Revenge of home loss on the minds of Minutemen
By Justin C. Smith, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 23, 1996
Last season, the George Washington Colonials ended two extended winning streaks of the Massachusetts men’s basketball team.
The first came at the Charles E. Smith Center where GW knocked off the top ranked Minutemen and end their program-record 16 game winning streak. Ten days later, UMass' on campus winning streak of 42, which at the time was the nation’s longest, came to a screeching halt with the 80-78 Colonial win.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams after the first season-sweep of UMass, since Temple did it in 1991. With an excellent chance to make the NCAA tournament, coach Mike Jarvis and his team are anxious to get in on with the Minutemen.
“It's great, we've got the No 1 team in the league and have a chance to play them in their building,” the Colonials' coach said. “I know we'll certainly be ready for UMass. I think we've won there twice although we only have one on record. I think that will give us more motivation tomorrow [being the only team to win at the Mullins Center].”
Last year's sweep by GW has not been lost on the Minutemen.
“We just remember when we lost to them both times,” senior co-captain Dana Dingle said. “We are looking forward to the game, and playing how we've been playing all year. That's playing UMass basketball and hopefully we'll be successful.”
The Colonials (17-5 overall, 10-2 A 10) are currently tied for first place, along with Virginia Tech, in the West Division and are led by the Kwame Evans (21 points per game in conference play) and Alexander Koul (eight rebounds a game).
It would be easy to call this a revenge game, but the Minutemen are not dwelling on last year’s loss at home.
“Everyone's just looking at it as another game,” Dingle said. “We're just taking things one game at a time and this just happens to be the next game on our schedule.”
If UMass is to get revenge from last year's loss, they will have to control the streaky Evans, who has led the Colonials in scoring 12 times already this season. It was his all-around play that was the main reason the Minutemen are no longer perfect in the Mullins Center. In the two games, Evans averaged 28 points and eight rebounds.
Jarvis knows no matter what, the Minutemen will be gunning for his squad and to pull off a win two years in a row in Amherst, his team will be need to be up for the challenge.
“I expect those kids to go up there and play all out tomorrow,” Jarvis said. “It's a great opportunity, we're looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge because UMass is a great team.”
Intensity is unrivaled as UMass hosts GWU
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/24/1996
It is only fitting that top-ranked Massachusetts (26-0, 14-0) face Atlantic 10 foe George Washington (17-5, 10-2) in its quest for perfection. During the 1988-89 season, GWU's program was headed in the opposite direction – trying to avoid going winless for the first time in school history – when the Colonials pasted the Minutemen, 103-77, at home Jan. 21. GWU finished the season 1-27.
Rarely have the meetings lacked drama since then. Forget Temple: Today's contest, scheduled for noon at the Mullins Center, is another installment in the hottest, most competitive rivalry in the A-10. It matches the Minutemen against the only league team to post a winning record against them (8-7) during coach John Calipari's tenure.
Last season GWU became the first team to sweep UMass since Temple in 1990-91. In the first game, at George Washington, the Colonials knocked the Minutemen from the No. 1 spot in the rankings with a 78-75 win before a capacity crowd that included President Clinton. In the second game, GWU prevailed, 80-78, at the Mullins Center to snap UMass' 41-game on-campus home winning streak, the longest in the country at the time. That game is still UMass' only loss at Mullins (38-1).
As UMass has continued its upward trek toward national prominence, GWU has been the only regular opponent to consistently match its brand of aggressive defense and relentless hustle for 40 minutes.
“It's been a battle since our win over them in the A-10 tournament,” said Colonials coach Mike Jarvis, referring to GWU's 84-83 overtime decision over UMass in the first round of the 1991 tourney, a game that may have denied the Minutemen an NCAA tournament berth. “They've always been great battles.”
Four of the last five games have been decided by 3 points or fewer.
“It's definitely going to be a good game,” said GWU guard Kwame Evans. “We're not going to pay attention to all that No. 1 stuff. We're just going to practice hard and play hard. Emotionally, it's going to be a very tough game, and it will be a very physical game.”
“It's going to be another challenge,” said UMass guard Carmelo Travieso. “We just have to come out ready to play. They're going to come at us and they want us, and we want them for what they did to us last year. It's going to be a great game.”
UMass forward Tyrone Weeks said the matchups against GWU are always good. “They have some good players,” he said. “We just need to have a few good practices and go out there and play them as tough as we can.”
As in many UMass games this season, the key matchup today is at center – the first duel between 6-foot-11-inch Marcus Camby and 7-1 GWU sophomore Alexander Koul. Camby's a more advanced player: better hands, a better touch, better passing skills, more fluidity and agility. But Koul definitely has the weight advantage (296 pounds to Camby's 220).
It's virtually pointless to try to shoot over Camby; he's one of the best shot blockers in the game. But some centers have been effective attacking him laterally or backing him down on the blocks with the body.
