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

Home-court advantage plays a major role in UMass’ victories

Minutemen carry a 12-2 home record at the Mullins Center
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2024)

For Tuesday’s night game versus VCU, UMass’ Athletics Department gave out free t-shirts to students that read ‘Build It Together’ with the Massachusetts men’s basketball team name written underneath. A fitting slogan to summarize the new culture the Minutemen (16-9, 8-6 Atlantic 10) have brought to the Amherst community.

The ‘Build It Together’ mantra has been a huge part of the home court environment that has grown this season, directly corresponding with the winning record UMass has built at the Mullins Center.

For a mid-week night game, the Minutemen drew in a crowd of 4,313 people, the second largest attendance number this season, and with the matchup resulting in a 74-52 lopsided victory over the number four seed VCU Rams (17-9, 9-4 A-10), the crowd was electric from start to finish, just like UMass, who never trailed once in the game.

“I want to be able to help change the culture … I’m just happy that, you know, people who put a lot of time and money into this are getting something out of it and, you know, bringing some joy to the community,” Josh Cohen said.

When playing at home, the Minutemen sit with a 12-2 record, with some notable wins over George Mason, Rhode Island and South Florida. The only two home game losses were against Harvard, in an overtime three-point loss, and a one-point loss to Saint Joseph’s.

With both of those two games being within a single score of each other, the Minutemen’s home court presence has kept them from suffering a blow-out loss and keeping every home game within hands-reach of a win.

Compared to last season, UMass finished with a final home game record of 8-7. Now, with two more home games left on this year’s schedule, the Minutemen have put together a very different story of home game success so far, boosting the fan environment around the team too.

With trouble on the road and having an overall away record of 2-6, being at home has been the place where UMass has proven to play the most consistently. On its home court, the Minutemen average 81 points a game, compared to road games, when the team averages 74 points per game.

With many traveling stints of one or two away games throughout the season, in matchups where UMass returns back to the Mullins Center directly following a road game, UMass has an undefeated 6-0 record.

Not counting the VCU attendance, the Minutemen have drawn a total of 41,059 fans to watch this new team play throughout the season, averaging a little over 3,000 people a game.

Loud crowds have proven to aid in the home victories, cheers to fuel the UMass players to keep playing hard, boo’s to distract the opponents and standing ovations at the end of games for the starting lineups are some of the few benefits of a big crowd.

“It was good, especially for me personally being a Massachusetts guy, it’s good to see and you know it’s exciting cause you know, we’ve been trying… we’re trying every day, we’re working hard so it’s good to see it paying off with people coming in,” Matt Cross said of the standing ovation in VCU’s matchup.

Throughout the season, head coach Frank Martin has expressed the new culture he is working to build inside and outside the program. Connecting with the community is something he values and has made immense efforts to do so.

“We ask our guys to do things the right way in the community, on campus, academically, socially. Then we asked them to play the game with unbelievable, relentless effort and when they do that, they should be rewarded the way they were today,” Martin said.

The crowd on Tuesday night is just proof of the program moving in the right direction to continue rebuilding the UMass men’s basketball team into the program it once was long ago.

Now with alumni and senior day coming up on Saturday, Feb. 24 for UMass, a much larger crowd is expected to fill the arena for the 2:30 p.m. game against St. Bonaventure to show support for the past and current Minutemen.

Samantha Sands can be reached at [email protected] and can be followed on X/Twitter @samantha_sands_.

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