UMass Minutemen basketball

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UMass Minutemen basketball
2015–16 UMass Minutemen basketball team
UMass Minutemen basketball athletic logo
University University of Massachusetts Amherst
Conference A-10
Location Amherst, MA
Head coach Derek Kellogg [1] (8th year)
Arena Mullins Center
(Capacity: 9,493)
Nickname Minutemen

Maroon and White

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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours
NCAA Tournament Final Four
NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
1995, 1996*
NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1992, 1995, 1996*
NCAA Tournament appearances
1962, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996*, 1997, 1998, 2014
*vacated by NCAA
Conference tournament champions
1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
Conference regular season champions
1962, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2007

The UMass Minutemen basketball team, also known as the Massachusetts Minutemen, represents the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, in NCAA Division I men's competition. (UMass women's teams and athletes are known as Minutewomen.) The Minutemen currently compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. They qualified for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 2014, which was the first trip to the big dance for the Minutemen since 1998. The head coach of the Minutemen is Derek Kellogg.


The men's basketball program has a history of over 100 years. The Minutemen, as they have been called since 1972, celebrated their 100th season in 2008-09.[2] Though the program's first game was played on January 10, 1900, there were several years in which no team was assembled.

The program's first coach was Harold M. Gore, who in 11 seasons compiled a record of 85-53 (.616 win percentage), highlighted by a 12-2 season in 1925-26. In 1933-34, Massachusetts was the only undefeated team in men's college basketball, going 12-0. For the 1948-49 season, Massachusetts joined the Yankee Conference to mark the first time they participated in conference play. U of M would go on to be 10-time champions of the Yankee Conference.

The 1960s and 70s were prosperous for the program. The 1961-62 team went 15-9 and participated in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. They would go on to win 4 Yankee Conference titles in the '60s, and played in the NIT at the end of the 1969-70 season. The program compiled a record of 142-103 (.580) in the '60s. The 1969-70 team featured Julius Erving. In his first game with the varsity team, a 90-85 win over Providence College, Erving scored 27 points and grabbed 28 rebounds.

In the first eight seasons of the '70s, the Redmen/Minutemen compiled a record of 152-65 (.700). They won 5 Yankee Conference titles, and played in 5 NITs. The early '70s teams featured players such as Erving, Al Skinner, and Rick Pitino. Jack Leaman, who coached the team for 13 seasons, hung it up after the 1978-79 season, with a record of 217-126 (.632).

The Minutemen fell on hard times in the late 70s and 80s, but would rebound under the direction of rookie coach John Calipari, who took the head coaching job in 1988.

The 1990s were the defining decade for UMass basketball. Calipari helped the Minutemen become A-10 Tournament Champs five consecutive times (1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96), and appeared in the NCAA Tournament nine times, including two appearances in the Elite Eight (1995, 1996) and a Final Four appearance (1996) that resulted in third place, the highest ever for the Minutemen. (Note, however, that NCAA sanctions stripped the Minutemen of their 1996 NCAA Tournament victories.) In the 1990s, the Minutemen were frequently ranked first in the Associated Press season polls.

Since 1998, the Minutemen have slipped out of the national spotlight, not returning to the NCAA Tournament until 2014. The most successful seasons in between were 2006-07, when the Minutemen shared the A-10 Regular Season championship with Xavier, and advanced to the second round of the NIT. In 2007-08, the Minutemen advanced to the 2008 NIT championship game, where they lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes 92-85. In 2012 the Minutemen reappeared in the NIT tournament after a successful season with a 22-11 record, reaching the semifinals, where they lost to Stanford. The Minutemen were again invited to the NIT in 2013.

The 2014 season was a massive success, as the Minutemen qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in 16 years. The team started off the season 10-0 and then 16-1, while reaching as high as #13 in the AP poll, and #12 in the Coaches poll.[3] The Minutemen then lost to Tennessee in the second round of the tournament.


Though not a nationally recognized name, the program's coach with the most wins was Jack Leaman.[4] Leaman guided Massachusetts to 217 wins, and coached players including Julius Erving, Al Skinner, and Rick Pitino. Though Leaman's last season as coach of the men's team was 1978-79, he remained a key part of the UMass Athletic Department until he died in 2004.[5]

Perhaps the school's most recognizable coach was John Calipari. In 1988, the rookie head coach took over a program that was on a streak of 10-straight losing seasons and had not been to the NCAA tournament since 1962. Calipari led UMass to the NIT in his second season as head coach. In his fourth season, UMass won the A-10 regular season and tournament championships. Over the next few seasons, Calipari would take the team to new heights: the Sweet Sixteen (1992), the Elite Eight (1995), and frequent #1 rankings in the AP weekly poll. In 1996, the Minutemen reached the Final Four for the first time. After the 1995-96 season, Calipari left UMass for the NBA as the new head coach of the New Jersey Nets.

After Calipari resigned in 1996, his associate Bruiser Flint coached from 1996–2001, and Steve Lappas coached from 2001-05.

In 2005, Travis Ford replaced Lappas. Though the Minutemen struggled with a 13-15 record in Ford's first season of 2005-06, he quickly improved the team in the next two seasons. In 2006-07, the Minutemen were co-champions of the Atlantic 10 (along with Xavier), reached the second round of the NIT, and finished with a record of 24-9. In 2007-08, the Minutemen reached the NIT championship game, and finished with a record of 25-11. Following the 2007-08 season, his third with the Minutemen, he left to take the head coaching vacancy at Oklahoma State.

