Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Notebook: UMass men’s basketball guard Luwane Pipkins among nation’s best in steals

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(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)

After another busy weekend for Massachusetts athletics, here’s a few quick notes that deserve talking points:

Pipkins best in the nation

After recording seven steals in UMass’ 65-62 loss against Central Florida Saturday, Luwane Pipkins entered Monday’s games leading the nation in steals per game, averaging 4.0 through seven contests. Pipkins, who has 28 total steals this season, also trails only Atlantic 10-rival guard Joseph Chartouny of Fordham, who has 29 himself through eight games (3.63 spg).

The Minutemen (5-2) forced UCF into 20 turnovers, 15 of which came from steals. After the game, Pipkins said defense, most notably full court, has been a big focal point on the young season.

“That’s what we practice on in practice,” Pipkins said after Saturday’s game. “Full-court press to the defense, the zone, 55, which is man-to-man full court. For us to force 20 turnovers, you’ve got to be happy with that.”

“I would say it was one of our better defensive games because we were definitely all over the place [Saturday],” fellow guard Donte Clark added after the game. “I think we can build off this game. Like I said, it’s just the little things about the defensive rebounding and stuff like that at the end of the game that we have to clean up.”

UMass hosts Pacific (3-4) this Thursday at Mullins Center in the first round of the Gotham Classic. The Tigers (3-4) fell to Cal State Fullerton 78-77 Saturday after blowing a 20-point second half lead with the Titans making a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining to secure the victory.

Pacific was predicted to finish seventh in the preseason West Coast Conference poll.

Air date for Calipari 30 for 30 announced

Last May, University of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Daily Collegian alumnus David Scott, who is ESPN’s Director of Communications announced the network was creating a 30 for 30 documentary about former Minutemen coach and current Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported new information regarding the upcoming Calipari documentary.

The film, called “One and Not Done,” is set to air on April 13, 2017, just over one week following the conclusion of the NCAA basketball tournament, according to the report.

Director and producer Jonathan Hock, who has won 10 Emmy Awards, said in the report his time at UMass will be more highlighted than his time with the Wildcats.

“You have to understand UMass before you can understand Calipari at Kentucky,” Hock told Deitsch.

Also interviewed for the documentary was UMass’ great Marcus Camby, as well as some of his former players which include Derrick Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Committee selects four playoff teams

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee released its four playoffs teams over the weekend with the national semifinals set for New Years Eve on Dec. 31, with the National Championship being played on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) will face No. 4 Washington (12-1) in the first semifinal with No. 2 Clemson (12-1) facing No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) in the second game.

Big Ten members No. 5 Penn State (11-2) and No. 6 Michigan (10-2) were the final two teams left out.

My biggest takeaway? Conference championships don’t carry as much meaning as they did in the BCS era. The Nittany Lions not only beat the Buckeyes 24-21 in their head-to-head matchup on Oct. 22, but also topped Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship 38-31.

I still think it’s too early in the process for talks of expansion to begin – give it at least five years, minimum – but eventually I’d be interested in considering first a six-team playoff where the top two seeds get a bye (similar to the NFL playoffs) or potentially an eight-team bracket with automatic qualifiers, as well a place for a team representing the Group of Five. No. 12 Western Michigan (13-0) was the only team along with the Crimson Tide to go undefeated, however its resume and strength of schedule didn’t give the Broncos a seat at the table.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at arcyr@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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