The UMass Lowell River Hawks have started the 2020-21 NCAA basketball season 6-8, don’t let their record fool you, this team has a lot of bright young stars led by G, Obadiah Noel and F, Max Brooks. Noel’s defensive effort and aggressiveness in the paint are like no other on the team while Brooks shows great athleticism and determination as a Freshman. Due to the pandemic, the River Hawks has made good effort in adjusting to the new state governed safety protocols and fine tuning to the changes of limited team practices along with overcoming the lost time in building camaraderie with the new additions to the team. With a sour 1-3 start, things started to come around after a 2 ½ week stoppage by earning a 5-5 record beating opponents like Vermont, 2nd place in the America East Conference and a tough rival, Hartford along the way.
First things first, G, Obadiah Noel has done outstanding thus far leading the team in lots of statistics: minutes, 34.9, points, 21.2, assists, 3.6 and steals, 1.2. F, Connor Withers has been his right hand man, racking up a team leading 5.8 rebounds and shooting 80% of his free throws. G’s, Allin and Anthony Blunt (brothers) have been impressive defensively each averaging over 0.3 steals and 37.5% 3 pointers per game. Overall, this team has been stronger in the paint than behind the line as G, Bryce Daley has a season average of 44.7% on field goals, in addition to the “paint enforcers” forwards, Max Brooks with 57.9% (flashy dunks too) and Salif Boudie leading the team with 63.2% to date. G, Ron Mitchell is also having himself a solid sophomore season, his best performance coming against Vermont on December 21st, leading the team in scoring with 24 along with 10 rebounds – career highs.
This game was just the 3rd time since 2013 UMass Lowell defeated Vermont, doing so 73-65. Another contributor to the win column, Salif Boudie picked up his game registering 23 total points last weekend with UMass Lowell’s 2-0 sweep of the Binghamton Bearcats. This River Hawks team continues to put up a fight each game led by their spirited 8 year Coach, Pat Duquette losing by 10 to 21st ranked Ohio State and narrowing down a 20 point lead losing by 6 to NJIT.
This team can achieve a better standing in their conference if the offense and defense balances out, play each game with nonstop determination and strong mental focus along with a pinch of luck; the River Hawks could squeak by with a winning season. If so, it would be the team’s first postseason appearance since 2012, first under Coach Duquette.
This weekend, back to back matches against #1 seeded UMBC in the America East Conference has been postponed due to a member of the River Hawks’ testing positive for Covid-19. All other players on the River Hawks’ program have received negative results but will go through additional testing. Will they keep their momentum as UMass Lowell won 4 of their last 5 games? Next scheduled series against Albany is set for January 30th, 5:00 PM EST and January 31st, 3:00 PM EST.