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1/04/2023 11:15 pm  #1

GW vs UMASS Game Thread

After splitting a pair of road games to begin the A10 CC era, GW returns home to face Frank Martin's UMASS squad for the home A10 opener.

UMASS enters 10-4 with a 137 KenPom so this should be a good one.

Does GW win the CC A10 home opener and improve to 2-1 in league play?


1/06/2023 5:17 pm  #2

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

A few observations:

1) Frank Martin has retooled practically this entire UMASS roster.  Noah Fernandes and TJ Weeks (and possibly 1-2 others) will be familiar names while most everyone else is new.

2) Oh yes, there will be another familiar name.  Tafara Gapare, the New Zealand star who at one time had verbally committed to play for GW.  (Nima seemed to be a primary contact and once he was dismissed from GW, Gapare decided to open up his recruitment.  He swas slated to play for DePaul but that somehow did not work and he has found his way to Amherst.  Gaparae averages around a dozen minutes off the bench.  It wil be interesting to witness his reception tomorrow from the GW fans (without most students).

3) One of the assistant coaches Martin hired was former UMASS player and head coach Derek Kelogg, the last coach who led the Minutemem to the NCAA's (in 2014-15; in fact GW and UMASS each played in Raleigh but obviously against different opponents).  Perhaps this has happened more often than I am thinking but I wonder how many men have played, been fired as a head coach, and rehired as an Assistant coach for the same school?  Can't imagine this being a huge number.

4) Today is the two year anniversary of the horrific insurrection which took place at the Capitol building.  From a GW vantage point, it calls to mind the UMASS Minutemen being in town to play at Smith Center, players fearing the racist remarks and outlandish antics of some of the protesters right outside the hotel where the team was staying. Both coaches (JC and Matt McCall) ultimately decided to cancel the game.  The UMASS team quickly boarded their team bus and raced to the airport, in legitimate fear of what might have happened to them had they hung around much longer.

Along with 9/11, and the MLK, JFK and RFK assassinations, one of the ugliest days this nation has experienced in my lifetime.


1/06/2023 6:40 pm  #3

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

+1.5 line

slight underdogs vs 10-4 UMASS

     Thread Starter

1/06/2023 7:59 pm  #4

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

Gwmayhem wrote:

2) Oh yes, there will be another familiar name.  Tafara Gapare, the New Zealand star who at one time had verbally committed to play for GW.  (Nima seemed to be a primary contact and once he was dismissed from GW, Gapare decided to open up his recruitment.  He swas slated to play for DePaul but that somehow did not work and he has found his way to Amherst.  Gaparae averages around a dozen minutes off the bench.  It wil be interesting to witness his reception tomorrow from the GW fans (without most students).

There wa$ one rea$on why Gapare ended up at UMa$$


1/07/2023 2:20 am  #5

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

UMass Minutemen

Date/Time: Saturday January 7th @ 2:00 PM ET at The Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, DC.
Preseason Ranks: 154th (KenPom), 165th (Bart Torvik), 73rd (Sports Illustrated)
2021-22 Record: 15-17, 7-11 (11th in A10)
2022-23 Projected Record: 19-11, 10-8 (T-4th in A10)

Head-to-Head: 45-30. UMass snapped a nine-game losing streak against GW and ended our season in the A10 tournament. That was our second-longest win streak in the series against the Minutemen since a 12-game win streak from 1979-1985. In last season's regular season matchup in Amherst, GW came out on top 77-68. GW put five in double figures, including four starters. JB led the way with 24 points but went 0-5 from distance. Brayon had 15 from off the bench to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Joe (13 points, 5 rebounds), BA (13 points, 5 assists), and Hunter (10 points, 12 rebounds - 1 of 3 double-doubles he had last year) also finished with 10 or more points. Obviously, that was one of the more balanced scoring performances we've had, although it will likely be tough to replicate tomorrow afternoon. What may be even harder to replicate is winning 34-26 on the boards, including securing 9 offensive rebounds.

GW did three things not so well in the game: they fouled too much, they weren't able to turn UMass over enough, and they didn't shoot the 3 well. While UMass struggles with turnovers on the year I think #2 will likely remain the same in tomorrow's matchup. #1 and #3 will be key, and unfortunately those are two areas this year's Minutemen squad are fairly proficient at. They attack the rim relentlessly - ranking near the bottom in three point attempts but top 100 in free throw attempts. They also are 59th in 3-PT defense, although on this GW team that may not be such a bad thing to get twos whenever possible anyways.

