The college basketball season is almost here. But before we can start another season bubble watches, one-and-dones, buzzer beaters and cinderella runs, there are preseason scrimmages to be played. The UMass Minutemen will play their final tune-up game Tuesday night against Division II American International College (AIC) of Springfield. While the result is important, ultimately it will be the "how" that matters tonight.
With that in mind, let's get to know our geographical buddies from down I-91.
Tale of the Tape
- Conference: Northeast 10.
- Last season: 9-17 overall, 6-16 in conference.
- Lost, 87-82, to UMass in preseason scrimmage last season.
- Leading returning scorer: Spencer Braithwaite, 11.5 ppg
- Leading returning rebounder: David Campbell, 6.7 rpg
- Leading returning assister: Braithwaite, 4.4 apg
Last year's scrimmage was little too close for comfort as it took an 11-3 run over the last five minutes for the Minutemen to pull away from the Yellow Jackets. Chaz Williams had a game-high 24 points and 11 assists to lead the way while the immortal Freddie Riley connected on six threes to complement the floor general. AIC was led by the now-departed Ricky Hudson's 20 points, but Campbell (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Braithwaite (14 points, four assists) had solid games as well.
Campbell and Braithwaite return and will be the players Derek Kellogg will try to contain for the Minutemen to pull out a win. Junior guard Jason Perrier started 14 games last year and will likely be the guy AIC looks to to replace Hudson's production from last year. He is an athletic guard with a perfect body type for the two position and should be able to generate some offense for the Yellow Jackets.
What 2 Watch
- Kellogg has hinted that his starting lineup will be Williams, Derrick Gordon, Raphiael Putney, Sampson Carter and Cady Lalanne. This is far and away the best lineup they could use at this time and I'm excited to see how this unit in particular looks together. They won't log 25 minutes together like they will most nights, but the time they spend on the court as a five-man unit will be a good indicator of how UMass will look to beat teams this season.
- Gordon will be wearing a UMass jersey for the first time tonight and playing in his first televised action since arriving in Amherst from Western Kentucky. Gordon led WKU in almost every statistical category and if he can bring that sort of production to the table he will be a total game-changer for Kellogg on both ends of the court. He also keeps Trey Davis from starting. So there's that.
- Lalanne and Carter inside should be able to keep Campbell from killing UMass on the boards, but the pair of forward/centers will need to be factors on both ends of the court tonight. Williams is only as effective as the players around him and if they are keeping their men from sliding to Williams early on drives, Chaz will be able to do Chaz things -- and we all want that.
- Clyde Santee is one of the more intriguing players on the roster and a relative unknown. After sitting out last season as a non-qualifier, Santee worked his way onto the roster and added 13 pounds to his 6-foot-7 frame. He is capable of giving the Minutemen minutes at both forward positions and could be a valuable bench guy. Interested to see how Kellogg uses him.
- The freshman will be interesting to watch as well. None of them are likely to play big minutes, but the coaches seem to think that Demetrius Dyson could give them some good minutes at the wing spots. Zach Coleman can play both forward positions and Seth Berger should be able to get in for some minutes thanks to his outside shooting stroke. Kellogg might have a deeper bench than most expected depending on how these guys look in action tonight.
UMass wants to be a factor on the national level this season and putting a solid beating on a Division II opponent would be a nice start. Last year's game was too close for comfort and I have to believe the returning players won't want to let that happen again.
UMass wins 85-67.
The game will be streamed live on the Atlantic 10 Digital Network via UMassAthletics.com. Tip off is at 7:00 p.m.
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