Wednesday night’s basketball game against George Washington was one of the ugliest things I’ve ever watched. G-Dubs (their own fans’ embarrassingly-bad name for the team, as in “let’s go G-Dubs,” something I never want to hear again) got upwards of eleventy billion rebounds, while Javorn “Junk Yard Dog” Farrell got tossed for some sort of physical altercation which, thanks to the A-10’s marvelous visibility issues, we will likely never, ever see replays of, and which will live on only in the hearts and minds of the approximately 12 members of the “Colonial Army.” (Yes, that’s their student section, and fine, I will admit that it did seem to be at least on par with the Maroon Platoon Minutefans Mullins Militia on a non-free-T-shirt b-ball game.)
Honestly, it was an abortion of a basketball game, and because we’re trying to avoid getting too far into the politics dealie here at Fight Mass, I don’t want to discuss abortions. So we’re just going to leave this game behind and hope it was an aberration in terms of the improved recent play of the Minutemen. Now let’s hope Rick Majerus’s team doesn’t eat up the now Ferrell-and-Gibbs-less Minutemen on Sunday. Oh, by the way, fatass, please vacate the Atlantic 10 immediately and stop complaining about it. You coach at fucking Saint Louis University. Your mascot is…uhh… this thing. Christ, even we have more prestige than you, and our current fan favorite is a 350-pound man with no discernible basketball talent. Also, when Majerus is jumping around on the court complaining about calls several feet away from City, will City finally look skinny by comparison? All sorts of fun subplots coming up this weekend.
Anyway, UMass also apparently still has a hockey team, and one which is still somehow predicted by USCHO to make the NCAA tournament, if only barely. UMass’s offense showed signs of life in the whistle-tacular Matthews debacle, so it’ll be interesting to see if Toot stays with the Casey/Jimmy split-up again, especially since Lecomte, fresh off of injury, will miss Friday’s game after getting tossed. Then again, Lawler Arena is a horrible place that deserves to be burned to the ground, and I’ve never even been there (and sadly, this year’s only trip, which I’d otherwise jump all over, is lining up with my friend’s 21st birthday). UMass’s struggles there are well-documented, and North Andover Community College is coming off an impressive 3-point weekend against Vermont — although, now that Milo is gone, I’m not entirely sure UVM will even make the Hockey East playoffs, ridiculous as it may sound since they’re still tied for 9th in the PWR right now. Of course, the mind-numbing scenario of Vermont making the NCAA’s but missing their own conference tourney would also require Merrimack to surge past them (something which would involve winning this weekend’s series against UMass) and would also likely involve Vermont losing games to Lowell, a team we obviously hate far more than the Catamounts. The Ugly Sister is just 2 points back of UMass, too, so there’s that.
Do or die time for the Minutemen this weekend. This 5-of-6 stretch has been horrendous, but the Minutemen played much better against the red-hot Huskies than they had in previous games, and there were signs of life from the offense. However, as long as Kubbie stays out (and since my Facebook stalker scouts are reporting that “mono is kickiing [his] ass” as of a week ago, I’m not overly optimistic on his timely return), the defense is still lacking something. Last year, the D stepped up in a big way at Matthews, but it was just a little too late. In these last five games, it’s all on Marty and Bronco to establish their legacy here at UMass. It’s up to Mikey and Irwin and Donnellan and Rowe to get it figured out. It starts with these two games against a small liberal arts college from North Andover, whose best player is a Frenchman and whose scoreboard makes even Lowell’s look NHL-caliber.
It starts with all of these, or, sad to say, it ends this weekend, because if you can’t beat Merrimack, you can’t beat Maine or BC.
(Now watch them get swept by Mack and then win their last 3.)
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.