Friar Basketball

The Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt on Luwane Pipkins

Luwane Pipkins Yelling UMass Athletics

In an effort to learn more about new Providence point guard Luwane Pipkins, I reached out to the Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt. Steve is a Red Sox beat writer for the Herald and is spending this winter covering the Patriots, but as a University of Massachusetts graduate he is very familiar with Pipkins.

Steve started at the Herald in 2014 and wrote extensively on college basketball, focusing on UMass and other local Division 1 programs. I have really enjoyed his college basketball coverage over the past couple of seasons, and later found out that he spent a lot of time at the Dunkin Donuts Center taking in PC games when he was growing up. 

Steve can be found on Twitter at @steve_hewitt.

***

KF: Luwane put up big numbers at UMass, especially during his junior season (21.2 ppg, 43% from 3). From afar, it seemed like he had free reign to fire away at will. How do you see him adjusting to playing with a roster that includes established scorers in Alpha Diallo and Nate Watson, as well as rising sophomore AJ Reeves?

SH: Pipkins was extremely ball-dominant and looked to score more often than not, especially the last two seasons, but I think that was mostly a product of his situation. UMass was really young, and really lacked scorers and playmakers beyond Pipkins, which forced them to rely on him at times. Matt McCall certainly gave him free reign — almost to a fault — but he also lacked other experienced options.

From my perspective, I think that’s the biggest thing to keep an eye on with Pipkins as he goes to Providence, where, like you said, there are other established players. He’ll need to sacrifice a bit, but I think he’s willing and able. Even in his situation last year, he averaged 5.2 assists per game, so he’s not just going to be looking for his own shot all the time — and with the type of scorers around him, he definitely won’t. Pipkins is a smart player, and he knew what kind of situation he was going to when he picked PC. And I think he’s exactly what the Friars were in need of. I think Cooley will put him in the right situations to succeed, much like his point guards of the past, and it will be a good fit.

KF: His stats dipped last season (16 ppg, 28% from 3), which has some in Providence wondering if they should expect the more inefficient shooter we saw last year, or player he was two seasons ago. I know he battled through some injuries last year. What do you think contributed to the drop in his numbers?

SH: That’s a great question that I couldn’t really put my finger on last season, and it’s certainly one to monitor. I think the injury issues definitely played a factor, but that also didn’t cause him to miss him time until later in the season. Maybe it was bothering him for much longer before that, we don’t really know. He did shoot more than 41 percent from 3 in November before going extremely cold the rest of the season. Maybe that just wasn’t sustainable, and he’s really more of a 35 percent shooter. I think we’ll have a better read on who Pipkins is as a shooter this season, and I think he’ll greatly benefit from having multiple scorers around him that could free him up for a lot of open looks.

KF: Luwane was a guest on a podcast this past spring in which he had some unflattering things to say about UMass and the coaching staff. His bluntness was a bit of a red flag to me, so I’d be interested to see what type of personality we should expect. Is he a strong locker room presence and do you think he’ll adjust well?

SH: Pipkins has definitely always been a blunt kid. Whenever I’ve covered UMass games the last few years, he always struck me as very honest and kind of just said whatever was on his mind. That being said, I don’t think that will be an issue at PC. I think there was probably a lot of frustration with all of the losing at UMass the last few years and being the competitor I know he is, that probably caught up to him a little. I think he’ll really benefit from being in a winning culture at PC and playing with other veteran guys. He can be a strong presence because he wears his emotions on his sleeve, but I wouldn’t worry about him acting out or anything. Pipkins knows this is his final chance to prove himself and be part of a championship team, and I think Ed Cooley is a veteran and respected coach that will be a great fit for him.

KF: What are some of the more memorable games Luwane had while at UMass? He certainly had some monster games the past three years.

SH: The one game that jumps out to me — and unfortunately for Providence fans, them too — is definitely Pipkins leading that UMass comeback over PC at the Dunk last season. UMass trailed by as many as 18 in the second half, but Pipkins led them all the way back and hit the go-ahead layup in the final seconds that won it.

Pipkins has gone on a couple of other ridiculous scoring surges, but the other one that sticks out to me was in a loss last year to Harvard. UMass lost on a buzzer beater, but Pipkins scored 36 points and went toe-to-toe with Bryce Aiken, one of the best guards in the country. It was really fun watching them go at it, and Pipkins nearly won that game for UMass single-handedly, making some big-time clutch shots. The one thing about Pipkins is that he’ll never back down from any opponent or any moment. I think Providence fans will quickly fall in love with him and his emotion, intensity and competitiveness. He wants it.

KF: At his size, defense will be a question for many Friar fans. What can they expect on the defensive end?

SH: Pipkins may be (generously) listed at 5-foot-11, but he’s actually a really good defender. That “Chicago toughness” he has is real. That was apparent at the start of his college career — I remember he was actually leading the country in steals through the first month of his freshman season. He’s a relentless on-ball defender that makes life difficult for opposing point guards. I’m interested to see how he fares with tougher matchups in the Big East, but you can absolutely count on him working hard on that end of the floor.

One Comment

  1. deez

    November 5, 2019 at 5:45 am

    Derec Lamendola – cocaine is a helluva drug!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.