It’s officially Tournament Time so here at Hi-Top HQ we will be spending the days leading up to the opening Tip-Of recounting some of our favorite teams and players from March Madness past and present.
1995 UMass Minutemen
Lou Roe, Derek Kellogg, Edgar Padilla, Carmelo Travieso, Marcus Camby, Dana Dingle, Donta Bright – 20+ years later these names still shine in the minds of New England basketball enthusiasts
The 96 team might own (or formerly own) the Final Four banner but it’s the 1995 team that owns our hearts.
John Calipari had been steadily resurrecting the UMass hoops program for a few years when the team finally broke through to national prominence in the 1994-95 season.
The Minutemen started the season with a 24 point thrashing of the defending National Champion Arkansas Razorbacks that put the whole College Hoops World on notice. Roe and Bright combined for 58 points that night as UMass completely dominated the Hogs.
A few weeks later they beat another traditional hoops powerhouse Maryland and their superstar Joe Smith. The Minutemen were for real:
They cruised through the Atlantic 10 Conference winning both the Regular Season and Conference Tournament and headed into the NCAA Tourney as a #2 seed in the East.
The dream season ended unceremoniously in the East Region Final as UMass had undoubtedly the worst game of their season shooting 16-58 against Big Country Bryant Reeves and Oklahoma State. It was certainly not the way anyone wanted to see Seniors Roe and Kellogg end their college careers.
The 1996 team may have gone one game further in the tournament but it was the 95 version that captured the hearts of hoop heads all across New England. For the first time we had a COOL team, a team that the rest of the country envied. Those Minutemen worked hard and played hard but they also had style and that’s why UMass is remembered fondly while the early 90s Boston College teams that had some tourney success are thought of as an odd fluke, a bunch of guys who went on good run.
Roe and Camby especially were two guys that we never had before – exciting, dynamic players, dudes with energy who could excite a crowd and look great doing it:
Those shorts were huuuuuuge. They made the Fab Five’s shorts look like speedos. If you weren’t rocking XXXXL at the playground you couldn’t even get on the court. Kids actually wanted UMass gear. That was unheard of.
UMass – Kellogg and Padilla and Travieso in the backcourt and Camby and Roe up front and all the rest – those were our guys, they were the ones who go down as Hi-Top Legends.