GAME NOTES: The Coaches vs. Cancer Boston Tip-Off takes over TD Garden this afternoon, as the Boston College Eagles tangle with the Minutemen of Massachusetts.
Last season, the Eagles opened with an 84-70 win over FIU at home, but this time around the team was on the road in nearby Providence on Friday. Unfortunately, that trip ended in an 82-78 overtime defeat for the visitors.
As for the Minutemen, this game represents their 2013-14 season opener under the direction of head coach Derek Kellogg. In five seasons with the program Kellogg, a former player himself with the squad, has produced a record of 85-77 after posting a 21-12 mark a season ago. For the second year in a row, UMass finished with a 9-7 ledger in Atlantic 10 play and made it to the postseason NIT.
Also included on the schedule for this event are Northeastern/Boston University which tips off the day's festivities, while a Holy Cross/Harvard clash closes out the event later in the evening.
In a relationship that dates back more than a century, the Eagles own a 26-19 advantage over UMass, with the latest encounter coming two seasons ago as the Minutemen delivered an 83-46 victory on the road.
UMass is bringing back three starters from a year ago when they finished nine games over .500. The headliner of the group is All-America candidate Chaz Williams who over the last two seasons has handed out 473 assists, an average of close to seven per game. Williams is second among returning players in that category heading into the 2013-14 campaign. A transfer from Hofstra, Williams also delivered 15.5 ppg a year ago, down from his 16.9 ppg in 2011-12.
Unfortunately for the Minutemen, while Williams might be back to direct the offense, there are three key figures that have to be accounted for (Terrell Vinson, Jesse Morgan and Freddie Riley) who combined for approximately 35 ppg a season ago. As it stands, the second-best scorer returning for UMass is Cady Lalanne who, despite his 6-foot-10 frame, accounted for only 8.4 ppg, although he did pull down 7.4 rpg.
Raphiael Putney, responsible for 7.1 ppg and 4.6 rpg a year ago, is hoping to get back to his numbers from 2011-12 when he contributed 10.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg to the UMass attack.
The Eagles tipped off their schedule two nights ago with a meeting against Providence at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, and unfortunately for BC, even 51.0 percent shooting from the floor and 40.0 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line was not enough to keep the squad from suffering the overtime loss.
Olivier Hanlan posted a team-best 23 points, shooting 8-of-9 at the free-throw line before fouling out, while Ryan Anderson tacked on 21 points and six rebounds, but between the pair they turned the ball over eight times, more than half the team's 17 total miscues. Joe Rahon was responsible for 13 points and five assists.
The Eagles were thoroughly dominated on the glass, 36-20, and pulled down just two rebounds at the offensive end.
With Williams, the Minutemen will always have the potential to come out on top. Add to that the fact that BC had so much trouble on the glass in the opener and the door is open for UMass to take the win.
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