Matt Vautour: Chaz Williams appreciates UMass’ Coaches vs. Cancer effort

Saturday, February 22, 2014
Playing well in any victory is reason to be happy for University of Massachusetts senior point guard Chaz Williams.

But Saturday and Sunday was the annual Coaches vs. Cancer weekend, when coaches wear sneakers with their suits to promote awareness of their cause. Williams was glad to be part of the game.

He said the game’s connection to cancer didn’t make him think more of his father Calvin, who died of the disease when Chaz was 9.

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“I think of my dad every game just as much,” said Williams, who was glad that the sport he cares so much about was involved in the cause. “It shows sports is involved in helping the community. Coaches vs. Cancer helps people that need it. I’ve always said if I ever get a large sum of money, I’m going to donate to the cancer patients. I know what they go through. Family history plays a big role in that. It’s a great honor for us to do this Coaches vs. Cancer thing.”

UMASS RANKINGS — A close loss on the road spelled a drop in both polls for the Minutemen. UMass fell eight spots to No. 21 in the Associated Press poll, and seven spots to No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. UMass has been in the AP poll for 10 straight weeks and the coaches poll for the past nine.

UMass is still in the top 10 of the RPI, according to RPIForecast.com, but it learned that it’s actually better to lose a road game to a solid opponent than to beat a good one at home. The Minutemen stayed at No. 4 after losing to Richmond, but fell from No. 4 to 8 after beating Fordham.

AMONG NATIONAL ACTIVE LEADERS — Williams is second among all college players at any level with 751 career assists. He’s well ahead of No. 3, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft (628), and well behind No. 1, LIU-Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman (904).

Williams is one of four active players with 1,500 career points, 500 assists and 100 steals. He’s joined by UConn’s Shabazz Napier, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams and Loyola Marymount’s Anthony Ireland.

MY TOP 10 — 1. Arizona, 2. Syracuse, 3. San Diego State, 4. Wichita State, 5. Florida, 6. Kansas, 7. Michigan State, 8. Oklahoma State, 9. Villanova, 10. Michigan.

For the rest of my Top 25 visit the College Hoop Week Guide on GazetteNET.com’s UMass Sports Blog.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: No. 13 Cincinnati at No. 12 Louisville, Thursday 7 p.m., ESPN — This won’t be an American Athletic Conference rivalry for long with the Cardinals bolting for the ACC next year. But the two schools, who have competed against each other in the Metro Conference, Conference USA and the Big East, are atop the AAC standings right now. This could have a considerable impact on the league’s seeds at playoff time.

No. 17 Duke at No. 2 Syracuse, Saturday 6:30 p.m., ESPN — While Duke’s true rivalry is always going to be North Carolina, this has the feel of a series that is going to be among the most anticipated on college basketball’s calendar, especially as long as hall of famers Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim remain on the sidelines.

ATLANTIC 10 GAME OF THE WEEK: Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth, Saturday 11 a.m., ESPN2 — Not only is this a clash of intra-city foes, but it’s an interesting battle of styles. VCU has often struggled against teams with the ability to play a slow style effectively.

George Washington at Dayton, Saturday 12:30 p.m., NBCSN — Conference play began with each of these teams possessing legitimate NCAA aspirations. The Flyers have crashed to earth at 1-4 in the Atlantic 10, but could still be a spoiler. The Colonials are starting to get some top 25 attention and this would be a solid win over a top 100 RPI team.

QUOTABLE — “Playing against Havoc is like someone making you pack in hurry. You might forget your pants.” — ESPN’s John Saunders on what it’s like to compete against Virginia Commonwealth.

FINALLY — Boston University was a consensus favorite in the Patriot League going into the season, so the Terriers losing to any conference foe by 30 is surprising. But there was plenty unusual about their 86-56 loss at American on Wednesday.

American shot a mind-boggling 71.4 percent (30 for 42) from the floor and 78.6 percent from 3-point range (11 for 14).

BU opened the game on a 13-2 run, but the Eagles outscored BU 84-43 over the last 14 minutes, 29 seconds.


Information from personal interviews, newspaper articles and sports information releases was used in this report.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed.