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March 20, 2012 - UMass vs. Drexel

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Daily Hampshire Gazette

Drexel, UMass battle for trip to New York
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/20/2012

PHILADELPHIA - Sean Carter recognized the odd coincidence as soon as the National Invitation Tournament brackets were unveiled. If the University of Massachusetts continued to win, the Minutemen could play both teams they had preseason scrimmages against.

Sure enough, after playing one scrimmage opponent in Seton Hall on Saturday morning, the Minutemen (24-11) will face Drexel (29-6), their other preseason foe, tonight at 7 in the NIT quarterfinals. The winner will earn a spot in the semifinals next week at Madison Square Garden.

“When they first showed the brackets, I thought it would be interesting if it happened,” Carter said. “We're both pretty much familiar with each other. It'll be a good game. This one really counts.”

Their coaching staffs are certainly familiar with each other. UMass' Derek Kellogg and Drexel's Bruiser Flint are close friends dating back to when Flint worked as an assistant coach at UMass when Kellogg was a player.

While the Minutemen upended bigger name opponents in Mississippi State and Seton Hall to get to this stage of the tournament, Kellogg thought the Dragons would be the toughest matchup his team faced.

“I respect how they play and how they guard defensively. They play the game the right way by getting the ball inside first and really making you work on the defensive end,” Kellogg said. “Drexel has the least amount of weaknesses. They really complement each other well. It's going to be a different challenge for us because they come at you from so many different angles. They're a really good team.”

The Dragons opened the season 2-4, but shook off some early injuries to win straight games. After losing to Georgia State to open Colonial Athletic Association play, the Dragons won 22 consecutive games to put them in NCAA at-large bid consideration.

But a 59-56 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the CAA tournament final and an unsympathetic selection committee left Drexel out of the field.

Instead of pouting, the Dragons crushed Central Florida 81-56 in the first round of the NIT, then held on against Northern Iowa 65-63 Sunday.

Point guard Frantz Massenat leads Drexel with 13.7 points and 4.7 assists per game, while Samme Givens is the Dragons' top inside player with 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-5 senior forward had a game-high 28 points in the win over Northern Iowa.

Flint was proud of his team's ability to shake of their disappointment at not making the NCAA tournament to play well in the NIT.

“We've been unbelievably focused on what's right in front of us,” he said. “We always play with a whole lot of focus. That's one of the reasons we went on the streak and one of the reasons that we won a whole lot of games. It's not about me, it's about those guys.”

Kellogg joked that his team's strength of schedule, which helped keep it out of the NCAA tournament, had been improved.

“I wish the selection show was next week with the way we've been battle tested now,” Kellogg said.

After the NCAA tournament's selection show, a committee spokesman said that six teams were in consideration for the last at-large bid in the field. When St. Bonaventure won the Atlantic 10's automatic bid, it eliminated the spot. Drexel will be the third of those six teams UMass has faced in the NIT. Kellogg embraced the tough stretch.

“Give us the toughest possible road of any team out there and let's see if we can make it happen,” he said.

The Minutemen are trying to become the fourth team in NIT history to reach Madison Square Garden by winning three road games.

Derek Kellogg coaches UMass against mentor Bruiser Flint at Drexel in NIT
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/20/2012

PHILADELPHIA — University of Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg was nervous before the season. He was about to change his team’s entire system on offense and defense to one he’d never coached before.

He thought his personnel was suited for the running and pressing approach, but after his team played a closed scrimmage against Drexel, he sought Dragons coach Bruiser Flint's opinion.

For Kellogg, one of the appeals of playing the Dragons in addition to seeing his friend and mentor, was the chance to talk shop with Flint afterward.

Watching the uptempo Minutemen in action, Flint signed off.

“I told him 'I think this style fits your personnel,'” said Flint, who was an assistant under John Calipari at UMass from 1989-96 and the Minutemen's head coach from 1996-2001. “I never thought the dribble drive was right for the personnel he had. I've been telling him since he became a head coach: 'In the end they want you to win. So pick a style that's going to help you win and make you feel the most comfortable. Everybody talked about the dribble drive because of Cal. Forget about Cal. This is about Derek Kellogg. Go play your own style. Play the way you want to play. In the end it's about your record, not anybody else's.' After we scrimmaged them I said, 'I like the way you're playing. I think it's perfect for the personnel you got. And that's coming from me and you know I don't play that way.'”

The endorsement meant a lot to Kellogg.

“That was a good confidence builder for me to have someone like Bruiser say you're doing exactly what you need to do with your team,” Kellogg said.

