UMass coach Matt McCall looking to make most of valuable week off

  • UMass coach, Matt McCall, stands on the sidelines during a game against Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.  Gazette Staff / Caroline O’Connor

Monday, November 13, 2017

CAMBRIDGE — After two games in two days, the UMass men’s basketball team gets a week off to take what it learned from it’s win over UMass-Lowell and loss to Harvard as it gets set to take on Niagara, Sunday at noon at the Mullins Center.

“This is huge from a preparation standpoint, just for us getting better,” UMass coach Matt McCall said. “Taking what we’ve learned from both games. Early in the week we need to focus on us and get better with our basketball club. Later in the week, we’ll start to prepare (for Niagara).”

The week could be especially valuable for getting junior big man Rashaan Holloway back in rhythm. He practiced for less than a week prior to Lowell after missing five weeks with a broken thumb.

“Rashaan has to be more aggressive in there. I was pretty animated with him in a timeout one time,” McCall said. “We haven’t had time to practice with Rashaan. He hasn’t practiced in five weeks. Getting him back in to the flow and practicing guarding pick and rolls. I thought he struggled late in the game.”

While Niagara isn’t usually a team that resonates among college basketball fans, the Purple Eagles should have UMass’ attention. They upended St. Bonaventure Friday, albeit with Jaylen Adams out of the Bonnies lineup with an injury.

“We have a very, very good team coming in on Sunday that’s already beaten St. Bonaventure,” McCall said. “They’re not going to come in here on the road and be intimidated.”

Senior guard C.J. Anderson said the team would put Harvard behind it quickly.

“We have a whole week ’til we play again,” he said. “Once we get back home we can’t be worried about this. We have to be focused on Niagara.”

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