The beautiful thing about sports is that it’s so gosh-darn unpredictable. Anyone can beat anyone on any given Sunday, they don’t play the games on paper, you play to win the game, hello?! You PLAY to WIN the GAME, and so on.
This weekend was not one of those times for the UMass sports program.
Not to sound cocky about a team that was winless in three conference games taking on an undefeated UNH squad, but I felt like Friday’s game was one of those classic reverse locks for the Minutemen coming in. The Minutemen and Wildcats always seem to play close ones at the Bill, and I felt UNH would come in a little overconfident and UMass would play like a team on a mission. All of these things happened, yet thanks to a performance for the ages by Casey DeSmith, the Minutemen needed Darren Rowe to net a poRowe-play gRowe-al in Rowe-vertime to sneak away with a thrilling 2-1 win in a game they completely dominated pretty much from the midway point of the second period.
And that was actually the MOST shocking thing that happened this weekend. The football team, which has been making huge strides backward week after week, got pasted 63-0 at Northern Illinois. I have little to say about this team other than that it’s disappointing to see they’ve thoroughly given up on the season, but when the cupboard is left so thoroughly dry by the previous coach (like, dry by FCS standards even), what other outcome can you reasonably expect against MAC teams fighting it out for playoff positioning? I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when Molnar’s got his own guys playing his system next year, but it’s been a painful trek to say the least.
Basketball’s five-point nailbiter against D2 American International was disappointing to hear about, but when you consider the team was playing with two guards and without its starting center, and that this was pretty much AIC’s Super Bowl, it makes a bit more sense. What’s more disappointing is that Davis, Morgan, and Lalanne are violating team rules in a season where team unity and “brotherhood” are supposed to be overarching themes. Discipline and losing players to these kinds of issues (see Traynham, Daryl and Wiggins, Doug) have been the derailing factors in the first few years of the DK era, and last year seemed like the end of it. Here’s hoping it’s a blip on the radar screen.
Aaaand back to hockey. UMass at Conte Forum. They might as well rename the place Groundhog Day Arena, because it honestly feels like every single game there goes the same way. UMass outplays the Eagles for two periods, falls on its face in the third, and the Eagles escape. Game after game after game. Yesterday’s was even more painful, as the Minutemen had numerous chances to put the game away in the second period (which I don’t believe BC even bothered showing up for), yet couldn’t get any pucks over the
Green goal line behind Parker Milner. UMass played well enough to beat most goalies this weekend. Unfortunately, they were dealt DeSmith and Milner, who have emerged this season as two of Hockey East’s best. On the bright side, one would think we have finally settled the issue of who the #1 goalie is on this team after two more great performances by Kevin Boyle. Then again, knowing this team, we’ll probably see Teglia against Providence next week for some reason. But I still think KB’s earned the ace position.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. UMass is through the gauntlet of its first five games against BC, BU, and UNH, with just one win to show for it. You’re probably tired of us talking up the potential these guys have, but bear with me when I say this is the best 1-4 conference start in league history. The question now is what path Coach Mick’s boys will take from here. If they play this way against the rest of the league, they’ll be in the conversation in March, despite what the naysayers predicted preseason. If, as in years past, they were merely playing up to the competition and are about to tail off against the rest of the league, then that old familiar feeling isn’t going away anytime soon.
P.S. Couple of big shout-outs for the weekend. First, to the boys of BayState Roadsports. Never thought we’d side with BU on anything (other than our mutual hate for BC, of course), but we had a lot of fun shooting proverbial fish in a barrel this weekend on Twitter against the cretins that occupy the Roughrider State, while they made the roadtrip to Grand Forks to see the Terriers split a pair with the North Dakota Fighting No-Nicknames. If I find myself with time this week (hahaha yeah right) I’ll post some of the highlights. If nothing else, we gained a shitload of Twitter followers, even if they are BU fans.
Also, nice to see Patrick Burke at the Forum, he of the You Can Play project (see link on the right). Of course, BC scored the game-winner almost immediately after he left, but we won’t hold it against him. Much.