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1/15/2024 11:27 pm  #1

GW umass Game

Off to an incredible 14-3 start, GW is firing on all cylinders 

Storming out of the gate with an 11-2 OOC, we've begun the A10 slate with wins over VCU Davidson and Mason, now on the road for a pair of Quad 2 road games with the potential to be Quad 1 wins, both teams just outside of the top 75 NET. 

First up, UMASS 

Rotation tweaks? More Antoine Smith Jr?   Predicted line?  Does GW win again to improve to 15-3?

Last edited by The Dude (1/20/2024 3:57 pm)


1/16/2024 12:04 pm  #2

Re: GW umass Game

Glad the coaches have all week to prepare for Umass.  I plan on watching Umass as they travel to LUC on Wednesday and hope they go 9 overtimes and beat eachother to a pulp.

Very excited to watch our guys grow and improve.  Gotta love the effort.  Just hope we limit the reckless off balance dribble into trouble possessions resulting in airball, brick, or momentum killing turnovers.  So wasteful!!

This should be an interesting matchup down low.  Stretch, Jun, and Garrett will have their hands full with Cohen, Cross, and Diggins but should be fine.

And Max is going to finally finish that ally oop getting closer and closer.


1/17/2024 3:14 pm  #3

Re: GW umass Game

Matt Cross is out for UMass tonight vs. Loy-Chi.  Something to monitor for this weekend.


1/17/2024 7:55 pm  #4

Re: GW umass Game

UMASS on CBS SportsNetwirj right now at Loyola.  Down 43-40 after hitting a deep three at the buzzer.

Matt Cross is out again, which really hurts them. If he doesn’t play Saturday, that is a huge break for us. He’s the point forward who they run a lot of their offense through.  Without him, their offense has been mostly trying to dump it down to Cohen.

They aren’t a three point shooting team (31.1% 3fg, 303rd in percent of shots taken from three) so unless they pull a Fordham, they aren’t likely to rain threes on us, but they are one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country. We’re going to have to battle as hard on the boards as we did against Mason. 

Overall, though, without Cross, I think we have the better team.  With him, it becomes tougher.


1/17/2024 9:13 pm  #5

Re: GW umass Game

God bless those of you with CBS Sports Network. I'm currently listening to Loyola's radio broadcast . Thankful we don't have a game on CBSSN this year


1/17/2024 9:43 pm  #6

Re: GW umass Game

Missed most of the second half, but turned it on just in time to see Loyola’s game winning three point play on a putback with 1.1 seconds left.


1/19/2024 10:48 am  #7

Re: GW umass Game

Massachusetts Minutemen

Date: Saturday January 20th, 2024
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Venue: Mullins Center
Analytic Ranks: 98th (KenPom), 96th (EvanMiya), 76th (Haslametrics)
NET Ranking: 91st
2022-23 Record: 15-16, 6-12 (13th in A10)
2023-24 Projected Record: 19-11, 10-8 (5th in A10)

Head-to-Head: 46-30. GW has defeated the Minutemen in 10 of the past 11 games in the series. What's more shocking is that UMass hasn't beat GW at the Mullins Center since 2009 (the Buff & Blue are 6-0 at UMass since then). I'm fully prepared to take the blame for jinxing everything based on these stats, but to be fair UMass is probably due to win a game at home against us.

In last year's 81-73 win in Foggy Bottom, GW got off to a good start, taking a 40-26 lead into the locker room before holding off a rally from the Minutemen to win by 8. Four players finished in double figures for the Buff & Blue: JB (26 points, 5 assists), Ricky (16 points, 11 rebounds), BA (15 points, 5 assists), and Hunter (10 points, 13 rebounds). Lindo in particular had multiple and-ones late in the second half to keep GW in front before a Hunter dunk and BA 3 iced the game. UMass shot the ball well from 3 (41%) and finished with 19 assists for the game. Tafara Gapare did manage to play a game at the Smith Center, but did not make much of an impact by scoring just a single point. He notably had his shot blocked in transition by Amir. That was truly impressive work by Harris given it was a 3 on 1 opportunity for the Minutemen.

In the last game played at Mullins, GW came out on top 77-68, putting up 40+ points again in the first half and extending the lead in the second. It was another game where we didn't shoot the ball great from 3, but did a really good job on the boards, outrebounding UMass by 12 and actually finishing with more assists than them (16-15, seems unusual for GW to do that nowadays). Five players finished in double figures, as JB led the way with 24 points, Bray had a triple nickel off the bench (15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists), BA + JoeBam had 13 points each, and Hunter finished with a double-double again (10 points, 12 rebounds).

