UMass Notebook: Baldwin continues to respond since benching

  • UMass’ Chris Baldwin, left, battles Georgia’s Yante Maten for a rebound on Saturday where the Minutemen won 72-62 at the Mullins Center in Amherst. For The Recorder/SARAH CROSBY

For The Recorder
Sunday, December 17, 2017

AMHERST — Chris Baldwin is back in Matt McCall’s good graces.

UMass needed him to be, as the sophomore played a key role in the Minutemen’s 72-62 win over Georgia, Saturday.

McCall benched Baldwin for most of the South Carolina game on Dec. 2 and criticized his approach after the game.

Since then, Baldwin’s minutes and contributions have gone up in each of the three games, all UMass wins. He had 11 points and four rebounds, and was strong defensively in 24 minutes Saturday.

“I knew he was going to have a good day based on shoot-around and how his energy level was in warm-ups,” McCall said. “That’s back-to-back games where he’s had the right focus. We have to build on that for him going forward.”

The coach liked how Baldwin responded to the discipline.

“It’s been his mindset, in practice, getting better. I’ve been proud of him,” McCall said. “We will continue to stay on him. He can’t relax for a single second because when he’s not into it, he’s just OK. He’s been more coachable. That’s important for us.”

Baldwin said it’s behind him.

“I’m not letting it get underneath me. I’m not letting what happened prolong any more than it did,” he said. “I know the buttons I can push. I don’t want my actions to (negatively) affect the team’s overall success. I think we all have the same common goal.”

Baldwin said the whole team has improved its approach in practice.

“It’s not just the days that the games are on, it’s the days in between,” he said. “If you let those go by, we don’t have a chance on game day.”

COOKING AT HOME — After dropping five of the last six games last season at the Mullins Center, the Minutemen are now 6-0 at home.

“The crowd helped us a lot. The support in the Mullins Center has been crazy the past two games,” senior guard C.J. Anderson said. “We appreciate it. It really helps us win.”

MAROON PANTS — Among the 4,744 fans in attendance, there were 524 wearing legwear in UMass’ primary color as part of the maroon pants movement that began this week. After McCall wore maroon pants in last week’s win over Providence, UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford pledged to donate $1 to the Court Club for every fan that wore them Saturday. Twenty other donors agreed to donate varying amounts as well. In the end, the Court Club raised $4,076.

STATS — UMass had five players in double figures for the second time this season, the other game being against UMass-Lowell. ... Baldwin (three) and Carl Pierre (five) each had career highs in 3-pointers made.