Freshman Glass stepping up at the right time

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian staff

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Brian Tedder, Collegian

Matt Glass got the standard treatment from his teammates following Massachusetts’s victory over St. Bonaventure on Sunday.

He got made fun of.

Even the media ribbed him a little bit, as one reporter jokingly asked Glass if he could remember the last time he attempted a 2-point shot.

The freshman guard had no such recollection.

“I guess I’m kind of a specialist right now,” Glass said laughing, referring to his 3-point launching habits this season and that day against the Bonnies.

After hitting four 3-pointers and scoring more points (14) than minutes played (13), Glass was the center of attention after the victory. As he was leaving a rare postgame press conference appearance to further discuss his performance on the radio, a teammate made fun of how important Glass suddenly became.

It was definitely meant to be a joke at the time, but Glass – and the rest of the UMass bench – will be imperative for the Minutemen in their hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.

“At the beginning of the season we weren’t getting a lot from the bench, myself included,” fellow reserve Tony Gaffney said before practice yesterday. “The spark they’ve provided has played a huge role in the three-game win streak we got going, and going into the [Atlantic 10] Tournament it’s going to be huge too.”

Gaffney and Glass have been the main cogs off the bench recently for UMass coach Travis Ford. Gaffney doesn’t score often and Glass doesn’t do much other than shoot from long-range, but the energy each provides makes up for some of their deficiencies.

“Between the two of them, I call them ‘crazy,'” backup point guard Gary Correia said. “Their approach to the game is to go out there and run around; fly around, and their effort always makes up for a lot of things.”

On the offensive end Glass runs around, but usually to a familiar perch into one of the two corners.

“I try to hide in that corner a little bit to see if they’ll forget about me,” Glass said after hitting four 3-pointers against SBU. “Everybody focuses on guys who can create things for our team so it’s easy to just forget about certain guys. So I just sort of hide out there and if the opportunity comes, I try to make the most out of it.”

Glass has averaged a mere 5.9 minutes per game, but that is likely to increase as Ford’s scoring options off the bench are limited. The 6-foot-7 guard leads the team in 3-point field goal percentage at 45.5 percent, and the Minutemen will need that lift when Gary Forbes and Chris Lowe are getting a rest.

Correia has also given valuable minutes in lieu of Lowe. Much like the starting floor general, Correia brings great quickness that UMass’s up-tempo offense requires from the ball-handler. He hasn’t contributed much in the scoring department, but he takes care of the basketball (35 assists compared to 15 turnovers) and gets his teammates involved.

One of those guys he sets up is Glass. And that means a 3-point attempt. In 141 minutes this season, Glass has taken one two-point field goal. It was a miss. But he hasn’t missed often on his 33 3-point tries.

“We need Matt Glass to produce. I thought the bench was probably the best it’s been all year long as far as production-wise. They gave us a huge, huge boost,” Ford said after the game against the Bonnies. “All these guys [Gaffney, Glass, Correia and Luke Bonner] need to be at the point where they understand their role. We tell them, ‘Don’t hurt us and if you can really help us that’s a great bonus.'”

An added bonus would be to see Glass attempt a shot within the 3-point line.

“I have to look to expand my game a little bit but right now things are clicking,” Glass said.

Maybe he should just stick to what he knows. After all, he’s a “star” now.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]