On the other hand, Koul is foul-prone. He has fouled out seven times this year, including Wednesday's game against Duquesne, in which he picked up his fifth personal trying to reject a 3-point attempt with 6:35 left and the Colonials up, 70-55.
“He was just trying to add a dimension to his game, showing he could block a 3-point shooter,” joked Jarvis. “But obviously, we're not the same team without him on the floor for long periods of time.”
The other big matchup comes at point guard, between UMass' 6-2 Edgar Padilla and GWU's 5-3 Shawnta Rogers. The latter has held his own against players more than a foot taller than him. That's why Jarvis has few concerns about whether opposing teams post Rogers or try shooting over him.
“Normally, posting up point guards doesn't work because it takes away from what teams normally do,” said Jarvis. “As far as shooting over him is concerned, it's a matter of is Rogers where we want him. If he's right up on the guy, it's very difficult.
GWU fans began chanting, “We want UMass!” with 15:29 left in Wednesday's 84-72 win. But today's contest has been a hot topic in the area for a lot longer. Asked how difficult the week leading up to the game has been, Jarvis replied, “You mean weeks. They've been tough weeks.”
Once bitten, twice by Colonials
By Justin C. Smith, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 26, 1996
They are human after all.
The last undefeated team in college basketball is no longer as the Massachusetts men's basketball team lost to George Washington for the fourth straight time, 86-76, at the William D. Mullins Center Saturday. It was the second time the Minutemen have lost at Mullins, both times at the hands of the Colonials.
After trailing by as many as 21 in the second half, UMass rallied back to within nine after a quick 11-2 run with three minutes remaining. Carmelo Travieso (game high 23 points) was fouled hitting a three-pointer for a four point play. Dana Dingle (15 points, 6-of-6 from the field) then was fouled on a putback, to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since 16-7.
Kwame Evans put an end to any threats of a miraculous comeback when he stepped behind the three-point arc with 1:59 left and let fly the clinching trey as the shot clock expired.
UMass (26-1, 14-1 Atlantic 10) was never really close, as the only lead it held was Marcus Camby's lay-up 22 seconds into the contest for a 2-0 edge. GW then went on a 16-3 run and the Minutemen would get no closer until the final minutes of the game.
Senior co-captain Vaughn Jones led the Colonials with 21 points, including 13-of-16 shooting from the free-throw line, but it was the presence of Alexander Koul (14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes) that was one of the key factors in the game.
“He did the one thing I told him not to do,” GW coach Mike Jarvis said of his center. “I told him not to leave his feet. He did and blocked Camby's shot early. That gave him some confidence and the rest of the guys some confidence. It was a key play in the game.”
Koul's play was significant in the win, but also the team never really got in sync as coach John Calipari was ejected for picking up two technicals just over 10 minutes into the first half, and his “Best finisher in the country” Donta Bright (six points on 3-for-13 shooting), missed three dunks and a lay-up. Overall UMass shot a dismal 42.6 percent from the field for the game.
The Colonials (18-5, 11-2) shot a red-hot 51 percent from the field, hitting a lot of their shots in transition for easy lay-ups.
“I think you have to look at where those shots came from,” Jarvis said.
Calipari, thrown out for disputing foul calls, may well have had a beef with the men in zebra stripes as the Colonials took 38 foul shots hitting 29 (76 percent), including 12-of-14 down the stretch, while UMass was 12-of-19 from the line.
“I would say that (getting thrown out) very much hurt our chances to win this game,” he said. “I was not trying to get thrown out of the game, we were trying to win the game.
“They beat us at every position today, point guard, at the two position, the three, the four and the five, and their bench beat our bench. Obviously, their coach out-coached me because I wasn’t even out on the floor. We got beat soundly because they were the better basketball team today.”
Calipari was replaced by associate coach James “Bruiser” Flint at the 9:29 mark of the first half and summed up his second coaching experience as one of learning.
“Well, I’m 1-1 now, I guess,” Flint said. “We’re down because we lost, but we’re 26-1 now and we know what we’ve got to do, so let’s go from here.”
With finally losing their first game of the season, the Minutemen feel that the pressure is off them because the hype of an undefeated season no longer looms wherever they go. But they feel they still could be the best team in the country.
“Well, we did beat the team that I would guess will be No. 1 this week,” Calipari said, referring to second ranked Kentucky. “I think you do get a little soft. I tell [my players] all the time, the publicity and the notoriety are like poison. As long as you don’t swallow it, you’re okay.
“We swallowed it.”
Jarvis and Colonials have Mass.’ number
By Candice Flemming, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, February 26, 1996
George Washington coach Mike Jarvis often liked to joke that his Colonials had won twice before against Massachusetts at the William D. Mullins Center, although there was only victory of record — his team's 80-78 win over UMass a year ago (Feb. 14, 1995).
The other win he was referring to was UMass' win against GW two years ago when a Marcus Camby slam with a second left gave the Minutemen a thrilling 56-55 win, after the Minutemen hadn't led all game, and after a controversial offensive foul call on GW’s Omo Moses.
Now Jarvis has his real second win at Mullins after his team's 86-76 upset of the No. 1 Massachusetts Minutemen Saturday.
“They beat us in every phase of the game,” said Massachusetts coach John Calipari. “GW just beat our brains in.”
The Colonials pretty much beat the Minutemen at their own game.
“UMass basketball is playing like if you lose, you're going to the electric chair. Well, guess what? It wasn't [Saturday]. You didn't see the fire. You didn't see the emotion and passion,” Calipari said. “George Washington came out and right from the get-go were ready to go and they beat us at every position.”
The Colonials are still the only visiting team to ever win a game in the Mullins Center in its four-year history, as UMass' record at Mullins now stands at 38-2.
The Minutemen can beat such top-ranked teams as Kentucky, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Memphis, but for some reason they have trouble beating the Colonials. In each of the last four meetings between the two clubs, the Colonials have come away with the win, and since the 1991-92 season, UMass is just 4-5 against GW — its worst record against an Atlantic 10 opponent during that time.
“It's probably more amazing that we can't play that way against everybody,” Jarvis said. “If we could, we'd be undefeated.”
In the first meeting between the two squads last season (Feb. 4), the Minutemen came into the game ranked No. 1 as well, and the Colonials dropped them, 78-75, in front of President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea.
Ten days later UMass fell again, this time for the first time ever at the Mullins Center, leaving the UMass crowd stunned. The loss also snapped the Minutemen's 41-game on-campus winning streak.
“They have our number for sure,” Camby said. “They came out here and executed their plays. They hit their shots and free throws. I have to hand it to them. They beat us last year without me, and they beat us this year with me.”
The Minutemen's losing streak against George Washington began during the 1993-94 season when UMass lost to the Colonials 77-66 at the Smith Center on Feb. 27, 1994, a month after the Minutemen's last-second win at the Mullins Center.
“To me, they are still the No. 1 team in the country,” Jarvis said. “It might sound crazy, but they might thank us for what we did today.”
Indeed the Minutemen might thank the Colonials for this one. With the loss, the pressure of having an undefeated season is gone.
“Publicity and notoriety are like poison. As long as you don't swallow it, you're okay. Well, we swallowed it,” Calipari said. “The good news is, there is no pressure now. It’s play ball. The pressure’s gone. Twenty-six and one is still pretty darn good. And we’re still a terrific basketball team.”
Guard Carmelo Travieso said, “We were getting sick and tired of hearing it [going undefeated]. We just wanted to go out and play. Now it’s all out the window, so we’re not going to hear it anymore. This is going to help us a lot because now we have to work harder.
“Our goal is to go to the Meadowlands and perform there – we want to win the whole thing. We just lost this game.”
George Washington is first in nation to beat UMass
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/25/1996
AMHERST – They held on to the zero in the loss column as long as they could. But it was apparent they wouldn't end the day with it; from the outset, the opponent was sharper and determined to take it away. So the rash of baskets and timeouts down the stretch didn't help the University of Massachusetts. Neither did relentless pressure or steals or rejections. In recent weeks, such things had helped the Minutemen keep their record unblemished. Yesterday, they merely delayed the inevitable.
Close the record books. Hold the doughnut.
Yesterday, the No. 1-ranked Minutemen became the last team in major college basketball to taste defeat, as Atlantic 10 foe George Washington outplayed them in almost every phase of the game, jumping out to a 23-point lead and holding off a furious rally for an 86-76 upset.
UMass, looking to become the first team to finish a regular season unbeaten since Nevada-Las Vegas in 1990-91, fell to 26-1 overall, 14-1 in the conference.
In one of the most exciting A-10 games of the season – one in which UMass coach John Calipari was ejected for the first time in his career – George Washington (18-5, 11-2) shot 51 percent and never trailed after going ahead, 4-2. GWU led, 47-30 at halftime and 55-32 with 16:36 remaining.
UMass staged several rallies, all of which were answered by the Colonials, but managed to cut the deficit to 73-64 with 2:36 left. With 1:59 left, though, George Washington forward Kwame Evans drained a 3-point basket just before the shot clock expired to put his team up, 76-64. The Minutemen cut the lead to 81-73 with 41 seconds left, but the Colonials hit 5 of 6 free throws the rest of the way.
It was George Washington's fourth consecutive win over the Minutemen, their second straight at the Mullins Center. It is still the only team to beat UMass at the facility, and the only A-10 team with a winning record against Calipari (9-7).
“They have our number for sure,” said UMass center Marcus Camby, who scored 18 points on 8-of-21 shooting. Camby had considerable problems with center Alexander Koul (14 points, 6 boards before fouling out), who rejected two of Camby's first three shots.
