We’re only limited to three? Massachusetts may be the A-10 team with the most questions heading into the 2017-18 season. Depth issues and departing players make us question this team’s capabilities. Not to mention, the Minutemen are under leadership of brand new head coach Matt McCall. This season will be nothing but changes, for better or for worse, and the question marks are already piling up — here’s a few of them.
Who’s going to Score the Ball?
UMass will come into this season hoping to improve in terms of scoring the ball. Unfortunately for them, they have not done much to improve in this category. In fact, they have probably gotten a little worse. They lost 3 of their top 5 scorers from last season, and the two who are returning only averaged a combined 20.6 points per game. Not to mention that the Minutemen were ranked in the 300’s nationally in 3 point and free throw percentage last season. And now, with the unfortunate news about Jaylen Brantley, UMass needs to figure out who is going to score the ball with consistency.
More than likely, the Minutemen will rely on returning players Pipkins and Holloway. Pipkins is a beast on the defensive side of the ball, but this year he will also be relied on to produce more offensively. The key to this could be consistency, as while he did have 9 games of 16 points or more, he also had 10 games where he scored 4 or less points.
Holloway will be the other player Umass looks too in order to score the ball with high volume this year. He will virtually be a matchup nightmare in most games this year for UMass. Last year he averaged 10 points in only 19 minutes per game, and he is only going to continue to improve as this year begins. Overall, if these two can become more consistent offensively, they will be able to be the much needed scoring producers that UMass requires this season.
Can Rashaan Holloway Stay on the Court?
You may have noticed from the first question the little stat about Rahaan Holloway’s average time on the court per game. Yes, it is correct, Holloway only averaged 19 minutes a game last season for the Minutemen, and that could be one of the reasons why he’s been overlooked coming into this season. UMass will need Holloway to be its best player if it wants to be competitive in the conference this season, and it helps to have your best player on the floor for more than half the game. His main issue that kept him off the floor last year was foul trouble.
Holloway had 4 or more fouls in 12 of 33 games last year, which is a hair over 30 percent of the games. This year he is going to need to realize that although it might lead to giving up a few more points, he has to make sure he limits his fouling and stays on the court. While Holloway will have experienced bigs Chris Baldwin and Malik Hines helping him out this year, it will still be vital for UMass to keep Holloway on the floor longer.
Will Depth be an Issue?
Short answer… Yes. UMass only has 10 possible options to play in a game this year. Now, throw in the fact that 4 of them will be playing in their first real collegiate contests this season. Add in that another only played in 3 games a year ago, and you are left with only five guys with actual legit game experience. These new guys are going to be put in live action immediately, and it is very possible that UMass will experience some growing pains early on in the season.
Also, it is important to note that without Jaylen Brantley, UMass will at times have inexperienced guards handling the ball for large portions of the game if either Pipkins of Anderson get in foul trouble. For those who watched Umass last year, they know how this can hurt a team, as Pipkins and Jarreau averaged a combined 4.8 TO per game last year as true freshman on a team that ranked 316th in turnovers a year ago. In a year or so, this will not be even a slight problem for Umass, but for now they will have to struggle with youth and a lack of depth for the upcoming season.