Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Michael Steadman leads UMass men’s basketball to a win over Saint Joseph’s on Saturday

Steadman finished with a game-high 19 points
Sophie-Zoe Schreyer / Daily Collegian

Michael Steadman stepped up early for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team in its wire-to-wire win over Saint Joseph’s Saturday afternoon.

Steadman scored 11 of UMass’ (11-12, 4-7 Atlantic 10) first 13 points against the Hawks (10-13, 4-8 A-10) and looked as good as ever to start a game this season. The big man settled in nicely and went into the break as the lone player in double digits between the two teams. The senior finished the first half with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and knocked in a 3-pointer as well on his lone attempt.

“[Steadman] was great,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “I thought he was just a physical presence up front. We are just trying to get him to be aggressive not just on offense but on defense. [Ejike] Obinna is a really good player and I thought Steadman’s aggressiveness just with him in and around the basket trying to block shots and being physical down in the low post is something we need from him.”

It’s been a season of trying to find a rhythm and flow for Steadman on offense who has shown his ability to be a dominant big man for the Minutemen but also has lacked any sort of consistency on the court. Saturday afternoon’s game against the Hawks showcased a side of Steadman that McCall and co. haven’t seen much this year, and one that they can potentially build off of moving forward.

“I thought [Steadman] had a really good practice [on Friday],” McCall said. “He was outstanding. I thought in the second half he did some positive things against George Washington. Trent [Buttrick] at the five defensively in this game I was concerned about them just posting Obinna and going right at Trent and him getting into early foul trouble. I figured we would start a little bit bigger.”

Steadman finished with a game-high 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. The win over Saint Joseph’s was his fourth time scoring in double figures and it was his second highest point total of the season. The nine baskets that he connected on in the game were a season-high for him, one more than the eight he made in his 20-point performance against Fairfield.

“I think a lot of it has to do with confidence,” Steadman said of what is key to consistently scoring. “It’s a mindset and an ability. I can obviously put the ball in the basket when I want to, so I just got to keep working and stay working for the rest of the season.”

The big man did most of his damage in the first half and specifically in the opening ten minutes of the game for UMass. Steadman didn’t take over the second half with as much force as he had in the opening half for the Minutemen. He finished the second half with six points, three turnovers and one rebound. Of all five starters, Steadman played the fewest minutes. He ended the game with 25 minutes while the other four starters averaged 33.

UMass’ big men collectively struggle to generate any form of scoring down in the paint. Dyondre Dominguez has found himself out of any rotations for the Minutemen, Trent Buttrick has proven to be more of a threat with his jumper than with his post moves and Greg Jones isn’t a consistent scorer for McCall to utilize. Steadman presents the Minutemen with a unique skill set to hold his own in the paint with his length and physicality. The win against the Hawks gives the big man a chance to move forward with some confidence after his dominant performance.

UMass next heads on the road to take on St. Bonaventure this Wednesday with tipoff set for 7 p.m.

Frederick Hanna III can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @FrederickHIII.

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