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UMass notebook: Minutemen dream of big shots, big NCAA performances

By MATT VAUTOUR @GazetteUMass
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
(Published in print: Wednesday, March 19, 2014)

Players from the University of Massachusetts, which plays either Iowa or Tennessee at 2:45 p.m. Friday, have thought about being one of those guys.

“It could be anybody,” senior point guard Chaz Williams said. “Me, Trey (Davis), Cady (Lalanne), Maxie (Esho), anybody. We’re just trying to go win.”

Sampson Carter smiled when asked about it.

“I dream about that shot all the time,” he said. “I have some good feeling about this. Our focus is just to win.”

Davis has made quite a few big shots late in games this year for UMass. He won’t hesitate to attempt another in the NCAA tournament.

“Somebody is going to do it. If we’re going to make that run, somebody’s gotta do it,” Davis said. “I think I could make it.”

NCAA MEMORIES — UMass might be one of the oldest teams in college basketball, but hearing the Minutemen list NCAA tournament games and players that they watched growing up is a reminder of how young they are.

“I remember Melo taking his team and they ended up winning the thing,” said senior Sampson Carter, who was 12 when Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to the 2003 national championship.

Davis was 9 when he watched that same run.

“I watched Syracuse with Carmelo Anthony. I watched it and I got excited. I said I wish I could play (in the tournament) one day,” said Davis, who was particularly glued to UConn’s 2011 run. “I watched the whole Kemba Walker thing. That was crazy. I really paid attention to that.”

Lalanne could potentially play the first school he rooted for.

“I remember watching Duke. I forget who they were playing, but as soon as the game was over I went to Foot Locker and bought a Duke shirt,” said Lalanne, an Orlando, Fla., native who rooted for Florida and Florida State as he got older. “If we beat Tennessee or Iowa we could play Duke. That would be a pretty good experience.”

Added Williams, “I liked watching Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Ty Lawson (North Carolina), Derrick Rose (Memphis) and of course Kemba Walker.”

Freshman Demetrius Dyson used to help Miss Powell, his middle school teacher, fill out her bracket when he was in seventh grade.

“She was one of my favorite teachers,” Dyson said. “She can pick us now.”

PNC ARENA — This will be the second NCAA tournament at PNC Arena (formerly the RBC Center). It hosted second and third rounds of the 2008 tournament. Among the six games played were two by Davidson. The Wildcats upset Gonzaga and Georgetown to launch the legend of Stephon Curry.

PNC is the home arena for North Carolina State and the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL.

UMass played one game in the building, a 69-62 win over N.C. State on Dec. 1, 2001. The win made the Minutemen 4-0 under first-year coach Steve Lappas. It was the high point of that season for the Minutemen, who lost their next three games and went 9-16 the rest of the way.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage