Bring Back This Fat Bastard And UMass Will Be Back In The Final Four, #MakeUMassGreatAgain

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Watching the Final Four it’s hard for anyone born after 1987 to imagine UMass playing in a game like this, but it happened. In real life. It will make you feel old as shit realize that the Minutemen made their first, last, and only appearance in the Final Four 20 years ago.

Growing up loving basketball I never even knew that UMass had a basketball team because they were one of the worst programs in college sports. Then John Calipari showed up, players started driving really nice cars, and the next thing you know we were the #1 team in the country. It was just so refreshing because no one wanted to root for Boston College, but UMass was a team we could all get behind. Only the coolest kids at Sullivan Middle School were rocking the UMass Starter jacket. It was awesome.

Anyway, the 1995-96 season was one of the most dominant performances by any team in the history of the game. They started ranked 7th, and led by preseason All-American Marcus Camby. Their first game of the season was against #1 ranked Kentucky, who they beat the shit out of and never looked back. They beat SEVEN ranked teams, and 11 teams that eventually made the NCAA Tournament. They were undefeated on the road, winning by an average of 13 points. Their lone regular season loss came to George Washington, a tournament team, at home, in the third to last game of the season.

We’ll never see anything like that again. Say what you want to about John Calipari, but that was the most memorable sporting event of Turtleboy’s childhood. Keep in mind, the Red Sox sucked, the Bruins always made the playoffs and lost in the first round, Larry Bird was done, and the Drew Bledsoe Patriots were just about to get their ass kicked in the Super Bowl. UMass basketball was our first taste of winning.

Unfortunately the Committee boned them over by putting them on the same side of the bracket as Kentucky. Because there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that those were the two best teams in college basketball. The one seeds on the other side, UConn and Purdue, didn’t even make the Elite 8. Instead Syracuse and Mississippi State snuck in. Meanwhile UMass demolished everyone, including the #2 seeded Allen Iverson Georgetown Hoyas, who they beat by 20. So everyone knew that the UMass-Kentucky rematch was the REAL National Championship that year.


Spoiler alert – UMass lost. But that was a long time ago and I honestly forgot how it happened, so I sat down and watched the entire game on Youtube today because I have no life. I feel angry watching it now because we definitely should’ve won:

OK first of all, who is this glorious UMass fan losing his mind over a Marcus Camby block?

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I wonder what that guy is up to these days? Just kidding, he’s probably dead. I’ll tell you one thing though, if this guy were around today UMass would still be good.

Basically the biggest problem UMass had was they had no bench. It was Marcus Camby, Carmelo Travieso, Donta Bright, Dana Dingle, Edgar Padilla, and a couple points here or there from the other Padilla, Charlton Clarke, and Tyrone Weeks. So they all got in foul trouble. Travieso missed most of the second half so no one could shoot the three ball. Bright fouled out on a bullshit call in the final two minutes. Dingle cracked his head open and missed a lot of the first half.

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Meanwhile Kentucky was one of the deepest teams you will ever see. It was literally the 1998 Rick Pitino Celtics. Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, and Antoine Walker were the best threesome in the country. Toss in the best freshmen in the country in Ron Mercer, along with freshman Wayne Turner, and a bunch of savvy veterans like Derek Anderson, Anthony Epps, Mark Pope, and Jeff Shepard, and they were able to outlast UMass and destroy young Turtleboy’s dreams.

It was a great game though. At one point this was the score:

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But they had the best player in college basketball on their team, and then Travieso came back and started nailing 3’s, and Bright couldn’t miss, and even the other Padilla started doing his thing. So the next thing you know this was the score:

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Four plays in particular stand out as the reason they ultimately lost:

1. After getting within 3, Epps stole the ball, only to have Edgar Padilla steal it right back. Instead of getting it inside for an easy 2, Travieso forced this shot and completely air-balled it. They never got closer to tying the score than this:


2. With 8 minutes to go UMass was within five and had the momentum. Donta Bright put a nice little move on to put himself in the position for an easy layup. Instead he passed it to Camby and it went off his foot and out of bounds.

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3. Travieso missed a wide open bunny, down five in the final two minutes. Donta Bright, their second leading scorer, fouled out on this play on a bullshit call that I probably should’ve been a lot angrier about at the time.

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4. The other Padilla missed a wide open layup in the final minute, erasing any small chance they had at winning.

Oh well, it was still awesome. Turtleboy Jr. will never see anything like this, but one day he will be able to read this blog and he will be able relive the greatest sports moment in his father’s miserable childhood.


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7 Comment(s)
  • Practical
    April 4, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Talks nothing of the Bruins or Celtics, thinks we give a shit about UMass.

  • Fitchburg-shuffle
    April 3, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Lived in Brandywine during the summer of 95. Got stoned with every single player mentioned plus a few grads that may or may not be head coach. All of them were great dudes.

  • Reddog
    April 3, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    That guy looks like the guy that just took a selfie with the fake terrorist in Egypt last week

  • Tony
    April 3, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Saw them beat Memphis at the Centrum that year . Was only 7 but still was the craziest atmosphere I’ve been a part of . Including Sox ws games and Celtics finals games .. Never would have thought that Umass would fall off so bad . Loved that team but Bruiser Flint couldn’t recruit for shit and killed the program .

  • Lambodiesel
    April 3, 2016 at 1:14 am

    They were 9-0 vs.ranked teams that year. And they beat the Hoyas by 24. Not to nitpick, it’s just that time stopped for me as a Minutman fan when that year ended…. and has yet to resume.

    Kentucky #1
    Maryland #19
    Wake Forest #10
    Syracuse #13
    Georgia Tech #21
    Memphis #3
    Virginia Tech #10
    Louisville #21
    Georgetown #4

  • Turtle Educator
    April 2, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    I was a freshman in high school that year.
    just a blossoming turtle from the mean streets of sutton’s grittiest hood.

    • Frisbee Majors
      April 3, 2016 at 1:00 am

      Scholars, all.

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