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View From Section U: Don’t Miss Out On That Other Mullins Team

As we know the hockey team has yet to drop a game in the Mullins Center this season, going 7-0-3 in the games there so far.  But it may have escaped your notice that the UMass basketball team is also undefeated at home, going 10-0 to date.  Unlike the hockey team, which is still looking for it’s first true road win, the hoops team has done pretty well away from campus and is 15-5 overall.  That’s good enough for a 2nd place tie in the Atlantic 10 with Xavier and a #65 ranking in the RPI.  On the season they’ve picked up key wins against St. Joe’s and Davidson, while laying  a gratifying 32 smackdown of Boston College.

Yet, it doesn’t appear too many people know that basketball is back in Amherst.  Their games have been attended by an average of only 3134 a game so far.  Compare that to hockey’s average attendance of 4473.  Certainly I’m not complaining about that number or trying to discourage people from hockey, but it’s disappointing that the team that inhabits the Mullins that is closer to an NCAA bid is drawing so much less.  Not only that, but it’s hardly drawing any type of student crowd to speak of.  Needless to say, that’s exactly the opposite from when I was a student in the mid-90s when my buddies and I would wait hours in the snow on Thursday mornings for hoops tickets but would be able to breeze into the Mullins right at faceoff and have Section W all to ourselves.  Obviously a lot has changed in those years.  Hoops peaked with those amazing NCAA runs, was nearly destroyed by Steve Lappas, and then took a hit when Travis Ford left for LSU Providence Kentucky Oklahoma $tate.  Hockey in the meantime wallowed for a while longer in the Mallen Era, had some success within the conference when Coach Cahoon was hired, and made it’s first NCAA tournament 5 years ago before crashing back to the bottom of Hockey East in recent years.  Along the way students stopped going to basketball and became hockey fans, with a bunch of them even learning a thing or two about the sport.  More amazing still, the students still flock to watch hockey even as the team has struggled to win games this the past few seasons.  But students, why limit yourself to being maniacs in the Mullins once or maybe twice a week?  As someone who rushed the court when the Minutemen beat Temple for the A10 trophy, had no less than 15 items of clothing with “Refuse To Lose” on it, and maybe even once drunkenly dabbled in some pregame face painting, basketball games can memorable to say the least.  There’s no reason why students can’t carry over the energy they bring to hockey to support Derek Kellogg’s squad while having a good time doing it.

And what a squad Kellogg has assembled.  It took a few years for the former Minuteman point guard to get the right players and the right staff onto campus, but he has built a team that is doing damage in the A10 and beyond for this year and future years.  New point guard Chaz Williams is one of the best and most exciting point guards I’ve seen in sometime and Raphiael Putney is only getting the team onto the Sportscenter Top 10 thanks to plays like this one.  I’m really envious of those who are able to regularly attend games.  I reluctantly gave up my basketball season tickets when I moved from the valley to the Boston area a few years back, unable to juggle the trips to Amherst for hockey, football, and hoops (and even an occasional lacrosse game).  But luckily I have been able to catch a game here and there.  This year’s team is one I really wish I could see on a more regular basis.  So for those of you who are just a short drive or even walk away from seeing the resurgence of Minuteman basketball, do yourself a favor and head over to the Mullins this Saturday afternoon as the team takes on 4th place St Louis and see for yourself just how great this team is.

Providence beat Lowell last night in a rare Tuesday Hockey East game.  That puts #6 Providence ahead of the Minutemen by three points while the River Hawks remain four points ahead and will likely be very perturbed when they face the flagship campus for two this weekend.

Here’s a piece from the Junior Hockey News regarding a Red Wing scout who has been following Adam Phillips since juniors.

UMass moved up to #6 in CHN’s Hockey East Power Rankings.

Minnesota State Moorhead is getting closer to Division I hockey.

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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  January 26, 2012

    great pc. re: hoop team; also looking forward to potential doubleheaders of mens lax and hockey…mens lax going for it all this year- look out
    go umass….

    Like

    • Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the schedules match up for any lax doubleheaders. Too bad. A trip to Garber, intermission at the Hangar, and then to the Mullins is always fun.

      Like

  2. Anonymous

     /  January 26, 2012

    settle down bro

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  3. I’m personally looking forward to the tripleheader of hockey-basketball-hockey that this weekend’s schedule affords us. Glad the timing works out (2 PM tip for hoops gives more than ample time to get out to Lowell before 7).

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