(Shout out to GW73 and gwstudent2024 for pointing me towards the updated record book provided by the school!)

Head-to-Head vs. Frank Martin: 0-3. GW fell 69-56 against Kansas State in Manhattan 69-56 during the 2011-2012 season. They also dropped both contests while Martin was coach at South Carolina - 90-55 (neutral) and 74-65 (road) in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively. This will be Martin's first trip to GW. 

Offensive Efficiency: 203rd (KenPom), 236th (Bart Torvik)
Defensive Efficiency: 94th (KenPom), 85th (Bart Torvik)
Pace: 33rd (KenPom), 32nd (Bart Torvik)
Offensive Shot Quality Rank: 91st
Defensive Shot Quality Rank: 162nd
Rim & 3 Rate: 73% (267th)

Bench Points Per Game (7th)
Offensive Rebounds Per Game (T-34th)
Rebounds Per Game (T-59th)
Three Point Percentage Defense (59th)
Fastbreak Points (68th)
Winning Percentage (T-68th)
Field Goal Percentage Defense (T-82nd)
Turnovers Forced Per Game (T-83rd)
Blocks Per Game (T-93rd)
Free Throw Attempts Per Game (T-93rd)

Free Throw Percentage (267th)
Turnovers Per Game (280th)
Field Goal Percentage (287th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage (320th)
Three Pointers Per Game (322nd)
Three Point Attempts Per Game (330th)

Key Returning Players:
Noah Fernandes (Senior; Mattapoisett, MA) 14.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.4 spg; 44% FG, 36% 3-PT, 79% FT
    Last Season @ UMass: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists; 1-11 FG, 0-3 3-PT, 2-2 FT in 32 minutes.

TJ Weeks Jr. (RS Junior; Warwick, RI) 9.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg; 42% FG, 37% 3-PT, 73% FT
    Last Season @ UMass: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists; 3-8 FG, 2-7 3-PT, 0-2 FT in 29 minutes.

Key Losses:
Rich Kelly (Graduated; Shelton, CT) 12.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.2 apg; 46% FG, 45% 3-PT, 81% FT
Trent Buttrick (Graduated; Bloomsburg, PA) 10.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1 spg; 44% FG, 37% 3-PT, 75% FT
CJ Kelly (Transferred to UCF; Long Island, NY) 10.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 apg; 40% FG, 35% 3-PT, 79% FT
Michael Steadman (Graduated; Union City, CA) 7.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg; 44% FG, 25% 3-PT, 75% FT
Javohn Garcia (Transferred to JUCO College of the Sequoias; Columbus, OH) 6.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1 apg, 1 spg; 45% FG, 26% 3-PT, 69% FT
Greg Jones (Left Team; Bronx, NY) 5.8 ppg, 4 rpg; 45% FG, 45% 3-PT, 85% FT
Dibaji Walker (Transferred to Appalachian State; Columbus, OH) 5.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg; 58% FG, 44% 3-PT, 43% FT

The 2021-22 season marked the eighth consecutive season the UMass Minutemen failed to hit the 20 win plateau. Derek Kellogg was the last coach to hit that mark, and did so in the three seasons before the losing streak began. Side note - it was smart for Martin to notice that and bring Kellogg onto his staff this offseason. I always thought people hated on him a bit more than what was deserved. He wasn't necessarily a ceiling raiser, but provided a relatively steady floor. Look no further than LIU this season. Kellogg at least kept the Sharks respectable the previous few years before taking the UMass assistant job. LIU is now in shambles under Rod Strickland (one of the strangest late offseason moves without a doubt) as one of the worst programs in all of D1.

AD Ryan Bamford had seen enough of the Matt McCall era and decided to make a change after five years. Going back to the South Carolina preview where current coach Lamont Paris was discussed, I had brought up a point about whether earning a singular NCAA tournament berth at a mid-major program should be an important criteria to getting a P6 job. One other detail that probably should have been mentioned is whether winning a lot at a traditionally successful program should be weighted a bit less when looking at an overall coaching resume. Both Paris and McCall came from Chattanooga, a program that has the resources to usually finish towards the top of the SoCon. Now that isn't to say Paris and McCall aren't good coaches (at the end of the day they won those games) but it's a lot different when you take over a program like UMass or South Carolina, where the program is not the top dog in terms of resources and winning has been inconsistent.

