Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

By Thomas Johnston

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






(Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Matt McCall is all too familiar with small schools upsetting larger universities.

While the coach at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga last year, McCall’s squad had an 82-69 upset over the University of Tennessee on the Volunteers’ home court on the opening night of the season. So, it’s safe to say when UMass Lowell comes to Amherst to take on the flagship university, McCall will not allow his team to take the River Hawks lightly.

“When I was at Chattanooga we were the brother school to Tennessee,” McCall said. “We were the smaller school, and Tennessee was the bigger school. We had them down 20 in the second half and won the game. We have to have an edge to us Friday night.”

While on paper it might look like a lopsided matchup, McCall knows anything can happen once the game begins.

“Who cares what is supposed to happen, anything can happen once the ball is thrown up in the air,” McCall said. “If we don’t have an edge to us and we’re not focused on the right things, we’re going to lose the game. We’ve got to play the game and get lost from competing.”

After the Minutemen’s 82-60 victory in the scrimmage against Springfield last Friday, McCall was unhappy with his team’s ball movement in the first half. He felt the team was stagnant offensively, trying to play too much one-on-one and not having any rhythm.

That changed in the second half, as his team outscored the Pride 44-25. McCall has put an emphasis on ball movement and pushing the pace heading into the game with the River Hawks.

“Anytime there’s a dead ball, anytime there’s a stoppage or even on a made basket we’ll run a set play,” McCall said. “But on a miss, we’re trying to run. Our guys know the areas that they’re supposed to get to on the floor. If we have to get back into our pick and roll continuity after that, we can. But on a miss, we want to run.”

One of the guys tasked with pushing the ball up the court is guard Luwane Pipkins. The sophomore from Chicago started 28 games for UMass as a freshman, and should see extended minutes this season.

Pipkins chalked the poor first half against Springfield up to first game nerves.

“First game back, everybody was getting their feet wet again,” Pipkins said. “People just got a little out of style. The second half we settled down more. We moved the ball and played well.”

In the second half of the scrimmage, Pipkins began to assert himself, using his speed to get to the rim. After scoring over 10 points per game a season ago, the guard is looking to improve on that this year.

“I have to be aggressive for my team right now since we’re low on bodies,” Pipkins said. “I just have to keep being aggressive, keep finding my teammates, keep getting buckets. Once I do that I can open it up for my teammates and let them play their game.”

While the Minutemen want to get out and run, they must also find ways to get center Rashaan Holloway involved. The 6-foot-11 big man presents matchup problems for opponents on a nightly basis, and will be a key cog in the UMass offense.

While it is easy to just feed him the ball throughout the game, McCall wants his team to run its normal offense and allow Holloway to get touches within the flow of the game.

“We can’t get pass-happy staring him down,” McCall said. “He’s going to get it through ball movement, player movement. He’s got to understand that we’re going to find you, we’re going to get you the ball down there.

He added, “But you have to let it happen through the movement and continuity of the offense and not just try to force things inside. If we try to force it, teams are sitting on the white line loading up. That can’t happen. We have to continue to move the ball.”

 

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.

 

 

About the Writer
Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

Thomas has been writing for The Collegian since his freshman year and is currently an assistant sports editor. He primarily covers men’s basketball and...

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    Paparo: Signing with Premier Lacrosse League a “simple decision”

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    UMass softball’s seniors go out in style

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    UMass’ season ends in the A-10 tournament with 8-2 loss to Fordham

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    With its back to the wall, UMass delivers against Saint Louis

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    Minutewomen struggle in opening loss against GW, rally back to beat St. Louis in elimination bracket

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    Minutewomen seeking redemption in Atlantic 10 Tournament

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    UMass softball looks to win first A-10 tournament since 2012

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    UMass has season finale rained out after splitting double header with George Mason

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    ‘Not Backing Down’ panel draws in hundreds of attendees despite legal controversy

  • Ball movement a focus for UMass men’s basketball heading into opening night

    Archives

    UMass Permaculture Gardens available online in 360-degree view

Navigate Right