Offensive Efficiency: 68th (KenPom), 68th (EvanMiya), 58th (Haslametrics)
Defensive Efficiency: 148th (KenPom), 153rd (EvanMiya), 134th (Haslametrics)
Pace: 83rd (KenPom), 77th (EvanMiya), 111th (Haslametrics)
Home Rank: 17th (EvanMiya) (Included this since it's notable that UMass performs better at home this season)
Roster Rank: 175th (EvanMiya)
Offensive Shot Quality Rank: 48th
Defensive Shot Quality Rank: 244th
Rim & 3 Rate: 83% (139th)

Strengths (2023-24 Season):
Offensive Rebounds Per Game - 14.1 ORPG (T-14th)
Free Throws Attempted Per Game - 24.5 FTA (18th)
Opponent Personal Fouls Per Game - 19.6 PF/G (T-31st)
Field Goals Attempted Per Game - 63.3 FGA (34th)
Free Throws Made Per Game - 16.8 FTM (34th)
Assists Per Game - 16.3 APG (35th)
Points Per Game - 81.5 PPG (T-38th)
Field Goals Made Per Game - 29.1 FGM (T-39th)
Steals Per Game - 8.7 SPG (T-43rd)
Opponent Steals Per Game - 5.5 SPG (49th)
Opponent Turnovers Per Game - 14.5 TO/G (60th)
Rebounds Per Game - 38.9 RPG (71st)
Opponent Field Goals Made Per Game - 23.8 FGM (75th)
Opponent Field Goal Percentage - 41.6% (92nd)
Opponent Field Goals Attempted Per Game - 57.1 FGA (T-108th)
Opponent Defensive Rebounds Per Game - 23.6 DRPG (T-121st)

Weaknesses (2023-24 Season):
3-PT Field Goals Attempted Per Game - 20.3 3PA (266th)
Free Throw Percentage - 68.8% (273rd)
3-PT Field Goal Percentage - 31.6% (280th)
3-PT Field Goals Made Per Game - 6.4 3PM (T-284th)
Opponent Offensive Rebounds Per Game - 11.5 ORPG (T-288th)
Opponent Free Throws Attempted Per Game - 23.9 FTA (343rd)
Opponent Free Throws Made Per Game - 17.1 FTM (344th)
Personal Fouls Per Game - 20.2 PF/G (347th)

Key Returning Players:
Matt Cross (Senior; Beverly, MA) - 12.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.5 spg; 40% FG, 35% 3-PT, 80% FT per 26.9 mpg
      Last Season @ GW: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist; 3-6 FG, 0-1 3-PT, 1-1 FT in 15 minutes.

Keon Thompson (Sophomore; Merrillville, IN) - 5.8 ppg, 2 rpg, 2.7 apg; 38% FG, 18% 3-PT, 68% FT per 20.3 mpg
      Last Season @ GW: 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal; 1-3 FG, 1-2 3-PT in 6 minutes.

Key Losses:
Noah Fernandes (Transferred to Rutgers; Mattapoisett, MA) - 13.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.3 spg; 48% FG, 45% 3-PT, 64% FT per 29.5 mpg
RJ Luis Jr. (Transferred to St. John's; Miami, FL) - 11.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 spg; 46% FG, 35% 3-PT, 79% FT per 22.8 mpg
TJ Weeks Jr. (Transferred to Rider; Warwick, RI) - 8.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 apg; 37% FG, 34% 3-PT, 73% FT per 26.6 mpg
Dyondre Dominguez (Transferred to Arkansas State; Providence, RI) - 8.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 apg; 52% FG, 39% 3-PT, 73% FT per 19.5 mpg
Isaac Kante (Graduated; Brooklyn, NY) - 6.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg; 55% FG, 77% FT per 19.5 mpg
Wildens Leveque (Transferred to Texas A&M; Brockton, MA) - 5.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg; 43% FG, 17% 3-PT, 76% FT per 19.7 mpg

Key Transfers:
Josh Cohen (Senior transfer from St. Francis PA; Lincroft, NJ) - 21.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.5 apg; 59% FG, 66% FT per 33.7 mpg
Daniel Hankins-Sanford (Sophomore transfer from South Carolina; Charlotte, NC) - 2.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg; 34% FG, 20% 3-PT, 54% FT per 8 mpg

Could this be the final time that GW faces UMass before the Minutemen leave the A10 for another conference? It's no secret that Amherst has been looking for an FBS conference to put their football program in a better place to succeed. As we all know, football drives the bus, and while Massachusetts would likely have to sacrifice their basketball program by moving it's not like they are going to be giving up a whole lot given what bball has looked like at the school in the past 10 years.

Back in 2015, the Minutemen had to make this exact decision when they were part of the MAC as a football-only member. After turning down an offer from that conference to become a member for all sports, UMass decided to go independent and has remained as such up until now. Given their lack of competitiveness in their four years as part of the MAC and the state of the A10 for basketball during that time, the decision made a lot of sense. The football team won eight games combined during that span, and on the basketball side of things the A10 was still producing several bids per year. Talks about changing conferences for football have since been revisited as comparable teams like Delaware have found FBS conferences, and let's be honest: while the A10 is still a very good league relative to most in D1 for basketball, the conference is not the same as it once was.

It would be a bummer to lose a team that has been a part of the Atlantic 10 for a long time, but it's been apparent for a while now that historical rivalries have gone out the window during the era of conference realignment. UMass is the only other original member of the conference still around outside of GW that has never left up to this point (back then, the conference was known as the Eastern Athletic Association). Duquesne was technically also a member when the conference was founded in 1976 but left for a season in between before returning. Of course, other original members Villanova, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Rutgers, and West Virginia have been gone for nearly 30 years now.

We'll see what ultimately happens, but as of now the rumor is that UMass would become the 12th member of Conference USA. The increase in travel to get to other schools in the C-USA would not exactly be a shock for the Minutemen given the "Atlantic" 10 even stretches out to the midwest. However, UMass would be geographically isolated from most schools. Delaware would be the closest school to them, followed by Liberty. The conference trends more southern overall. As of right now, the C-USA is 13th in average efficiency margin (per KenPom) while the A10 is 8th. It would definitely be a step back for basketball, but maybe not a major one.

Anyways, back to basketball. UMass had quite an up-and-down season in year 1 of the Frank Martin era. Things started off on a high note - the Minutemen went 9-3 during OOC play, including winning the Myrtle Beach Invitational by beating Colorado, Murray State, and Charlotte. Despite being tripped up by UMass Lowell (leading to some joking about Amherst losing its flagship status) and solid mid-majors in Towson and North Texas, it was a great start to the year. Unfortunately, injuries derailed the season, as Noah Fernandes dealt with a persistent ankle injury through most of the year. He played just one game the rest of the year after our game in the 2022-23 season. Matt Cross also suffered an MCL injury during conference play, sidelining him a handful of games as well, and Frank's son Brandon Martin injured his UCL in his right elbow during a practice. Only Isaac Kante ended up dressing for every game last season, so it shouldn't be too surprising that UMass was unable to notch a three game winning streak during conference play.

The win-loss record was one thing, but as we all know Frank Martin is a person who is very direct and doesn't mince words during press conferences. As one of the coaches who is more active on social media, Frank saw UMass fans questioning why his son Brandon was starting games and playing significant minutes (17.9 mpg) as in their eyes he was not contributing in a meaningful way. While the elder Martin was somewhat understandably upset that people were coming after his son, the questioning of his substitution patterns was justified when UMass was starting to lose a lot more in the second half of the year. At the same time, every fanbase has "bad eggs" and I wouldn't be surprised if certain fans went too far. That's probably why I would stay off social media if I was a head coach beyond the general marketing requirements that come with the job.

The Minutemen would go into the offseason losers of 8 of their final 10 games of the season, including a crushing 33 point defeat against the Richmond Spiders in the first round of the A10 tournament. That kind of a loss happens when you shoot under 24% from the field and just 1/16 from 3. Despite the tough ending to the year, UMass had some bright spots to build around, notably RJ Luis Jr., who led the team in scoring in each of their final four games of the season and Keon Thompson.

Once the offseason comes around, the high-major schools are circling the transfer portal like sharks, looking to bolster their roster by poaching from schools in lower leagues. Unfortunately for the Minutemen, coaches were already talking to Luis and his camp when the season concluded about potentially transferring. To the credit of UMass and their NIL collective, a good effort was made to keep Luis in Amherst. In fact, he agreed to a deal with The Massachusetts Collective that would give him $100k over two years. Shortly afterwards though he went silent and the collective could no longer reach him or his camp. That's never a good sign - Luis ultimately left for St. John's + Pitino, but coaches have to play the replacement game every offseason. There's unfortunately no signs that it's going to change any time soon either.

