Well, if there ever was, it was UMass’s game tonight against Fordham. The Minutemen pulled out a 78-76 win on last-second heroics by Ricky Harris, but unlike UMass’s last squeak-by win over Memphis, this one didn’t have the “feel-good” vibe to it. On the contrary, UMass let an absolutely atrocious Fordham team hang around to the last second and nearly suffered what would have to qualify as the program’s worst loss in many, many years. In hockey terms, imagine losing to UConn at home. I’m sorry, I know, it’s a horrible image, and like I said before, you can’t just have it purged. But that’s what it would’ve been like.
I mean, you can look at it like this, Brenton Butler basically caught fire in that 16-3 run, hitting three 3’s, none of which was a remotely intelligent shot to take. Well, that’s all well and good, but the fact that Fordham’s big run came after UMass “broke the game open” to a barely-double-digit lead tells you the big story: namely, that the Minutemen shouldn’t have even been in a position like that, at any point in the game, against a 2-10 squad with an interim coach and with their best player having transferred out less than a month ago. Not remotely acceptable.
I’d like to point at all the positives (Ricky pulling it together in the second half, Gurley’s first half, City’s near double-double, TV’s hustle, Riley’s return), but there are just too many negatives (all the rushed 3’s, City’s dumb fouls and defensive struggles, Gurley’s second half, Gibbsy in general, missed layups, blah blah blah) for anyone to feel good about this game.
But a win is a win is a win, I guess. And if the team shows up on Saturday against La Salle (High School) and plays like this, well, nobody will notice because the game was rather unfortunately scheduled opposite the Pats-Ravens game. But let’s just say that the winning A-10 record won’t stay that way for long.
In other news, I’ve got a new 30 Rock-inspired nickname for Gurley: TGS, or “The Gurley Show.” If he continues to play like he did in the first half tonight, he’ll have earned the moniker; if not for him we’d likely have trailed at halftime.
Big weekend in Hockey East coming up, and an especially-huge four games for UMass and the ugly sister, as Lowell will play the same two teams this weekend, then the two state schools will square off in a home-and-home right before school recommences. Since the Minutemen and River Rats have essentially the same record right now, the weekend will go a long way to determining these two teams’ fates. More on that later, though; first, UMass had better focus on one game at a time, and that means the dreaded visit to the Whitt. If I don’t get to it before Saturday, I’ll definitely write about the aftermath of the UNH game before I head to Boston for the Sunday night showdown at Matthews.