The Massachusetts Minutemen have dropped six of their last eight games and are in desperate need of victory. It will be no easy task as they take on conference foe La Salle on Wednesday at 7. In case you're not up-to-date on the Explorers here's a quick run down on what they've been up to this season.
Record: 8-6 (0-1)
The Explorers started off the season strong with four straight wins albeit against low quality competitions. They then lost to #3 ranked Virginia which was the start of a four game skid with losses to Vanderbilt, Villanova, and Temple. After that buzz saw La Salle won four out of six but most recently lost to George Mason by eight.
Players to know:
Only two players for La Salle, Jordan Price and Jerrell Wright, average double figures in scoring. Price, a 6-5 sophomore, leads the Explorers in scoring with 17.5 but is also very turnover prone with a whopping 3.2 per contest. Wright is a 6-8 senior forward who is second in both points and rebounds with 12.1 and 6.9 respectively. He also leads the team in field goal percentage at 52 percent.
Steve Zack is the Explorers' leading rebounder at 8.7 boards per game while averaging 8.6 points. At 6-11 he anchors the defense and makes his presence known with 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.
UMass will be going up against a team with more offensive problems then themselves. La Salle ranks towards the bottom in more offensive categories. They average just 65.3 points per game, ranking 246th in the nation and a whole eight points less than the Minutemen. The Explorers are also 79 spots back from UMass in field goal percentage.
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses to open their A-10 conference schedule. The Minutemen really struggled against the skilled St. Bonaventure center Youssou Ndoye. He got the better of Cady Lalanne, which has been a recurring theme when UMass goes up against schools with legitimate centers. Steve Zack isn't anywhere near the level of player that Ndoye is but still could prove a challenge for Lalanne.
Although UMass hasn't yet had a win on the road, they should have no problem outscoring La Salle. Despite the Minutemen's inconsistent offense they still have a much more explosive offense. Lalanne will need to stay out of foul trouble (something he failed to do last game) if UMass wants to win the battle in the paint. Maxie Esho will also need to assert himself and play like the leading scorer that he is.
This will be a close one but UMass should pull out the win. Cady Lalanne finally gets another double double and Trey Davis finds his touch from behind the arc again. The scoring difference will just be too much for La Salle to overcome as the Minutemen win 75-68.