“They came out here and executed their plays,” said Camby. “They hit their shots and free throws. Koul had it going inside on me and he just had his way with me today. He's just real big and strong on the high post, so he's hard to get around.”
Koul's rejections set the tone for the game. But, undoubtedly, the Minutemen were most hurt by 5-foot-3-inch freshman point guard Shawnta Rogers (14 points, 8 assists, 3 steals), who dribbled through UMass pressure several times – something few guards have been able to do against the Minutemen.
“I felt comfortable out there because my teammates make me feel comfortable,” said Rogers. “All the time out there they were guiding me in the right direction.”
Said UMass guard Carmelo Travieso, “It felt like he kept getting to spots before we did, and we kept running him over. That's how some of us got into foul trouble. He's a good player.”
Calipari, who picked up his fourth technical foul in four games, was ejected with 10:31 left in the first half. He watched the remainder of the game on television in the locker room, and wasn't pleased.
“I really got a clear view of my team right now, and I think we really have some work to do,” said Calipari. “I think the kids know that. I think you get a little soft. I tell them all the time, the publicity and notoriety are like poison. As long as you don't swallow it, you're OK. We've swallowed it.
“UMass basketball is playing like if you lose, you're going to the electric chair. Well, guess what? It wasn't today. You didn't see the fire. You didn't see the emotion and passion. And I'm not blaming one guy, I could blame myself. George Washington came out and right from the get-go were ready to go, and they beat us at every position.”
The Minutemen saved their best run for the last five minutes, when they got a 4-point play from Travieso (23 points). That cut it to 71-61 with 3:31 left. A free throw by forward Dana Dingle with 2:36 left made it 73-64. Then came Evans' trey.
For the first time all season, UMass was up against a team that made more big plays down the stretch than it did.
“I think we were hurting most down on the defensive end,” said Travieso. “It seemed like they made every shot.
“Today it was a tough one. We just have to see what they did to beat us, so it won't happen again. After losses last year, we came out last year and learned from our losses, and when we faced the team again, what they were successful at last time didn't work. This could be good for us.”
Drama in series nothing new
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/25/1996
Most University of Massachusetts followers consider the Minutemen's rivalry with Temple their most dramatic. Not so. Yesterday's foul-plagued, tension- filled loss to George Washington was just the latest installment of one of the most underrated series in the Northeast. Here's a sampling of games past:
- Feb. 4, 1995: George Washington 78, UMass 75 – Before a sellout crowd that included President Clinton and daughter Chelsea, GWU knocked the Minutemen from the No. 1 ranking with the victory.
As the buzzer sounded, Colonials coach Mike Jarvis stepped onto the court, crouched and pumped his fist, to the delight of the home crowd – and chagrin of UMass. The Minutemen coaching staff about-faced and headed toward the locker room, eschewing handshakes.
- Feb. 13, 1993: UMass 68, George Washington 65 – Before the game, GWU fans chanted, “Overrated!” to the Minutemen, who had been ranked in the Top 25 most of the season. The chant became louder late in the second half, when UMass trailed by 16. But the Minutemen staged a furious rally, and with :0.4 left, guard Mike Williams drained a 3-pointer for the win.
- Jan. 16, 1993: UMass 76, George Washington 68 – GWU center Yinka Dare had impressive billing, but unheralded UMass reserve Jeff Meyer played a season-high 13 minutes and helped hold Dare to just 6 points and 4 boards.
- March 3, 1991: George Washington 84, UMass 83 (OT) – In the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, there were eight second-half ties, the last when UMass guard Rafer Giles hit one of two free throws with :02 remaining. There were three more ties in overtime. The winning basket came with 1:40 left in the extra frame on a layup by Dirkk Surles.
- Feb. 27, 1994: UMass 56, George Washington 55 – UMass rallied from an 11-point deficit to win on a dunk by center Marcus Camby with one second left after a controversial offensive foul on GWU.
- Feb. 14, 1995: George Washington 80, UMass 78 – The decision snapped the Minutemen's 41-game on-campus home winning streak. Jarvis was asked if he felt the loss of Camby in both games contributed to the season sweep. He cautioned the media not to take away from his team's effort, saying Camby's absence was not the difference.
- Jan. 21, 1989: George Washington 103, UMass 77. The Colonials enter the game 0-14, then blow out the Minutemen for their only win of the season. Calipari, in his first year as UMass coach, gets hit with a technical foul and is so frustrated that he tries to incur another, throwing his jacket and tie into the stands. But the officials balk, so Coach Cal leaves of his accord, high-fiving fans.
Colonials win some respect
By Mark Blaudschun and Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/25/1996
AMHERST – They played like the best team in college basketball, not a team that had lost to lowly La Salle six days earlier. George Washington, a team with little national respect, once again played like a top-five program against the University of Massachusetts yesterday.
