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UMass notebook: URI AD Thorr Bjorn turns down chance to return to UMass



Last modified: Wednesday, March 18, 2015
KINGSTON, R.I. — From the moment John McCutcheon’s candidacy for the California-Santa Barbara athletic director job became public knowledge, UMass fans, alumni and even some administrators began speculating on whether Rhode Island athletic director Thorr Bjorn might replace McCutcheon at UMass.

But Bjorn, who is in his eighth year at URI, said he’s not pursuing the job.

“I’m working on an extension here with the president,” said Bjorn at halftime of Rhody’s 75-59 win over UMass. “I’m very happy here.”

Bjorn played football for the Minutemen and received undergraduate and graduate degrees from UMass. He was the interim athletic director when McCutcheon was hired and was popular with fans, alumni and coaches.

UMASS-PROVIDENCE RENEW SERIES — After two great games in three meetings over the last three seasons, UMass and Providence have agreed to play two more games.

UMass associate athletic director Tim Kenney confirmed that the two schools had an agreement to play another home-and-home series. The dates have yet to be finalized, but the teams will play at the Mullins Center in 2015 and at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in 2016.

The Minutemen beat PC on last-possession shots in Puerto Rico in 2012 and in Amherst in 2013. The Friars beat UMass 85-65 on Dec. 20 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

STREAK SNAPPED — Trey Davis’ streak of consecutive free throws went down along with UMass’ win steak. Davis made the first one he attempted with 9 minutes, 8 seconds left in the game, but the second rolled off the rim left. He finished with 33 straight to tie Chaz Williams’ UMass record against Atlantic 10 opponents set during the 2011-12 season. Former Minuteman Donta Bright holds the conference record of 40 straight set during the 1995-96 season.

STANDINGS — Wednesday’s loss dropped the Minutemen to 9-4 in the Atlantic 10. They began the week tied for first, but the loss puts them in a tie for fourth with Davidson.

The Minutemen and Wildcats are two games ahead of George Washington, La Salle and Richmond, who are all tied for seventh. The top-four teams get a bye to the quarterfinals of next month’s A-10 tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The bottom four teams have to play a play-in game. Losses by Duquesne and George Mason Wednesday assured UMass of finishing no worse than 10th.

Rhode Island (10-3) kept pace with VCU, which beat Saint Louis on Tuesday. Dayton (9-3) can tie both Rams if it beats Saint Joseph’s on Thursday in Ohio.

FREE-THROW WOES — UMass shot 14 of 25 from the line as its recent free-throw skid continued. Maxie Esho was 0 for 4, while Cady Lalanne was 3 for 8. C.J. Anderson, who has yet to score in Atlantic 10 play, missed his chance to end the drought when he missed the front end of a one-and-one.

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