Monday, Dec. 21

SPRINGFIELD -- It was a pretty good weekend for the University of Mass-achusetts and its alumni. UMass beat Memphis Saturday, but on Friday, two former Minutemen helped the Springfield Armor win its first NBA Development League game.

Maurice Maxwell scored seven of his team's final 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a drive to the basket with 14 seconds remaining to tie the game. Chris Lowe came off the bench to score 10 points, pull down six rebounds and dish out five assists in 25 minutes, as the Armor ended a season-long losing streak (1-7), beating Fort Wayne 112-107 in overtime Friday night.

"[Lowe's] an energizer," Armor coach Dee Brown said. "He's high energy, very talkative and, for a young point guard, he demands respect already. I like that. Maxwell has a big shot. You can't be a hero until you're a goat. He didn't mind being a goat if he missed that shot."

Lowe had played in only three games for the Armor. The former Minuteman point guard has averaged 15 minutes in those three games and is scoring at a 6.0 point-per-game clip.

"He's got to learn the system," Brown said. "Being a point guard, not only do you have to know your position, but you have to know everybody else's position too. You're an extension of the coaching staff. You dictate what we do on offense. We had to get a pure point guard in here. He's done that for years at UMass."

In four years at UMass -- three under Travis Ford and one under Derek Kellogg -- Lowe became the first Minuteman to score 1,000 points and have 600 assists. His 678 assists is tops all-time in Amherst.

The irony of Lowe's arrival in Springfield is that, for the second time in his career, he's replacing guard Craig Austrie. The former University of Connecticut combo guard was released to make room for Lowe.

"That's just the way the chips fell," Lowe said. "Craig's a good player. Don't get me wrong."

Lowe replaced Austrie at UMass. Austrie had been recruited by former coach Steve Lappas, but rescinded his letter of intent when UMass fired Lappas and hired Ford. Lowe was one of Ford's first signees.

"It's great" to be back in Western Massachusetts, Lowe said before Friday's game. "We've got a great coaching staff, [and] great teammates who are fun to be around. Coach Brown played in the NBA and we can all learn a lot from him. It's a great environment."

After graduating with a degree in sociology, Lowe worked out for NBA teams but did not get an invitation to a training camp. He had planned to go overseas, but developed a staph infection in a leg that kept that from happening.

Then Lowe was drafted by the Reno Bighorns of the NBADL in the second round of the draft. Lowe said things didn't work out there, so he returned to Mount Vernon, N.Y. and was working out on his own when Brown and the Armor called.

"I got here the first game and wasn't supposed to play, because I didn't practice," Lowe recalled. "But JamesOn got in foul trouble and the coach threw me into the fire. The [second] game was my real first game.

"Whatever minutes Coach gives me, I'm going to make the most out them."

Lowe didn't look out of place on the court Friday night, and when teamed with Curry, could provide the Armor with a solid starting backcourt.

"This suits my game more, because in college you could hand check and be a little more physical on the perimeter," Lowe explained. "In professional [basketball] you can't really be that physical on the perimeter. My speed is an advantage to me. I never really played against people out here, so they're surprised by how fast I am.

"Everybody is athletic and you've got to play hard every possession. In college, Coach Ford used to always to talk to me about playing hard. Now I really see what it means."

Lowe's return to Western Massachusetts almost forced him to get a new cell phone.

"It definitely blew up. Every-body was so excited for me to come back to Massachusetts," he said. "Everybody was asking ‘When are you going to come back out here and visit?' Now I'm back out here, so they can come visit me."

But there is no doubt that Chris Lowe is glad to be back in the area.

"This is like my second home," Lowe said. "I'm a star here in this state, but I'm back home. I'm going to build me a house out here."