The Co-Eds are in the House!

By David Scott - December 02, 2006

AMHERST, Mass. - We’re about an hour from tip and many of the good folks who were enjoying UMass football’s 24-17 win over UNH in the Division I-AA quarterfinals at nearby Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium are filtering into the Mullins Center.

At about 6:00, Boston Colleges players began shooting around on the Mullins’ parquet and so too did the Minutemen. UMass stopped about half an hour later, BC continued on.

. . . With its football win, UMass will likely travel to Big Sky country next week to face Montana in a semifinal game. UMass last won an NCAA football championship in 1998 under Mark Whipple, now a coach with the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

The day/night football/hoops doubleheader has potential to be an historic day on campus and with two wins would go a long a way in restoring some pride on a campus that has seen its share of despair in recent years (sporting-wise, anyway).

. . . The first wave of students were allowed in at 6:20 p.m. and quickly filled in the end zone student section dressed in varying arrays of maroon, black and white. Students are also given seating preference behind the UMass bench on the opposite end of the arena.

. . . The four numbers retired in the Mullins Center currently, belong to George “Trigger” Burke (No. 32); Lou Roe (15); Al Skinner (30) and Julius Erving (the real 32). Burke is a long-time UMass booster who was a good athlete and a great donor.

. . . At 6-1, UMass is off to the best start since the 1995-96 when UMass opened the season with a 26-
game win streak on the way to being ranked No. 1 for much of the year (and the “vacated“ Final Four).

. . . The game is likely to be the school’s first sellout since Feb. 17, 2001 against Temple in a nationally-televised game on ABC. UMass opened the Mullins Center back in 1993 with a string of 45 consecutive sellouts.

. . . Hang Time was able to catch the Kansas-DePaul game on our fancy XM Radio Roady device and the five-point win for the Blue Demons cam on a special day, as the university honored Ray Meyer on “Ray Day.” Head Coach Jerry Wainwright said, in his post-game radio interview, “It will always be Ray’s program. Everyone after him is just a caretaker.” And Wainwright is taking very good care with a statement win for his Demons.

UMass is similarly honoring a deceased coaching legend tonight with the Jack Leaman Legacy Game ($5 from every ticket sold will go the former Umass coach’s Legacy Foundation. The court at Mullins is already named for Leaman, who served over 40 years within the school’s athletics department. He was BC coach, Al Skinner’s coach during his UMass playing days and in his later years did color for the UMass radio. Leaman was one of the throwback, colorful characters of the brand of college basketball that was played in gyms, not arenas. .

. . .Tonight’s game is also known as 12th annual Commonwealth Classic. According to BC game notes, UMass won the first five classic contests. Boston College has won the last six classic meetings. Tonight’s game is the fourth Commonwealth Classic to be played in the Mullins Center. The first three games were played in Boston’s FleetCenter; the 1998-99 game was played in the Worcester Centrum; the 1999-2000, 2001-02, 2003-04 and 2005-06 games were played in BC’s Conte Forum; and the 2000-01, 2002-03 and 2004-05 games were played in the Mullins Center.”

To confuse things beyond recognition, Hang Time will call the affair “The Leaman Legacy Commonwealth Classic Brawl for It All.”

. . . Hang Time had the opportunity to sit down with UMass grad and BC Coach, Al Skinner, just before the season started. Over the course of tonight’s game, we’ll drop in some “Al on. . . UMass” highlights of that conversation. Much of what Skinner talks about is especially relevant for tonight’s game, the first to honor Skinner’s former coach, Jack Leaman.

Al on . . . His ability to pick out the ‘tweeners like Craig Smith and Troy Bell
AS: I guess the reason I can kind of recognize it is because it’s a little bit of what I did. I went to UMass and I didn’t know how good I was going to be, but I wanted an opportunity to play and see how good I can be. Truth of the matter is (Minuteman teammate) Julius (Erving) was kind of the same way, he was kind of an in-betweener. I’ve kind of lived with it but in saying that, I do understand what it takes to be successful.

HT: Is that what Coach Leaman (at UMass) said to you? Work hard and do these things and you’ll get the opportunity.
AS: That’s exactly right. This is what the situation is, but it’s going to require a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. I decided that that’s what I wanted. It really is a commitment you have to make.

. .. Folks we’re most looking forward to seeing at the Mullins:

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