When Flint reassured Kellogg that he was making the right call, he had no idea he'd have to face UMass and that system again with the season on the line. UMass (24-11) and Drexel (29-6) play tonight at 7 in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals at the Daskalakis Center. But even if he had known he'd see Kellogg, he probably still would have helped his friend.

“He's a guy I can lean on in times of a crisis,” said Kellogg, who Flint recruited out of Cathedral High School and played for during his UMass career. “Or, when things are going well, it's nice to have mentors that watched you grow send you some compliments.”

Flint and Kellogg, who call or text at least once a week, have been rooting for each other from afar all season.

“Bruiser has done a phenomenal job with the team he has,” Kellogg said. “Probably as good, or close to as good as anybody in the country.”

Despite being fired at UMass in 2001 by former athletic director Bob Marcum after going 86-72 with three postseason appearances in five years, Flint, 46, still roots for the Minutemen and has even donated money to the program. He watches or tapes almost every UMass game.

“I'm happy for D.K. and those guys. Last year they got off to a good start and it didn't end well. This year both of us have a chance to go to the NIT Final Four,” Flint said. “Since I'm a guy who coached him, I'm proud of what he's doing. It makes me realize I'm getting old, but I'm proud of what he's doing because I was part of his life at some point and I see him doing good things.”

Both Flint and Kellogg are branches of Calipari's coaching tree. Flint coached under Calipari and eventually succeeded him at UMass. Kellogg played for Calipari when Flint was an assistant, and then coached under Calipari at Memphis.

Friendship and loyalty aren't taken lightly among Calipari's professional offspring. The group roots for and bounces ideas off each other. They help not only each others' careers, but those of each others' assistant coaches, former players and even former managers.

Having been on the same team isn't even a prerequisite. Mike Babul never played for Calipari. He played for Flint at UMass, but his first job was on Calipari's staff at Memphis before following Tony Barbee to UTEP and Auburn.

It's not just the Division I coaches either. After spending much of one summer coaching an American all-star team in China, Calipari showed up for a fundraiser at Division III Becker College in Worcester, where Brian Gorman, a former staff assistant who Calipari inherited at UMass from Rob Gerlufson, has turned the program into a local powerhouse.

Flint's coaching staff includes former UMass assistant Mike Connors and former UMass student manager Matt Collier, while ex-Minuteman player Winston Smith is the coordinator of basketball operations.

“I asked (Collier and Smith): 'Who y'all going to be rooting for on Thursday?' They got all their UMass stuff in their office,” Flint said laughing.

Other coaches refer to the group as the “Calipari Mafia,” but those inside the circle simply call it “the family.” Like any family they come together at the holidays, only they've traded in Christmas or Thanksgiving for a large dinner at the NCAA tournament Final Four.

They all watch each others' games when they can and tape them when they can't. The true affection they share is a big part of why they don't schedule each other. Calipari, who is now the coach of No. 1 Kentucky, has scheduled Flint, Kellogg and former UMass and Memphis assistant Chuck Martin, who is now the head coach Marist, at one time or another and he plays Barbee in Southern Conference games. Calipari hopes a game against his perennial top 10 programs will help them get exposure. But even he doesn't like it.

“I like to really enjoy winning,” Calipari said in 2008 before his Memphis Tigers hosted UMass. “You can't do it when you're playing against someone you care about and love.”

But with the now unavoidable conflict coming in the postseason, Flint chose to looked at the glass as half full.

“At least one of us in the family gets to go to New York City,” Flint said. “One of the teams gets to go to the (NIT) Final Four.

Kellogg agreed.

“We wouldn't want to play if it didn't mean anything, but we've both been able to advance,” he said. “It's actually pretty cool for fans and the people around here. One of us will have a chance to get to New York City and be in the Final Four. For both of our programs, that's a phenomenal experience.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at http://www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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Recaps

UMass Athletics

ON TO THE GARDEN! Hoops Rallies Back For 72-70 Win At Drexel
Minutemen head to Madison Square Garden for NIT Semifinals.
From UMass Athletics, 3/20/2012

PHILADELPHIA - Terrell Vinson scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half as Massachusetts erased a 17-point deficit to defeat Drexel, 72-70, and advance to the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. The comeback marked the second time this season the Minutemen have been able to overcome a 17-point margin for a win (vs. Saint Joseph's on Jan. 14). UMass will next play in the NIT Semifinals held next Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Trailing 53-36 with 16:26 to play, UMass outscored Drexel 26-7 over the next nine minutes while making 10 of 14 shot and forcing eight Dragon turnovers. Drexel tied it at 62 before consecutive jumpers from Vinson pushed the margin to 68-62 with 4:13 left.

