By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
UMass beat Rhode Island 80-78 in Amherst yesterday. Freshman Ronnie DeGray III led the team with 21 points. He also had six rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Tre Mitchell had 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
UMass is now 5-10 when a starting Guard shoots more than T. Mitchell. Senior Carl Pierre had 13 FGAs. He scored 15 points. T. Mitchell had 12 FGAs.
This game was typical - UMass gets a lead and it comes down to the wire instead of a comfortable victory.
UMass was up 62-47 in the second half at the 9:23 mark. From that point, Rhode Island outscored UMass 31-18. Rhode Island had a chance to tie the game at 80 and force a second overtime but Antwan Walker missed a wide open layup and UMass moves to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in Atlantic 10 conference play.
There were 3 concerning things to come out of Wednesday’s game:
🚩Cairo McCrory and Dyondre Dominguez didn’t play in the game. They were held out by the UMass Athletic Department
🚩Matt McCall continues to play Fernandes and Garcia together
🚩Kolton Mitchell is not getting enough playing time
I think that McCrory and Dominguez have an academic eligibility issue. Hopefully its just some work they need turn in or wasn’t graded before the RI game. The worst end is that either or both can’t play this semester. UMass needs both players. FP SPORTS hopes that a resolution is found and both players play on Sunday in New York City.
Coach McCall made the right move by not starting Fernandes and Garcia, again. However, by the end of the game, both of them were on the floor together. They both are “shoot-first” Guards. Neither is a good individual perimeter defender. For some reason, NESN continues to harp on Fernandes assist to turnover ratio. In the game against RI, Fernandes had 5 assists and 5 turnovers. They both shoot too much, especially Fernandes.
What’s happening to Kolton Mitchell is a travesty. He solidified the PG position last year. He was the best option at PG, over Sean East II and Keon Clergeot [both are having a lot of success at Bradley and SE Louisiana, respectively]. When Fernandes and Garcia were starting, K. Mitchell should have been the backup PG. Mitchell played tonight so he is academically eligible. Unless he was hurt and the program kept it secret, there is no reason for Mitchell to not be in the rotation. He paid his dues. What does that get you in the McCall era? 2 minutes. 🤔.
I’m not a fan of playing more than 9 guys in a rotation. This UMass roster can potentially play 11 players regularly and in this situation I think that is needed.
A good start would be to ensure that K. Mitchell gets roughly 17 minutes per game. He has the experience Fernandes, Garcia and the 3 Freshman from Woodstock don’t have.
UMass can stay in the top 5 of the A10, if they play their experienced and talented players. If those players don’t have it going, get the other talented players in the game.