UMB Notebook: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Ryan Thomas

At the beginning of the UMass Boston winter sports season, I never thought that I would love hockey as much as I do right now. To be honest, I fell off the Boston Bruins bandwagon after Gary Bettman took the NHL, threw it in a blender and hit puree. But now, after covering the men’s hockey team most of this season and keeping an eye on the women’s team, Hockey and I are once again tight.

So this brings me to how these teams – along with the basketball teams, too (can’t leave them out) – have been performing recently. The news is scattered at best, and maybe you’ve heard it before, but here’s my spin on it.

The women’s hockey team is living up to its expectations, and they’re doing it with young athletes. A sophomore – Maria Nasta – and a freshman – Rachael Sousa – are leading the Lady Beacons to another run deep into the ECAC East tournament.

Nasta is leading the ECAC East conference with 25 points (11 G, 14 A) and Sousa, an exciting freshman from Woburn, Mass., is on her heels in third place with 23 points (11 G, 12 A).

Under the tutelage of head coach Maura Crowell, the Lady Beacons are 11-8-0 overall and 9-5-0 in conference, good enough for a third-place tie with Holy Cross. Even though Holy Cross beat UMass Boston earlier in the season 5-1, the Beacons are playing great hockey right now, winning six of their last eight.

Most recently, the Lady Beacons did everything but shoot the puck through Plymouth State goalie Lindsay DeLorie, as the ladies peppered her with 88 shots (that’s 1.46 shots per minute, in case you’re interested). I’m guessing she needed a whirlpool and some ice after her team lost 6-0.

What is unfortunate, however, is that the men’s hockey team doesn’t have the same momentum as the ladies do. They have ridden a bumpy road lately, losing five of their last six games, all of which were important conference games.

Since they’re a young team (only eight upperclassmen are on the roster), there are growing pains involved, which consequently hurt. The Beacons lost a two-goal lead last weekend and haven’t been able to put a full sixty minutes together.

The good news, however, has been in the form of Eric Tufman and Kris Kranzky. Tufman has been Rookie of the Week four times this season, is fourth in the ECAC East with 26 points (14 G, 12 A), and has scored seven power-play goals. Kranzky has been hot recently, but don’t tell him that: he says he needs to pick up the goal-scoring pace. Kranzky recently was named a captain.

The bad news, in terms of UMass Boston athletics anyway, comes in the form of a round, leather ball. The women’s basketball team was unraveling recently until they beat Eastern Connecticut State at home 64-60 last Saturday to halt their five-game skid.

The ladies have had trouble filling up the basket this year. In the Little East Conference, the Lady Beacons are last in points per game (59.2) and are seventh in field goal percentage (.344).

Myrna Tanger, a senior, has been first-class for the Leady Beacons this season. She has been rebounding better than Dikembe Mutumbo, circa 1999. She leads the league in overall rebounds (9.7 per game) and offensive rebounds (3.7 per game).

The men over in the Clark Center can’t be happy with the way this basketball season is turning out, but hopefully they can get through the rest of this season with their sanity intact and start fresh next season with a crop of young, talented players. Unfortunately, this season can’t be forgotten.

The men have lost 15 of their last 16 games and are 2-18 overall. The woes aren’t confined to just the offense or the defense, either. The Charlie Titus-led Beacons are last in the Little East in scoring offense (66.2 ppg), and are not playing great defense either. The 80.4 ppg allowed is second-most in-conference, ahead of only Plymouth State University.

It hurts to include these stats here because I know that Charlie Titus is a class-guy. It pains both him and his coaching staff to see their team like this, but there’s no easy way to say that the Beacons are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in their 28-year history.