UMass men’s basketball to return to Springfield for Hall of Fame Classic
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - UMass Amherst’s men’s basketball team is coming to downtown Springfield this weekend. Western Mass News stopped by practice on Tuesday to preview the big game.
“I hope our fans are as excited as I am about our players,” Head Coach Frank martin told us. “They’re starting to show up. Wwe had a strong showing in New York, a really good showing against Lowell. I hope our fans in western Mass. show up there in Springfield.”
Ten games into the Frank Martin era, the UMass men’s basketball team is starting to find their groove and is capturing the attention of fans in western Massachusetts and beyond.
“It just feels good to be winning and just competing at a really high level,” said Senior Point Guard Noah Fernandes. “In practice and in the weight room, things have been a lot more intense.”
On Saturday, Fernandes and his teammates will compete at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield against the University of North Texas in the 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.
“They are an established championship caliber program,” Coach Martin said. “It’s a team that, two years ago in the NCAA tournament, knocked off Purdue, who was one of the teams that was picked to win the whole thing that year.”
Massachusetts native Wildens Leveque, who also played under Frank Martin at South Carolina, told Western Mass News that the Minutemen’s style of basketball is built on defense and not backing down.
“We’re trying to build a culture around toughness,” Leveque said. “Everyone being tough and doing their job and doing the best at what they do.”
They have battled through their own adversity, including a fiery speech from Coach Martin after last week’s win over U-Albany, calling out the team’s discipline and effort.
“When I sense that we are acting differently from the way good teams and good players act, it’s my job to motivate, to push, to prod, pull,” Coach Martin told us. “But, there’s only one way to learn, and that’s going through it, and that’s what we’re going through right now.”
They will keep fighting and hope to have the “6th man” rooting them this weekend.
“Little by little, we’ve been able to build our fanbase again,” Coach Martin said. “Our guys take a lot of pride in it and I can’t wait for Saturday to play in Springfield.”
“Man, we should come out and support,” Leveque said. “UMass is back! You know what I’m saying.”
Saturday afternoon’s game tips off at 3 p.m. You can find ticket information here.
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