Doubting The Redmen
From The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, December 3, 1970
(Collegian Editor's Note: The following paragraph is reprinted from the student newspaper at Boston College, the “Boston College Heights”. The writer of the article it came from is unknown, but it appeared on Monday, Nov. 30, 1970 and was a reaction by the writer to a story that appeared in the game program of the UMass-BC football tilt. That story was a preview of the Redman basketball season. The writer of the paragraph below seems to feel that UMass shouldn't bear the label of defending New England basketball champions, even though, yes even though, the Redmen were rated the number one team in N.E. last year by the United Press International (UPI) and presently have in their possession the plaque that designates them as such. Nothing more need be said. It is recommended here that one read the paragraph and react to it as he may.)
Those of you who read the UMass game program must feel that our biggest score is yet to be settled with the Mass. Aggies. BC travels to Amherst for a game with the “Defending New England Champion” Redmen on February 9. That's quite a claim for a team that hasn't beaten BC since 1964. They ought to play a schedule of comparable toughness before making such self-proclamations. It'd be nice to see a large contingent of fans make the trip to UMass for that game to watch the Dalymen stick it to those bums, Erving and all.
Redmen Host BC In “The Game”
By Barry Rubenstein, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Assistant Sports Editor, February 9, 1971
The day has finally arrived. Tonight the UMass basketball team hosts the Boston College Eagles at the Cage at 8 p.m. in what can only be termed a revenge match. The Redmen are 15-2 and the Chestnut Hill boys are 12-7.
It was just over a year ago that these same Eagles dropped the Redmen, 83-76, at BC in a game that UMass thought it should have won. The loss, possibly the low point of what turned out to be an outstanding season, served to seemingly recharge the Redmen as they went on to win ten consecutive games and end up as the New England champs.
Somehow though, the BC game is always a big one for UMass, regardless of the sport. The Eagles, being big recruiters and possibly the most well-known and respected team in New England, represent some sort of special challenge for UMass.
On top of all of this, the Redmen have had little luck with the Eagles of late. UMass has not defeated Boston College in basketball since 1964 and the Eagles lead the overall series, 12-4. The Redmen simply don’t seem to play their best ball against the Eagles.
Although only 12-7 on the year, don’t let BC’s record fool you. Among the opponents that the Eagles face are St. John’s, LaSalle, Canisius (which beat Providence) and Davidson. Considering common opponents between the two clubs, BC has defeated Providence, UConn and Rhode Island and lost to Holy Cross by two and Fordham in overtime. The Redmen have defeated UConn, Rhody and Holy Cross while losing to Providence, by one, and Fordham. In this respect anyway, the game looks about even.
Any discussion of BC basketball has to center around captain Jim O’Brien. The All-American guard is one of the finest players in the country as well as the spark that makes the Eagles go. When O’Brien is on his game, which is most of the time, the Eagles are tough to beat. He is not only an excellent shooter and ball handler, he also set the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival record for assists last year when he collected 16 in one game. O’Brien is the key to BC.
Joining him in the backcourt is Bob Smith, mainly considered a defensive specialist and ball handler. His main job is to set up O’Brien. Another strong guard for the Eagles is Rick Bolus, a 6’1 transfer from VMI who averaged 33 points per game there as a freshman.
Up front, the Eagles have Pete Schmid, 6’7, Frank Fitzgerald, 6’7, and Greg Sees, 6’5. Schmid netted 23 points against Fordham and can be tough off of the boards. Sees is a good shooter and Fitzgerald is effective inside. The Eagles have been hurt by the loss of Vin Costello who sustained a foot injury and is doubtful for the UMass game.
Also, the Eagles have a couple of other 6’7 men on the bench who can do the job. Their names are Dave Freitag and Tom Anstett, both members of last year’s frosh unit. So the Eagles have some depth up front.
Coach Chuck Daly has molded these boys into a fine basketball team. Though not blessed with the height and overall talent that marked BC under Bob Cousy, Daly has nonetheless continued BC’s winning ways in basketball.
The game shapes up just as every BC-UMass encounter does, close. There is just no way of knowing or predicting how the thing will turn out as the emotional factor is always so important in this battle. It should be a game worth watching.
For UMass, Coach Leaman will go with the same starting line up as he used against Vermont. That means that John Betancourt and Mike Pagliara will start in the backcourt and Tom McLaughlin, Chris Coffin and Julius Erving will be up front. Leaman also speculated that Ken Mathias, still rounding into shape after his illness, will be in the game early and often.
So the game has arrived, a game which in some ways seems a season in itself. With both clubs looking towards an NIT bid, the game may be just that.
UMass Sticks It To B.C. 85-77
By Barry Rubenstein, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Assistant Sports Editor, February 10, 1971
It’s been a long time coming but the waiting was well worth it as the UMass basketball team “stuck it to” the Eagles of Boston College before a jam-packed assemblage of 4400 fans at the Cage last night in what Coach Jack Leaman called “the biggest game of the year,” 85-77. The high-flying Redmen are now 16-2 while BC slumped to 12-8.
What can you say about this one? UMass stayed with the Eagles for a good part of the game even though things really weren’t going well for the Redmen. In the end, though, when the decision was a question the Amherst lads had more than enough to put the ball game away.
