UMass Notebook: Winning at St. Bonaventure never easy

  • UMass forward Malik Hines wins the opening tipoff in the Minutemen’s loss Saturday at St. Bonaventure. for the Recorder/STEVE HARRISON

  • UMass guard Luwane Pipkins tries to drive around the defense in the Minutemen’s loss Saturday at St. Bonaventure. for the recorder/STEVE HARRISON

For The Recorder
Monday, January 01, 2018

Playing at the Reilly Center in Olean, N.Y., isn’t really a fair barometer for a team’s ability to win on the road. St. Bonaventure is an NCAA Tournament contender and the field house in western New York is always tough on visitors.

Nonetheless, Saturday’s start of conference play didn’t reverse UMass’ woes outside the Mullins Center. In four true road games and two neutral sites thus far this young season, the Minutemen are winless.

“This is the best environment we’ve played in by far. South Carolina had a good crowd but it wasn’t filled like this place today,” UMass coach Matt McCall said after Saturday’s 98-78 Atlantic 10 Conference loss. “I don’t know if we got rattled or not. But we have to be able to fight through. We’re staring down the barrel of a shotgun. It ain’t going to get any easier.”

Sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins said the Minutemen need to be better at keeping their play consistent regardless of venue.

“We have to do the same stuff we do at home. We have to come out with the same intensity. We have to make our own energy. We have to do better as a whole team,” he said. “Atlantic 10 play is here now. All these teams in the conference are good. No more playing around.”

Senior C.J. Anderson agreed.

“That was a really nice crowd. But we have to still learn how to take control of the game. This was our first time being in an atmosphere like this,” he said. “We have to learn from it and bounce back.”

UMass is clearly comfortable shooting at home where the Minutemen make 40.0 percent of their field goals and 41.7 percent of 3-pointers compared to 42.3 percent overall and 34.2 from outside on the road.

Pipkins has scored in most venues (16.2 points per game outside of Mullins) but his field goal (47.7 to 35.1) and 3-point (47.5 to 30.0) percentages both drop dramatically following a bus ride. Carl Pierre’s scoring average drops the most, from 13.5 in Amherst to 5.8 away.

Rashaan Holloway actually averages more points on the road 11.5 versus 8.4 (likely a product of the rest of the team struggling with perimeter shooting), despite being whistled for more road fouls, 3.83 vs. 2.88 per game on the road.

Some of the road woes come from the opponent. Four of UMass’ road teams are either in NCAA contention — SBU, Minnesota, BYU — or were in the Final Four last year — South Carolina.

MISCELLANEOUS – After scoring 25 points against Maine last week, McCall gave Pierre his second career start in place of Ray Miller Saturday. Walk-on guard Jaylen Franklin had his first career points making a 3-pointer from the left corner. ... St. Bonaventure shot the same from 3-point range that UMass did from the free-throw line 10-for-18.