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UMass Minutemen Begin Preparations for NCAA Tournament

AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) — Slowly, Western Massachusetts is coming down from the high that was Selection Sunday and we saw UMass make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.

With that, the celebration was over and it was back to work at the Mullins Center for the Minutemen.

You could see the smiles and light-hearted nature running across the faces as a whole, but you knew it was back to business.

The Minutemen are the #6 seed in the Midwest Region and await the winner of the #11 play-in game between Iowa and Tennessee.

A tournament berth means more notoriety, but UMass guard Chaz Williams isn’t phased.

“We’re basketball players. That’s what you expect coming with how you play. We don’t really worry about that as much or me personally, I don’t. I know some of the other guys don’t. We’re just ready to go and win,” Williams explains.

UMass head coach Derek Kellogg, “I think so. It’s a similar situation. I’m hoping we can play about as good as we did against VCU. That was a home game coming off a tough little stretch where we needed it, so we’re in a similar boat now. We need these ones.”

“We’re just gonna have to practice and prepare for whatever team we’re facing…just knowing that it’s one and done, so you gotta give everything you got. There’s no ‘my bad’ or ‘I should’ve did this, I should’ve did that.’ Just gotta give everything you got,” adds center Cady Lalanne.

Forward Sampson Carter notes, “From here on out, we’re gonna act as professionals. We’re gonna do everything professionally and we’re gonna go from there. No more ‘we’re happy to be here.’ Now, it’s time to win some games. Winning…that’s the main focus is winning.”

Derrick Gordon is an interesting story. He is the only player on the roster with NCAA tournament experience after transferring from Western Kentucky a couple years back.

The message has been simple to his team about getting ready for this weekend and the big dance as a whole.

“Since we gotta wait until Wednesday after the game, it just gives us more time to prepare individually, get up more shots, free throws. Do what we have to do and take care of our bodies and making sure that we’re eating well, making sure we’re getting the proper rest we’re gonna need. We’re gonna need each other, every last one of us. It’s just more me talking to everybody individually and making sure everybody is on the same mindset,” Gordon says.

Tip-off on Friday is scheduled for approximately 2:45 p.m.

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