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

RJ Luis shines in UMass’ 66-63 victory over Colorado

Luis goes for 18 points in 19 minutes
Kayla Wong/Daily Collegian (2022)

Freshman RJ Luis stepped up to the occasion in the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s 66-63 win over Colorado on Thursday in the Myrtle Beach Invitational quarterfinals. He finished the game with 18 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 19 minutes, while shooting 8-for-11 from the field and 2-for-3 from downtown.

“Nobody could guard [RJ] Luis and he’s a freshman,” Buffaloes (2-2) head coach Tad Boyle said. “He’s a talented player but he hasn’t done that against anybody they’ve played but he did against us.”

Luis affected every aspect of the game on both sides of the court for UMass (2-1). Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-7-inch guard showed strong finishing at the rim through contact and a reliable jumper from midrange and from deep.

Luis also showed he can make successful entry passes, a crucial skill in how head coach Frank Martin wants to run the offense. On defense, Luis displayed impressive anticipation to both jump passing lanes and block shots, along with better paint presence than his slim frame would suggest.

It was a major bounce-back performance for the Miami native, who shot 0-for-10 and scored three points in a home loss against Towson.

Luis took over the game in the first half when the Minutemen fell behind early, keeping them afloat with an impactful five minute shift off the bench. He went in with 15:23 left in the half and immediately scored a midrange jumper to bring the Buffaloes’ lead down to four. Usually matched up on a smaller guard, his tall and lengthy frame makes his midrange shot incredibly high to contest.

Then, Luis jumped a passing lane in the perimeter and took it to the rack on the fast break to continue his run. Just over a minute later, he secured a defensive rebound and nailed a 3-pointer on the other end.

At 11:47 Luis added to his tally of fast break points with a tough layup through contact, and after about a minute and a half drove into a crowded lane and finished off the glass for the final points of his stretch.

When Luis entered the game UMass was down 13-7, and when he earned a rest five minutes later the Minutemen were up 22-20. Luis scored 13 points in 11 first half minutes on 6-for-7 shooting.

The freshman adds a different type of profile to Martin’s roster, one that can play anywhere in the perimeter, both on and off the ball, and run the offense unlike the usual first-year player. He can go inside or take the long jumper, and his length has proven to be useful on the defensive end any time he’s in the game.

But what Martin has praised the most about Luis so far this season has been the freshman’s mentality and responsiveness. If Luis manages to keep putting up performances like the one on Thursday or the one against Central Connecticut State in the season opener, in which he had 14 points, it’ll be tough for Martin to not give him more minutes.

“We’ve got a lot of depth and talent and everybody on the roster plays hard,” UMass’ Noah Fernandes said. “For a coach, it makes it hard to figure out who to put in the game and as a team I think that’s what you want to do to the coach. The fact we’re doing it will have a great impact for the future.”

At the very least, Luis proved he can contribute significantly to a deep Minutemen squad despite being a true freshman. UMass has an intriguing prospect on its hands.

Luis’ next chance to show what he can do will be on Friday, when the Minutemen play Murray State in the Myrtle Beach Invitational semifinals. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m.

Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @P_GraySoares

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *