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UMass basketball is back like you read about. After losing Chaz Williams, arguably the greatest player UMass has seen since Marcus Camby, there was a lot of questions about this team. Sure, they made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 last season. But they got EMASCULATED by Tennessee in the first round. And after losing Chaz, and seniors Raphiael Putney and Sampson Carter this team has a lot to prove.
Two games into the season we know a couple things. When they suck, they suck real bad, and when they’re good they can beat any team in the country. On Friday night they beat Siena 95-87. It wasn’t pretty. Siena blows. Letting those rag tags play with an NCAA Tournament team wasn’t exactly a good start. And 81 of the 95 points we scored came from FOUR guys – Derrick Gordon, Cady Lalanne, Maxie Esho, and Trey Davis.
Today the Altar Boys from Boston College faced off with the Minutemen at the TD Garden. Somehow the Nancy’s from Newton got out to a 22-9 lead. At this point I basically was resigned to the fact that we sucked again. Last year was a nice little run, but at the end of the day this is who we were I guess. By the time halftime came we were down 32-24.
Then the second half started and they actually started trying. And when UMass basketball starts trying they become an insatiable beast that will eat your children. Lalanne was an absolute man child, scoring 11 points, to go along with 10 rebounds and 5 blocks. Long story short, UMass ended up winning 71-62 and it’s pretty obvious that this team’s going back to the NCAA Tournament.
Oh yea, and Derrick Gordon is the fucking man. Ever heard of him? He’s the first openly gay player in NCAA history. Whether or not you can admit it, that matters. Now, I would’ve been disappointed if DG came back from his coming out tour and still couldn’t hit free throws because he was more interested in promoting his new book (he doesn’t really have a book). I was genuinely concerned that his mind might not have been as much as it should’ve been on basketball. Especially after he started hanging out with this guy:
Boy was I wrong. Through two games DG is averaging 16 points, 2.5 steals, and 6.5 rebounds. Oh yea, and he’s 18-22 from the free throw line – his achilles heel last year.
Some idiots out there will yammer on saying, “Who cares if he’s gay? Why does he have to share that with the world?” To the contrary, I think the DG story is actually under reported. The main reason I like this guy so much is that he’s a bad ass. There’s nothing I can stand less than a soft basketball player that whines all the time. See – LeBron James for more on that.
DG is the opposite of that. The dude plays basketball like the antichrist. He’s fearless, dives for loose balls, grabs rebounds he has no business getting at 6’2″, and is clearly the heart and soul of this team. That’s what happens when you grow up as a poor kid in Plainfield, New Jersey. You learn to fight for everything.
Derrick’s got a twin brother named Daryl. For some reason, and I didn’t even know this was possible, Derrick turned out to be 6’2″ and Daryl is only 5’5″. This might be the funniest pictures of twin children you will ever see:
So Derrick got an offer to play for St. Patrick’s in Elizabeth NJ, which is basically a Division 1 factory. Daryl meanwhile decided to keep it real, and ended up in jail for five years on an attempted murder charge.
The first time they’ve seen each other outside of a prison since then happened in Friday night at Amherst.
You can’t make up a storyline like that. You just can’t. It wasn’t like this back in April when Derrick came out. Daryl wouldn’t accept Derrick when he made the big announcement –
“When I first found out he was gay, I’m not gonna lie. I was mad and shocked.”
But luckily he’s come around –
“Derrick is the same person. Regardless of his sexuality, I’m always going to love and protect him. That’s my other half.”
Glad to see that this is a non-issue in Amherst. Sure, when he played his first game he had tons of people supporting him with signs like this:
But we’ll know that we’ve made real progress when shit like this isn’t even necessary. The bottom line is that Derrick Gordon is a great college basketball player. The more he plays like he has so far, and the more UMass keeps winning, the less we’ll consider him a gay basketball player, and the more we’ll start talking about him as a UMass legend.
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