2013-2014 Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #3 Atlantic 10
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It has been over 15 years since Massachusetts was last in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Derek Kellogg has the talent to put an end to that drought in 2013-2014. The Minutemen have won at least 20 games the last two seasons and this is the year they break through. It will be Chaz Williams who leads the way. The little 5-9 senior speedster is a big time scorer, a superb passer and a great defender. After averaging 15.5 points, 7.3 assists, 2.0 steals and an even more impressive 4.2 rebounds, Williams is poised for a huge senior season. It is not going to be easy for Williams to match those numbers, but Umass does not need him to do that. He just needs to be a leader on the floor, but there is so much more that Williams will do anyway.
2012-13 Record: 21-12, 9-7
2012-13 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Derek Kellogg
Coach Record: 85-77 at Massachusetts, 85-77 overall
The Minutemen’s next three leading scorers after Williams are all gone. Massachusetts got by without Jesse Morgan for most of last season, so they are used to playing without the wing. Shooting guard Freddie Riley, who started 22 contests during his senior season, was the most prolific three-point shooter on the team, connecting on nearly two per game. The only significant loss in the frontcourt is Terrell Vinson. The 6-7 forward averaged 12.3 points and 3.9 rebounds and his ability to knock down the long ball and use his size to get to the basket will be missed.
Williams needs some help on the perimeter and the hope is that Derrick Gordon can provide it. As a freshman at Western Kentucky two years ago, Gordon led the Hilltoppers with 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. The 6-3 shooting guard is an aggressive scorer who is not afraid to attack the basket and he will finish more often than not; or at least get to the free-throw line. Redshirt freshman Clyde Santee and incoming freshman Demetrius Dyson will have to provide much of the depth on the perimeter. Santee, who missed last season while getting qualified, is a big 6-7 guard who added some much needed strength during his year on the sidelines. Forwards Seth Berger and Zach Coleman can make an impact too. Berger came on strong late in the process and could emerge as a major contributor sooner or later. Coleman is a solid athlete on the wing and the 6-7 Texan can finish above the rim with ease.
Who to Watch:
Coach Kellogg returns four frontcourt players who started at least 15 games last season and averaged at least 20 minutes per contest. Raphiael Putney is a lanky 6-9 senior who can knock down the mid-range jumper with consistency. Putney often attempts to extend his range out beyond the arc, but he connected on just 28.0 percent of his 100 attempts. If Putney can hit his outside shot with more consistency, he will vastly improve on his 7.1 point average of a year ago. In the paint, Cady Lalanne is the big body. The 6-10, 250 pound junior can push around anybody under the basket and is easily the strongest rebounder on the squad after averaging 7.4 in 2012-2013. Maxie Esho is another tough forward who can hit the glass effectively. Like Putney and Lalanne, Esho can also swat away some shots. Sampson Carter is an underappreciated glue guy who does a little bit of everything. He may not score as much as Putney or Lalanne, yet he knows his role and plays it well.
With a deep and talented frontcourt and Williams leading the perimeter, Umass has the potential to finally get to the NCAA Tournament. However, they need to find some more options in the backcourt to help Williams. Even though he can score in bunches, Williams is a passer first and he needs some options that can shoot the ball. Gordon and the freshmen will have to be ready to score. Trey Davis is an option as well, although he will likely spend most of his time backing up Williams or providing the Minutemen with a secondary ball handler. Davis can shoot a little though and showed promise in his limited action as a freshman. The hope is Gordon can be more productive and, if he is, this is a squad that can compete with VCU and Saint Louis for an A-10 title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Chaz Williams, Senior, Guard, 15.5 points per game
Derrick Gordon, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Raphiael Putney, Senior, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Sampson Carter, Senior, Forward, 6.4 points per game
Cady Lalanne, Junior, Center, 8.4 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.0 (48th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.7 (293, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.4 (171, 12)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.2 (141, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (78, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.6 (185, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.9 (89, 5)
Rebound Margin: 0.3 (162, 8)
Assists Per Game: 14.6 (54, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.4 (255, 11)