Men’s hoop travels to Louisville for regular season finale
By Justin C. Smith, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, March 1, 1996
In its regular season finale, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team travels to Freedom Hall to face the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals. Denny Crum’s already dangerous crew has been recently bolstered by the return of Samaki Walker.
Walker, a sophomore center, had not played the previous 10 games for the Cardinals due to allegations of NCAA rules violations. The NCAA board was looking into the questionable purchase of an automobile by Walker’s father1), but the charges have been dropped.
In his first game back, a 80-79 double overtime loss to Marquette Wednesday, he led the team in scoring with 24 and rebounding with 12. His counterpart tomorrow, Marcus Camby, has seen the big man play and has respect for the 6-foot-9 inch, 240-pounder.
“He’s an aggressive low post player,” Camby said. “It will be another great challenge for myself. I’ve been played physical all year, but they’re a great team with him back in the lineup.”
Louisville (19-9 overall, 10-4 Conference USA) also has quick and strong backcourt with the combination of Tick Rogers and DeJuan Wheat, which could cause some problems for the struggling UMass backcourt.
Over the past two games the tandem of Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso has combined for only seven assists, while committing 12 turnovers. On the defensive end, opposing backcourts in those two games have averaged over 30 points per contest.
“Carmelo just making shots right now,” UMass coach John Calipari said. “They are playing him tougher on defense. He hasn’t hit from the outside but when he goes to the foul line and misses free throws, what kind of defense do they play there?
“On the other end, defensively what happened (Wednesday night) hasn’t happened all year, the guy was just quicker.”
Another outside threat for the Cardinals is Brian Keiser. Over his last eight games, he is shooting 59 percent from behind the three-point arc.
The final regular season test for the Minutemen (27-1, 15-1 Atlantic 10) will prove a good test for Camby and his teammates as March Madness begins.
“This game is what we need before the tournament, playing a game in a hostile gym,” Camby said. “This is going to be just like an NCAA Tournament game.”
“They shoot the ball well and create shots for their guard,” Calipari added. “They found themselves guys when Samaki Walker went down that didn’t know they were that good.
“Its a game they have been targeting and its a kind of game we look forward to. We know how hard its going to be.”
UMass studying for tough finals
Louisville, then tourneys are big tests
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 3/2/1996
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After the University of Massachusetts' sluggish play in Wednesday night's 68-66 overtime win over St. Joseph's, coach John Calipari said he'd give his players Thursday off. But he did give them a homework assignment.
Coach Cal wanted each player to consider how he could help the team regain its dominant form of a month ago and “to write on a piece of paper what they have to do to help us win. And I want that on my desk yesterday.” Although the second-ranked Minutemen (27-1) enter today's 2 p.m. regular-season finale against No. 21 Louisville (19-9) mired in a three-week slump, it's doubtful any player returned a sheet labled, “S.O.S.”
But UMass must resolve its offensive and defensive woes in a hurry. Next week is the Atlantic 10 tournament, with the NCAA tournament following. “We've hit a lull that many teams do this time of year,” said Calipari. “But I'm glad we're in a funk now; I hope we're not in a funk in two weeks, because that's bad.”
The Minutemen have clinched their fifth consecutive A-10 regular-season title and will receive a first-round bye in the conference tourney. UMass should also receive the first No. 1 NCAA seeding in school history. Calipari feels the team will receive the latter regardless of what happens in the interim.
Still, the coach said, “We've got a heck of a challenge playing Louisville down there, with center Samaki Walker back and playing great basketball. They have great fans and a great coach Denny Crum. We have to play a team in its last home game, and if they beat us, it increases their chances of making the NCAA tournament.”
When the teams met last season in Worcester, the game was billed as a matchup between sophomore Walker and Marcus Camby, but Walker sat out with an injury. Walker returned to the team Wednesday after sitting out 10 games while the NCAA investigated a family car acquisition before restoring his eligibility.
