After last night’s kinda sorta shitshow against St Louis, its easy to be a little negative towards this team. Lord knows I’ve been critical after, and during (cue a long, steady Bob Dylan Eeeeeh) wins. However, in attempt to stay positive, lets point out some things I like about this team, and the season so far. IN BULLET FORM! (like allowed tweets)
- Big City. Listen, my hatred of big city (aka little village, census designated place, etc) is well established. And even early in this season where some heralded city as a different, better player, I called bullshit. However, as I looked closer at his game this year, I’ll eat the crow and say that city is not only an asset for the team because of his size, but he actually has some game. Offensively, he does often still stay in a place and not add much, but I have noticed a major improvement by city defensively. He is switching well, showing hustle and, thankfully, NOT JUST STAYING IN THE PAINT FOR ENTIRE POSSESSIONS! He’s moving his feet, contesting shots, and I would say with confidence that he is certainly one of the better defensive players on this team. Good job city, keep it up!
- Raphiael Putney is going to be good, scary good, by the time he’s a junior. And as we stand, halfway through his first “real” season, he is one of the better players on this team. Is he a little raw in current form? Of course, but he is showing more promise than any of the freshmen last year. He’s a good shooter, but thankfully he’s not afraid to crash the boards as evidenced by his 9 rebounds last night. People ask who is going to carry the team next year in the absence of Gurley, but I’m predicting it right now: Putney will be the best player on this team in 2 years. He is the prototypical college player. I little weird looking physically (I often stare at his ankles when watching this team live, they are the 10th wonder of the world), but the type of body that makes him athletic enough to outmaneuver most power forwards in the league, but lanky enough to force tough shots on guards and forwards. I love Putney, and he alone will make the 2 hour voyage west to see this team next year worth it.
- Speaking of the future, I have great optimism regarding the future of this team and group. Its an awkward sophomore year for this team, who we all knew was going to have to grow together. While players like TV have taken a slight “step back”, i feel like the core 4 (I’m excluding Freddie for the sake of positivity) have grown as a unit. Javon has off nights, but adds a sense of leadership to the group. TV has shown flashes of being a better player than last year, last night included. He can be a low post force and hopefully it will all come together by years end. Sampson has been less visible, but I feel like he makes fewer mistakes than most on the team. He will never be the number one scorer, but he sneakily affects games, which will be a major asset in the next few years. Putney, as I’ve said before, will be great as well. This team, despite the missteps, has improved this year despite losing Rickey Harris. I thought this team would be as good as last year (read: not very) or worse without the offensive output and leadership. What do we have now? A decidedly better team that has a real shot of getting a home court A10 playoff game. Thats a jump that not even some of the most optimistic idiot message board posters would have expected. Next year? I wouldn’t be surprised to get a bye. Obviously its too far away to even predict such a thing, but its in play. The trajectory of this team is up.
- Gary Correia is a solid point guard, just what this team needs. He isn’t going to put up big numbers, but he puts more on the table than he takes off. He will be missed next year, no doubt.
- Anthony Gurley can score. And often, unlike last night, these points come naturally through the flow of the game. His points are often sneaky, and while he’s averaging 20+, watching the team he never seems to take over the offense. That is, to me, a good thing. Last year watching Rickey you were constantly aware of his presence, as he took the majority of the shots and the ball was constantly in his hands. With Gurley, he doesn’t need the ball to score. We can get a good feed and make a shot or, more ideally, get the ball while streaking and attack the basket. He is in no way a player of the year candidate (sorry student section) but he is by far the best player on the team, and he didn’t back into it. He improved his game in the off season and is now a great player. Sadly, its his last year.
- Freddie knows how to get the most out of flagrants (hey, I’m being positive, remember?)
Also, to clarify some behind the scenes blog stuff, I, Matt, will continue to be writing for the blog, and tweeting in a publicizing role. Max is also still with the blog. I stand behind the tweets on sunday, as they were valid complaints I have, wrapped within sarcastic tweets. However, given that the blog’s twitter speaks for the entire entity that is Fight Mass, and golly we don’t agree on much, it shouldn’t have come from that medium. I feel shame for bringing criticism to a blog that was started to be a positive student force rather than the snickering bitter asshole (which, notably, I am). I’ve been the loose cannon for a long time now, and I often go a little too far. If you were offended by the tweets, I apologize. I would personally contend that you are wrong and can go fuck yourself for you head in the sand positivity, but as someone speaking for the blog, I say don’t hold one opinion against the umbrella that is this blog. In the words of Derek Walsh: Deal with it.
Much Love to the UMass community.