Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The UMass Minutemen will rely heavily on their talented guard duo this season in hopes of making a move up in the competitive Atlantic 10.
Last Season: T-6th, 9-7 in A-10, 21-12 overall
Predicted A-10 Finish: 5th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Cady Lalanne (Jr)/Tyler Bergantino (So)
PF: Sampson Carter (Sr)/Maxie Esho (Jr)
SF: Raphael Putney (Sr)Seth Berger (Fr)/Zach Coleman (Fr)
SG: Derrick Gordon (So)/Clyde Santee (Fr)/Demetrius Dyson (Fr)
PG: Chaz Williams (Sr)/Trey Davis (So)
Gone: G/F-Jesse Morgan, SG-Freddie Riley, PF-Terrell Vinson, G/F-Javorn Farrell (transfer-Texas Pan-Am), C-Izzy Freeman (transfer)
Leading the charge for UMass will be two-time First Team All-Atlantic 10 selection Chaz Williams. He is a blur with the basketball and does a little bit of everything on the floor as he led the Minutemen in scoring, assists, and steals while averaging more than four boards per game which is impressive considering he stands just 5’9.
Williams figures to be joined in the starting backcourt by Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon. During his freshman year with the Hilltoppers, Gordon led the team in scoring and also rebounds well for a guard as demonstrated by his 6.7 boards per game during that first year of college ball. Clyde Santee was a non-qualifier and had to sit out last year but will compete for minutes off the bench with freshman Demetrius Dyson while Trey Davis returns to back-up Williams at the point.
The frontcourt loses versatile forward Terrell Vinson but returns the experienced quartet of Cady Lalanne, Raphael Putney, Sampson Carter, and Maxie Esho. All four upperclassmen played at least twenty minutes per game last year for Derek Kellogg and provide versatility in the frontcourt. Putney is long, athletic, and can step out and knock down three point shots while Lalanne does most of his damage inside. Carter is a glue guy who knows his role on the roster while Esho brings rebounding and shot blocking off the bench. Tyler Bergantino is another big body inside while freshmen Seth Berger and Zach Coleman round out the frontcourt depth.
Kellogg also picked up a nice transfer in West Virginia point guard Jabarie Hinds. He started 59 games in his two years with the Mountaineers and though he must sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules, is an experienced point guard who will help replace Williams in the 2014-15 season.
There is a clear cut top three in the A-10 this year with VCU, St. Louis, and La Salle being the league’s top dogs. UMass is in the next group and has the capability of sneaking into the Big Dance if they can put all the pieces together.
Player to Watch: Derrick Gordon
With Vinson, Freddie Riley, and Jesse Morgan all gone, the biggest concern for UMass is finding a second option to complement Williams. Gordon seems most ready to step into that role. While he’s dangerous off the bounce attacking the basket, improving his outside shooting will help him take over as the Minutemen’s true number two scorer.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/10 vs. Boston College
11/12 vs. LSU
11/21 vs. Nebraska (Charleston Classic)
11/22 vs. New Mexico/UAB (Charleston Classic)
11/24 vs. Temple/Clemson/Davidson/Georgia (Charleston Classic)
12/7 vs. BYU
12/14 at Ohio
12/21 vs. Florida State (in Sunrise, FL)
12/28 vs. Providence
OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Follow paulmbanks