The non-conference tests that the Minutemen face over the next few weeks may present a few problems for a team that has already opened up the season at 1-2.
After being completely outplayed in their first two contests of the season, UMass was able to pick up a win on Saturday night over Arkansas-Fort Smith, 94-68 as part of the Legends Classic.
The Minutemen had a pair of home games this past week while serving as one of the regional hosts for the Legends Classic. Despite losing at the hands of Cornell last Wednesday night, UMass automatically qualified for the trip to Atlantic City for the later rounds of the regular season tournament.
Match-ups with Rutgers and then potentially Florida or Michigan State have Coach Kellogg and his squad looking to solve their early season problems as quickly as possible.
In their front three games, UMass has had plenty of flaws exposed, the biggest of which certainly has to be their issues of consistency on offense.
Senior Ricky Harris was expected to be the leading scorer for the Minutemen this season, but what fans could not have expected is just how much of the scoring load he would have to take up in order for UMass to be successful.
Harris scored 15 points in the season-opening loss to Central Florida, followed by performances of 26 against Cornell and 18 against Arkansas-Fort Smith. However, at times, especially in the game against Cornell, UMass has seemed completely lost offensively and with a look that only Harris can put the ball in the basket.
Anthony Gurley, a former Wake Forest member, has shown flashes offensively of aiding Harris in scoring the ball. He has scored double digits in each of the first three contests, including 21 in Saturday’s win over Arkansas-Fort Smith.
In the match-up against Central Florida, the Minutemen set a school-record in attempting 38 three-pointers, making only 12 of them. In the Cornell loss, they shot only 25 percent from behind the arc, finishing 4 of 16 from 3-point land, a stat considerably lower following the school-record number of attempts against UCF.
The season is early and for UMass their offensive numbers do raise many questions for a team who is desperately searching for an identity. Coach Kellogg and his group have plenty of time to look to improve, however, with the schedule that is presented in front of them, the ability to find an offensive groove should be urgent.
The Minutemen (1-2) will welcome St. Francis (NY) to the Mullins Center, tomorrow night November 24th, in a game they must look to capture before heading to Atlantic City this upcoming weekend.
*Photo Credit: Masslive.com, Eric Gallant