victories, an 80-70 conference-opening win over Xavier, sent a message that the No. 13 pick in the league's preseason poll was underselling La Salle, which went 15-18, 6-10 in the A-10 last year.
The Explorers' four losses to Villanova, Pittsburgh, Robert Morris and Delaware were all close. They're 9-1 at Gola Arena. UMass is 12-3 overall, 1-0 in the conference.
“My guys know how good La Salle is, but anytime you knock off Xavier, it gets somebody's attention,” Kellogg said.
La Salle's defense has played a big role in its success this season. It's allowing 17.5 fewer points per game this year (62.1) compared to last year (78.6) and its opponents' field goal percentage dropped from .449 to .387. The Explorers have outscored their opponents by 12.6 points per game.
South Carolina transfer Ramon Galloway leads La Salle with 15.3 points per game. Sophomore point guard Tyreek Duren has built off his strong freshman season with a sold sophomore campaign. He's averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 assists.
NOTE - UMass is 3-0 against teams it lost to last year, beating Central Connecticut, Fordham and Boston College.
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at http://www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.
See the UMassHoops.com Message Board thread for pre-game and post-game discussion.
Second Half Rally Short As UMass Falls 82-75 At La Salle
Carter, Morgan, and Williams each score career-highs in loss.
From UMass Athletics, 1/8/2012
PHILADELPHIA - Chaz Williams scored a career-high 24 points and Jesse Morgan added a career-high 20 points, but it was not enough as the UMass men's basketball team mounted a second-half rally that fell just short with the Minutemen falling 82-75 at La Salle on Sunday afternoon. After trailing by 26 points at halftime, UMass went on a 21-6 run to start the second half sparked by eight points from Morgan.
With the loss, UMass falls to 12-4 overall and 1-1 in the Atlantic 10, while La Salle improves to 12-4 and 2-0 in the league. The Minutemen will return home on Wednesday, Jan. 11 to host Charlotte at the Mullins Center (7 PM).
Morgan, a native of Philadelphia, led the Minutemen in the first half with 11 points, but the Explorers were hot from beyond the arc hitting 10-of-16 three-pointers.
Along with his 22 points, Morgan finished the game with four steals, three rebounds and a blocked shot. Williams added five assists to his 24 point effort. Sean Carter rounded out UMass' top scorers with a career-high 18 points along with six rebounds.
La Salle was led by Earl Pettis and Ramon Galloway who scored 19 and 18 points, respectively. Tyreek Duren added 12 points, while Sam Mills scored 11.
The Explorers opened the game with an 11-2 lead after UMass went 1-for-7 from the floor in the game's first six minutes of play. La Salle converted 16 UMass turnovers into 20 points which alongside the hot shooting from outside gave the Explorers a 51-25 lead at halftime.
Thanks to UMass' 21-6 run to start the second half, the Minutemen were able to cut the lead down to 57-46 with 10:44 left.
Both teams traded baskets until a dunk by Carter followed by a traditional three-point play from Williams cut the lead to seven, 67-60, with 2:31 remaining in the game.
La Salle hit 11-of-13 free throws down the stretch as UMass extended the game with fouls and timeouts. The Minutemen were able to pull within five points twice in the final 32 seconds, but a dunk by Devon White sealed the win for the Explorers with 15 seconds left on the clock.
UMass finished the game shooting 41.9 percent (26-of-62) thanks in part to a strong shooting second half. La Salle finished the game hitting 47.3 percent of its shots (26-of-55) after hitting a blistering 57 percent in the first half.
Poor first half dooms UMass men's basketball in loss at La Salle
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 1/9/2012
PHILADELPHIA - It wasn't the blowout it looked like it was going to be at halftime, but the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team's second-half comeback fell short of erasing its worst half of the season on Sunday.
The Minutemen fell to La Salle 82-75 at Tom Gola Arena.
The Explorers' 51 points before intermission were the most allowed by UMass in any half this season. La Salle scored the first basket of the second half to stretch its edge to 53-25, but the Minutemen switched to a zone to climb out of the hole.
Chaz Williams led the UMass comeback with 16 of his career-high 24 points in the second half.
The Minutemen cut the deficit to 67-60 seven on a three-point play by Williams with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left. But Sam Mills answered with a 3-pointer for the Explorers to slow the UMass momentum.
The Minutemen did not get within single digits again until Sean Carter's tip-in made the score 77-68. UMass got within five three times in the final minute, but La Salle made enough free throws to hold on.
“It's always about the win and the loss column,” Williams said. “I feel like this is a game we lost because of us. We didn't execute the scouting report.