Louisville is coming off an 80-79 double-overtime loss to Marquette in which Walker collected 24 points and 12 rebounds. The Cardinals are 11-2 without Walker, 8-7 with him. They have won 9 of their last 12 games.
For Camby, the front-runner for national Player of the Year honors, the game means another opportunity to test his skills against one of the best low- post players in the nation. “I've seen him play a couple of times,” said Camby. “He's a terrific low-post player with a lot of good moves. It will be a challenge for us.”
Other matchups of note today are in the backcourt: UMass' Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso against Louisville's DeJuan Wheat and Tick Rogers. Louisville is 9-1 when Wheat scores 20 points or more, but he has an inflammation of the knuckles in his middle finger and has hit just 7 of 41 shots in his last three games.
In recent weeks, Camby has not shot the ball well, but although he acknowledged being in a slump, he added that opponents have played him physically inside. “I've been played physically all year long,” he said. “I have to get in the gym earlier than usual and practice my low-post moves to perfection. I have to try to make things happen out there.”
That could come in handy against a team that's fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (49.9). “You play to your talent level,” said Calipari. “The best games my team has played have been when we've been fearful of other teams.”
“This game will prepare us for the NCAA tournament,” said Camby. “It's on the road in a hostile gym. We seem to rise to the occasion in games like this every time.”
On Thursday afternoon, Camby said he hadn't turned in Calipari's homework request, but he knew what his answer would be. “I think I need to be a team leader and step up and make big plays,” he said. “I need to get back to doing the things I did at the beginning of the year.”
Massachusetts (#2) 62, Louisville (#21) 59
From The Associated Press, 3/2/1996
Louisville had a chance to tie the game with under five seconds left, but Carmelo Travieso blocked DeJuan Wheat's three-point attempt and time expired.
U-Mass, virtually assured of a number one seed in the N-C-A-A tournament, finished the regular season with a 28-1 record, 15-1 in the Atlantic 10, and will next play on Thursday in the A-10 tournament.
In a game that was physical throughout and played at tournament intensity, Massachusetts built a double-digit first half lead behind Camby's 11 points, mostly on moves close to the basket. Dana Dingle carried the load on the boards in the first half with eight rebounds.
“That was one of the most physical games I've ever been a part of,” said U-Mass coach John Calipari. “But it was consistently physical. I can live with that. We just beat the crap out of us. As coaches, all we're looking for is consistency.”
Camby presence was also felt on the defensive end. Samaki Walker came off the bench and his first shot attempt was swatted away by Camby. Despite Camby's and the Minutemen's swarming defense, Louisville was able to chip away at the lead and closed the half with a 5-2 run behind a three-pointer by Damion Dantzler and a short jumper by Walker, to cut the deficit to 34-27.
The intensity picked up in the second half as Louisville refused to go away. U-Mass went up 48-40 with 11:20 left on a layup by Tyrone Weeks, but Louisville responded behind two three-pointers by Brian Keiser to pull the Cardinals to within 48-46 with 10:23 left.
Louisville hung tough and cut the lead to 58-57 on three Wheat foul shots. After the teams traded baskets, Wheat made a driving layup to pull the Cardinals to 60-59 with 2:03 left.
After two Massachusetts turnovers, Louisville had a chance to hold for one shot and the win. Wheat attempted to dribble the clock down, and as he was driving to the right wing Donta Bright picked him up on a switch and Wheat lost the ball out of bounds.
On the ensuing inbounds pass Walker was forced to give a foul to Camby, as Louisville was not yet over the limit. Walker then committed his fifth foul on the next play and Camby calmly sank both free throws for the final 62-59 margin.
“It was a heck of a game,” said Louisville coach Denny Crum. “I guess that's what you look for in college basketball – two teams playing their hearts out.”
Camby strengthened his bid for player-of-the-year honors, as he added eight rebounds and five blocks to his 23 points and clutch foul shooting. Camby was 8-of-18 from the field and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
“He's as good as there is,” said Crum. “He can score, block shots, rebound and he's a good passer. He's a heck of a player. He reminds me a lot of Pervis Ellison.”