The Dragons cut the margin to 70-68 on a Frantz Massenat layup. Sean Carter responded with a pick-and-roll bucket that extended the lead back to two possessions with 1:33 remaining.

Following two Massenat free throws, the Dragons had one more possession with under 16 seconds on the clock after UMass was unable to score on two possessions. Massenat's jumper was short and the Minutemen swatted the ball down the court to secure their second appearance in the NIT semifinals in the last five years.

UMass (25-11) shot 59 percent for the game, including a blistering 71 pct. in the second half. Chaz Williams had a game-high 20 points with four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Vinson added a team-high five rebounds to go along with two assists, two blocks and two steals. Philadelphia native Jesse Morgan finished with 13 points and four steals, while matching Williams with two 3-pointers for all four of UMass' outside shots.

UMass' path to the semifinals included three road wins, making it just the fourth school to accomplish that feat since the tournament began using home sites in 1977 - Fresno State in 1998, Detroit in 2001 and Georgetown in 2003.

Tuesday's win might have been the most dramatic for the squad this season as the Minutemen 17-point deficit matched the highest overcome in a victory, matching the 17-point deficit in UMass' 71-62 home win over Saint Joseph's.

Drexel (29-7) was led by Dartaye Ruffin's 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Ruffin dominated the paint in the first half, scoring all of his points during the opening period while leading the Dragons to a 41-31 lead at the break.

UMass will now face the winner of the Nevada-Stanford game on Tuesday, March 27 at Madison Square Garden. This marks the third semifinal appearance for UMass, following 1991 and 2008 showings.

NOTES

  • UMass becomes just the fourth team to win three road games to get to the NIT Semifinal at Madison Square Garden since the tournament began using home sites in 1977.
  • The 17-point deficit (53-36) with 16:26 to play in the second half tied the largest deficit overcome to win this season. UMass was down 20-3 against Saint Joseph's with 13:13 remaining in the first half of that contest on Jan. 14 and came back to defeat the Hawks, 71-62.
  • In UMass' last NIT quarterfinal game, the Minutemen overcame a 22-point deficit to beat Syracuse in 2008.
  • The victory also snapped UMass' six-game losing streak in Philadelphia, with its last win in the City of Brotherly Love coming at Saint Joseph's (87-80) on Jan. 27, 2010.
  • With the victory, the Minutemen now have 25 wins on the season, tied for fifth-most in program history. UMass last won 25 games when advancing to the NIT Final Four in 2007-08.
  • Needing just one more coming into the evening, UMass has set a new school record for team steals in a season, now with 321 on the year. The previous record was 311 in 1995-96.
  • Chaz Williams (20 pts) posted his 13th 20-point game of the season and third consecutively. He has reached double figures in scoring in 17 straight games and is averaging 22.6 ppg in the NIT.
  • Terrell Vinson (18 pts) tied his career high for field goals made with eight, finishing 8-for-15. He scored a team-high 14 second-half points.
  • UMass shot a season-best 58.8% from the field, including a blistering 70.8% (17-for-24) in the second half.
  • 21 rebounds (9-12) was a season-low for the Minutemen. The previous season-low was 27 vs. Utah on Nov. 25.
  • Drexel's leading scorer at the half, Dartaye Ruffin (17 points), was held scoreless in the second half.
  • The Minutemen limited the Dragons to just 1-for-13 (7.7%) shooting from long range, tying the fewest made threes by a UMass opponent this season. Central Connecticut was 1-for-15 (6.7%) on Dec. 30.
  • The 72 points scored matched the most allowed by Drexel this season.
  • The win snapped Drexel's 18-game home court winning streak, the sixth-longest active streak in Division I.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

UMass men's basketball overcomes 17-point deficit to stun Drexel in NIT
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/21/2012

PHILADELPHIA - After two huge comebacks fell just short in the past three weeks, the University of Massachusetts finally completed one with its season on the line Tuesday night.

The Minutemen erased a 17-point second-half deficit and stunned Drexel 72-70 Tuesday at Daskalakis Center in the quarterfinals of the NIT.

“We've never been a quitting team,” junior forward Terrell Vinson said. “That's been our motto from Oct. 13 to now. Never quit and give everything you've got.”

Against Temple on Feb. 29, the Minutemen came back from 10 points down to force overtime, but lost. In the Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals against St. Bonnaventure, they trimmed a 16-point deficit to two, but couldn't finish it off.

The win earned UMass (25-11) a trip to the NIT semifinals, Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Minutemen will face the winner of tonight's game between Nevada and Stanford. The semifinal game is at 7 p.m.