The Colonials (18-5, 11-2) showed a diverse attack in rolling over the previously unbeaten and top-ranked Minutemen, 86-76, at the Mullins Center.
It was the Colonials' fourth consecutive defeat of the Minutemen, including twice when UMass was No. 1.
“Just getting a win here was a great feeling,” said guard Kwame Evans, who had 14 points, including a crucial 3-point bomb with 1:59 left when UMass had cut a 23-point deficit to 9.
The Colonials felt inspired from the outset when 7-foot-1-inch, 290-pound Alexander Koul blocked a Marcus Camby shot in the first minute.
“That set the tone for the entire game,” said George Washington coach Mike Jarvis.
“We answered each challenge they gave us,” said forward Vaughn Jones, who scored a team-high 21 points, one of five Colonials in double figures. “We knew they were going to make a run at us, but we met it each time.”
The win was crucial for George Washington, which was regarded as a “bubble” team to make the NCAA tournament being upset by La Salle last Sunday, but now appears to be a lock.
“I'm scared to death about tomorrow, a road game in Cincinnati against Xavier,” said Jarvis. “But for the next few days I'm just going to sit back and enjoy this one.”
KNOCKOUT BLOCK ATTEMPT
For the second time in as many games, Koul fouled out trying to block a player's 3-point attempt.
Wednesday night against Duquesne, Koul fouled Nick Bosnic and headed to the bench immediately after the whistle. Yesterday, he fouled guard Carmelo Travieso with 3:31 left. Travieso completed the 4-point play. It was the eighth time this season Koul has fouled out.
The play cut UMass' deficit to 71-61 and delighted the crowd, who hoped UMass would be more effective in the interior without Koul in the game. Nothing doing. Freshman Yegor Mescheriakov and junior Ferdinand Williams held their own against Camby, who scored just 4 points in Koul's absence.
“When you consider how young they are, they did a great job,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis said he was pleased with Koul's effort, but he added, “I wish he could have stayed in the game longer.”
George Washington doubled up on UMass in the free throw department, 38-19. In a physical game, the Colonials had 18 personal fouls, the Minutemen 25 . . . UMass' reign at No. 1 is the longest since Duke held the spot from start to finish in 1991. Could the Minutemen still be ranked No. 1 despite the loss? “I think they're still the No. 1 team,” said Jarvis. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people ready to move them out of the No. 1 spot so they can move others into the spot.” . . . UMass had 18 turnovers.
This is area of expertise for Jarvis
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/25/1996
AMHERST – The sharply dressed bald guy was on his way out of the press conference, having fielded questions concerning the biggest upset in college basketball this season. George Washington coach Mike Jarvis was almost out the door when the crowd gave him a round of applause.
Imagine that. A round of applause at a press conference. Granted, someone had let GWU officials and alumni into the room, but they weren't the only ones clapping.
“You know, that's the first time I've ever received an ovation,” said Jarvis, the former coach at Cambridge Rindge & Latin and Boston University, who showed yesterday he could still make an impact in this area even though he now lives in the nation's capital.
The man who coached Cambridge R&L to two unbeaten seasons and the Terriers to two NCAA tournaments continues to restore credibility to a once-beleaguered program. It's not like it was at BU, when Jarvis annually would guide his team to the North Atlantic Conference final; GWU has reached just one Atlantic 10 final in his tenure.
But the school's biggest wins have come in his tenure. Jarvis added another to the list yesterday with an 86-76 upset of No. 1 Massachusetts. In all probability, this will be the second consecutive season the Colonials will knock the Minutemen from the No. 1 spot.
Last Wednesday, after the Colonials' sloppy win over Duquesne, Jarvis was asked what he would have to do to beat the Minutemen again.
“We'll have to travel in a time machine back to last year, step off and relive the moment,” he said.
Not so. The Colonials merely needed a solid, all-around effort. They shot 55 percent in the first half, 51 percent for the game and withstood several UMass rallies after building a 23-point lead.
“I have to hand it to them,” said UMass center Marcus Camby. “They beat us last year without me, and they beat us this year with me.”
In fact, GWU hasn't lost to UMass since 1994, when the Minutemen won on a dunk by Camby with one second left. The play followed an offensive foul call on GWU guard Omo Moses.
There was no nail-biting yesterday; GWU answered each UMass rally.
“What we said at halftime was that we're up 17, and we're not going to quit,” said Jarvis.
“I was trying to find some secrets, tricks that others did against UMass. I was trying to be a genius for a day. But you have to do what you do best. You just have to play harder than they do, and that's almost impossible. But I think they did that today.”
The tempo of the game was set when center Alexander Koul twice blocked shots by Camby – against Jarvis' orders.
“He disobeyed me,” said Jarvis. “I told him don't leave his feet and he leaves his feet and blocks a shot. He set the tone for the game by doing what he wasn't supposed to do.
