Game Preview: University of Massachusetts Minutemen

Minuteman

What To Expect:

-UMass is more of a “push the tempo” type of team. They average 2 shots per minute per game. They take a combined 84 shots per game (2’s and 3’s). For comparison’s sake, URI takes a combined 71 shots. UMass takes a lot of shots which are a combination of their tempo and their defensive skills. UMass pulls down 37 rebounds (25 of which are defensive) per game and steal the ball 8 times per game. These both give UMass extra possessions (read: extra shots). It is no surprise that UMass is 79th in D1 in scoring at 72ppg (that puts them in the top 23 percent of D1).

-Mike Powell might have a tough night. He’s been struggling handling the ball and turning the ball over. The UMass starting PG (well, fill-in PG) Chaz Williams is responsible for 2 of UMass’s 8 steals per game.

-I am thinking that the score will be somewhere in the ballpark of 73-68 with UMass coming out on top*.

-UMass has been up and down during conference play with wins over Richmond and La Salle; both of whom I believe are better teams than UMass. UMass also has losses to Charlotte and George Washington. I believe Charlotte is about on par with UMass in terms of talent but GW is definitely a worse team than UMass. The GW loss was at home too. I think a feisty team like URI can give them a hell of a game. URI has shown me that, outside of PC, St. Mary’s, and VaTech, they don’t get blown out and are always within striking distance in each game (that is a 15% blow out rate which is pretty good for this team).

Defensive Strategies Against Top 3 Players:

-Chaz Williams (#3): 5’9” 175lbs. G. This is their star player. He is a great guard and can play at the 1 or the 2 guard spot. He puts up 16 points, 7 assists, and 3 turnovers per game. He is extremely quick and can get around defenders with ease. His size coupled with his love to go to the basket is his weakness. As long as Jordan Hare (and his 2 blocks per game) can remember to swat the ball BEFORE it hits the backboard, he should be able to keep Williams at bay and make him think twice before driving. He’s going to get his points. URI cannot really exploit a true weakness of his. Just have to contain him and make sure he is uncomfortable going to the hole.

-Terrell Vinson (#33): 6’7” 220lbs. F. He has the size to play the 3 or 4 spot. He certainly has the stats of a PF (the “4 spot”): 48% percent shooting but only 30% from 3-point range. He is a “go to the basket” type of player as he is second (only behind Williams) on the team in free throw attempts. He only is shooting 68% from the FT line; which isn’t good, but it certainly isn’t a weakness to exploit. He will likely be guarded by Malesevic. This is a dicey match-up because 1) Vinson is bigger than Malesevic and 2) Malesevic loves to flop to draw the charge call from the refs. That approach seems to work 50% of the time; the other 50%, he ends up on the ground and the opponent has nobody between him and an easy lay-up/dunk. I think this will certainly have an impact on the game as Vinson will try and use his size to back Nik down and that is when Nik will take a couple bumps, then fall down. Let’s see if the refs are generous or not. If so, that will put Vinson in foul trouble and take him out of the game.

-Raphiael Putney (#34): 6’9” 185lbs. F. He is quite an undersized forward. He has the height, but he lacks the girth to be down in the low post. Putney is definitely in there for his defensive purposes. He puts up 7 or 8 points per game which isn’t anything to worry about. His value is elsewhere on the court, a great role player. He grabs 5 boards a game, gets an assist or 2, a steal or 2, and even a block or 2. For being their 3rd best scorer, his offensive numbers do not impress me and make me a bit optimistic of URI’s chances to win. His rebounding is where he adds the most value. His rebounds mostly are defensive rebounds (4 defensive boards and 1 offensive board per game). As long as URI doesn’t retreat back on defense after every shot, this guy can be neutralized by simply boxing him out. Aaman and Brooks both have the weight advantage on this guy and can easily box him out.

Offensive Strategies:

At this stage of the season, it doesn’t make much sense to alter or change the offensive game plan. Coach Hurley has come up with an offensive style that maximizes the skill set of the team and he should not deviate from that scheme. Just have to hope that each player “does his job,” to quote Coach Bill Belichick. Everybody does their job on offense, that should result in enough points to hopefully win.

—————————————————————————————————————————————
*UMass Scores: 70.2ppg over their last 5 games overall; 77.6ppg over their last 5 home games.
UMass Gives up: 66.6ppg over their last 5 games overall; 70.4ppg over their last 5 home games.
URI Scores: 68.4ppg over their last 5 games overall; 66.6ppg over their last 5 road games.
URI Gives up: 71.4ppg over their last 5 games overall; 73.4ppg over their last 5 road games.
I weighted the “home” and “road” scoring and given up numbers higher than the overall numbers because the UMass home results and URI road results are most applicable to this game.

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