2008 NIT Capsule: UMASS
Atlantic 10 (21-10, 10-6)
Big Wins: 11/28 at Syracuse (107-100), 1/16 at Dayton (82-71), 2/21 at Rhode Island (98-91)
Bad Losses: 11/11 at Northern Iowa (68-75), 2/2 at Saint Louis (59-71), 2/14 Fordham (72-76)
Coach: Travis Ford
Chris Lowe, Junior, Guard, 12.1 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.3 rpg
Ricky Harris, Sophomore, Guard, 17.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Gary Forbes, Senior, Forward, 20.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.1 apg
Etienne Brower, Senior, Forward, 12.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Dante Milligan, Senior, Forward, 8.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.7 bpg
Gary Correia, Freshman, Guard, 1.4 ppg, 1.3 apg
Tony Gaffney, Junior, Forward, 3.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Luke Bonner, Junior, Center, 3.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Few teams can run and keep up with Massachusetts. Coach Travis Ford’s squad averages 82 points per game and four players average double digits in the scoring column. Gary Forbes and his 20.1 points per game leads the way. Forbes, a 6-7 wing, is not the best outside shooter on the team, although he can hit a three-pointer or two during a game, but he does almost all of his damage using his size and speed to finish around the basket. Not only does Forbes score, but he also averages 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.0 steals per contest.
Ricky Harris and Chris Lowe add more scoring prowess to the backcourt. Harris spends a lot of time behind the arc, maybe too much time, but he can get to the basket effectively when he wants to do so. Lowe, the point guard, averages 6.1 assists per game and has done a better job this year of keeping the turnovers in check, but he has the ability to put up some big points. Forward Etienne Brower is not an interior scorer and is actually the most efficient three-point shooter on the team, knocking down over 44 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Why They Can Disappoint:
It is understandable that Umass gives up a lot of points, but there are some major problems in the rebounding and free-throw categories. The Minutemen consistently get outrebounded by their opponents thanks to a perimeter orientated squad. There are few big men who could even keep up with their teammates. The issue that could more easily be fixed is at the charity stripe. Fortunately for Umass, Forbes and Harris take the most trips to the line. Those two both shoot over 70 percent from the free-throw line, but the rest of the team lags behind quite a bit.
Who To Watch:
The rebounding concerns, and most of the free-throw problems for that matter, can be addressed by big men Dante Milligan, Luke Bonner and Tony Gaffney. Milligan does a decent job on the glass considering he does not see many minutes, but there is always room to improve. Milligan is also the only threat to score in the paint. Bonner and Gaffney are pretty much in the game to play some solid defense and grab rebounds. If the big men can score, it will create much more space for the talented perimeter group. At the least, it would be helpful if the frontcourt can at least neutralize the rebounding advantage the Minutemen’s opponents usually enjoy.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 82.0 (9th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 76.3 (307, 14)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (145, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (109, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.3 (11, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.5 (109, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.7 (248, 13)
Rebound Margin: -1.6 (236, 11)
Assists Per Game: 15.7 (39, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.7 (123, 7)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Elite Eight loss to Syracuse
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