I don’t think I need to tell you (specifically) this, but it is a little bit more for the casual college basketball fan. The UMass Minutemen (Massachusetts Minutemen, for you pursuits) are an outstanding college basketball team. Not just good, but a force to be reckoned with — no hyperbole.
UMass is 9-0 on the season, ranked 22nd in the country (which is far too low) and plays an extremely entertaining brand of basketball.
It’s not all bologna either. The Minutemen have some pretty impressive victories on the season. A 13 point win against the Boston College Eagles to open the season, followed by a close victory over the LSU Tigers the very next game, while also beating other “power-conference” teams, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Clemson Tigers. Oh, and they beat (the then ranked 19th team in the country) the New Mexico Lobos. A pretty good resume, considering it is only the middle of December.
They aren’t winning with smoke and mirrors either. UMass is winning with talent and scoring. So much scoring, in fact, that their 84 points per game is the 25th best scoring output for a team in the entire nation.
The talent — Chaz Williams, Cady Lalanne and others — is also a huge reason for the Minutemen’s success.
Williams is a small, diminutive, but uber-talented guard. Sure, is 5’9″, 175-pounds a desired build for a guard? Maybe not. However, argue about his build all you want. I’ll take his 17 points and 7.6 assists per game any day of the week.
As for Lalanne, well, he has had a major jump in production from last year. Not only has he doubled his scoring output, but he is nearly averaging a double-double a game (15.2 ppg and 9.8 rpb). He is also shooting 100 percent from beyond the arc. Granted, he has only take one three all season, but 100 percent!
It’s not just about the overall scoring for UMass either. They share the ball incredibly well. Which is highlighted with their 16.3 apg as a team. Not only does that rank them as the 27th most sharing of the ball team in the nation, but it is a key reason as to why they are so entertaining. When the Minutemen go up-tempo — which is often — alley-oops, fancy passes and multiple extra passes are the norm.
Did I mention that they can rebound as well? 41.6 rebounds per game to be exact. Which is good for being 20th in the country.
These stats are not that skewed either. UMass has played legitimate teams this year (as highlighted before). It’s not as if they have solely been beating up on the Club State Pool Cleaners and the University of Broken Dreams of the world. Their schedule has not only helped them get early recognition in a national ranking sense, but is going to help them get solid seeding when the NCAA Tournament comes around. Not to mention how battle tested they will be. Well, I guess I just mentioned it — but whatevs with semantics.
The Atlantic-10 is a much better conference than we realize. Many just assumed it was the VCU Rams who would run away with it or possibly the Saint Louis Billikens looking to continue their recent successes. However, at least to this point of the season, it is UMass who is taking the bull by its horns and making the A-10 look like a multiple bid league. Not just two teams, but maybe three or four.
That is just a little bit of me getting ahead of myself. In-conference games haven’t even begun, but (again) UMass has already shown the ability to play with more than competent teams. They should have very little issue rolling through the conference. If (when) they lose, it should show the depth of the league. Not that UMass is some kind of phony.
At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. A large number of you haven’t seen the Minutemen play yet. Stop doing yourself the disservice and make sure you set-up some UMass time for your picture-box.
So, um, you can thank me later.