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Recon: UMass

Not going to sugarcoat it, losing the Arch-Baron Cup has put a significant dent in the season. After two months of inconsistent and uninspiring play, the Flyers could have brought home some goodwill by keeping the ABC in the Gem City. Instead, all Dayton brought back was a bunch of unused timeouts. Regardless, the show must go on. UD technically has a season to finish, and we will be there, on the outskirts, kinda sorta looking on when we aren’t busy.

UMass is in the midst of a five-game losing streak, which, on its face, seems like the world is imploding. Admittedly there are some absolutely jarring losses — a 22 point defeat at Rhody, a 19 point dismantling against SLU, a 15 point loss at Tom Gola Arena and a 13 POINT LOSS AT FORDHAM — but there is still room for optimism in Amherst. The Minutemen gave URI everything it could handle on Tuesday night, finally succumbing to the Kingston Rams by a score of 85-83. It was a shot of hope for UMass as they almost took down the league’s top dog.

Matt McCall’s team is inexperienced, undersized and lacks any semblance of depth (after Rashaan Holloway’s dismissal the Minutemen are essentially down to five scholarship players and a walk-on — think of the 2014-15 Flyer roster as a reference). The program returned just two starters and suffered heavy losses due to transfers. Like a girl in Larry Nassar’s training room, this season was a moment of discovery.

So what has UMass unearthed this season? McCall knows he has an all-conference talent in sophomore Luwane Pipkins, and he is surely encouraged by the development of freshman Carl Pierre. Additionally, he has four transfers sitting out this season waiting for their opportunity next year. Gone is the frenetic pace employed by Derek Kellogg, this year has seen UMass exhibit patience and a gentle lover’s touch on offense. In sum, it’s clear that McCall already has his imprint on the program and it’ll be interesting to see where UMass goes from here (especially in comparison to Dayton).

Luwane Pipkins is still that dude for the Minutemen. Dayton had absolutely no answer for Pipkins during their first meeting, the sophomore guard scored a game-high 25 points, got plenty of good looks from the perimeter and only turned the ball over once. Obviously, it would behoove the Flyers to throw most of their effort in slowing down Pipkins but let’s not hold our collective breaths. Unique McLean joins Pipkins in the starting backcourt. McLean has had an underwhelming freshman season, his rebounding prowess appears to be his highest upside right now. Freshman Carl Pierre had a solid outing against UD, scoring 15 points in the UMass win, and has become the Minutemen’s second option on offense.

The frontcourt, if you can call it that, is filled out by C.J. Anderson and Malik Hines. Anderson sat out against Dayton, the senior forward has had an abysmal season, just graduate already, dude. Hines is nothing special, however he’s picked up the slack the past three games and should be a factor against UD’s bigs. Rayshawn Miller is UMass’ Bobby Wehrli and carries the label with pride. Khalea Turner-Morris, McCall’s last option off the bench, came to Amherst with some promise but is way too fat to play on this level consistently right now.

  • The Tom Brady kissing clip is the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve watched all the gaping videos I can get my hands on. The fact that Brady was in a supine position just absolutely pushed the creepiness factor over the edge. Do yourself a favor and don’t watch it. It has absolutely changed everything I ever thought about TB12.
  • Dayton is currently 24th in the nation as far as effective field-goal percentage (56.0%) and is FOURTH in two-point field-goal percentage (59.5%). Just looking at those two figures, how is this team as bad as it is? A over-reliance on three-pointers? Not getting to the line enough? Is the Flyers’ efficient offense completely offset by its deplorable defense? I can’t figure it out.
  • Seriously, don’t watch the Tom Brady kissing tape.

Here’s the thing — UMass is depleted and on life support. They are down to crumbs, their starters play around 85-90% of the total available minutes. Now, if I was a coach playing the Minutemen, I’d throw presses, traps and push the ball as much as I could. That’s me. That’s if I was the coach. I’m not the coach. The Mullins Center is one of those places UD has historically dragged ass in, so I’d expect a close game. That being said, for some unknown reason, call it a hunch, I think the Flyers come away victorious on Saturday. Let’s call it 66-62, Flyers. DURRELL goes off.

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