The good news for UMass I guess is that the figures released in the Luis deal showed that UMass can land some high-profile transfers with their NIL budget, and at the end of the day you want to have guys who really want to be at the school. Martin was notably able to land Josh Cohen from St. Francis PA, who was 10th nationally in scoring last season (two spots above JB) and 75th in rebounding. It's easy to write off a transfer coming from the NEC, but Cohen's production translated against bigger competition OOC. He finished in double figures every game of the year, scored 40 points multiple times, and had 30 points against ranked teams like Miami (FL). Thus, it's not surprising to see him pretty much pick up where he left off. He's scored 20+ in their past three games against La Salle, URI, and Loyola so enters Saturday's game with momentum. This will actually be GW's second time facing Cohen as he came off the bench to score 4 points two seasons ago in our opener against the Red Flash (a narrow 3 point win). I'd expect him to be a lot more productive than that in tomorrow's game. After attempting just two threes in his first three years at St. Francis, Cohen is 7/16 from 3 this year so he can make a shot from distance here and there.

When healthy, Cohen and Cross form a formidable duo up front - they are arguably the top frontcourt in the conference. Cross is an effective finisher inside but can be a bit streaky from the perimeter. Last season, he shot 35% from deep which was closer to what he did as a freshman at Miami than his following year at Louisville. He is just 31% this year, however. Despite that, Cross has emerged as a player that UMass can play through - he is averaging a career-best 3.1 apg, has played good defense (1.8 spg), and is also posting a career-best 8.3 rpg which ranks 76th best nationally. It's important to note that Cross has been sidelined recently with ankle and tooth injuries (per Jon Rothstein) so his status is up in the air for tomorrow's game.

If Cross is unable to suit up for tomorrow, it's likely that UMass will have to turn to underclassmen to fill his spot:

Daniel Hankins-Sanford is the other notable player joining the team from the portal. Martin had recruited him originally at South Carolina before he committed there, so it makes sense that he eventually followed Martin to UMass. Hankins-Sanford did not play in our game against SC last year due to injury. He is a good rebounder and can make the open three when left open (7/18 on the year). Oddly enough, Hankins-Sanford has scored exactly 6 or 10 points in the past six games for UMass. Someone should flip a coin to predict which of those he will score tomorrow.

Tarique Foster is a true freshman who originally committed to VCU before flipping to UMass. Foster's length suggests that he could be a disruptive defender down the line, and while he has shot the ball well in limited time it's unlikely that he plays significant minutes tomorrow.

Mathok Majok is the tallest player on the roster at 7'3", but he too is still a work in progress as he adjusts his body to the college game. Down the line, he has upside as a rim protector, finisher around the rim, and rebounder but needs to add a bit of strength to his frame.

Due to freshman Sawyer Mayhugh not enrolling at UMass due to a personal family matter, Martin brought in NoVa native Tyler Mason in as an early-enrollee. Mason was a three-star prospect out of HS with offers from a few Big East programs. You know how it goes for reclass guys though. They generally need a year before they get going - Mason enrolling early does fast track his development a bit though.

Thus, I think Cross being available or not will change how GW will defend pretty significantly. Given just how good Cohen and Cross are down low, I was thinking perhaps GW zones a bit more with UMass shooting under 32% from 3 for the year (the guards will still need to close out, and CC may have to switch things up if they get hot). However, it appears by all accounts that Martin will go small if Cross is out. I think if that happens you are fine with Cohen getting his points but focus in on the guards more in a man-to-man.

As mentioned earlier, Thompson returns for year 2. The Indiana native helps out in scoring, rebounding, and passing efforts while doubling as a feisty on-ball defender. While Thompson is not a particularly good three point shooter, he has upped his efficiency from last year shooting the ball overall. In general, he seems like more of a guy you're willing to let shoot than be a facilitator.

Also returning is former top 70 recruit out of HS/UConn guard Rahsool Diggins, who also showed promise as a passer last year but struggled to shoot the ball efficiently. It's important to note that Diggins paces the team in three point makes with 33 and has upped his percentage to 34% from deep for the year. He saw only three minutes of action against GW last year but will likely play a larger role as a secondary playmaker/ballhawk defensively.

