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January 19, 2018

Chris Baldwin gives a taste of what he can do for UMass men’s basketball

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

Chris Baldwin, who found himself playing very few minutes as a freshman a year ago, gave the Massachusetts basketball team a taste of who he can be in the Minutemen’s 82-60 win over Springfield College.

With center Rashaan Holloway out with a thumb injury, the front court duties primarily fell on junior Malik Hines and Baldwin, now a sophomore – both started the game.

Baldwin recorded a double-double, scoring 15 points and bringing down 14 rebounds, 10 on the defensive glass.

The sophomore forward showed signs of improvement from last season, which was reflected in his increase of minutes.

Standing 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, Baldwin is one of the more physically intimidating guys on the court. With a greater playing role this season, Baldwin is trying to be more vocal.

“I’m trying to let everyone in the gym know what’s going on, on the court,” Baldwin said. “At certain places that we play, it’s going to be hard for us to even hear each other on the court. So if we’re all in tune, saying the same things and being vocal the same way then it’s going to help us.”

In coach Matt McCall’s first time coaching the Minutemen in a live game at the Mullins Center, he expressed his pride for Baldwin’s energy.

“Chris was great. Chris is the type of guy who you’re going to feed off his energy a lot,” McCall said. “Sometimes he messes up assignments on offense, sometimes he’s not in the right spot. But I’ve been really impressed with him the past two days in practice with just his vocal-ness and talking, especially on the defensive end of the floor. I was really impressed with that and I even told him that, I said listen, ‘your talk is intimidating to other teams when you’re out there calling pick-and-roll coverages and talking and doing that, it can be intimidating to other teams, I’m just really impressed with him with that.”

“He has to clean up some stuff on offense, I thought he forced a couple of threes. Listen, when he gets his feet set and he’s open and we run a little pick-and-roll or we run some type of action and he can get a look, yea we want him shooting those.”

Baldwin sank only one of the five 3-pointers he attempted. The one he hit though was sandwiched between a Luwane Pipkins 3-pointer and C.J. Anderson 3 that helped UMass open up its second half scoring.

The Minutemen entered halftime having struggled shooting going 14-31 and 0-9 from beyond the arc, but with a 38-35 lead.

McCall attributed high expectations to the Minutemen’s lack of energy in the first half

“You can’t have an expectation on how the game’s going to go,” McCall said. “Because if you have an expectation and it doesn’t go that way you’re immediately let down. I thought we fought that, especially coming out of the half, putting together some stops and getting a lead.”.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at psanzo@umass.edu and can be followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.

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