Scrolling Headlines:

Community talks education, immigrants’ rights, climate change with state senators -

March 29, 2017

Q&A: Khalif Nunnally-Rivera, an advocate for access and affordability for underrepresented students -

March 29, 2017

Plant-Based Nutrition club promotes healthier, sustainable diets on campus -

March 29, 2017

Rolling tobacco and high profits for iRollie -

March 29, 2017

UMass softball to kickoff conference schedule on Thursday at Boston University -

March 29, 2017

UMass baseball coach Mike Stone trying not to dwell on 2017 being his final season -

March 29, 2017

Fresh off NCAA Championship appearance, UMass diver Emma Roush looks ahead -

March 29, 2017

Notebook: UMass men’s soccer adds junior college transfer to roster for next season -

March 29, 2017

Newly appointed UMass defensive line coach Dave Wissman has taken interesting road to Amherst -

March 29, 2017

Student Union Craft Center serves as an open space of expression for students -

March 29, 2017

An ode to Amherst’s American Legion -

March 29, 2017

Letter: The Graduate Employee Organization wants to empower those who are marginalized -

March 29, 2017

To counter and balance: A place for conversation in the opinion pages -

March 29, 2017

Activism can change the world -

March 29, 2017

Active Minds strives to start conversation about mental health, end stigma -

March 28, 2017

Native American Student Association plans for powwow after travelling to Native Nations Rise March in Washington D.C. -

March 28, 2017

Black Student Union aims to be a strong voice for the African-American community on UMass’ campus -

March 28, 2017

UMass Students for Reproductive Justice continue fighting for student rights -

March 28, 2017

UMass notebook: Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry reportedly interviewed for a second time Monday for men’s basketball head coaching vacancy -

March 28, 2017

UMass softball anxiously awaits start of conference play with doubleheader against BU looming Thursday. -

March 28, 2017

Freshmen getting used to new roles

The Massachusetts women’s basketball team plays host to Providence on Friday night, and the three talented freshmen brought to Amherst from last year’s recruiting class are coming along right on schedule.

Last year, UMass coach Marnie Dacko signed Jasmine Watson, Shakia Robinson and Dee Montgomery as recruits, and now is making sure that the players are comfortable off of the court in a new setting.

 “I’m happy with our freshman class,” Dacko said. “We talk about their grades all the time, and we talk about them being effective learners in the classroom. I just want them to become an integral part of the campus atmosphere.”

Watson has been a key on the defensive end of the floor in the early season, but is now coming into form on offense. She led the team in scoring against Vermont on Wednesday night with 14 points and was a constant threat down low.

 “On offense I have to worry about the speed,” Watson said of her improvements. “The coaches tell me to go ‘one speed’ or ‘snail speed’ in order to take my time and concentrate on finishing at the basket.”

As a senior at South Bend Washington High School in Indiana, Watson averaged 11.5 points and 8.7 rebounds and her team was ranked second in the nation in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 National Poll. Listed at 6-foot-3, Watson is second on the team in blocks.

 “I’m used to playing girls who are my size or bigger,” Watson said. “I’ve just been getting used to timing blocks more, because I think that is what helps me stay out of foul trouble.”

On offense, Watson is starting to fulfill her promise. The forward struggled early on in the season with turnovers in the low post, but recently adjusted her game with the help of the UMass coaching staff.

The other freshman that helps the Minutewomen in the post is Shakia Robinson. She adds another type of defense to the freshman class.

Robinson is typically a post defender, but on Wednesday night against UVM, she was used as a perimeter defender, and helped shut down the Catamounts leading scorer Courtnay Pilypaitis. The guard averaged 19.1 points per game coming into the matchup, but with steady defense from Robinson and Kristina Danella, UMass limited her to just six points.

Robinson is one of the most vocal players on the team and her yells on defense can often be heard echoing through the Mullins Center during practice and games.

 “If the court is silent then no one knows where everyone is,” Robinson said. “So the more we talk and communicate, the better we’re going to be defensively.”

Montgomery has also contributed for the Minutewomen, but is the only guard out of the trio.

In UMass’ 73-64 loss to Northeastern on Dec. 2, Montgomery had 13 points in 10 minutes of play. Her speed and quickness are her key attributes, and she works well in the pick and roll.

 “The best aspect of my game would be being able to be a slasher, and being able to penetrate to the gaps,” Montgomery said.

A native of Tennessee, Montgomery struggled with consistency so far. She sat out a lot of the preseason due to a concussion she suffered in the first day of practice at UMass. Montgomery’s ball-handling skills are among the best on the team, but she continues to improve her game.

 “I’ve really been trying to play catch up with everybody because I’ve been out about six to eight weeks now,” Montgomery said of her injury. “I’m really having to just learn on the fly and listen to the older girls as much as I can because they try to help me out.”

Neil Carroll can be reached at nacarrol@student.umass.edu.

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