Scrolling Headlines:

Nick Mariano, Zach Oliveri transferring from UMass men’s lacrosse program -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Four months after banning Iranian students from certain graduate programs, UMass announces new measures to ensure compliance with U.S. law -

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Justin King sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison -

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two future UMass hockey players selected in 2015 NHL Draft -

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Supreme Court ruling clears way for same-sex marriage nationwide -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Former UMass center Cady Lalanne taken 55th overall by Spurs in 2015 NBA Draft -

Friday, June 26, 2015

Second of four men found guilty on three counts of aggravated rape in 2012 UMass gang rape case -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boston bomber speaks out for first time: ‘I am sorry for the lives I have taken’ -

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape -

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wrongful death suit filed in death of UMass student -

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ryan Bamford uses online Q&A session to discuss UMass football conference search, renovation plans, cost of attendance -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Opening statements delivered, first witnesses called in second trial for alleged 2012 gang rape at UMass -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UMass Board of Trustees approves rise in tuition, student fees -

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Former Minutewoman Quianna Diaz-Patterson named to Puerto Rican national softball team -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UMass rowing’s Jim Dietz inducted into CRCA Hall of Fame -

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jury selection begins Monday in second gang rape trial -

Monday, June 15, 2015

Students turn attention to state legislators as decision on UMass budget looms -

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alumna and next director of Brooklyn Museum Anne Pasternak ‘created her own path’ -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

UMass graduate crowned head of 600-year-old Indian kingdom -

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Committee recommends UMass increase tuition, student fees for in-state undergraduates -

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Women’s basketball captains preaching defense this season

Maria Uminski/Collegian

The excitement in the air at the Massachusetts women’s basketball team practices is evident. And with the season opener against Kent State Saturday at the Mullins Center, such excitement is justified.

For co-captain Kiara Bomben, the anticipation leading up to tip-off has been building for more than a year now. Bomben, a transfer from Florida Gulf Coast, had to sit out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Saturday will mark her official debut in a UMass uniform.

“I can’t wait,” Bomben said. “I can’t wait to see the crowds. A lot of our parents are coming, too, so just the fans (and) being on court with the girls, it’s going to be great.”

The Queensland, Australia, native has played just one season in her three collegiate years. As a freshman, Bomben registered just four minutes on the floor before being forced to use her medical redshirt and sit out the remainder of the season. She played 19 games off the bench in her redshirt-freshman season, averaging 2.4 points in 7.3 minutes per game.

Now, after sitting out her sophomore year of eligibility, Bomben is in line to play a significant part for the Minutewomen and she wants to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s not only me, but it is also the team and we all have a lot of holes to fill,” Bomben said. “We are focusing on defense and that is why I want to come in as a defense stopper. And once I focus on my defense, my offense will come.

“I think that is the principle for the team: once we’re getting our defense stops, our offense will come,” she said.

Bomben’s message was echoed by the team’s other co-captains: Dee Montgomery and Jasmine Watson.

“The key preparation we’ve been working a lot on is defense and defensive rotation,” Montgomery said. “And running. We’re going to have a very fast tempo style this year so it starts with defense. We’ve been doing a lot of defense; help side, boxing out and running.”

Another major task for UMass leading up to the opening tip-off has been assimilating the freshmen into the squad, which senior center Watson highlighted as key.

“Really, we’re trying to get the freshmen into the rhythm,” Watson said. “Transitioning from high school to Division I is hard for them, but we’re just trying to make it easier for them every step of the way and that will make us a better defensive team.”

The Minutewomen’s defensive success will be predicated upon their communication when guarding off the ball. The team’s practices have been marked by the volume of the players’ voices emanating from the floor during defensive drills.

Montgomery and Watson both know communication will make or break their defensive setups.

“When we don’t communicate our practice intensity goes way, way down,” Watson said. “The coaches can sense that and we just go down hill. When we start to talk we work better as a team.”

Montgomery, a senior point guard and Bluff City, Tenn., native, echoed her co-captain’s sentiment.

“With defense, you have got to talk,” Montgomery said. “For us, that is our motive for everything is defense. If we’re not talking and telling people ‘help’ or ‘screens’, just the little stuff like that, then we’re gonna be (out of luck), so we got to talk.”

When the Minutewomen do tip off officially at 2 p.m. on Saturday, all that preparation and enthusiasm will need to be filtered into focus and execution.

For now, there is just excitement.

Right?

“Of course,” Montgomery said. “We’re ready to start playing.”

Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at jokerman@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.

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