GAMES NOTES: The Massachusetts Minutemen find themselves in the National Invitational Tournament yet again as they take on the Stony Brook Seawolves in the first round at the Mullins Center on Wednesday.
Whichever team pulls out a victory with face the winner of the Iowa/Indiana State matchup in the second round.
This is Stony Brook's third appearance in the NIT all-time. The first two trips didn't end well as the Seawolves dropped a 76-66 decision to Illinois in 2010 and last season lost 63-61 to Seton Hall. The Seawolves earned the America East regular season crown but had a seven-game winning streak halted when it was upset by eventual champion Albany in the conference tournament.
UMass had a solid run in the Atlantic 10 Tournament this past weekend with wins over George Washington and Temple before falling to VCU in the semifinals. The Minutemen are making their 13th appearance in the NIT and second straight after posting 20 wins in consecutive years. Last season the Minutemen won three road games to reach the tourney's Final Four.
Despite their campuses being separated by just about 200 miles these teams have never matched up on the hardwood prior to Wednesday.
Albany's Mike Black got a layup to go with two seconds to go that sank Stony Brook, 61-59, in the semifinals of the America East Tournament. The Seawolves trailed for the entire second half and shot at just a 33.3 percent clip in the game overall.
Stony Brook is a team that excels on both ends of the floor. The Seawolves led the America East in points (68.1 pg) and rebounds (38 pg) while shooting the second best percentage from the field (.441). On defense they were one of the top 15 teams in the nation in both points allowed (56.9 pg) and opponent field goal percentage (.375). Jameel Warney (12.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) finishes on an incredible 61.7 percent of his shots from the field, while Tommy Brenton (8.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.7 apg) is extremely versatile in the frontcourt as well. Anthony Jackson (10.9 ppg) and Dave Coley (10.8 ppg) can also score.
Against VCU's HAVOC defense the Minutemen crumbled as they failed to score more than 70 points for the first time since Jan. 2 on Saturday. The Minutemen turned the ball over 24 times and managed to knock down just 37.7 percent of their shots from the field.
The Minutemen play at a very rapid pace on the offensive end of the floor which has led them to be the second best scoring team in the Atlantic 10 (73.4 ppg) despite shooting just 43.6 percent from the field. However the Minutemen's tempo also leaves them vulnerable on defense as they are letting up 71.7 points per game to opponents. Chaz Williams (15.9 ppg, 4.2 apg, 7.4 apg, 2.1 spg) does it all for the Minutemen and is the player that will have the ball in his hands most often. Terrell Vinson (12.3 ppg) is the only other double figure player on the active roster.
Stony Brook was an impressive team in the America East. However with a step up in competition the Seawolves will struggle against a UMass team that can really score.