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Chaz Williams continues to be a player to watch after UMass’ 105-96 win over BYU

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. –  The game had been over for nearly 20 minutes, though, UMass senior point guard Chaz Williams clearly was not done dishing out the assists. He was the last to be seated at the postgame press conference, as he ventured over towards the table of Poland Spring water bottles, grabbed three extra ones and handed them to Sampson Carter, Maxie Esho and his head coach Derek Kellogg before he sat down and faced the rows of reporters and cameras.

Moments earlier, Williams had exited the floor to a standing ovation from the 7,331 fans in attendance after he poured in 32 points and recorded 15 assists, both career highs — with only one, yes, one turnover — in the Minutemen’s 105-96 win over BYU on Saturday afternoon at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.

He accounted for 66 points on the day.

“My teammates made the shots,” Williams. “Fifteen assists, I credit them guys. They were open and they always tell me, ‘If I’m open, I’m going to make it for you.’ And that’s what they did tonight.”

Williams made plenty of his own shots on the afternoon. In the first half alone he had 16 shots, off a perfect 5-for-5 (3-for-3 on threes) shooting. He ended the game 9-of-14 from the field with a career-high five triples on the evening. And although the talented BYU back court of Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino went for 25 and 23 respectively, the Cougars 2-3 zone defense was no match for the Minutemen’s offensive attack.

The Minutemen and Cougars played at a rapid pace with UMass winning the shootout, knocking down 56 percent of its attempts. In the halfcourt set, UMass was able to beat the BYU zone, with not only 3-pointer shooting, but also getting the ball into the paint.

The Minutemen took an 11-point lead into the locker room, and after BYU tried to climb back into the game early in the second half, it quickly became the Chaz Williams Show, a showcase of drives, dimes and threes.

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UMass is No. 21 in the latest AP poll — ranked for the first time since 1998 — and will likely see  a bump when the new ones come out next week. Starting the season 8-0, with wins over then No. 19 New Mexico, LSU and now BYU, the Minutemen have a good early season resume that should help them reach postseason expectations.

“The guys around us, they’re hungry for more,” Williams added. “Every day can be a loss, so we need to keep our foot on the gas. We say there’s a target on our back, but we still have a target on everybody else’s back because we are chasing one thing and that’s making it to the NCAA tournament.”

Williams is the key piece to that potential tournament run. He’s a two-time Atlantic 10 first team selection, and currently listed on the Bob Cousy Award watch list. But more importantly, the Brooklyn native is the Minutemen’s fearless leader. If you needed any proof of that, go ahead and rewind to nine minutes remaining in the first half.

Raphiael Putney was whistled for a foul, as Haws hit the deck. A scuffle began after Haws pushed aside Putney, who was trying to avoid stepping on Haws. Players from both sides surrounded the scene, with Williams and BYU center Eric Mika, going toe-to-toe. A tale of the tape would show that Mika stands 6-foot-10, 230-pounds while Williams checks in at an exaggerated 5-foot-9, and weighs 175.

“I expected that,” Carter said. “I’ve been with him everyday for three years now. That’s our point guard. He’s got some fire in his heart and I know he’s not going to back down. His energy is so contagious, just seeing that, that automatically fires us up.”

Williams’ dazzling performance cements his place as one of the more exciting players to watch this season. UMass has 10 more televised games this year, and if Williams and UMass continue its early season play, games on TV will extend into March.

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.