Javohn Garcia shines in UMass men’s basketball season opening win over Northeastern

Garcia made an impact off the bench with 23 points in his debut

By Frederick Hanna III, Collegian Staff

UMass nation, say hello to Javohn Garcia.

The freshman guard made his presence felt for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team when it defeated Northeastern (0-1) by a score of 94-79.

Garcia helped lead the Minutemen (1-0) to a comfortable win over the Huskies in their season opener. The freshman was a dominant force all over the court showing throughout the game why he will be such a valuable asset to this young squad as they start the season. Garcia came off the bench but comfortably found his rhythm as the game went on and quickly made an impact on the floor.

“We know how good [Garcia] is, how talented he is,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “We have been on him about bringing that [mentality] every single day. When something is working you have to stick with it and this afternoon it was him and Tre [Mitchell]. The ball needed to be in both of their hands. Especially in the second half, the ball needed to be in [Garcia’s] hands and Tre [Mitchell’s] hands. Those are the guys that had it going.”

Garcia wasn’t just a facilitator on offense, he was splashing shots from deep and within the arc as well. The guard finished shooting 9-of-13 from the field and 2-of-3 from deep for a total of 23 points.

The latter of the last statement is relevant to the Minutemen’s past struggles from 3-point range. UMass struggled in conference play last year from 3-point range and that was largely in part to Carl Pierre’s struggles down the stretch and TJ Weeks being out due to injury. This year the Minutemen seem well versed in their options from beyond the arc and that will be thanks to Garcia.

“Just getting out reps every day after practice, staying in the gym, and having to keep shooting,” Garcia said in regard to working on his 3-point shot. “Going towards the season I feel like [combo of Mitchell and I] is going to be strong. Our chemistry together and just playing together is going to grow.”

The combination of Mitchell and Garcia combined for 54 points on the game, just over half of the points UMass accounted for against the Huskies. Garcia proved throughout the game how skillful and talented he was. His footwork was unmatched and his ability to pivot through the lanes of Northeastern defenders while weaving through pick-and-rolls was the reason he performed so well.

“Javohn knows every single play we run and every single press that we have in,” McCall said. “In terms of his basketball IQ it is through the roof. He knows where guys are supposed to be out there on the floor. I have tremendous confidence in him running our team…A guy goes under a pick-and-roll, he drills a three. He just makes the right read.”

Garcia showcased against Northeastern why he may just be the leading candidate of being the floor general for this Minutemen offense. The freshman dished out four assists to boot with his double-digit scoring day and smoothly ran a college offense for the first time in his career.

To go along with his scoring numbers, Garcia picked out three steals on the day proving why he is a tenacious on-ball defender. Running a defensive lineup that pairs Garcia and Kolton Mitchell can be mouth-watering for McCall and his full-court press.

It is still early in the season but certainly Garcia will no longer be looked upon as underrated. The freshman fit right into the UMass offense and looked poised to be a threat throughout the game. Look to Garcia playing a key role in this offense moving forward in the season.

The Minutemen will end the home-and-home series with an away game at Northeastern on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Frederick Hanna III can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @FrederickHIII