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UMass looks ahead to Bobcats

  • UMass coach Matt McCall talks to guard C.J. Anderson during Saturday’s 68-66 loss to BYU. Recorder file photo

  • UMass coach Matt McCall is hoping his team can rebound from a pair of weekend losses tonight against Quinnipiac. Recorder file photo



For The Recorder
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

AMHERST — Among the challenges for new UMass coach Matt McCall as he navigates the Minutemen through his first season is balancing practice.

The team needs continued work on learning the basics of how he wants them to play on both ends of the floor. But Saturday’s loss to BYU further emphasized the need for work on late-game scenarios.

“We’re going to be in a lot of close games. When you’re trying to instill your style, we still have to find a way to get special situations into practice,” he said. “Up five, a minute to go. Down one, 50 seconds to go. Up one, 50 seconds to go. We have to get them used to playing in those situations in practice so when the game comes, they’re prepared for it. They know what we’re running. We have to continue to build those into practice.”

McCall said he’s still determining what’s his best defensive crunch time lineup. He said C.J. Anderson, Luwane Pipkins and Malik Hines are there for sure, but he’s still deciding who’d join them.

The Minutemen (3-3) will try to implement their new lessons, Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they play at Quinnipiac (1-5).

The Bobcats come in trying to snap a five-game losing streak in their first year under former Villanova assistant Baker Dunleavy. They opened the year with an exciting 78-77 win over Dartmouth as Chaise Daniels blocked a shot at the buzzer.

But QU hasn’t won since. It followed the Dartmouth win with a 79-72 loss to Brown and then lost at the buzzer to Colorado in the Paradise Jam.

That started an 0-3 showing in Lynchburg, Virginia, which hosted the tournament because of hurricane damage in the Virgin Islands. The Bobcats lost to Wake Forest, 72-55, and Liberty, 84-72.

On Sunday they fell to previously winless Maine, 78-72, as the Black Bears hit 14 3-pointers.

Daniels, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, leads QU with 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.

“Obviously they have a terrific frontcourt player in Daniels, one of the best we’ve played against all year,” McCall said. “He can hurt you in a lot of different ways.”

Senior Cameron Young, a 6-foot-6 guard, actually leads the team in rebounding at 6.3 to go with his 14.7 points.

McCall said he expects to see a mixture of defenses from Quinnipiac.

“They’re going to do a lot of things to keep you off balance,” he said. “Sometimes when we see zone we get a little panicked. We have to play and attack. But they cause you problems all over the floor.”