Under Steve Lappas and Travis Ford UMass basketball could not return to the level of the mid-90s heydays. That’s no easy task. Still, for all the grief we now give those two coaches, the teams each put on the court were often competitive at the very least.
This year, under Derek Kellogg, UMass basketball has more than returned to a competitive state. After a couple bad years, as I demonstrated in a post last week, the program was quite close to having an outstanding season. As I tried to maintain a positive attitude, the Minutemen took a trip to Dayton on Saturday night.
Down by 10 point at the half, this Minutemen team decided to pack it in. It was a solid season, but now it’s in the past. UMass cut the deficit to a two possession game mid way through the second half. It was all for not, though. UMass went on to lose by 33 points to Dayton.
A 33 point conference loss. Shall we move on to the road ahead?
In years past, under Travis Ford, the Minutemen headed to Atlantic City needing a good win or two to get onto the selection committee’s bubble watch. That win, or two, never materialized. Now it appears the 2012 Minutemen will have to run the table in Atlantic City.
How did we get back to this familiar place? This team, once off to a 12 – 3 start, has now lost 4 games in February.
This is a team that Massachusetts fans have been passionate about all year. The style of play alone was enough to win over many hoops fans. After being picked to finish 10th pre-season, the team came out and played like an Atlantic 10 contender. In fact, this Minutemen team drew over 9,000 fans for a Saturday date at the Mullins with Saint Louis in January.
It’s now just about one month later. How many fans do you think will show up this coming Saturday when URI comes to Amherst?
I suppose part of the variable is what happens against a ranked Temple team on Wednesday in Philly. But regardless of that outcome, it looks like another disappointing February in Amherst. Hopefully this time around March in Atlantic City will give Minutemen fans something to cheer about.
If there is a Minutemen team capable of making a run down in AC — it’s this one. It’s been a year of ups and downs. It has created a feeling inside me that ultimately wouldn’t be surprised if the Minutemen are once again one and done in the A10 tourney. At the very same time, I wouldn’t be shocked to find UMass in that championship game.