Prior to the start of the season many felt that Derek Kellogg’s UMass Minutemen had the ability to contend in the Atlantic 10. After winning the Charleston Classic and picking up quality non-conference victories over the likes of LSU and BYU, the bar has been raise for this experienced group led by one of college basketball’s most electrifying players in senior point guard Chaz Williams.
On Saturday afternoon the 22nd-ranked Minutemen moved to 9-0 on the season with an 80-54 win over Northern Illinois, with this being the best start to a season for UMass since 1995-96 (that team won its first 26 games and reached the Final Four). Center Cady Lalanne led five players in double figures with 17 points to go along with five rebounds, and Williams dished out seven assists to go along with his 12 points. The starting lineup doesn’t lack for either talent or experience, and against the Huskies the UMass bench was productive as well.
Guard Trey Davis finished the game with six assists, forward Maxie Esho scored 12 points and the seldom-used Clyde Santee racked up 13 points in six minutes of action. Davis and Esho are already part of the UMass rotation, but can Santee use Saturday’s late-game performance as a catalyst and earn more minutes as the start of Atlantic 10 play approaches?
That may be unlikely, especially when considering the fact that he’d played just three minutes all season before Saturday. Kellogg has entrusted starters Williams and Derrick Gordon and the reserve Davis with the majority of the backcourt minutes, and that will likely remain the case.