Like CC, Martin opted to go with inexperienced guys when rebuilding his roster in year 2. Four other freshman guards enter the fold this year: Jaylen Curry, Jayden Ndjigue, Robert Davis Jr., and Marqui Worthy.

Curry, a three-star guard prospect, hails from North Carolina but to my knowledge has no ties to Steph. While his shooting numbers don't jump off the page, he is an explosive player that makes things happen. We shouldn't give him a ton of space to operate, because he will be more than happy to let it fly from anywhere on the court. Their last game against Loyola definitely showed this.

Ndjigue may get less press compared to other freshmen on the roster, but he has been the most efficient on the year. He is shooting over 50% from the field and is 8/16 from 3 on the year. On top of that, he has averaged 5 rebounds a game. Like the other freshmen on the roster, what's equally as impressive is the he has an assist/turnover ratio over 1. UMass as a team is very disciplined with the ball.

Davis Jr. is the designated shooter (over 75% of shots come from deep), although he's just 30% from three on the year. Davis, a Michigan native who played AAU ball with Team Melo, is highly streaky, but when he gets hot he can cause a lot of damage from the perimeter. When UMass defeated West Virginia by 8 earlier in the year, he knocked down six threes. That's an 18 point swing right there.

Finally, Worthy is a SoCal native who had an offer from GW during the JC era. I had watched some tape on him after we offered him and came away pretty impressed. He reminded me a bit of Jamison, albeit a bit shorter - strong frame, can score at all three levels, and possesses the tools in order to be impactful defensively. While his shooting numbers have looked rough across the board, there is long-term potential here.

If Cross plays, this figures to be a tough matchup for GW despite our recent success against them. UMass is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country already, and if I'm being honest GW could concede 20 second chance opportunities against the Minutemen. Can GW keep up its defensive efforts from the Mason game? Martin's squad moves the ball around well on offense, so rotating well will be important. Finally, can the team avoid silly turnovers? UMass has one of the best turnover margins in the nation. On one side of the ball, that matters less for GW but the Revs will have to take care of the ball on offense. Scoring opportunities should be there, and by all accounts this looks to be a high-scoring game. Can we get Cohen in foul trouble? His matchup against Stretch will be one to watch. Against "craftier" frontcourt players, I don't know that Akingbola is as effective defensively somewhat like we saw against Davidson. I would put Cohen in that group so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Projected Score: UMass 85, GW 76. 22% chance to win (KenPom). ESPN gives us a 13.4% chance to move to 4-1 in conference.


1/19/2024 12:55 pm  #8

Re: GW umass Game

Notable cancelled game vs UMass on January 6, 2021.


1/19/2024 7:40 pm  #9

Re: GW umass Game

Evening line has GW +6.5 vs. UMass.  Money line has us +230.   I think I like GW in this one although I will not bet the game.  The over/under is a whopping 160.5.

Last edited by Long Suffering Fan (1/19/2024 7:41 pm)


1/19/2024 11:53 pm  #10

Re: GW umass Game

I just checked at Draft Kings has us +7.5. That seems like a lot - maybe Vegas thinks Cross is back?

I think we are again undervalued by the computers because of our lull in play vs the UMEs/Alcorn/Navy games.

If we bring the same intensity to the road they we had vs Mason, I see no reason why we can’t win, let alone cover.


1/20/2024 9:18 am  #11

Re: GW umass Game

Matt Cross out


1/20/2024 9:55 am  #12

Re: GW umass Game

Cross out certainly helps, but we’d still better be ready for war.

Line has dropped to +6, a full point and a half from last night.


1/20/2024 12:11 pm  #13

Re: GW umass Game

Looking early like the "over" is going to cover by halftime.


1/20/2024 12:17 pm  #14

Re: GW umass Game

Games on NESN plus in New England


1/20/2024 12:20 pm  #15

Re: GW umass Game

Turnovers and poor shooting has us off to a slow start.


1/20/2024 12:22 pm  #16

Re: GW umass Game

3 straight 3’s


1/20/2024 12:23 pm  #17

Re: GW umass Game

LIked the form in Max' made 3.  Didn't have the hitch which has marred his shooting of late.


1/20/2024 12:26 pm  #18

Re: GW umass Game

Seems like our bench has gotten significantly longer in conference play


1/20/2024 12:28 pm  #19

Re: GW umass Game

10 players used in first half, including Zam.


1/20/2024 12:37 pm  #20

Re: GW umass Game

Buchanan 2-6 from line.


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