Dingle finished the game with 15 rebounds along with scoring 11 points and Bright added 12 points.
Edgar Padilla recorded seven assists and five steals, including his 75th of the year to set the U-Mass single-season record for steals.
“They like one another and they care about one another,” said Calipari about his team. “I told them before the game – and coaches say this all the time – I know about problems at other programs, but my team, I love being around them.”
Louisville shot only 36 per cent (21-of-59) from the field and 69 per cent (9-of-13) from the foul line.
Massachusetts shot a respectable 46 per cent (24-of-52) from the field, but the difference was at the free throw line were the Minutemen missed only one attempt, going 12-of-13 from the charity stripe.
Wheat, who was playing with a sore shooting hand, finished with 10 points on only 2-of-10 shooting from the field. He added seven assists and committed only two turnovers.
Kiser led Louisville with 14 points, including hitting 4-of-7 from behind the three-point line. Tick Rogers finished the game with 13 points and Walker had just six points on 2-of-10 shooting. The Cardinals, who next play in the Conference USA tournament, dropped to 19-10.
The Minutemen finished the season 19-0 at neutral site and road games and 8-0 against top 25 teams.
The game was played before a Freedom Hall record crowd of 20,076 fans.
UMass back on its game
No. 2 tries harder in solid win
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 3/3/1996
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – They uncorked their brand of basketball – vintage late November through early February – and forced their opponent to sample its bitter taste. Yes, it had been nearly a month since the second-ranked University of Massachusetts Minutemen played with as much control, aggression and intensity as they did yesterday at Freedom Hall. All the elements that earned the Minutemen the No. 1 ranking for nine weeks were there as UMass topped No. 21 Louisville, 62-59, for its eighth win over a ranked team in eight tries this season.
From the opening minutes of the game, it was clear this was not the same UMass team that had struggled at both ends of the floor in recent weeks. In their last regular-season game, the Minutemen (28-1) outplayed Louisville at both ends much of the day.
“We still need to regroup, but yesterday was a good start,” said UMass forward Dana Dingle (11 points, 15 rebounds). “We just need to go from here.”
Cheered on by the largest crowd in Freedom Hall history (20,076), Louisville (19-10) trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but rallied to cut the lead to 60-59 with 36.2 seconds left and had possession of the ball. But as it has done many times this season, UMass won the battle of possessions down the stretch.
The Minutemen pressured Louisville's guards in the backcourt after the Cardinals inbounded, and on a defensive switch, forward Donta Bright disrupted Louisville guard DeJuan Wheat's dribble, forcing Wheat to lose the ball out of bounds with 8.7 seconds left. UMass inbounded to center Marcus Camby, and with 6.9 seconds to go he sank two free throws, giving him a game-high 23 points and the Minutemen a 3-point lead.
Louisville raced the ball up the floor on its final possession, but just before the horn, UMass guard Carmelo Travieso partially blocked a 3-point attempt by Wheat, who complained he was fouled before walking off the court in disgust.
“It was a great game with two teams playing their hearts out,” said Louisville coach Denny Crum. “We had a chance, but they knocked the ball out of DeJuan's hands on the play leading to Camby's free throws. On the other play, if I was a betting man, I'd bet Wheat was fouled by Travieso but they didn't call it so I guess it wasn't a foul.”
This was a very physical game with both teams crashing the boards hard and contesting each shot. UMass, which had not responded well to such play of late, outplayed Louisville at most spots – particularly at center, where Camby came up with big blocks on Samaki Walker.
Camby's biggest rejection came with 2:49 left, and it preserved UMass' 60-59 lead. The lanky junior has complained of being defended more physically of late, but yesterday he responded better than he has.
“Louisville was at their best today,” said Camby. “We were able to beat them at their best, and that's a good feeling.”
This was gratifying for coach John Calipari, who conducted an intense, physical – and satisfying – practice Friday.
“This was one of the most physical games I've ever been a part of,” said Calipari. “This kind of game was what we needed, not so much to win but because of how we played.
