Event: UMass Minutemen (4-0) vs. #20/22 Florida State Seminoles (4-0)
Date/Time: Thanksgiving Day (November 24, 2011)-4:30 p.m. EDT.
Location: Imperial Arena at the Atlantic Resort (Capacity: 4,000), Paradise Islands, Bahamas.
Broadcast Info: UMass’s opener in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament can be viewed on VERSUS. The game can also be heard on the radio on 1510 AM in Boston with Josh Maurer and Tim Kenney on the call.
Series History: This will only be the sixth meeting between the two teams with UMass holding a 3-2 lead. Florida State won the last matchup in a 2006 victory in Tallahassee after the Minutemen had put together a three-game winning streak. The two teams first played in 1992.
Last time out: UMass took to the road for the first time this season and dominated Boston College in all aspects of an 82-46 victory. Cady Lalanne and Freddie Riley broke out offensively as the four Minutemen finished in double-figures in the team’s first win over the Eagles since 2007. The swarming UMass press created 23 turnovers, manhandled the Eagles on the glass and received 35 points from their bench in their 10th consecutive November victory.
Florida State faced their fourth consecutive push over to start the season and finished with the same results in an 80-39 win over South Alabama. The Seminoles pushed the Jaguars around with 14 blocks, an 18 rebound advantage and just 23 percent shooting from the visiting team, including 0-24 from behind the arc. Luke Loucks led Florida State with 18 points on 5-13 shooting as the Seminoles shot a cool 52 percent from the field.
Statistical Leaders: Chaz Williams leads the Minutemen with 17.3 points per game and eight assists per game. Terrell Vinson is the leading rebounder with 7.5 rebounds per game including 10 offensive rebounds in four games. Javorn Farrell is one of four Minutemen who has hit five or more 3-pointers and leads the team with a 46 percent average behind the arc.
Michael Snaer is one of four Seminoles to average more than 10 points per game and leads the team with 11.8 points per. Bernard James leads Florida State in rebounding at 8.3 boards per game and and Luke Loucks has a team-high 13 assists in four games.
Storyline: UMass and Florida State will leave their home states for the first time this season and get their first real test of the day when they play the game of the day in college basketball. The Minutemen are coming off their first win over a BCS squad since December of 2008 and their largest margin of victory since March of that year. On the other side, Florida State brings in a national ranking and high expectations after a tough overtime loss to VCU in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Chaz Williams will look to take advantage of a younger and untested Seminoles backcourt that lost point guard guard Derwin Kitchen to graduation and All-ACC forward Chris Singleton to the NBA draft. On the other side, the UMass forwards will face a tough test as they play against the biggest and by far most athletic front court they will have seen all season.
Players to Watch:
Terrell Vinson comes into Thanksgiving Day as the second-leading scorer and rebounder for the Minutemen and one of the players who’s benefited the most thus far from Chaz Williams’ addition. Vinson’s ability to hit the three and get to the free throw line will be huge in pulling Seminoles defenders away from the basket and he’ll have to focus even more on the boards for UMass against a Seminoles team that has outrebounded opponents by more than eight rebounds per game.
Graduate student Luke Loucks bring some needed experience to the Seminoles with 105 career appearances but can he be the man. The Clearwater native has just nine career starts and has never been relied upon as much of a scorer. Loucks will be one of many Seminoles trying to slow down Williams and he can partially accomplish that by making Williams work on the offensive end.
Prediction: Looking up and down the day’s schedule this is the best game for many reasons, including the fact that there’s the huge potential for an upset. Florida State is ranked but has yet to be challenged and that or take the road, the game will rest on Williams and how well he can get his teammates involved.
UMass 73, Florida State 69