The Massachusetts men’s basketball team honored Marcus Camby at halftime for the 50th anniversary of the Naismith Player of the Year award, one that he won at UMass in the 1996 season. That was about all the Minutemen crowd had to cheer about Saturday as UMass was blown out by Saint Louis 66-47.
With Camby being honored, numerous alumni and former players were in the crowd to witness the game, making the loss that much harder to swallow for the Minutemen.
“What transpired in between the lines is completely unacceptable and not what this program is going to be about,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “You’ve got those guys all coming back here to cheer on their school, to cheer on a place that means a lot to them that they have an appreciation for, that they get excited for. For us to go out and compete the way we did is extremely disappointing.”
It’s been a tough stretch for the Minutemen, as the loss to SLU (10-10, 3-4 Atlantic 10) comes on the heels of a 22-point defeat to Rhode Island on Wednesday.
UMass (10-10, 3-4 A-10) was thoroughly beaten in the paint all night on both ends of the court, as it was outscored 44-22 in the paint and outrebounded 37-25, including surrendering 16 offensive rebounds.
“We wanted no part of the physicality in the game,” McCall said. “It was the most physical game we played all year and we ran from it. We didn’t embrace it and all we talked about heading into the game was embracing that physicality. We didn’t do that at all tonight.”
Freshman Jordan Goodwin led the Billikens with a double-double, posting 19 points, 10 boards while also adding eight assists. Hasahn French and Davell Roby joined Goodwin in double figures, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively.
Luwane Pipkins led UMass with 17 points, and Carl Pierre added 13 of his own.
After going into the halftime break trailing 38-27, the Minutemen offense could not catch on fire as it did to bring UMass back against La Salle and Saint Joseph’s. The Minutemen were completely flat, shooting an abysmal 27.6 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, making just 2-11 from deep.
Forward Malik Hines believes that his team didn’t give the effort that was necessary to complete a comeback like the ones they have done in the past.
“I think [against La Salle and Saint Joseph’s] we wanted it more,” Hines said. “I felt like from the overall connected standpoint as a team, as a whole the games we started off slow or sluggish or not having much at half, the fight back was more urgent.”
With only eight players on scholarship, UMass is at a disadvantage every time they take the court. To make matters worse one of those scholarship players, center Rashaan Holloway, has been suspended from the team for the last five games.
In order for the Minutemen to get victories, they must outwork and out hustle their opponents on both ends of the court, and that wasn’t the case today.
“What we need to understand is that every time we line up to play in this league, the other team has more talent,” McCall said. “That’s the hand we’re dealt with right now. There is more talent on the other bench than on our bench. More numbers, more talent. That’s not a knock on a single player on our team.
“We can overcome that with the right mindset, with the disposition, with the hunger and willingness to compete. But if we don’t have those things, we don’t have a shot because they have more.”
Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.