Saturday, May 03, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. — On the sideline for the final two minutes, University of Massachusetts senior point guard Chaz Williams tossed a towel over his head and sat in stunned disbelief as the final seconds ticked off the Minutemen’s 86-67 loss to Tennessee in the NCAA Round of 64 on Friday at PNC Arena.
After the game, he and fellow seniors Sampson Carter and Raphiael Putney were still coming to grips with the end of their college careers.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet and probably won’t because we just lost and it probably will never hit me until the NCAA is over, because I feel like we’re supposed to be playing until April 7th,” Williams said. “Coach gave a great closing speech in the locker room and he made us all feel what we did here as a group on the court. And everything we did, seems like it’s all downhill now after this loss. This is a tough one.
“It’s an honor to be part of this group of guys I was a part of the three years I was here,” Williams added. “I don’t even know what life is like tomorrow. It’s difficult to think what’s next.”
Williams leaves as UMass’ all-time leader in assists with 702, despite playing just three years in Amherst. In his career he had 840 putting him 23rd on NCAA’s all-time list.
He’s the program’s No. 7 all-time scorer with 1,653 points.
UMass coach Derek Kellogg saluted his seniors.
“Coaching Chaz, specifically, has really been great for me,” he said. “I thanked those guys in the locker room for the ride they’ve put my family, the university, the team and all the people involved on this past season. But also last two years, last three years, I should say. We won 20 something games every year and I think Chaz has been a guy that’s been able to change the culture of our program with the way he plays, his charisma, his speed up and down the floor. He’s been fun to watch, fun to coach and we’ll have to figure out how to replace him and keep UMass on the plateau that we’re on right now.”
Freshman Demetrius Dyson said the returning players will carry the lessons they learned from the seniors.
“UMass has produced some great men out of these guys,” Dyson said. “The things they did on and off court showed us what we need to do next year. They were some great models to us.”
LINEUP CHANGE — After going all season with one lineup, Kellogg switched his starters hoping to counteract Tennessee’s interior size. He moved Maxie Esho, who’d been the Minutemen’s best player in the Atlantic 10 tournament, into the lineup in place of Raphiael Putney.
Esho had 12 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.
Putney checked in three minutes into the game and had two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes.
“I thought Maxie played so well in the A-10 tournament. Putt and I had a meeting and discussed it and we thought maybe him coming off the bench with his scoring and Maxie’s energy to start the game would potentially be a good way for us to do it,” Kellogg said. “So I thought I would go with it. He subbed in pretty quickly thereafter so it wasn’t a huge deal. I was hoping that would get our press going a little bit more, but we didn’t score enough to get into our press, honestly.”
NCAA HISTORY — UMass is now 11-9 all-time in NCAA tournament games. The Minutemen have lost four straight games, including three consecutive losses in the Round of 64.
In UMass’ nine trips to the NCAA tournament, the Minutemen are 1-3 against Southeastern Conference teams. Jarnell Stokes’ 14 rebounds for the Volunteers on Friday were the most ever by a UMass opponent in an NCAA tournament game.
MISCELLANEOUS — The 19-point margin was the largest victory for a team seeded 11 or higher since No. 13 Siena beat No. 4 Vanderbilt, 83-62, in 2008.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage