UMass notebook: Fast-paced walk-through helps Minutemen

  • Rashaan Holloway, left, of UMass, treies to send a rebound past Travis Atson, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Rashaan Holloway, back, of UMass, and Abdulai Bundu, of Quinnipiac, eye a loose ball that occurred after a rebound attempt, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Keon Clergeot, right, of UMass, drives to the basket and draws a foul from Abdulai Bundu, of Quinnipiac, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the Mullins Center. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2018 12:10:41 AM

AMHERST — Matt McCall decided to shake up UMass’ normal pregame shootaround routine Wednesday.

What is normally a simple walk-through the afternoon before a game became a practice-like atmosphere inside Mullins Center. Everything was live for the Minutemen as they made their final preparations for Quinnipiac, and it seemed to make a big difference early in UMass’ 69-62 win over the Bobcats later that evening.

“We were able to translate that energy and effort from shootaround into the game,” sophomore guard Carl Pierre said. “Seeing it at a fast pace helps us a lot. We weren’t too surprised by anything they threw at us (Wednesday), and that just speaks to the level of preparation that we were able to obtain during shootaround.”

The attention to detail was particularly important in UMass smothering every action the Bobcats tried to run Wednesday. On almost every half-court possession of the first half, Quinnipiac was forced into its second or third options as hands and bodies clogged up the passing lanes the Bobcats wanted to use. Almost every shot was contested and came late in the shot clock, a credit to how well UMass was communicating on defense.

Redshirt junior Curtis Cobb said being able to see the Quinnipiac plays at full speed one last time before the game made them fresher in the players’ minds and allowed them to be quicker and more decisive in their calls.

“It translated over to be able to see their plays and be able to see them at a faster pace,” Cobb said. “(It allowed us) to be able to call out their plays early and to be able to kind of shut them down and be able to make those switches that you see in practice. Sometimes you don’t see those in games if you’re running through it slow, so us going through it live, we were really able to pick that side of the game up.”

THE PIERRE INCIDENT: Pierre joined his teammates in the huddle prior to the start of the second half and looked perfectly fine. But then moments before the whistle blew to restart the game, Pierre power walked to the trash can at the end of the UMass bench and leaned in.

Keon Clergeot took Pierre’s place to start the second half while he dealt with nausea related to an elbow to the stomach he received earlier in the game.

“It was at the end of the first half, I got a little hit and I was feeling a little queasy before the whistle to start the second half,” Pierre said. “I had to let that all go and then come back.”

Upon his return, Pierre scored eight quick points on his first three shots and finished with 12 for the game.

REBOUNDING MENACES: The Minutemen held a slim 39-38 edge on the boards against the Bobcats, but got most of its heavy rebounding from three players who set season highs. Fifth-year center Rashaan Holloway grabbed 13 boards, 10 of which came in a dominant first half in the paint, for his first double-digit rebounding performance since collecting 11 in the opener.

Cobb and Jonathan Laurent, both flirted with double-doubles, as well for the Minutemen. Cobb scored 13 points and secured eight rebounds while Laurent continued his strong performance on the glass with nine rebounds to go along with seven points.

BACK TO SCHOOL: UMass has six days before its next game against Holy Cross on Tuesday at the Mullins Center. McCall said the team will be off Thursday to let them catch up on school work and Friday would be another day devoted mostly to school before returning to practice on Saturday.

It is the first extended break for the Minutemen since the season opened on Nov. 6 and it comes just when UMass is playing its best basketball of the young season.

“I just think we have to come out of these off days with the same amount of energy and the same level of focus we had in the days leading up to this game and the games prior,” Pierre said. “As long as we can do that, we should be fine.”

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