“But, as I always say, I'm not in charge and I don't think the kids are in charge sometimes. It was obvious he got a message from another coach, because it wasn't me.”
Yesterday's win likely solidified an NCAA tournament bid for the Colonials (18-5), who were a bubble team last year but were denied a bid.
Asked if he was upset that the Minutemen and Colonials no longer play twice in the regular season (because of A-10 divisional play), Jarvis said, “Are you crazy? Are you nuts? I'm glad we don't come back next year. In 1998, I'll be retired, so I don't know if I'll ever come back to the Mullins Center.”
Ejection, and then dejection
On College Basketball
By Mark Blaudschun, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/25/1996
AMHERST – In the end, there were only scattered cheers from a small segment of the crowd at the Mullins Center that saw something it hadn't seen all season.
The cheers came from a small section just behind the University of Massachusetts bench. The applause was not for yesterday's performance because, quite frankly, the effort didn't merit it.
Instead, the cheers were in recognition of what UMass had done over the course of a season that was suddenly somewhat normal again.
The story of the day – and of the year thus far – was written by George Washington yesterday afternoon when it did the improbable, not the impossible, giving the Minutemen a sound 86-76 beating.
Gone was the undefeated season and the talk of chasing history. Gone, by tomorrow no doubt, will be the No. 1 ranking, which the Minutemen held so proudly and so fiercely for nine weeks.
“Now,” said UMass coach John Calipari, “the pressure is off. We can go out and play. We can get on with the season.”
Not that Calipari was happy about that. Far from it. He felt his own sense of guilt, getting tossed from a game for the first time in his career after picking up two technical fouls in a minute and 17 seconds early in the first half.
“I didn't do a very good coaching job,” said Calipari, who had to do his coaching in the locker room at halftime and was relegated to being a television spectator thereafter, watching the Colonials beat the Minutemen for the fourth consecutive time.
Calipari responded with a sardonic smile and a humorless laugh when someone asked him if it was better – from a pressure standpoint – that the Minutemen finally did lose a regular-season game.
“Yeah,” he said. “We really wanted to lose this game.”
Of course they didn't. They were within three games of becoming the first team in five years to go through the regular season unbeaten. They wanted that, no matter what happened in March.
“To me, they are still the No. 1 team in the country,” said George Washington coach Mike Jarvis. “It might sound crazy, but they might thank us for what we did today.”
And, in a crazy way, the Minutemen might do that. Now they can go about their business and not shoulder the burden of being No. 1. Calipari conceded that benefit.
Perhaps the Minutemen needed a dose of reality. Calipari conceded they were beginning to believe some of their own press clippings. They were beginning to think they could escape from any situation. But when the Colonials built a 47-30 halftime lead, even the staunchest UMass backer had to have doubts.
Calipari has told his players that publicity is like poison, that it can't hurt you unless you swallow it. They did, but it wasn't a fatal dose.
“We're 26-1,” said Calipari. “We probably won't be No. 1, and the team that will move ahead of us Kentucky we beat. But that's OK, too.”
It really is. Unless the Minutemen go into a swan dive, they will still be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. And Calipari can now chew on his players a little harder in practice the next couple of weeks. Any time he sees them getting a little bit full of themselves, he has a tape he can show them.
He also can go about his business at a less frantic pace.
“I can go and clear my head a little bit as well,” he said.
While watching the game on television, Calipari said, he learned a few things. He saw a softening in intensity and a few other flaws that will be worked on.
This doesn't mean the Minutemen should be tossed from the heap of national championship contenders. It doesn't mean they can be ignored.
But they must be wary. George Washington exposed some flaws. The Colonials showed that a bulky big man such as 7-foot-1-inch, 290-pound Alexander Koul can throw even a Player of the Year candidate out of the flow of his game. Koul banged Marcus Camby around for 21 minutes yesterday.
They showed that a small (5-3) but super-quick guard, Shawnta Rogers, can negate some of the natural advantage in speed that the Minutemen usually have with Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso.
And they showed that sometimes a team digs holes for itself that are too deep to climb out of.
All of that was evident yesterday. Now it is time to look ahead. As Calipari said, “We go on from here.”
So they do. No longer unbeaten. No longer No. 1. But still very confident of climbing back on top when it really counts.
After the fall . . .
Camby, UMass hope pickup is their game
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/26/1996
The best player in college basketball didn't wait for the dreaded word to emerge. He brought it up instead.
“We're in a little slump right now, including myself,” said University of Massachusetts center Marcus Camby following the Minutemen's first loss of the season, an 86-76 setback Saturday to Atlantic 10 foe George Washington.
The game showed that during a time when the Minutemen usually play some of their best basketball they have dropped a notch. There have been some dramatic victories in recent weeks, but Saturday the slump was evident.
How else could you explain No. 2 scorer Donta Bright – one of the best finishers in the game – coming up with three missed dunks and an airball?