Trailing 53-36, Maxie Esho started UMass' comeback with back-to-back dunks to make it 53-40 with 15 minutes, 50 seconds remaining. The plays started a 14-2 Minuteman run that made it 55-50 with 11:29 left. With the Dragons (29-7) rattled, UMass kept attacking. Drexel stayed ahead until Jesse Morgan picked of a Frantz Massenat pass and took off down the court trailing 60-59.

He pulled up and knocked down a 3-pointer quieting the crowd of 2,293, except for the maroon-clad contingent behind the Minuteman bench.

Samme Givens scored inside to tie the game 62-62, but Vinson caught the ball on the block and backed down Givens, who was in foul trouble and had to play off him. Vinson laid the ball in to put UMass back ahead.

It was the first of six straight points the junior forward scored as the Minutemen pulled ahead 68-62 with 4:13 remaining. UMass stayed ahead, but couldn't put Drexel away. Chaz Williams, the Minutemen's most reliable free throw shooter, could have sealed the victory with 23 seconds left and UMass up 72-70, but his front end of the one-and-one back-rimmed out giving Drexel life.

Massenat got into the lane for a good look at a game-tying shot, but it was off the mark with five seconds left. Rather than try and grab the rebound, Javorn Farrell batted it toward half court. Chris Fouch got the rebound but his desperation attempt was late and off the mark as UMass celebrated.

“I was proud of the team that we never caved in,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I thought they did an amazing job of persevering. It was a heck of a basketball game. We're excited to go to New York City.”

The Minutemen shot 70.8 percent in the second half against a Dragon team that held opponents to 38.7 percent all season. Drexel is coached by former UMass coach Bruiser Flint.

“That's impossible. We made some tough shots,” Kellogg said. “When you play a team that's coached by Bru, obviously you're going to have to make some tough shots. They do a great job defensively. It was impressive that our guys were able to do that.”

Vinson had 14 of his 18 points in the second half, while Williams led UMass with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists. Morgan added 13 points.

The defense and inside play that were hallmarks of Flint's tenure when he coached at UMass were at their best for Drexel in the first half. The Minutemen, who held their own against likely NBA draft picks Arnett Moultrie of Mississippi State and Herb Pope of Seton Hall, couldn't handle the Dragons' Givens and Dartaye Ruffin inside.

The Dragons had more offensive rebounds (12) than the Minutemen's total first-half haul as UMass was outrebounded 22-10. There wasn't a single field goal in the half scored outside the paint for either team.

Ruffin did the majority of the damage. With Givens in foul trouble, the sophomore forward from Stoughton, Mass., scored 17 points before intermission, one shy of his career high.

But UMass played a smaller lineup for much of the second half. Givens was held to two points with Vinson guarding him and Ruffin didn't score at all.

UMass men's basketball adds to memorable NIT wins
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/21/2012

PHILADELPHIA - The deficit wasn't quite as deep as it was in 2008 and there wasn't as distinctive a play as there was in 1991.

But the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team added another chapter to its legendary postseason play Tuesday.

Put the Minutemen in the NIT and there's a good chance there will be at least one classic game. Put them in the quarterfinals and it's a guarantee.

UMass overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to stun Drexel Tuesday and advance to the semifinal round.

It wasn't uncommon considering their history.

The quarterfinals of the 1991 NIT helped launch the Minutemen's 1990s success. In that game, UMass trailed Siena 80-77 in Albany, N.Y., but Tony Barbee's 3-pointer beat the buzzer to tie the game just moments after the Knickerbocker Arena announcer invited Saints fans to sign up for a bus trip to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Jim McCoy scored the only basket in overtime to cancel that bus trip.

“That was a stepping-stone for the UMass program,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg, who was a senior at Cathedral High School in Springfield at the time.

In 2008, UMass erased a 22-point deficit at Syracuse hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer to stun the perennial powerhouse at the Carrier Dome.

UMass already had a memorable win on its resume in this NIT. The Minutemen hung on in double overtime at Mississippi State in the first round.

But Tuesday's win over Drexel was even more memorable. The Minutemen looked like they might get blown out early as they were getting crushed on the scoreboard and the glass. But they came back from 17 points down against a defensively dominant Drexel team that doesn't give up many leads.

“We've just started playing this level of basketball with the guys maturing and getting better,” Kellogg said. “All these games have been huge. The way we came back and fought in a tough environment against a team that's as good as anyone in the country at holding onto leads was big for our program.”

The two other NIT runs and the success that followed helped make legends out of the key players involved. Even fans who weren't around in 1991 know who Barbee, McCoy and Harper Williams are. Gary Forbes, Etienne Brower, Chris Lowe and Ricky Harris are forever favorites in Amherst because of 2008.

