UMass Lowell is positioned on the men’s basketball map – and UMass is next

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Coach Pat Duquette, who is in his ninth season, is realistic but confident.

“I’m always straightforward,” he said. “I know coaches don’t like to say that [they have a good team] at the start of the year, but I love my team. I knew we had work to do, and we still have work to do, but it’s the most talented team we’ve had since I’ve been here.

“I thought it would take a while to blend in, chemically speaking, because we’ve had so many transfers, but they clicked faster than any group I’ve had.

“We are taller and more athletic than before. It has always been a major problem for us, something that we have had to overcome.

UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette seems confident about the state of his roster.Jessica Hill / Associated press

UMass Lowell (4-1) beat Dayton to a sold-out crowd of 13,000, battling the Flyers all night before securing a 59-58 victory. Guard Justin Faison, a transfer graduate from Elizabeth City College in North Carolina, led the Hawks with 21 points.

The River Hawks lost to Oklahoma State in their next game, but rebounded with a win over Central Connecticut, then upset George Washington, 67-56. Second-year big man Max Brooks led the way with a career-high 23 points.

UMass is returning from a round robin in St. Petersburg, Fla., Where he lost to Weber State and Ball State and passed Greensboro, North Carolina in overtime. The Minutemen will have to be ready on Wednesday evening.

Duquette filled his roster with seven players from Maryland plus one from Washington, DC and one from Northern Virginia.

“There are just a lot of players there,” he said.

Plus, he has a secret weapon in his best assistant, Louis Hinnant, a former BC playmaker. Hinnant is originally from Oxon Hill, Maryland, and has many contacts in the area.

“Recruiting is the pipeline,” said Duquette. “You are still reaching out. I have been doing this for a long time. You have a lot of contacts at the grassroots. You have to keep in touch with these guys; this is where you find kids that are a little under the radar or transfers that go. It is an ongoing thing.

Brooks, an athletic 6-foot-7 forward from Waldorf, Md., Is one such child.

“He’s still young and there are a lot of things to work with,” said Duquette. “He’s always been a defensive presence; it’s a rim protector, and it’s something we’ve never had. He begins to develop more offensively, to gain self-confidence.

Other crucial transfers include Everette Hammond of upstate South Carolina and Ayinde Hikim de La Salle. Connor Withers, a 6-7 forward, might be the team’s best player, but he injured his foot. There’s a chance he’s playing on Wednesday.

â–ª A new type of dual program: UMass Boston coach Jason Harris has brought a new idea to life. The Beacons will host the Black Coaches Classic on Saturday, with UMass Boston facing Brandeis at 7:30 am, preceded by Tufts v Lesley at 5:00 pm.

Harris and athletic director Jacqueline Schuman feel like they’ve put on a more than four-hour basketball event.

UMass Boston coach Jason Harris, seen here cutting the nets with LIU Brooklyn a few years ago, is excited about his new venture.
UMass Boston coach Jason Harris, seen here cutting the nets with LIU Brooklyn a few years ago, is excited about his new venture.LIU Brooklyn

“This event represents an important opportunity to both show the important visual representation of black men in head coaching roles that further influence other black men to pursue those roles and to continue education on how to achieve racial progress and equity in sport, ”said Schuman.

The other three coaches are Jean Bain from Brandeis, Brandon Linton from Tufts and Devon Mayo from Lesley. Bain is someone to watch; he was very successful at Brandeis.

â–ª Around New England: Kevin Marfo has had a strange journey. The 6-9 center led the nation in the rebound as he played for Quinnipiac in 2019-20. Then he transferred to Texas A&M, where he only started eight games. He’s back in Q, and the Bobcats are 3-1, averaging 7.0 ppg and Marfo’s 10.8 rpg.

â–ª Just beyond New England: Syracuse has played against Colgate more than any other opponent. The teams have met 173 times, Syracuse winning 127 – including 54 in a row until last Saturday, when Colgate broke the streak with an incredible 3-point shooting performance to win, 100-85. Colgate fell behind, 16-2, but ended up making 18 3-pointers to leap from behind. If you’ve done the math, Colgate’s last win was in 1962… Don’t look now, but Iona, coached by ex-Celtics president Rick Pitino, is 5-0, and next for them. Gaels is the Alabama in the Disney World tournament starting Thanksgiving Day. I think you can expect Iona to be in the NCAA tournament.

Joe Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan.


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