Of course, South Carolina happened to be the most recent stop of the newly appointed head honcho at UMass, Frank Martin. It is up for debate where the Gamecocks rank among other basketball programs in the SEC but I think pretty much everyone will agree it's towards the bottom of the league in terms of historic success and commitment. After all, SC is a football school, and even WBB comes before MBB at this point. I'm sure the athletic department is trying to fix that but things aren't going to get any easier with Texas and Oklahoma coming into the fold. That is regardless of who takes over as the next coach of the Longhorns.

In 2017, Martin not only took SC to their first NCAA tournament in 13 years but took that Gamecock team all the way to the final four. There's more than enough sample size to indicate that he overperformed at the school, winning with less heralded players against the Kentuckys and Tennessees of the world. From year 4 to year 10 at the program, SC finished in the top 6 in all but two seasons and went a fairly impressive 64-60 in conference. Kansas State may be a better program than South Carolina, but again the program probably ranks towards the bottom in a hyper-competitive Big 12. Martin not only made the NCAA tournament in 4 of his 5 seasons in Manhattan but he won 20+ games all five years as head coach and won at least one tournament game each year.

So it's been established that Martin is able to win a fair amount at some of the less sexy jobs in the P6. By all accounts, it seems like UMass made a great hire. Once the move was made official, my first two thoughts were 1) Will UMass see the biggest improvement of any team on defense in the country and 2) How on Earth will Martin be able to get the team he inherited at UMass to play any semblance of defense? Martin's teams have finished in the top 100 in adjusted efficiency on defense in 12 out of his 15 years as head coach (per Bart Torvik). Meanwhile, UMass finished 342nd on that side of the ball. Only 16 teams in all of D1 were worse.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the adjusted defensive efficiencies per KenPom to find out whether my prediction in the offseason ended up being true (at least thus far this season). It ended up being close, but UMass has in fact shown the biggest improvement on defense in the country:

Rank          Team              2022 Adj D          2023 Adj D         Change
   1      Massachusetts           342nd                   94th                 +248
   2           Georgia                 318th                    80th                 +238
   3      Southern Miss            334th                   109th                +225
   4     James Madison           264th                    60th                 +204
   5          NC State                 246th                    61st                 +185
   6   Loyola Marymount         280th                   108th                +172
   7            Utah                      189th                    17th                 +172
   8     Robert Morris               345th                   175th                +170
   9      New Mexico                243rd                    90th                 +153
  10       Charlotte                   267th                   116th                 +151

Now that #1 has been answered, it's pretty clear how #2 was addressed. Unlike GW, Martin opted to get a head start on the rebuild the moment he got hired. Only three scholarship players return from last season's team - Noah Fernandes, TJ Weeks Jr., and Dyondre Dominguez. The other ten players on scholarship were signed once Martin became coach.

Fernandes, a preseason all-A10 second-team selection, returned home two seasons ago after beginning his career at Wichita State. That ended up being a great decision as he has averaged double figures since arriving in Amherst. There's a lot to like about his game - he can score at all three levels efficiently (posting a 44/36/75 line last year), dish the ball out to others (he had an assist to turnover ratio over 2 which was 75th nationally), and play strong on-ball defense (his 1.4 steals per game was easily tops on a team that couldn't defend). I'm a bit surprised he hasn't made an all-A10 list the past couple years (from what I could tell) but he should definitely make it this year. Unrelated, but it's still stupid they put six players on each team.

Weeks is back to play his designated shooter role on the team. He has shot roughly 39% from distance through 69 games at UMass, including a stellar 49% his true freshman year in 2019-20 before he got hurt. Weeks would have been up there with Jamison for most threes made that season had he played a full year. He will contribute when it comes to rebounding and has the length to potentially be more of a disruptive defender under Martin's watch.

