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December 29, 2016

Shooting woes plague Minutemen against Black Bears

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

It was as if there wasn’t a basket for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team to score on Wednesday night.

“I thought our offense was terrible,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I don’t remember a team as a player, a coach, a high school kid, whatever it might be, missing so many two-on-[zero]’s, three-on-ones, three-on-two’s, whatever it might be.”

The Minutemen (7-2) went 18-of-61 from the field, which included 5-for-25 shooting from beyond the arc in a 68-56 loss to the Black Bears. Including the loss to Boston College last Saturday, UMass has gone 8-for-41 from the 3-point line in its last two contests.

Normally a top offensive performer, redshirt senior Anthony Gurley (12 points) couldn’t find a way to convert on the floor either, as he went 4-for-16 from the field and 2-for-9 from the perimeter.

From all ends of the floor, the Minutemen couldn’t find a way to put the ball into the hoop, which could be seen from poor shot selection taken by the UMass players.

Offensive possessions and Maine’s zone-defense did not open any lanes for the Minutemen to slash into, which forced them to take tough shots that did not result in baskets.

“We’re waiting for the zone to set up too much.” Kellogg said. “The best way to beat a zone is to beat it down the floor, get the ball moving and attack. Because we didn’t get any stops tonight and didn’t get into a flow I don’t think we ever got into the right flow against the zone.”

The defensive pressure by the Black Bears stopped the Minutemen from having an inside presence as well.

“Well it’d be nice if we could throw the ball inside and in the post and scored a bit but I’m not sure if we’re afforded that luxury,” Kellogg said.

Despite the packed paint, the Minutemen continued to pass the ball inside, though it did little, as the Maroon and White failed to convert.

“I heard the coach, he’s yelling, ‘pack it in, just pack it in, stand in the middle of the paint and make them shoot,’” Kellogg said. “And shot we did, 5-for-25 from 3, and the ball was going to the middle of zone quite frequently and we just didn’t convert. Whether it was Javorn [Farrell], Terrell Vinson, Sampson [Carter], none of those guys were able to convert.”

With the main scorers for UMass plagued by sloppy play, the bench had to pick up the efforts on the offensive side and accounted for 26 of the Minutemen’s 56 points.

On several occasions throughout the game, the Minutemen had open opportunities that they could have scored on but failed to do so. Off a clean steal, guard Daryl Traynham soared to the hoop for an open layup which bounced off the rim and away from the hoop.

“It’s something that’s been kind of havoc for them because against Boston College, we missed five or six layups,” Kellogg said. “I mean I’m talking layups, and tonight it might have been 12.”

Freddie Riley, who is typically a danger from beyond the arc and can change games with straight-shooting, failed to even make a dent in the Minutemen score sheet, as he went 2-for-10 from the field, going 1-for-8 from 3-point range.

“I thought most of our 3’s were pretty good shots, and it looks like we have the right guys shooting them,” Kellogg said. “But when Anthony and Freddie go 3-for-17 and those are your scorers, that’s tough to overcome, I don’t care who you’re playing.”

“No balls went in,” Kellogg continued. “I mean we got some good shots in the first half especially. I thought we could have been up 10, 12, 14 points when we continue[d] to squander opportunities.”

Farrell shot well compared to starters, shooting 33 percent from the field to earn his six points. Though compared to his recent scoring surge, Farrell’s points were nearly invisible.

Herb Scribner can be reached at hscribne@student.umass.edu.

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