Black Eye

Kneejerk Reactions: Maine 68, UMass 56

Grade: F

Tonight I’m breaking out a new format for our Kneejerk Reactions column. I wish it was under better circumstances. I’m also breaking what has become a bit of an unwritten rule here, beginning writing about the outcome of a game before it ends, but if UMass isn’t going to play a full game, why should I have to sit through the whole thing first?

Tonight’s game against Maine was an atrocity. A mind-numbingly bad display of putridity. A positively Lowellian effort if there ever was one. The Minutemen lost to fucking Maine. Maine. No successful basketball season should ever include a home loss to Maine. The BC game was an expected first speed bump, but this was possibly the easiest game on the entire schedule, and damned if our boys didn’t manage to completely blow all of the good will a 7-0 start brings.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, went right tonight. Even our positives were negatives. Gurley? Sure, he had his flashes of his this-season brilliance, but he went cold in the second half. Vinson? A few nice moves early on, and another Casper act down the stretch. Traynham? I’m still highly anticipating my first chance to see him play in person, but for every brilliant defensive effort and Rondoesque play creation, he’ll turn around and toss a ball away in the open court. (And I’m starting to think he just miiiight be flopping, falling down on basically defensive possession. Just a bit.) But hey, at least they had upsides in this game. Bailey? Carter? Please. Riley was a trainwreck tonight. Farrell had another oddly quiet night. Correia, well, he is who we think he is.

The fundamental problems with this team are as such: they do NOT score in half-court situations. The offense relies so heavily on fast-breaks and turnovers, on beating teams in transition. That game was severely lacking last year, and has been vastly improved. But when everyone goes ice cold and starts choking on easy plays like the Minutemen have, first in the BC game and now tonight, they have no way of jump-starting themselves when the opponent stops making dumb mistakes and/or finds an offensive rhythm, as the Black Bears did tonight in spite of an atrocious shooting start.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to death with the strides DK’s team has made defensively. When the energy is there (and that has been more often than not), the D is tenacious. It’s offense that’s killing this team. If Gurley and Riley both have even below-average nights, there is no third option. Farrell and Sampson can occasionally break out with solid performances, but for the most part, this is a two-pronged offensive attack. They need a) to be a hell of a lot more balanced, b) someone like Farrell to become more consistent as a third option, or c) Jesse Morgan to come for the second half and live up to all the hype almost instantly. Gulp.

Okay, so let’s think positively: this team can’t possibly play a third straight game with sequences like the second-half debacle where Carter missed a layup, Gurley missed a wild putback attempt up-and-under, and then Carter missed a 2-foot bunny all consecutively. Right?

If they do, it might be time to rethink the expectations for this team. I really thought they were progressing. Please tell me they’re progressing. PROGRESS DAMNIT!

On to the next one. Sigh.

Fight Mass MVP of the Game: Gary Forbes

Yeah, our first winner of this award doesn’t get to be from the current UMass team. But damn, he continues to look like he at least belongs in the NBA. Big ups to Gary for getting the start tonight in Denver’s completely futile attempt to beat the runaway Celtics.

Stray Observations:

– Yeah, this new format is gonna sort of rip off the A.V. Club’s TV Club segments. Originality is for suckers.

– Crowd didn’t look too bad for a Wednesday night with finals approaching, especially considering how much air the BC loss took out of the bandwagon’s tires. Student section has a full row and a half (better than last year, I suppose!) of diehards. Most of them stayed through the end, too. Too bad they had to see that shitshow. Hope they give this team another shot with the Seton Hall game coming up. Saturday night crowds tend to be alright.

– (Of course, I wonder how many of those kids thought they were showing up for a hockey game. That’s this weekend and it’s in Maine, by the way. More on that later in the week.)

– I’ll be glad to never have to hear Josh Maurer say “Malachi Pee-Ay” ever again.

– I Facebook statused this tonight: “von wafer literally turns the ball over or shoots an airball every single time he touches the ball. SURELY tony gaffney couldn’t have been worse than this.”

– Farewell to The Ice is Life. Crazy to think about just how smug they were one year ago, and now that program appears to be in shambles. Still, much as I hate to admit it, I looked forward to their every post, and now they’re gone. I would have loved to see their post after that last game with the ugly sister.


One comment

  1. heavydrexler

    Just wait, when (if) UML wins two in a row, the posts will come flying out again, as if those other “engagements” they had that prevented them from “writing at a high-quality” had just mysteriously disappeared.

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