Posted: 2:00 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, 2013
By Jimmy Kelley
It was a heck of a weekend for the UMass Minutemen and Monday saw them reap the benefits in more ways than one.
With their 105-96 win over BYU, the UMass Minutemen made a statement about where they stand in the landscape of college basketball this year. Led by senior point guard Chaz Williams, UMass took down one of the most offensively gifted teams in the country by beating the Cougars at their own game. Monday morning saw UMass rewards for their success by two voting bodies, while one laid an egg in the most confusing way.
They should start calling this the "UMass Player of the Week Award" after Williams earned his second conference honor of the year on Monday. The senior point guard scored 32 points with 15 assists in the win on Sunday to build on his 12-point, eight-assist night against Eastern Michigan earlier in the week. Williams and Cady Lalanne have combined to win four of the five Atlantic 10 Player of the Week awards this year and the one week a UMass player did not win fell on a week in which the Minutemen did not play.
Williams has been an absolute work horse for the Minutemen in 2013-14 and its good to see that all the hard work he has put in over the years has come to a head. National analysts and columnists have been lining up to give Chaz his due and I don't expect the love train to stop any time soon.
Williams was also named the CBSSports.com National Player of the Week by Gary Parrish.
The basketball coaches of this country are among the most overworked, overstressed, overemotional and overly involved people in this country. That being said, they are also among the smartest people in the country when it comes to evaluating teams.
For that second reason, it stands to reason that they would collectively agree that UMass was a better team in relation to the rest of the country than it was last week. BYU and Eastern Michigan are solid teams and the coaches rewarded the Minutemen for taking them on and beating them. Good on you guys.
Here is where the proverbial ball was dropped. The votes of the Associated Press have had themselves a season already with these rankings -- improving a team's rank after losing to a team they did not rank, and not ranking said winning team, for instance. While most of these guys certainly know what they are doing, it is clear that some leave their ballot to the last minute, mutter "Oh, well Gonzaga is usually good" and send it in (that link is to the ever-valuable Matt Vatour's look at how voting broke down).
The Minutemen have just one game on the schedule this week in MAC bottom dweller Northern Illinois. Anything less than a 25-point win will likely see UMass drop again, which is unfortunate. But alas, this is the world in which we live.