Chaz Williams and Terrell Vinson are well on their way to joining that club. Williams' 20 points added to his remarkable postseason numbers, while Vinson has become the program's most clutch player in a decade.

The 1991 run was a stepping-stone to greater things, while 2008's was the high-water mark of the Travis Ford era before things faded. Only time will tell what this one means down the road. But the players aren't looking that far ahead yet.

As exciting as those last two runs were, the Minutemen have never won the NIT.

“We're honored to be here right now. Me and the guys worked hard all off season and it's paying off now,” UMass point guard Chaz Williams said. “We just want to win it all. We might as well try to take it to the last drop.”

Bruiser Flint says Minutemen 'refused to lose'
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/21/2012

PHILADELPHIA - After the game Tuesday, Drexel coach Bruiser Flint delivered a phrase that hasn't been used about the University of Massachusetts is quite a while.

“Their guys kept fighting. That's always been our (coaching) family's mantra. They refused to lose today,” said Flint, who was an assistant coach during UMass' NCAA runs from 1992-96 and the head coach for trips to the tournament in 1997 and 1998. “Refuse to Lose” was the slogan for the program at that point.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg was part of some of that success as a player and he and Flint have stayed close every since. They shared a long hug in the postgame handshake line. This was after UMass overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to beat Drexel 72-70 in the quarterfinal round of the NIT.

“I'm happy for him. I'm proud of him,” said Flint, who campaigned along with former UMass coach John Calipari for Kellogg to be hired in 2008. “You don't know how bad we wanted somebody from our family to get the job again (after Travis Ford left). We really fought for that. We called the administrators and said to get somebody who grew up in our family to get the place back to where it's supposed to be. Derek is doing it. We're real proud of that.”

Kellogg was similarly emotional about their friendship.

“That was a game where from a coaching standpoint I wish it could have been a tie because of my relationship with Bru,” he said. “I told him I loved him. He's been a mentor. I worked with him every day when I was a point guard in college. He means a lot to me and my family.”

Flint said he planned to go to UMass' NIT game Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. UMass (25-11) will play the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between Nevada and Stanford.

UMASS IN PHILADELPHIA - The win snapped a seven-game losing streak in Philadelphia for the Minutemen dating back to a Jan. 27, 2010 win at Saint Joseph's.

UMass finished 3-4 against teams from the city this season.

WIN MILESTONES - The Minutemen's 25 wins are tied for fifth in program history behind only 1991-92 (30-5), 1993-94 (28-7), 1994-95 (29-5) and 1995-96 (35-2).

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at http://www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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Box Score

TOTAL 3-PTS REBOUNDS
MASSACHUSETTS MinFGFGAPctFGFGAPctFTFTAPctOffDefTotPFFOATOBlkStlPts
Vinson, TerrellF35815.53303.00024.50023530232218
Putney, RaphiaelF713.33301.000111.0000003001003
Carter, SeanC2137.4290001.0001014002106
Williams, ChazG40813.61523.66724.50022430410220
Morgan, JesseG2746.66723.66735.60010110020413
Farrell, Javorn3234.75000000443023016
Esho, Maxie22331.0000002.0000112010116
Riley, Freddie130000000000001010
Hill, Matt30000000001000000
TEAM3251 0
TOTALS2003051.588410.400817.4719122121091341172
First half1327.48102.00059.556 31
Second half1724.70848.50038.375 41
Points in the paint46
Points off turnovers20
Second chance points11
Fast break points13
TOTAL 3-PTS REBOUNDS
DREXEL MinFGFGAPctFGFGAPctFTFTAPctOffDefTotPFFOATOBlkStlPts
McCoy, DarylF3025.40000221.0002684010006
Givens, SammeF27512.41700221.000821040240212
Massenat, FrantzG40512.41703.000612.50011230932016
Lee, DamionG1324.50002.000002023012114
Thomas, DerrickG32512.41703.0000030330100110
Fouch, Chris3417.14315.200221.0001341002005
Pantovic, Goran20000000000000000
Ruffin, Dartaye22810.8000012.50034720031117
TEAM5270 1
TOTALS2002862.452113.0771320.65025184320014154570
First half1733.51507.000710.700 41
Second half1129.37916.167610.600 29
Points in the paint52
Points off turnovers17
Second chance points26
Fast break points4
Score by Periods1st2ndOT1OT2OT3Final
MASSACHUSETTS3141 72
DREXEL4129 70
Attendance2293
OfficialsGene Steratore,Jeff Anderson, Brian O'Connell
Technical FoulsUMass (1) Team (Coach Kellogg). Drexel (0).

Play by Play

game20120320_drexel.txt · Last modified: 2017/10/03 22:19 (external edit)