Explorers face tall task

Massachusetts comes to Tom Gola arena to open their A-10 season against La Salle. The Explorers have won five of the last six meetings against the Minutemen including a sweep last year. This year's squad may be the most talented and certainly the biggest team La Salle has faced this year.

Massachusetts Probable Starters: (10-4)
14 Chris Lowe 6"0 SO. G
34 James Life 6"6 SR. G
01 Rashuan Freeman 6"9 SR. C
13 Stephan Lasme 6"8 SR. F
22 Eitenne Brower 6"7 JR. F

2nd year head coach Travis Ford was handed a squad with some talent when he took over for Steve Lappas two years ago. Twin towers Rashuan Freeman and Stephan Lasme were already in the program. Now they have matured and Massachusetts is poised to become one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10. Freeman is top scorer collecting almost 17 points a game. He can score in a variety of ways but is most efficient in the low post. He is also a solid rebounder and teaming with Lasme creates one of the best frontcourts in the conference. Lasme came to Amherst offensively challenged but now in his senior campaign a double- digit scorer. However, Lasme's game is wreaking havoc defensively. He is a very good rebounder and post defender but is a terror blocking shots and is the league best in that category. James Life is the team's best marksman knocking down 3's at a 44% clip. He is also the team's second leading scorer. Life almost came to La Salle when recruited out of Manatee Community College. Point guard Chris Lowe, another La Salle recruit, is the perfect compliment for this team as he looks to pass first and find open teammates and willing to share the ball. Ford has exponentially upgraded the team's talent by going the transfer route. Eitenne Brower(Boston University), point guard Tiki Mayben(Syracuse), Gary Forbes(Virginia), and Luke Bonner(West Virginia) all came highly touted. Forbes has made the biggest impact but all are contributors to the Minutemen's success this year.

The Minutemen have played a rigorous schedule playing the likes of Pittsburgh, Boston College, Kentucky, and Louisville and are coming off a difficult loss to Miami, Florida in a game lost at the free throw line. In that game they shot 13 for 25 from the stripe and shoot less than 60%, by far worst in the A-10. They are the best in the conference in field goal percentage, assists, rebounding and block shots because of the dominant play of Freeman and Lasme. They are susceptible from the outside both defensively and offensively. In the paint they are difficult to match-up with.

La Salle is coming off a three-point loss to Rhode Island and return to Gola where they lost 3 straight games in their own tournament last week. Coach John Giannini continues to get half game performances from his young team. Once again they got off to a slow start against the Rams trailing big at halftime before mounting a huge comeback. A slow start against the Minutemen could prove to be disastrous given their defensive abilities.

Keys to the game:
- Limit second chance opportunities
- Make UMASS shoot from the perimeter
- Shoot the 3 ball well
- Limit turnovers

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