Ditto Camby's showing in UMass' last two games: 15-for-41 shooting from the floor (37 percent), 11 turnovers. That includes an 8-for-21 effort in the loss to George Washington, a game in which Camby also turned the ball over five times.
Camby's contributions are key, because the rest of the Minutemen feed off his play. When he's on, they are tough to beat. When he's slumping, his teammates are not as effective. Against George Washington, Camby had two of his first three shots blocked by center Alexander Koul. That set the tone for the game.
“That hurt a couple of guys. We were expecting him to score, and off that we score layups,” said UMass point guard Edgar Padilla. “A lot of us were hurt by that.”
“I've been missing a lot of shots, forcing a lot of things,” said Camby. “I just have to learn to let the game come to me like I did against Virginia Tech.
“I try to get it all back at once and I was forcing shots. I think I hurt my teammates. But I'm not worrying about it that much. I'm going to pick it up, play the season out and go from there.”
UMass coach John Calipari wants to guard against making too big a deal over one loss, however. “I want them to understand that 26-1 is pretty darn good,” said Calipari, whose team faces league foe St. Joseph's in its last home game of the season Wednesday.
“We're still a terrific basketball team. But we have to remember what got us good: that UMass plays like we're going to the electric chair.”
The Minutemen played that way against the likes of Virginia Tech and Temple. The result was sound victories. “We have to get back to being the fierce competitor we are,” said Calipari. “We've gotten away from that.
“A lot of times you read in the paper how great you are, how special you are, and you forget, 'I'm good because I play so hard and I play with so much passion and I want to win in the worst way that it shows.' And we didn't do that.”
Calipari said that the good news is the pressure associated with being undefeated and ranked No. 1 is gone. His players echoed those sentiments.
“We were happy with the attention and we feel we deserved it,” said guard Carmelo Travieso. “But then people kept asking, 'Do you feel pressure to go undefeated? Do you feel pressure being No. 1?' We just wanted to go out and play. But everyone kept talking about it and we kept answering the same questions.
“The whole undefeated thing was perpetuated by reporters and friends and family. When you're asked every day, 'Do you feel pressure?' and you say no, and the next day someone else asks the same thing, you want to say, 'Didn't you read that we're not worried about that?' ”
UMass' loss dropped it to second place in the USA Today-CNN coaches' Top 25, 59 points behind Kentucky.
Kentucky had all but one first-place vote (31), the Minutemen the other.
UMass Streak Comes to a Perfectly Awful Ending
By Malcolm Moran, The New York Times, 2/25/1996
There was going to be a day like this, even at Massachusetts, where perfection suddenly became a standard. The Minutemen became the last major college basketball team to lose today when George Washington controlled every aspect of the game and held off a loud but ineffective UMass rally in an 86-76 victory.
With Marcus Camby bumped and frustrated by the front line of the Colonials and Coach John Calipari ejected after receiving two first-half technical fouls, the top-ranked Minutemen endured the end of a 26-game winning streak. The defeat preserves the status of the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers as the last Division I men's team to complete an undefeated season.
The good news is there is no pressure now,” Calipari said. “It's, 'Play ball.' ”
That was the only good news today for UMass, a team that has held the No. 1 ranking for the past nine weeks. Massachusetts (26-1 over all and 14-1 in the Atlantic 10) can still gain a top regional seeding in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. But not if the Minutemen lack the passion to the extent that they did today.
“George Washington beat our brains in,” Calipari said.
The Colonials (18-5, 11-2) won for the fourth consecutive time against the Minutemen.
George Washington, the only UMass opponent to win at the 3-year-old Mullins Center, won for the second consecutive year in a building where the Minutemen have a record of 38-2. The Colonials have won 10 of their last 11 games, but they lost to a struggling La Salle team last Sunday and have a 2-2 record against ranked opponents.
They were led by two freshmen: Shawnta Rogers, a 5-foot-3-inch guard, who scored 15 points with 8 assists and 3 steals, and J. J. Brade, a 6-5 guard who scored 16 points and made 7 of 7 shots.
Rogers said he had been warned about the Mullins Center by his teammates. “They told me this was the toughest place to play,” he said. “I found that out when I got here. The fans, they really come at you. They say everything.”
“Like what?” Rogers was asked.
“Like things his mother wouldn't want him to repeat,” George Washington Coach Mike Jarvis said.
Rogers allowed his team to control the pace from the start, when the Colonials were able to build an early lead with a succession of transition baskets, and down the stretch, when a UMass rally was minimized by running down the shot clock.
Alexander Koul, a 7-1, 296-pound sophomore from Belarus, scored 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting despite foul problems that limited him to 21 minutes. Vaughn Jones led the Colonials with 21 points, including 13 of 16 free throws. George Washington made 16 of 22 foul shots in the second half, including 12 of its last 14.
Koul set the tone early when, despite going against his coach's advice, he blocked a Camby shot.