On April 23, 2008, former Minutemen player Derek Kellogg returned to Amherst and became the 21st coach of the program.[6]


Through 2009, Massachusetts and the Rhode Island Rams have played over 130 times and at least once a year every year since 1950. The Atlantic 10 regularly pairs UMass and URI in a home-and-home series each season.

Starting in 1995, Massachusetts and Boston College played annually for the Commonwealth Cup, in the "Commonwealth Classic". Following the 2011-2012 season (in which UMass defeated the Eagles 82-46 in Chestnut Hill), Boston College abruptly terminated the series and canceled their return trip to Amherst in late 2012.

UMass and Temple had an intense rivalry in the 1990s, during which time the schools were coached by John Calipari and John Chaney. The two coaches had to be restrained from each other during a 3-overtime game in 1990.[7] After a game in 1994, Chaney charged at Calipari during a post-game press conference, and in front of reporters and television cameras, threatened to kill Calipari.[8]

From 1996-2005, Massachusetts and Connecticut played in the "Mass Mutual U-Game," a reference to the two schools' nicknames, UMass and UConn, respectively. UConn won nine of the ten games. UMass won the 2004 game, in which the Huskies were the defending national champions.

Postseason Results[edit]

NCAA tournament results[edit]

The Minutemen have appeared in the NCAA Tournament nine times. Their combined record is 11–9. Their 1996 victories have been vacated by the NCAA thus their official tournament record is 7–9.

Year Seed Round Opponent Result
1962 First Round NYU L 50–70
1992 #3 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#14 Fordham
#6 Syracuse
#2 Kentucky
W 85–58
W 77–71
L 77–87
1993 #3 First Round
Second Round
#14 Penn
#6 Virginia
W 54–50
L 56–71
1994 #2 First Round
Second Round
#15 Southwest Texas State
#10 Maryland
W 78–60
L 87–95
1995 #2 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
#15 Saint Peter's
#10 Stanford
#6 Tulsa
#4 Oklahoma State
W 68–51
W 75–53
W 76–51
L 54–68
1996* #1 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
#16 UCF
#9 Stanford
#12 Arkansas
#2 Georgetown
#1 Kentucky
W 92–70
W 79–74
W 79–63
W 86–62
L 74–81
1997 #11 First Round #6 Louisville L 57–65
1998 #7 First Round #10 Saint Louis L 46–51
2014 #6 Second Round #11 Tennessee L 67–86

* vacated by NCAA

NIT results[edit]

The Minutemen have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 13 times. Their combined record is 13–14.

Year Round Opponent Result
1970 First Round Marquette L 55–62
1971 First Round North Carolina L 49–90
1973 First Round
North Carolina
W 78–71
L 63–73
1974 First Round Jacksonville L 69–73OT
1975 First Round Manhattan L 51–68
1977 First Round
Seton Hall
W 86–85
L 71–81
1990 First Round Maryland L 81–91
1991 First Round
Second Round
3rd Place Game
La Salle
W 93–90
W 78–74
W 82–80
L 71–78
L 91–98
2000 First Round Siena L 65–66
2007 First Round
Second Round
West Virginia
W 89–87
L 77–90
2008 First Round
Second Round
Stephen F. Austin
Ohio State
W 80–60
W 68–63
W 81–77
W 78–66
L 85–92
2012 First Round
Second Round
Mississippi State
Seton Hall
W 101–962OT
W 77–67
W 72–70
L 74–84
2013 First Round Stony Brook L 58–71

Prominent alumni[edit]

NBA players[edit]

Several Massachusetts alumni have gone on to play in the NBA:

Retired numbers[edit]

Five former players have had their jersey numbers retired.[9]

UMass Minutemen retired numbers
No. Player Pos. Career
15 Lou Roe PF 1991-95
21 Marcus Camby [10][11] C 1993-96
30 Al Skinner F 1971-1974
32 George Burke
Julius Erving F 1968–1971

UMass Athletic Hall of Fame[edit]

Many former members of the basketball program have been elected into the school's Hall of Fame.[12] Class years listed in parentheses.

  • David Bartley (1956)
  • George "Trigger" Burke (1956)
  • Lou Bush (1934)
  • John Calipari (coach)
  • Marcus Camby (1996)
  • Joe DiSarcina (1969)
  • Ray Ellerbrook (1970)
  • Frederick "Fritz" Ellert (1930)
  • Julius Erving (1972)
  • Jack Foley (1957)
  • Harold "Kid" Gore (coach)
  • Emory Grayson (1917)
  • Doug Grutchfield (1961)
  • Ned Larkin (1959)
  • Jack Leaman (coach)
  • Joseph Lojko (1934)
  • Jim McCoy (1992)
  • Edward McGrath (1949)
  • Bill Prevey (1952)
  • Lou Roe (1995)
  • Al Skinner (1974)
  • John Stewart (1936)
  • Billy Tindall (1968)
  • Rodger Twitchell (1964)
  • Harper Williams (1993)

The Hall is officially named "The George "Trigger" Burke UMass Athletic Hall of Fame" in recognition of Burke's generous support of UMass Athletics and student scholarships.


External links[edit]