Sports

Jump On The Bandwagon Now Because Chaz Williams and UMass Basketball Are Final Four Material

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend my Saturday in the lovely city of Springfield MA. If you enjoy crime, urban decay, and lots of buildings that look like this:

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then Springfield is a destination you can’t pass up. I was in town for the UMass-BYU basketball match – also known as a “hot date.” It was UMass’ first sellout since 2006 and we literally got seats in the last row. We had the misfortune of being surrounded by a collection of UMassholes that makes up 90% of the student body. Because I was with the woman of my dreams, I had to frown upon their drunken shenanigans and flagrant use of the “a**hole” chant in front of little children. That so would’ve been me ten years ago, but now I have to act like I’m above that type of boorish behavior. Getting old sucks.

I don’t accept last row seats though. Since the wifey isn’t a fan of sitting in unoccupied seats that are closer to the front (on account of potential embarrassment when the rightful owner of the seats arrive) I usually have to make the first move and then let her know the coast is clear. Luckily the official #1 UMass fan was in attendance, and had two seats in front of his second row seats available.

His name is Brian Long. If you are friends with him on Facebook you may have blocked him, as he posts at least ten times a day about the Minutemen’s basketball team. If you don’t know him you very well might find him offensive. He is loud and abrasive, but his UMass fandom is a force that cannot be reckoned with. He yells at the student section when they aren’t loud enough. They could go 10-20 and he would be at every home game. If you sit behind him, you will get a headache. Like on Saturday when he yelled “U” at the top of his lungs four times, and no one responded. However, on the fifth time he got the student section to respond with “Mass,” which started a back and forth U-Mass chant between him and 8,000 people. I saw what the chant did to the crowd and the team. It woke UMass up out of a temporary slumber and Rafael Putney came down the court and nailed a three to put UMass up by double digits. And as always, he of course ended up on television yesterday and on the jumbotron. 418973_10151290344011536_550731589_n 528910_10101102068238302_1707298358_n photo-42 photo-40 photo-30 1465288_10101727899437562_424073346_n

(I can’t stop looking at the guy behind him gorging his face with popcorn)

There was reason for Brian and every UMass fan to feel pretty freaking good in Springfield yesterday. UMass improved its record to 8-0 with a creamy 105-96 victory over a very good BYU team. They’ve now beaten teams from the Big 10 (Nebraska), SEC (LSU), ACC (Boston College and Clemson), Mountain West Conference (New Mexico), and West Coast Conference (BYU). New Mexico was a three seed in the dance last year. LSU, Clemson, and BYU should all make it to the tournament this year. These are real wins against real teams, and it’s the way that they’re doing it that makes them so fun to watch right now.

UMass has one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. When they get going they’re nearly impossible to stop. They’ve come back from sizable deficits against BC and Eastern Michigan. In other games (LSU, BYU, New Mexico) they’ve just toyed with their opponents, allowing them to stay within striking distance, but never relinquishing the lead. Although BYU started the second half of Saturday’s game off with an 8-0 run (which a lot of people missed because there were literally TWO old women working the beer line in the ENTIRE ARENA), it only got them within three points. They would get no closer. When UMass needs to score, they score. When they need a run, they get that too.

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If you haven’t seen them play this year then I highly suggest jumping on the bandwagon. Unlike some uber-protective dooshnozzles, I love bandwagonners. If your team doesn’t have bandwagon fans then they probably aren’t worth watching. I became a UMass fan by jumping on the bandwagon in 1994. I had never heard of them before, and was under the impression that Boston College was the team of choice around here.

I was obviously wrong.

People don’t like BC mainly on account of they’re a bunch of prep school dandies who just wanna tell you that they go to BC. I could never find it in me to like them when I was younger, despite the fact that the

Globe, Herald, 

and NESN give them a ridiculous amount of coverage, considering how hopelessly mediocre they are at everything. The bottom line is that you can’t relate to BC, and most people don’t wanna jump on board with them.

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But UMass? They were a team I was drawn to immediately. They are our state’s flagship university. When they got nasty in the 90’s everyone instinctively jumped on board. I remember T-shirt gypsies hawkers at Tatnuck Square trying to peddle all types of UMass gear back in the day. And we all had something UMass to wear. It was what middle school boys talked about at lunch. Since the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics all seemed like they’d never win it all, people around here had to put their faith in the Minutemen for a Championship.

And it’s happening again.

