Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football readies for season-opener against Hawaii -

August 22, 2017

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass men’s hoops addressing 2nd half lapses

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

As Massachusetts men’s basketball point guard Chaz Williams tried to pinpoint the core of the Minutemen’s recurring struggles coming out of halftime, he shook his head in uncertainty.

He couldn’t place all the blame on the effort of the team, but refrained from saying it’s simply a matter of execution.

The best he could do was split the blame right down the middle.

“I’m not saying it’s as much effort because guys give effort all throughout the game,” Williams said, “but I guess it’s a place and point we reach or a lackadaisical point we reach and that kind of holds us back.”

Regardless of the answer, Williams and company said something has to be done to combat UMass’ recent sluggish play at the start of the second half.

In four of the last five games, the Minutemen (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic 10) have either watched their double-digit halftime leads evaporate or allowed deficits to become compounded to moments where the team takes heroic and panicking runs to try to scrap out another victory.

The most recent case came Saturday afternoon when a seven-point halftime deficit quickly spiraled out of control as George Washington reeled off a 14-3 pounding over the first five minutes, one second of the second half.

UMass nearly dug itself out of a 16-point hole, but playing catch-up for the entire second half proved to be too much as the Minutemen lost, 79-76.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg has had six days to contemplate how to solve the issue, but said there isn’t a complicated theory to answer the problem.

“The theory is you have to play harder,” he said. “You gotta play tougher and be meaner.”

Kellogg spent Wednesday’s practice watching from the stands of the Mullins Center instead of on the court. He wanted to gauge his team’s intensity from a distance rather than up close.

He was happy with what he saw, as the Minutemen got into each other’s faces, especially on the defensive end, which has been lacking coming out of halftime.

“Hopefully yesterday’s practice was an indication of how it’s supposed to be, like get up under somebody’s chin and don’t let them do what they want to do,” Kellogg said. “Defense is not letting somebody do what they want to do, and if they’re able to, then we’re not as good as I’d like us to be.”

UMass showed signs of that poor defense in its win over Duquesne on Jan. 17, when a 14-point halftime lead was coughed up thanks to the Dukes’ 16-5 spurt in the first 4:10 of the second frame to shrink the deficit to five and throw the Minutemen into another close affair.

At Fordham on Jan. 13, UMass’ 14-point halftime edge dwindled down to five with 8:01 left to play, and it’s 13-point halftime lead against Eastern Michigan on Jan. 5 shrunk down to four thanks to a 15-6 run by the Eagles in the first 4:26 of the second half. The Minutemen managed to hold onto both of those games, however.

Williams, who’s considered to be one of the team leaders on and off the court, said Kellogg and some of the players try to motivate the team in the locker room to bring out a sense of urgency and avoid lapses in the second half.

Despite those efforts, the problem still lingers around the team at a critical time with conference play well under way.

Williams said this week’s practices have helped address that issue by simulating game-like situations.

“As of late, we’ve just been trying to have a better approach at it and try to start off segmenting practice where it’ll be a halftime and we gotta get ready for the second half,” Williams said. “I think we’re doing a good job of that now where it’s helping us to the point where in the second half we should come out much stronger. We’ve paid a lot of attention to it.”

Stephen Sellner can be reached at ssellner@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Stephen_Sellner.

 

Leave A Comment