Dominguez, a former GW target, stands to be the biggest beneficiary of the coaching change. Under McCall, he was not in the primary rotation as his offensive game was a bit raw coming into college. Martin's affinity for defense should earn him a lot more time and put him in the rotation this year. He boasts tremendous length, versatility, and can swipe the ball away at any moment. Dominguez has improved offensively this year, shooting an impressive 62% from the field and 9/24 from three.

Martin brought in a seven man transfer class. Following him from South Carolina are his son Brandon Martin (by way of USC Upstate), Wildens Leveque, and Ta'Quan Woodley.

I don't want to say it's nepotism but (Brandon) Martin starts for UMass. He crashes the boards hard like all forwards on the team, but has really struggled with his efficiency on the year. Given his playing time, I would imagine he's due for better shooting performances. I hope it's just not against us.

Leveque following Martin to UMass is also a homecoming for him as he is a native of Brockton. He is posting a career low FG percentage (under 40%) but has otherwise been an efficient interior post scorer on somewhat of a low usage. It's interesting that his FT shooting has trended in the other direction as he's 80% on the year. Leveque is anyways known more for his defense. He is a tough-nosed player who can protect the rim and gobble up rebounds at a fast rate. It's worth noting that Leveque will be out for tomorrow's game with knee tendinitis. He isn't eligible to return until at least a week and a half from now and may be out even longer than that timeframe. That is a HUGE break for us.

Woodley has yet to play on the year but adds interior scoring and defense. His 280 pound frame commands a lot of space in the paint, making it tough to finish over.

The other transfers on the team are Matt Cross (Louisville/Miami FL), Isaac Kante (LIU/Hofstra/Georgia), Rahsool Diggins (UConn), and Gianni Thompson (Boston College).

Caputo is obviously familiar with Cross, another native of Massachusetts. He is the second leading scorer on the team at 11 ppg, but is another guy who has been inefficient offensively. As long as we aren't sending him to the line we can live with him getting his points on high volume. Cross leads the team in rebounding and steals and is an adept passer in the halfcourt.

Kante is now on his fourth school, coming over to UMass with Kellogg from LIU. Unlike some of the other forwards on the squad, Kante is a bit more offensive-inclined. He is shooting nearly 60% from the field (was 52nd nationally at LIU last year) and 80% from the FT line. While he likely doesn't have the conditioning to play 30 minutes, the Minutemen have the depth to rotate guys to keep everyone fresh (although that may be harder with Leveque out of the fold temporarily). It's no secret that UMass has one of the stronger frontcourts in the A10.

Diggins was a guy I believe we pursued somewhat last offseason. He didn't see too many minutes at UConn and has been a bench piece for UMass this year. His shooting splits are pretty terrible so far but his role this season is to give Fernandes a breather and orchestrate the offense when his number is called. Passing is his best attribute right now.

Thompson is the third transfer to return home to the Bay State. With a current strong stable of forwards, he doesn't play too much but man I wish we had that luxury. I'm very jealous of the number of forwards Martin's bunch has.

In addition to the transfers, Martin also brought in three true freshman to look to the future:

Keon Thompson has seen meaningful minutes at the PG spot in his first year of college ball. He has struggled with shooting and turnovers at times, but definitely looks like a guy who can be counted on to play major minutes a couple seasons from now.

RJ Luis has had some really impressive moments in his freshman campaign, including putting up 18 in a good win against Colorado and has posted back-to-back 11 point performances to begin A10 play. That doesn't even mention his mature on-ball defense for a freshman. I already know we are going to hate him a year from now.

Finally, former GW commit (and DePaul commit...) Tafara Gapare has seen minutes despite the number of bodies in the frontcourt. To be fair, Gapare is pretty much a positionless player - as we saw back in NZ he can even handle the ball some at 6-9. In addition to have good length/defensive instincts, he is shooting 41% from three. It would definitely be painful if he went off on us.

The matchup with UMass figures to be tough because they have depth and well...we definitively do not. A key factor to watch tomorrow is pace of play. UMass likes to play really uptempo, and while we do like to get out in transition when possible it may serve us well to slow things down for stretches even if it does mean we go through scoring lulls at times. If there was a team we don't want to get into a track meet against, it's probably this squad. There is significant concern about being killed on the boards and Hunter/Ricky/Noel being in foul trouble. Perhaps we can sneak in a few minutes for Keegan when that inevitably happens. I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is for Leveque not to be playing because he is their best rim protector. There are a few good shooters on the team - notably Fernandes (45%) and Weeks (44%) - but only Weeks averages over a make a game so they don't take a lot of threes. If we can make enough shots, Leveque's absence might allow us to come out on top but we will again need to stay out of foul trouble and limit second chance opportunities as much as possible.

