January 26, 2015

Scrolling Headlines:

Paranormal Research Society seeks to uncover the truth about the supernatural -

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‘Broad City’s’ second season off to a wickedly funny start -

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Students respond to Obama’s State of the Union address -

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St. Bonaventure earns tight victory, VCU clinches 11th straight win in Atlantic 10 men’s basketball action -

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An open letter to the people who were kind when I was struggling -

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UMass club hockey salvages weekend with tie against NYU on Saturday -

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2015 Winter TCA’s announce bevy of show returns and new releases -

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Brilliant online film archives for cinema lovers -

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UMass men’s and women’s track and field teams see mixed results in Joe Donahue Indoor Games -

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Steve Mastalerz, defense delivers for UMass hockey -

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UMass online graduate programs climb U.S. News & World Report rankings -

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Front to Back: Week of Jan. 25, 2015 -

Sunday, January 25, 2015

BLOG: UMass football receives seven verbal commitments -

Sunday, January 25, 2015

UMass plans to fail again with Super Bowl guest policy -

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Special teams play fuels late UMass rally, forces tie -

Saturday, January 24, 2015

BLOG: UMass hires Mark Michaels as special teams coordinator, outside linebackers coach -

Friday, January 23, 2015

Former Tibetan political prisoner overcomes odds in Tibet and the US -

Thursday, January 22, 2015

UMass basketball falls flat in loss to St. Joe’s -

Thursday, January 22, 2015

‘Selma’ resonates with the here and now -

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Click here to visit UMass Dining
Click here to visit UMass Dining

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.

 

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