UMass Men’s Basketball – Late November Recap, Upcoming Schedule Preview
By: Freeman Alfano
Over the past two weeks, the UMass Men’s Basketball team has had a solid performance in each of its games. They are 3-1 over their last four games, and their only loss came against sixth-ranked Nevada. Let’s take a look at how the team has fared recently, and what’s in store for their upcoming games.
The Minutemen played well two weeks ago to secure victories against AR Pine-Bluff and Southern Illinois, each of which was by more than 20 points. Although Luwane Pipkins didn’t have his greatest showing against Pine-Bluff in terms of shooting, he added 10 assists and rebounds, contributing to the team’s victory anyway. Once again, Pipkins did not shoot well in the game against Southern Illinois, but a contribution from guard mate Carl Pierre and a tremendous performance by Rashon Holloway was what led to the Minutemen’s dominance in this one.
Despite a big loss against number six Nevada on the day after Thanksgiving, the team still played well, nonetheless. The Minutemen held their own in the first half, as they headed into the break down by only seven due to impressive effort. Pipkins showed out in this one, recording his second 30-point game of the season despite a mediocre shooting night.
However, the team bounced back after that loss, defeating Quinnipiac the following week. Pipkins and Pierre carried the team to victory in this one, combining for 32 of the team’s 69 points on 48% shooting, while Holloway added 13 rebounds in the victorious effort.
Some important trends have been revealed over these last few games, the first of which is forward Jonathan Laurent’s emergence as a consistent starter alongside Curtis Cobb. Laurent has averaged over 28 minutes per game over the past two weeks, and played 34 and 35 minutes in their two most recent games against Nevada and Quinnipiac, respectively. Another trend is the Minutemen’s winning formula, which requires at least one player among Cobb, Pierre, and Holloway to score efficiently alongside Pipkins. This relationship has resulted in big wins for the Minutemen, and will carry them forward if they continue to stick to it.
The Minutemen take on Holy Cross tonight, who are 5-3 on the season. While they do have a record above .500, their team only features three double-digit scorers, making it easier for UMass to focus their pressure on the defensive end. Next, the Minutemen play 5-2 Providence on Friday, led by the talented Junior guard Alpha Diallo. The dynamic playmaker will be a deserving matchup for Pipkins, as he’s averaging 18 points, 4 assists, and 9 rebounds per game so far.
UMass then plays Temple next Wednesday, who is 6-1 this year. The potent Philadelphian squad features a dominant guard duo of Shizz Alston Jr. and Quinton Rose, who are both averaging 17 points per game this year. This will be a tough assignment for Pipkins and Pierre, who have yet to score up to their magnitude despite playing well as a pairing so far.
These next few games will be a hard stretch for the Minutemen, as the record of their opponents is a combined 10 games above .500. However, the team has competed well against high-level teams so far, and some victories could be in store soon. Look for a high level of competition against these successful schools, and possibly some wins if they can get contributions from Pipkins and others.