“We played UMass basketball today. We had too many turnovers 17 and we got sloppy with the ball because they took us out of a lot of what we were trying to do. But overall it was a good effort.”
The Minutemen made it apparent from the opening tip they intended to step up the intensity. After a miscommunication led to an easy basket by Louisville's Tick Rogers, UMass outscored the Cardinals, 20-5. Camby had 7 points and one block and Travieso 5 points and an assist in the surge.
But the Minutemen were most effective on the defensive end. The Minutemen's aggressiveness and chest-to-chest pressure disrupted the Cardinals.
Louisville was forced to rush shots and passes, and finished the half shooting 32 percent from the floor. Many of Louisville's woes were self- inflicted, as it botched many opportunities to score in transition because of turnovers.
Credit the Minutemen for some of the disruptions. “I knew we would be coming through a minefield down here,” Calipari said. “I was absolutely vicious in yesterday's practice but guess what? They were, too. So I knew how we would play.”
Camby shows some fight
By Joe Burris, Boston Globe Staff, 3/3/1996
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Perhaps word was getting around that you could disrupt Marcus Camby's game if you employed a Bruno Sammartino brand of defense.
The University of Massachusetts star center certainly has been guarded more aggressively in recent games – and it had probably led to his shooting woes. The leading candidate for national Player of the Year honors entered yesterday's game against Louisville shooting 38 percent from the floor and complaining he was being played more physically.
Another subpar outing yesterday and the opponents' game plan would have continued. But Camby bucked the trend. Constantly swarmed by Louisville defenders, Camby connected on 8 of 18 shots and hit 7 of 7 free throws. Despite turning the ball over four times, Camby finished with 23 points and added 8 boards and 5 blocks (he now has 305 career rejections).
Camby returned to the form that gave UMass an unstoppable offensive option. Recently, the Minutemen have struggled from the perimeter and Camby struggled inside, forcing UMass to shine on defense. Yesterday, Camby set the tone at both ends of the floor.
“He is as good as there is,” said Louisvile coach Denny Crum. “He can score, block shots, rebound and he's a good passer. He reminds me a lot of current Celtic and former Louisville center Pervis Ellison. They both are thin players but they're tough and they have good moves around the basket.
“When things are down for UMass, they go to Camby. That's pretty good thinking. He makes things happen for them.”
As much as the Minutemen play on national television, it's doubtful many teams haven't seen the big fella. Camby knew if he didn't overcome the tough defense, opponents in the NCAA tournament would play him physically.
“I think the calls were going both ways, they were getting calls and we were getting calls,” said Camby. “But we made the plays down the stretch. Games like this help us for the tournament.”
UMass coach John Calipari said after Wednesday's St. Joseph's game, he felt Camby doesn't always get the calls he should. “The officials are always talking about verticality, and what they're all doing is looking at bodies and Marcus is getting hit on the arm,” said Calipari.
“And he's getting hit and hit and hit, and they keep saying 'verticality.' I don't know. I always say you shouldn't even know officials are in the game. At the end of the game, you should say, 'Who refereed that game?' ”
Although he picked up a technical for the fourth time in six games, Calipari said yesterday's contest was consistently physical. “That was one of the most physical games I've ever been a part of,” he said. “But it was consistently physical and I can live with that. We just beat the crap out of each other. As coaches, all we're looking for is consistency.”
Minutemen shoot down Cardinals in season finale
Camby, UM defense rise up to the occasion
By Justin C. Smith, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, March 4, 1996
With its thrilling 62-59 win over the 21st ranked Louisville Cardinals, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team proved what coach John Calipari said all along.
They’re all right.
For the first time in what seemed to be quite a while, the Minutemen dug in on defense and executed their half court offense as UMass fans have been accustomed to. Though Louisville never gave up and did force a tie at one point late in the game, it was the defense that came up big late to secure the Minutemen’s 28th victory of the season.