“He was very disobedient,” Jarvis said. “I told him, 'Don't leave your feet,' and he left his feet to block a shot. He was doing something he wasn't supposed to do.”
Camby, who has made just 15 of his last 41 shots, acknowledged that the undefeated record had created pressure. He said the early block affected his play.
“I tried to get it all back at once,” he said. “I was trying to help my team. As you can see, I hurt my team.”
The effect was startling. George Washington outscored the Minutemen in the paint, 44-36. From the start, Koul created problems for Camby at both ends. Koul's wide frame and his ability to move his feet defensively limited Camby's effectiveness inside. At the offensive end, Koul was nearly impossible to stop once he gained position inside.
UMass had already fallen behind by 14 when Calipari was charged with the first technical by Referee Gene Monje. Calipari left the coaching box while claiming that Carmelo Travieso had been fouled with 11 minutes 38 seconds to go. Then, after Travieso was charged with a foul 1:07 later, Calipari turned to the other official, Larry Lembo, as he walked nearby.
“I said, 'Get away from me,' ” Calipari said afterward.
Lembo's right arm instructed Calipari to get away from everybody.
And Jarvis wondered if his team had walked into a trap. “I said, 'This is a trick – he got himself tossed so the crowd and the players could get back in the game,' ” Jarvis said. “I could be wrong, but my immediate reaction was it was done intentionally.”
Calipari denied that. “I was not trying to get thrown out of the game,” he said. “That's obvious.”
The Minutemen were responsible for many of their problems. Donta Bright missed three dunk attempts, made 3 of 13 shots and scored a total of 6 points, 9 below his average. Travieso scored 23 points, 18 in the second half. But the Minutemen, who trailed by 21 points with 14:20 to play, never came closer than 8.
Once UMass reduced its deficit to 10, the Colonials responded with a sense of efficiency that maintained control. Kwame Evans, who scored half of his 14 points in the last 5:15, was fouled by Edgar Padilla as the shot clock was about to expire. He made both free throws.
Dana Dingle, who scored 15 points, converted 1 of 5 offensive rebounds on a 3-point play that cut the deficit to 9 with 2:36 to go. But Evans answered with a 3-point shot from the top of the key that passed through the rim as the shot-clock buzzer sounded for a 12-point lead with 2:00 to play. George Washington's foul shooting did the rest, and the tone of the UMass season had changed forever.
“You have to feel sorry for St. Joe's,” Camby said of UMass's next step, at home on Wednesday, in the Minutemen's imperfect season.
Geo Washington (86) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Brade 34 7-7 2-4 1-3 1 3 16 Jones 39 4-8 13-16 1-6 2 3 21 Koul 21 7-10 0-2 2-6 0 5 14 Rogers 36 3-7 7-8 1-2 8 3 15 Evans 36 4-12 5-6 0-3 2 3 14 Krivonos 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Green 11 1-5 0-0 0-2 0 1 2 Williams 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Mescheriakov 18 1-3 2-2 0-0 0 0 4 _______________________________________________ Totals 200 27-53 29-38 5-22 13 18 86 _______________________________________________ Percentages: Fg-.509, Ft-.763. 3-Point Goals: 3-8, .375 (Rogers 2-3, Evans 1-4, Green 0-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 2 (Koul 2). Turnovers: 14 (Rogers 5, Brade 4, Evans 2, Koul 2, Green). Steals: 13 (Jones 3, Rogers 3, Brade 2, Evans 2, Green, Mescheriakov, Williams). Massachusetts (76) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Dingle 34 6-6 3-7 5-8 2 0 15 Bright 25 3-13 0-2 4-7 2 5 6 Camby 36 8-21 2-2 3-8 2 3 18 E Padilla 36 3-11 4-4 1-5 3 4 11 Travieso 36 8-14 2-2 1-3 1 4 23 Clarke 16 1-3 1-2 1-1 1 1 3 Weeks 12 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 1 0 Nunez 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 3 0 Norville 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 _______________________________________________ Totals 200 29-68 12-19 15-33 12 22 76 _______________________________________________ Percentages: Fg-.426, Ft-.632. 3-Point Goals: 6-20, .300 (Bright 0-2, E Padilla 1-6, Travieso 5-10, Clarke 0-2). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 5 (Travieso 3, Bright, Camby). Turnovers: 18 (Camby 5, E Padilla 5, Bright 2, Travieso 2, Weeks 2, Clarke, Nunez). Steals: 10 (Clarke 2, E Padilla 2, Travieso 2, Bright, Camby, Dingle, Nunez). __________________________________ Geo Washington 47 39 - 86 Massachusetts 30 46 - 76 __________________________________ Technical fouls: Massachusetts 3 (Head Coach Calipari 2 (ejected), Bench). A: 9,493. Officials: Larry Lembo, Jerry Donaghy, Gene Monje.