Projected Score: GW 77, UMass 75. 54% chance to win (Bart Torvik). ESPN gives us a 46.2% chance to go 2-1 in conference. This game definitely feels like a tossup.


1/07/2023 9:10 am  #6

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

Don't forget to throw rotten kiwi fruit at Gapare. We lose by 15 on depth alone, unless we can make it a half court grind with Hunter and Noel combining for copious rim finishes and matching double-doubles. No way we can chase Fernandes around for 40 minutes. Lindo fouls out in the first half. umASS 95 GW 78. Bishop with 51.

Last edited by Mentzinger (1/07/2023 9:27 am)


1/07/2023 9:38 am  #7

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

GW0509 wrote:

Gwmayhem wrote:

2) Oh yes, there will be another familiar name.  Tafara Gapare, the New Zealand star who at one time had verbally committed to play for GW.  (Nima seemed to be a primary contact and once he was dismissed from GW, Gapare decided to open up his recruitment.  He swas slated to play for DePaul but that somehow did not work and he has found his way to Amherst.  Gaparae averages around a dozen minutes off the bench.  It wil be interesting to witness his reception tomorrow from the GW fans (without most students).

There wa$ one rea$on why Gapare ended up at UMa$$

Thank you for pointing this out.  My first reaction when Gapare re-opened his recruiting  after verbalizing at GW was in the lines of too bad, but I understand that he "blew up" and now wanted to play on a power conference team.   Sucks, but makes sense.  Then when I learned that he signed with UMass, I was upset that GW landed up losing him to another A-10 school, ala Freeman.     Doesn't reflect well for the program when we lose a kid to another conference program.  Now that I see it may have been "all about the Benjamins" and don't know how I fell other than  to remind me of my hatred of paying college athletes to play.



1/07/2023 10:43 am  #8

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread


1/07/2023 10:49 am  #9

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

I hope James gets to see this for two reasons - first they will try to force you to pass off of a ball screen. And second, make sure Coach Martin will remember your name based on your performance today.


1/07/2023 11:29 am  #10

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

Gapare committed to DePaul before changing his mind and switching to UMass.


1/07/2023 11:50 am  #11

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

BM wrote:

Gapare committed to DePaul before changing his mind and switching to UMass.

Right. He was prepping at South Kent in CT so maybe staying closer to “home” was some part of it but it just seemed so obvious when he switched from DePaul that something was enticing him. His final list when he committed to DePaul was UConn, Illinois, Maryland, and Va Tech so UMass wasn’t even on his original radar. 

I guess their collective found the international loophole by only paying him for “work” back home in New Zealand. 


1/07/2023 1:57 pm  #12

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

JoeMac in the house


1/07/2023 2:23 pm  #13

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

James Bishop is an exceptional player.  

Amir Harris says to Gafare "Get that weak stuff out of here!!"

     Thread Starter

1/07/2023 2:25 pm  #14

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

Sheesh only nine scholarship players dressed and only one walk-on.   Can barely get a 5-on-5 going in practice.


1/07/2023 2:29 pm  #15

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

Gapare rejected and sent to the floor on a 4-on-1 break. Made my day.
Not sure why JBIV wouldn't be unanimous A-10 POY.


1/07/2023 2:34 pm  #16

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

Does Max lead the A-10 in steals and turnovers?


1/07/2023 2:43 pm  #17

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

So far so good


1/07/2023 2:46 pm  #18

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

So this is what it's like to have a coach who makes constant in-game adjustments. Nice, especially on defense.
I mean, re-up CC for 10 years and do it TODAY

Last edited by Mentzinger (1/07/2023 2:47 pm)


1/07/2023 3:08 pm  #19

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

Its been gradual, but this team is looking a lot better. Very well played first half! Let’s hope that for the first time in a long time they can pull away and avoid any unnecessary drama.


1/07/2023 3:20 pm  #20

Re: GW vs UMASS Game Thread

One FT (missed) for UMass. GW 15-19.


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