Donta Bright forced Cardinal point guard DeJuan Wheat into only his second turnover of the game with less than 10 seconds left in the contest. Wheat wanted to drive down the right sideline, but lost his dribble in front of his own bench, forcing Louisville to foul in hopes of a miracle.
The only time the Minutemen trailed was on the game’s first possession.
Marcus Camby tipped the opening jump ball to Louisville’s Tick Rogers. UMass’ starting corps dropped back to cover the wrong basket and the Louisville guard had the easy dunk. It would be the only uncontested hoop that a Cardinal would see all game.
Just three minutes into the contest the defensive tone was set by Camby. Samaki Walker, who missed 10 games due to alleged NCAA rules violations in his father’s purchase of an automobile, had just entered the lineup and on Louisville’s first offensive possession went right at Camby. This game was Walker’s second since being reinserted into the Cardinal lineup, his first was a 24 point effort last Wednesday against Marquette.
The UMass center, a National Player of the Year Candidate, sent Walker’s first attempted shot back from where it came and started the Minutemen’s transition offense, Louisville’s 6-foot-9-inch sophomore superstar would play 27 minutes Saturday, hitting only 2-of-10 shots from the field, finishing with only six points.
With a chance to cut his team's deficit to a single point, Walker once again challenged Camby. As happened on his first attempt, Walker was denied by the 6-foot-11-inch Camby on his final attempt and preserve the UMass lead.
Though Camby’s numbers overall were still impressive, game high 23 points, eight rebounds and five blocks to go along with an assist and a steal, he often looked tired, leaving spectators to ponder what he could have accomplished with fresh legs.
The defensive prowess of Camby was also exhibited by his point guard. Edgar Padilla broke the single season steal record for a Minuteman with his second steal of the game, which led to a two-handed monster jam. The previous mark was held by Mike Williams at 75 during the 1994-95 season. Padilla now has 79 on the year. In the St. Joseph’s game, Padilla became the all time steal leader with 135 in his first three years at UMass.
MASSACHUSETTS (62) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Dingle 34 4-11 3-4 4-15 1 1 11 Bright 31 6-10 0-0 3-4 3 3 12 Camby 34 8-18 7-7 3-8 1 3 23 E Padilla 34 1-1 0-0 0-5 7 0 2 Travieso 39 2-7 2-2 1-3 3 3 8 Clarke 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 Norville 6 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 1 2 Weeks 15 2-3 0-0 0-3 0 0 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 24-52 12-13 11-39 16 11 62 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.462, FT-.923. 3-Point Goals: 2-4, .500 (Travieso 2-4). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 6 (Camby 5, Travieso). Turnovers: 17 (E Padilla 7, Camby 4, Weeks 2, Bright, Clarke, Dingle, Travieso). Steals: 8 (E Padilla 5, Bright, Camby, Travieso). LOUISVILLE (59) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Sims 29 3-9 0-0 2-4 1 0 6 Dantzler 26 3-7 0-0 3-5 0 0 7 Smith 13 1-2 1-2 0-0 1 2 3 Rogers 28 5-8 1-3 2-2 0 3 13 Wheat 33 2-10 5-5 1-2 7 0 10 Walker 27 2-10 2-3 2-8 2 5 6 Kiser 32 5-11 0-0 0-5 2 1 14 Flynn 12 0-2 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 21-59 9-13 10-27 13 11 59 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.356, FT-.692. 3-Point Goals: 8-16, .500 (Sims 0-1, Dantzler 1-2, Rogers 2-2, Wheat 1-3, Kiser 4-7, Flynn 0-1). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 3 (Sims, Dantzler, Walker). Turnovers: 13 (Flynn 4, Kiser 3, Wheat 2, Dantzler, Rogers, Sims, Walker). Steals: 10 (Sims 4, Walker 3, Rogers 2, Kiser). __________________________________ Massachusetts 34 28 - 62 Louisville 27 32 - 59 __________________________________ Technical fouls: Massachusetts 1 (Head Coach Calipari). A: 20,076. Officials: Larry Lembo, Steve Olson, Steve Welmer.