Just a Minute....men

By - February 22, 2007

Don't look now but UMass is good again. The A-10 is down this year and will likely get just two bids to the tournament but for my money one of them should go to the Minutemen.

They have a star player in Rashaun Freeman (12 double-double's this season), a defensive stopper in Stephan Lasme (5.0 blocks per game, 2nd in the nation) and copius rebounders (UMass is 5th in the nation in that statistical category and out rebound opponents by an average of 8.4 per game). What they don't have is a ton of big wins in a conference that is almost completely devoid of anything approaching a powerhouse this season.

The Minutemen's big win this season was over Louisville which looks better and better as the season goes on and the Cardinals make a run in the Big East but it was a long time ago (December 13th) and since then their best wins are over George Washington and Rhode Island neither of which currently reside in the RPI top 80. UMass, meanwhile, stands at 67 in the RPI and an underwhelming 134 in strength of schedule.

The good news is that in the wide open A-10 Travis Ford's team has a good a chance as anybody of coming away with the tournament title and an automatic bid. The bad news is that without that they may be on the outside looking in come selection Sunday.

Defense wins......games against Rutgers

If UConn fans have been paying attention this year they will find that their beloved Huskies are doing their best to debunk the old axiom that defense wins championships.

Jim Calhoun's team is currently number one in the nation in blocks (again), they are number one in total rebounds per game, fourth in rebounding margain and first in defensive field goal percentage.

Despite all of that their offense is so bad that they are just 17-10 and their best win of the year is over Ole Miss. They have no shot of making the NCAA Tournament and were in danger for a time of not making the Big East tournanment.

Wave of success

It's worth paying attention to what Texas A&M Corpus Christie is doing in their first season as a member of the Southland Conference. The Islanders (a nickname derived from the fact that the schools campus is an island unto itself in the Gulf of Mexico) are currently 11-1 in the Southland west having won 14 of their last 15.

The Islanders are led by seven-footer Chris Daniels who is averaging 15 points and seven rebounds this year and could be a handful for any first round opponent. Daniels is complemented by several players including all-nickname team member Manuel “Scooby” Johnson, a 6-7 forward who can score and clean the glass.

Posted by at 03:42 PM on February 22, 2007
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