As far as stars are concerned, the first name that comes to mind is Ken Mathias. Seeing his first really substantial action since the Fordham game, the senior co-captain came through with an effort that Leaman could only describe as “fantastic” and “great.” In the first half, when the Eagles were dominating the boards, Mathias entered the fray and turned the carom contest in the home club’s favor.
For final stats, Mathias ended up with 16 points (six of nine from the floor) and ten rebounds, but what he did for the Redmen can not merely be measured in figures. He took some of the rebounding pressure off of the shoulders of Julius Erving and opened up the whole UMass attack.
As for Erving, he didn’t do too badly himself. Although he suffered a cold shooting first half (five of 18 field goals), he came back in the crucial second period to control the boards and hit some important hoops. Overall he had 24 points and 16 rebounds, which, though not overly impressive for him, proved more than enough to do the job.
To go down the list, John Betancourt, who seems to pull the big effort out when the team really needs it, gunned in 20 points including some clutch one and one free throws in the waning moments of the battle. Mile Pagliara, the other backcourtman, did all right for himself, too, with eight points. To round out the squad, Chris Coffin and Tom McLaughlin did their jobs when they had to. Coffin had nine points and five rebounds in only 18 minutes of action before fouling out and McLaughlin had eight important free throws.
The stars weren’t limited to one side however. Jim O’Brien, a super ball player, had 28 points, ten assists and a team high of eight rebounds and what more can you ask of a guy? If he isn’t one of the best guards in the country then he put on a great act last night. Leaman summed it up by saying that “he was the best backcourt kid we’ve had to defend all year.”
From a statistical point of view, the game was won at the free throw line. The Redmen shot an incredible 89.7% from the charity stripe, hitting 35 of 39 attempts including some pressure-laden tries in the last five minutes.
After the first eight minutes of play, the game was close all the way. With the Eagles building up a 20-12 edge on O’Brien’s shooting eye and Erving having trouble getting on track, the outlook was ominous for the Redmen. Mathias began to pull his club out of the hole and at 7:31 of the period, Erving scored on a Pagliara feed after the two had combined on a steal to put UMass on top, 24-23.
Vin Costello, who had eleven first half points for the Eagles, was bombing from all over the court and his scoring kept BC on top for most of the first stanza. The half ended with the Redmen down by three, 44-41.
The second half was more of the same with one slight alteration. Erving was beginning to dominate the boards. That was the signal for UMass to move.
The Redmen were playing well in the second half but were just not able to pull away. Whenever they would pick up a three or four point lead, the Boston boys would come right back with a Frank Fitzgerald fifteen footer or an O’Brien bank shot. This was the story for the first thirteen minutes of the period.
Betancourt sank a pair of free throws with 4:36 on the clock and UMass had its biggest edge of the evening, 73-68. When Erving made a beautiful layup on a pass from Mathias, the Redmen looked in firm control but such was not the case.
Pete Schmid scored an easy hoop for the Eagles and victory, which the home fans were waiting to celebrate, was yet to be secured. Even Betancourt’s four more free throws couldn’t do the job as O’Brien and Fitzgerald answered with hoops to make it 79-75 with 0:47 left. Erving and Pagliara combined for three free throws, however, and that sealed the long awaited verdict. O’Brien scored on a layup and appropriately enough, Mathias ended the scoring with a three point play. Final score, UMass, 85, BC, 77.
LAYUP LINES – BC shot 51% for the game while the Redmen managed only 41%. The Eagles turned the tables from the charity stripe however as they shot only 58%… As Leaman said after the game, “the win makes us the leading contender for the NIT in New England.” Amen.
ECAC, YanCon Select Erving
From The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, February 10, 1971
Julius Erving was honored twice this week for his excellent all-around performances in UMass’ last three wins (prior to the 2/9 BC game) by being named both to the All-ECAC team of the week as well as being selected once again as the Yankee Conference top frontcourt player of the period.
The 6’6 junior forward scored 87 points with 55 rebounds as the Redmen beat Holy Cross, 60-58, Iona, 92-51, and Vermont, 86-51. Erving scored 27 of his 32 points in the second half at Holy Cross to spark the Redman win and became the sixth UMass player to go over the 1100-point mark with 1122.
Also selected by the YanCon were URI’s Dwight Tolliver and Vermont’s Jim Ducey.
Tolliver, the top backcourt man, scored 30 points with seven assists as the Rams lost an 86-80 thriller to Boston College before making their conference record 4-1 by defeating Vermont. The 5’10 guard scored 23 points against the Eagles.
Ducey, the top sophomore selection, scored 38 points in three games as Vermont topped Adelphi before losing to URI and UMass. He scored 19 against Adelphi and hit 10 of 14 field goals and 18 of 19 free throws in the three games.
Other nominations were: backcourt – Paul Bessey (Maine), Bob Boyd (UConn), Mike Pagliara (UMass) and Brian Peters (UNH); frontcourt – Nick Susi (Maine), Bob Staak (UConn), Nade Adger (URI) and Tom Clay (Vermont); sophs – Pete Gavett (Maine), Steve Rowell (URI) and Tom McLaughlin (UMass).