No, but seriously. UMass [insert name of sport here], we are disappoint. (We’re looking at you, women’s basketball.) Who could have foreseen that the embarrassingly-narrow win against Providence for the hoops squad on Thursday would be the high point? This weekend came with such promise: a chance to finally show the world the basketball team was for real. A chance for football to notch its first home win at Gillette Stadium against a putrid Buffalo team. Two games against last-place foes for hockey, a chance to climb up the standings and establish themselves as legitimate home ice contenders.
I guess I wasn’t thinkin’.
Basketball (as we mentioned) needed another miracle comeback just to secure a win against a Providence team playing six healthy scholarship players and missing its star point guard. We then got to watch replays of last year’s Florida State and Miami games: respectively, a completely inept and humbling performance against a top-10 juggernaut, and a frustrating grindout against a mediocre big-conference team where we miss all kinds of chances to jump and take control of the game before fading late.
Sure, nobody really expected us to beat NC State, but I think a 2-1 record for the weekend was a pretty reasonable expectation, and today’s “rubber match” was bereft of many positives. Trey Davis looked alright off the bench, but these guys still make way too many stupid mistakes, and opponents are so much better prepared to gameplan for Chaz that you wonder how they’re gonna counter the adjustments, if at all. Freddie Riley remains a ghost. Cady, Maxie, and Samp all seem out of sync and out of sorts. Terrell Vinson, as always, remains a mystery. Putney can’t seem to knock down that high arching 3, like, ever. Jesse Morgan has been playing out of his mind, but that’s been about it. The good news is that the competition gets significantly easier, but today’s game against the Vols looks like a huge missed opportunity right now. Of course, the only thing that could have made this weekend worse was if we had gotten blown out by He Who Shall Not Be Named instead, so, yeah, catastrophe averted. (I would have literally cried. Maybe.)
I don’t even want to talk about football, so let’s move on to the hockey team, which as I write this is just getting finished getting pasted by Lowell on the Mullins Center ice. Last year I lamented quite often that the Minutemen seemed to struggle at times with the uncertainty of lacking an ace goaltender. Tonight, after failing to get more than one point against a dreadful Maine team (and even that took a bail-out goal by Allen in the final minutes), Coach Mick inexplicably started Jeff “Tegstand” Teglia for the first time this year, in a seemingly crucial game against one of the teams that was chasing UMass in the standings. To the surprise of absolutely nobody in the history of ever, Tegs got rocked early, the Hawks started riding the momentum to goal after goal, and by the time Mastalerz had checked in, this game was already over.
Look, I know you can’t start Boyle every single night (although, Paul Dainton respectfully disagrees with that statement). But why not start Mastalerz tonight, who’s been alright this year at least, and let Teglia get the rust out in the Quinnipiac or Colgate games that are upcoming? Or start Boyle tonight and Mastalerz against UVM? Lowell’s offense was dreadful coming in to the game, but if anything, I’d take that as a sign that they’re due. They’re playing below their potential primarily because their opposition has been solid. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. And even if they were, conference points are conference points. Of course, you can also blame the skaters for their seeming disinterest in wanting to do anything of a hockey variety tonight from the opening minutes, but it’s hard not to get demoralized when you’re down 3-0 after a matter of minutes to a last-place team.
So, yeah, forgive the negative tone here, but honestly – in a season where the bar has been raised for this entire program, a weekend like this hurts that much more. Hoops has a long time to stew. Hockey is right back out there on Tuesday. Guys, the Celtics are about to lose at Detroit and Gronk has a broken forearm – gimme SOMETHING to be happy about. (Besides Notre Dame football. That’s pretty swell. Definitely a mortal lock to lose to USC now. I hate you all.)