"Super Saturday" Turns Sour for UMass

By David Scott - December 02, 2006

AMHERST, Mass. - There was a time when this was exactly the kind of game the UMass program would have taken to the Mullins Center Court and absolutely throttled its BCS conference opponent. The place would have been going wild, the indoor humidity would have been climbing and John Calipari would have been exhorting the fans, his team and probably a few ushers into “Refusing to Lose.”

But that time is long ago (the early 1990s) and far away (six years and counting since a post-season berth) and second-year head coach Travis Ford has to settle for the moral victory of filling the house and keeping it close - for about eight minutes of game time. His Atlantic 10 Minutemen fell well short against the ACC’s Boston College on Saturday night, 84-73, before the first sellout crowd (9,493) in Amherst in almost five years.

Ford’s Minutemen (now 6-2) might get the building whacked out again at some point this season, but it won’t be because the fans enjoyed what they saw against the (4-2 and gelling) Eagles. UMass shot 17.4 percent from the 3-point land (4-of-23) and allowed BC to score on better than 50 percent of its shots (26-of-50).

Still, Ford believes his program is headed in the right direction.

“The fans will come back, we’ve just got to win,” said Ford. “They’re going to want to be a part of this.”

On this night, however the Eagles took the crowd out of the game early and with the exception of Minuteman mini-run in the second half that cut the lead to five with 15:48 left in the game, but about six minutes later, BC had its largest lead of the game at 22.

“We got punched tonight,” said Ford, “and it will be a learning experience for us. We’d rather win and learn than lose and learn, but that’s what happened.”

What also happened was UMass missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on a day of UMass sports enthusiasm that hasn’t been seen in a decade. The football team won a playoff contest to put it in the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs, the women’s team improved to 7-1 and the nightcap was supposed to be a Commonwealth Classic crushing of BC.

It didn’t come to fruition and the Mullins Center started to empty out with about 10 minutes left in the game. There would be no refusing to lose, no storming the court and no talk of possibly breaking into the Top 25.

“This wasn’t a make or break game for us, I said that all week,“ said Ford. “We’re not a great team, but I don’t want to be a great team at this point in the year.”

The UMass rooters probably see things a bit differently - they sure would have liked their Minutemen to be great on this night, the one dubbed Super Saturday by the athletic department.

During the evening session at Mullins, it played a whole lot more like Subpar Saturday.

Posted by David Scott at 09:40 PM on December 02, 2006

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