Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Cyr: UMass men’s basketball freshmen pass test in collegiate debut against UMass Lowell

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(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

It wasn’t the most difficult of tests. It was sloppy for some stretches and exciting for others, but in the end the Massachusetts men’s basketball and its young freshmen class started their careers on a high note Friday afternoon at Mullins Center.

Mixed with a blend of solid collegiate debuts from Luwane Pipkins and DeJon Jarreau, paired with career day for Rashaan Holloway, UMass’ depth and size were too much for UMass Lowell to handle as the Minutemen walked away with a 90-76 victory in their season opener.

“We had more good basketball than we did in our two scrimmages, but still a long way from where we need to be to compete at the top of our conference,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said “You could see the youth at times … there’s obviously some things to work on, but this is a fun, spirited group

Pipkins is going to be a treat for UMass (1-0) fans to watch for years to come. The 5-foot-11 guard finished with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists, but what was most notable was his confidence and on-ball defense. In his first career game, Pipkins tied the Minutemen’s single-game steals record with eight.

“I will credit (Pipkins). Their freshman guard there is very disruptive,” River Hawks coach Pat Duquette said. “It wasn’t just one of our players, he switched on to just about every guy. I thought he changed the nature of the game, stole our guys confidence a little bit and like I said, that was tough to get back.”

UML finished the game with 28 total turnovers, 17 of which came in the first half. River Hawks guard Jahad Thomas finished with eight turnovers, while six other players had at least three.

“Everybody gets rattled,” Pipkins said of his defense. “I was bringing that dog from Chicago. (Kellogg) talked about pressure, he stressed pressure a lot in practice. So coming into the game, I knew how to play full court, 100 feet. I guess they were getting rattled and I just kept putting my foot on their throat.”

Jarreau’s stat line didn’t do the justice of how well he played against UML (0-1). He finished with just four points on 1-for-4 shooting, but added a game-high seven assists to go along with three rebounds.

“I had to get the jitters out,” Jarreau said. “I’ve been thinking about this my whole life, this is all I’ve been talking about. ‘Can’t wait for college basketball, can’t wait for college basketball, and it finally came and I just had to get comfortable.”

Jarreau added: “I rather get an assist and make my teammate feel good and I’m going to feel good too because I helped them get that point. So, I’m more of a pass first guard and the points are going to come, I don’t want to force the points.”

In addition to Pipkins and Jarreau, forwards Tyrn Flowers and Chris Baldwin showed promise in their debuts. Flowers drilled one of his three 3-pointers with 12 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the second half to give the Minutemen their largest lead of the game 70-44.

Flowers added 11 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action while Baldwin chimed in with six points and three boards in nine minutes of play.

But as well as the freshman played, did Kellogg like their composure and effort for the full 40 minutes?

“No, I didn’t,” he said. “I thought out of those guys, Luwane might have been the closest, but he was here last year for a year, so he was maybe going to be a little more mature.”

“I thought (Jarreau) is just scratching the surface. It’s good to see him have to work through some stuff and play against guys that have played college basketball before. Chris Baldwin, Ty, those guys are all coming into their own.”

“They want to play basketball and go compete, is a good spirit to have with a group and a team. It kind of starts with our older guys, but the younger guys have a good spirit about themselves also.”

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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