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UMass aide rare court case
Ex-Tribe lineman moved to hoops
By John O'Connor, The Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff Writer, 1/15/2002

Play ball in college. Coach when that's done.

Theokas file

  • Name: Andrew Theokas
  • Age: 31
  • Hometown: North Brunswick, N.J.
  • Football playing career: William and Mary offensive lineman, 1988-91
  • Basketball coaching career: assistant at North Brunswick Township High . . . head coach at Ocean County College (Toms River, N.J.), 1997-98 . . . assistant coach at Rider University (Lawrenceville, N.J.), 1999-2000 . . . administrative assistant at Villanova, 2001 . . . assistant coach at Massachusetts, 2002
That transition couldn't be more natural for many athletes. Andrew Theokas' hop from between the lines to the bench rates as highly irregular.

Theokas, 31, played on the offensive line for William and Mary from 1988-91. He'll return to Virginia this week as an assistant basketball coach for Massachusetts (0-2, 6-7), which plays at Richmond (1-1, 7-8) tomorrow night in an Atlantic 10 Conference game.

The part-time Tribe regular at guard and tackle left W&M with a government degree, then worked as an auditor for a commercial lending institution near his home in North Brunswick, N.J.

"Kind of boring," Theokas said of his first job.

He thought high school coaching would be a wonderful avocation. Football practices at schools he wanted to help were held in the afternoons. Theokas couldn't break away from work every day.

The boys basketball team at North Brunswick Township High, Theokas' alma mater, often practiced at night. Theokas switched sports.

Andrew Theokas instructs Raheim Lamb and Willie Jenkins on Jan. 9 against Ohio State. photo
"Basketball was always something I was very much in love with," Theokas said. "And even though I was a football player, coaching is coaching: the preparation, the motivation, the game-planning, the high of competition. They're part of all athletics."

He concluded that basketball coaching was something he wanted to do for a living. On the reference portion of the resume Theokas hoped would lead to a full-time hoops job, he listed Jimmye Laycock, W&M's football coach. "When I called him to explain what I was doing and ask if I could use his name, I had to repeat myself a couple of times," Theokas said.

Theokas gradually moved through levels of college coaching. Before last season, he joined the Villanova staff of Steve Lappas as an administrative assistant. When Lappas became UMass' coach last March, Theokas moved with him. He now serves as a recruiter as well as an on-floor coach for the Minutemen.

This is Theokas' first Atlantic 10 tour, but his last name is familiar to those who know A-10 history. Theokas' father, Charlie Theokas, was the A-10 commissioner in 1984 and 1985. He left that position to become Temple's athletic director (1986-93).

Coaches size up the competition
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 1/16/2002

RICHMOND - Just how critical is size to a college basketball team's success? University of Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas and Richmond's John Beilein took different sides in that debate on Monday's Atlantic 10 Conference call.

Lappas' Minutemen make their first trip to the Robins Center to face Beilein's Spiders tonight at 7:30.

"I think size is important. We do like to have some size," said Beilein, who has only one player (Jonathan Collins) in his rotation as tall as 6-foot-9. "We've never played with a couple 6-10 kids at the same time."

The Minutemen often play with a couple of 6-9 kids at a time and have four players 6-8 or taller, but Lappas might trade a couple of them for someone who could knock down a consistent 3-pointer.

"Size advantage doesn't mean anything anymore," Lappas said. "I'm tired of hearing the question. The 3-point shot has changed the game. If you can shoot threes, you can easily negate what happens on the backboard and inside."

Lappas' problem has been that his team's 3-point shooting is suspect at best, leaving his offense inconsistent. He called on power forward Micah Brand and point Anthony Anderson to score more.

"I'm not asking Anthony to score 20 a game, but a nice consistent 10 would be nice," Lappas said.

Anderson was prepared to contribute.

"Kit's been struggling and Micah has been scoring, but it's not consistent so I have to do more," said Anderson, who added that he's been working on a pull-up jumper as well.

Lappas has been experimenting with moving a player to another position. UMass has had considerable success with undersized power forwards. Dana Dingle and Chris Kirkland both had strong careers in the role, despite not fitting physically into the classic mold of a big man. Even Lou Roe and Harper Williams were small by inside standards.

Could Raheim Lamb be next? Lappas isn't moving the 6-5 player there permanently, but Lamb began practicing at the power forward spot Monday and likely will play there in spurts against the Spiders. From a defensive standpoint, Lamb might have better success guarding on the perimeter against Richmond's one-inside four-out lineup than Brand or Eric Williams.

Despite the recent struggles of the Minuteman frontcourt, Beilein expressed concern about facing it, especially with his former starting center Eric Zwayer facing surgery to remove bone spurs.

"They're quicker. They're stronger. They're very good. very talented," he said. "Steve (Lappas) has them doing some good things. This will be one of the toughest physical matchups we've had."

Richmond will try to counter with a quicker perimeter-oriented team. Senior guard Reggie Brown is leading the team at 13.7 points per game, numbers that have ballooned to 21.0 points per game against league foes. Former Virginia Tech Hokie Tony Dobbins has been banged up lately, but is second on the team with 12.7 ppg. Small forward Scott Ungerer actually leads the team with 4.4 assists per game.

The Spiders won their first three games this season, but have lost eight of 12 since. Richmond has had even more trouble scoring than UMass, averaging 61.7 points per game to UMass' 65.4.

"This is a game 60 (points) could win," Lappas said, "but they're a team that could hold you in the 50s."

Notes: Richmond reserve center Tim Faulconer played his high school basketball at The Williston Northampton School in Easthampton.

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