This time they aren’t led by a can’t miss prospect who accepts illegal donations from boosters. Nope, this time they’re led by a player a foot and a half shorter than Marcus CambyChaz Williams. He may be just as good. On Saturday he went for your run of the mille 32 points and 15 assists, on five of seven from downtown. He’s no taller than 5’6″ but he’s afraid of absolutely no one. He basically punked down some giant cast-iron creature who liked like a character from the book of Mormon.

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His energy is contagious and he is the undisputed leader of the team. When opposing offenses come up the court he leads the four other players in a simultaneous and loud hand slapping of the floor, which can best be described as badass. He has emerged as one of the best players in the country, and a contender for the Naismith Award for the Player of the Year. If he keeps playing like this, and UMass keeps winning, there’s no reason he can’t win.

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I sat a couple rows behind Boston Celtics’ General Manager, and BYU alum Danny Ainge on Saturday. As Chaz stood at the free throw line, ready to add to his growing point total, I got the chance to yell at Danny during the silence in anticipation of Chaz shooting. “

Hey Danny, you should draft this guy.” 

A bunch of the guys in the press box started laughing, but then I found this gem in an article written by ESPN’s Marty Dobrow:

“Though this was the first-ever meeting between the two schools, BYU does have some history here in the state of Massachusetts, thanks to some of its graduates. There was former governor Mitt Romney — who was not in the house — and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge — who was. Fans implored Ainge to consider drafting Williams, and after this show maybe that scenario is plausible.”

By fans, I think he meant me. My wife asked if Chaz would play in the NBA. I didn’t really know how to answer that question. He’s obviously way too short – but then again, I can’t imagine him ever being denied. This is a Brooklyn player who found himself at the powerhouse basketball school of Hofstra, and ended up transferring to UMass – a team who hadn’t made the tournament since 1998. Now he’s looking at becoming the best player in the country. It seems like if this dude wants to do something, he’s gonna do it. And that includes the NBA.

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The Minutemen are ranked 21st in the country as I write this, but on Monday they will most likely be ranked higher. At the beginning of the season I said anything but a tournament appearance would be a disappointment. I’m way past that at this point. This is a team that has Final Four potential.

Stop laughing jagoff – I’m being serious. Why the heck not? They are currently the #1 team in the country according to their RPI. They can beat ranked teams by double digits. All five starters average double digits. I’m even starting to come around on coach Derek Kellogg. I crap on him when they underperform, so I have to credit him when they play like this. They have size, speed, senior leadership, and for the first time since Camby donned a UMass uniform, they have swagger. They play like they expect to win. They are all seemingly committed to reaching the next level, without knowing what that level may be.

I’m not saying they’re going to make the Final Four – there’s way too much time left before the tournament, so a lot can change between now and then. But they have the ability to. There are teams that are happy to be there, and then there are teams that can go on runs. UMass is amongst the latter, and we may not have seen their best yet.  They’re no longer thinking “make the tournament.” They’re thinking “win the tournament.” They’re that good. If they keep winning then Mike Felger and the rest of the goons in the mainstream media will have no choice BUT to pay attention to them.

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So what do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.

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8 Comment(s)
  • John E
    December 12, 2013 at 3:38 am

    I cracked up in multiple places in this article but:

    “Although BYU started the second half of Saturday’s game off with an 8-0 run (which a lot of people missed because there were literally TWO old women working the beer line in the ENTIRE ARENA)”

    not an exaggeration… at halftime I went to the men’s room in hopes one stall would be not-disgusting enough for a deuce (no such luck) so I decided to get a beer instead. The shortest line was a cart with the line wrapping around itself almost twice for a 720-degree twist. It was moving so slow I was convinced it could be a trap vortex from BYU to some kind of non-alcoholic hell, so I just retreated back to my seat.

  • Blong
    December 10, 2013 at 3:36 am
  • Blong
    December 9, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Hands on my head from the VCU game might be my favorite photo ever.

  • Dave P
    December 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    It’ll be easier for the players to stay out of trouble off the court now that DVDs are obsolete, and Media Play is closed.

    • Blong
      December 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      haha, well played!

      It was K-Mart though.

    • Joey G
      December 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Yeah… until they get caught stealing things from Amazon drones that they knock down with brooms and snow shovels.

  • Joey G
    December 9, 2013 at 4:54 am

    You can go places with a girl and be involved in the yelling of inappropriate things. You simply need to smuggle hooch into the game to lose some inhibitions.

  • Blong
    December 9, 2013 at 4:51 am

    B. Mainly because Camby accepted money from an agent, not a university booster. The agent wanted him to leave, a booster would typically want someone to stay. You need a fact checker.

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