The Minutemen (12-4, 1-1 Atlantic 10) had won six straight and were 3-0 against teams that beat them last year, but any chance of extending those streaks was extinguished in a hurry.
UMass could not control the ball and the Explorers couldn't miss in the first half as they coasted to a 51-25 lead. La Salle shot 10-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half while the Minutemen turned the ball over 16 times.
“We came out flat,” said sophomore Jesse Morgan. “If we came out with the spark we had in the second half it would have been a totally different game.”
Freshman big man Cady Lalanne's absence was felt by the Minutemen in the first half as Sean Carter, Maxie Esho and Terrell Vinson each picked up two early fouls. All three picked up their third whistles as UMass Coach Derek Kellogg tried to get away with keeping them in the game because he was not ready to use Matt Hill, who was just cleared medically, or unproven walk-on Andrew McCarthy,
Esho, Vinson and eventually Williams all fouled out.
Morgan, a Philadelphia native who went to high school within walking distance of La Salle, played well in front of a considerable contingent of family and friends behind the Minuteman bench, who were part of a crowd of 2,395.
Morgan scored a career-high 22 points to go along with a game-high four steals, but he took no comfort in his numbers. “It's always frustrating losing,” Morgan said. “We have to move on and get ready for the next game.”
UMass will try to rebound at 7 p.m. Wednesday when it hosts Charlotte at the Mullins Center.
Sean Carter added a career-high 18 points for the Minutemen.
Earl Pettis led the Explorers (12-4, 2-0 A-10) with 19 points.
Kellogg said he hopes his team would learn from the loss. “If the kids come back and have a good attitude and realize that (playing like that) is unacceptable, especially in league play. I think we could be OK,” Kellogg said. “They have to stay together and play UMass basketball. We can't waver on that.”
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.
Derek Kellogg sees Minutemen playing more zone defense
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 1/9/2012
PHILADELPHIA - The combination of foul trouble, dwindling depth and La Salle's success against the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team's press and man-to-man defenses led Minuteman coach Derek Kellogg to switch to a rarely-used zone that helped bring them back into Sunday's game.
Kellogg begrudgingly is beginning to come to terms with a zone defense becoming part of his team's future.
“Unfortunately we're going to have to play zone more often. I'm not sure we're going to be able to press for the full 40 minutes in conference play,” Kellogg said. “I didn't think the energy was as good as it needs to be.
”… We could be a good zone team,” he added. “I had a lot of success as a player and as a coach playing man-to-man. Zone is something I'm becoming a little more fond of because of personnel issues.”
La Salle coach John Giannini said after his team's 82-75 win that he was impressed with the UMass zone.
“Their zone was outstanding,” he said. “Besides (Chaz) Williams, their size is outstanding. They have so much length and quickness within that zone. Trying to score against that thing was a different story.”
GOLA WOES - With a 12-4 record, 10 wins in its last 11 games and an upset of Xavier under its belt, this Explorers team looks like the best one in years for Giannini.
But La Salle always looks like an NCAA Tournament contender against the Minutemen at Tom Gola Arena.
The Explorers have won six of the last seven games in the rivalry at any location, and four straight in Philadelphia by an average of 12 points.
“We tried to do different things. We traveled a little different,” Kellogg said. “My wife actually traveled with us to try to mix up the karma. But that might be her last bus trip.”
Last year's 72-51 loss to La Salle started the season-ending four-game losing streak for UMass.
MATT HILL - Senior big man Matt Hill, who has been out with a sprained knee, was medically cleared to play for the Minutemen, but did not see action.
NEXT UP - UMass will put its perfect home record on the line at 7 p.m. Wednesday when it hosts Charlotte at the Mullins Center. The 49ers (9-5) have won two games to open Atlantic 10 play, defeating Richmond at home Wednesday and Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia on Saturday.
MISCELLANEOUS - The Minutemen players attended Saturday's Philadelphia 76ers game against the Toronto Raptors with former UMass star Gary Forbes.
Jesse Morgan replaced Chaz Williams as the UMass shooter on technical foul free throws.
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UMass is caught flat-footed in loss (1/9/2012)
La Salle starts strong, then holds off UMass (1/9/2012)
|Points in the paint||40|
|Points off turnovers||30|
|Second chance points||7|
|Fast break points||13|
|Points in the paint||26|
|Points off turnovers||22|
|Second chance points||13|
|Fast break points||8|
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||OT1||OT2||OT3||Final|
|Officials||Michael Stephens, Jamie Luckie, Michael Roberts|