Carter scored 17 points, easily topping his previous career-high of 13 against St. Francis on Nov. 24, 2009, to help the Minutemen (2-0) defeat Sacred Heart, 73-65, Wednesday night at the Mullins Center. He also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, as well as chipping in as a steal and a block in the victory.
The lanky forward shot 50 percent from the field on 5-of-10 shooting and converted 7-of-8 free throws. As a freshman, Carter led UMass in free throw shooting, making 40-of-52 (76.9 percent) of his chances at the charity stripe.
At times last year, Carter roamed the perimeter and opted for shots beyond the arc. This season, UMass head coach Derek Kellogg sees an improvement in Carter’s offensive game.
“You see he’s taking a lot less 3’s and he’s scoring more because he’s good around the rim, he can get by guys on the dribble, he’s good in transition and he’s a great kid that’s working hard,” Kellogg said.
“It took me a long time to figure it out, maybe a year since last year, but that’s what coach is helped me on,” Carter said. “I’m actually starting to see and realize that I get better results playing off my defense and that brings the offense.”
After averaging 15.4 minutes and starting seven games last year, Carter has seen an increase in playing time and has been in the starting lineup in the first two contests this season.
Against Rider, Carter played a team-high 30 minutes, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds. Kellogg, however, said that Carter would compete with Javorn Farrell when the guard becomes healthy.
Kellogg saw this type of potential in Carter when recruiting him to UMass. In fact, Kellogg knew the Baton Rouge, La., native since he was 10-years-old after coaching him at a summer camp in Memphis. Carter’s brother, Shyrone Chatman, is also the director of player personnel for the Minutemen.
Despite their close relationship, Kellogg hasn’t taken it easy on Carter.
“Sampson, he’s had a rough go of it here,” Kellogg said. “I’ve stayed on him probably on a daily basis for the last year and a half just because I want him to do the things that make him a good player.”
Though UMass’ result against the Pioneers (0-3) was the same as the season opener, the Minutemen got it done in a different way. Unlike the victory over Rider, UMass didn’t get a 31-point performance from Gurley, who still scored a team-high 18 points, and sophomore guard Freddie Riley never caught fire.
Nevertheless, Carter’s performance backed up what Kellogg and the rest of the team said prior to the start of the season: points can come from any player on any given night.
“I’m pretty sure that you can see that we have so many different weapons, so on any given night anybody can go off,” Carter said. “That’s the type of team we’re going to be this year.”
Carter is the second sophomore this season (Riley being the other) to lead the offense, alongside Gurley. Kellogg is looking for the second-year players to make more of an impact this year and the only sophomore who hasn’t had a big game so far is Terrell Vinson.
Carter, however, thinks that will change sooner rather than later.
“Yeah, that’s another weapon that you haven’t seen yet,” Carter said with a smile.
Jay Asser can be reached at email@example.com.