ame Day Quick Facts
The Teams: UMass vs. EA Sports All-Stars
Date: Monday, Nov. 12, 2001
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Place: William D. Mullins Memorial Center (9,493), Amherst, Mass.
Radio: UMass Radio Network-Bob Behler (play-by-play) and Jack Leaman (color)
Tonight: With the first game of its 93rd intercollegiate basketball season less than a week away, the Massachusetts basketball team faces the touring EA Sports All-Stars in its second and final exhibition game of the 2001-02 campaign. The Minutemen, who officially open their season on Friday, Nov. 16, against an Arkansas-Little Rock team that went 18-11 a year ago, downed the Boston Amateur Basketball Club All-Stars, 94-50, here eight days ago in the debut of first-year UMass coach Steve Lappas. The 44-point margin of victory was UMass' largest in exhibition play ever, ranking just ahead of a 43-point win (92-49) over the Latvian Nationals in 1992-93. The EA Sports All-Stars, meanwhile, stand 1-8 on their 11-game East Coast swing which, after an off day tomorrow, concludes Wednesday night at Temple. The All-Stars opened their trip with an 81-63 loss at Louisville, then lost at Tennessee (68-64), Xavier (75-67) and Murray State (111-85), before picking up their first victory, a 100-89 win at Rutgers a week ago tonight. EA Sports then lost to Princeton (72-59), Marshall (91-69), West Virginia (117-80) and Pitt (93-63). This is one of six teams sponsored by EA Sports making the exhibition game rounds this season.
In Exhibition Play: UMass owns a 20-10 (.667) all-time record in exhibition games, with wins in eight of its last nine games. Last year, the Minutemen dropped an 83-82 decision to the California All-Stars in their first preseason tune-up, then downed Statmaster.com, 82-71, in their second exhibition outing. A complete listing of UMass exhibition game results can be found on page 5 of this notes package.
The Coaches: A new era in UMass basketball history began on March 26, 2001, when athletic director Bob Marcum introduced Steve Lappas (CCNY, 1977) as the school's 19th head coach. Lappas joins the UMass staff after spending nine years at Villanova University, where he guided the Wildcats to a 174-110 (.613) record, seven postseason appearances (four NCAA, three NIT), six 20-win campaigns, a Big East regular-season title (1996-97), a Big East Tournament crown (1994-95) and the school's first-ever National Invitation Tournament championship (1993-94). The sixth-winningest coach in Big East history (and the third-winningest among active league coaches at the time he left the Main Line with 97 Big East victories), Lappas had six players selected in the NBA Draft, including lottery picks Kerry Kittles and Tim Thomas, and led the Wildcats to their highest place ever in the wire service poll, No. 2, in December, 1995. All-told, Lappas owns a 230-172 (.572) record, which includes a 56-62 (.475) four-year mark at Manhattan College. Equally impressive as his on-court record is the classroom performance of his players, as all of his seniors at both Villanova and Manhattan graduated. At Manhattan, Lappas improved the Jasper win total every year, going from seven in 1988-89, to 11 the following year, 13 in his third season and 25 in his fourth and final campaign (1991-92). His last Manhattan team won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season title, and advanced to the third round of the NIT. Prior to moving to Manhattan, Lappas spent four seasons as an assistant to Rollie Massimino at Villanova, and was a coach on the Wildcats' national championship team in 1985. The EA Sports All-Stars are coached by former Cal-State Northridge coach Pete Cassidy.
BABC Recap: Four players scored in double figures as the University of Massachusetts cruised to a 94-50 victory over the BABC All-Stars eight days ago. Freshman guard Kyle Wilson poured in a game-high 20 points, while senior guard Shannon Crooks tallied 18 points, as the Minutemen posted their most-lopsided exhibition win ever in the debut of first-year coach Steve Lappas. Wilson was six-of-seven from the field, including four-of-five from three-point range, while Crooks had a game-high seven assists, no turnovers and three steals in 27 minutes. UMass never trailed in the game, and after a 2-2 tie, took the lead for good with 18:57 left in the first half. Junior forward Micah Brand netted 16 points for the Minutemen while senior center Kitwana Rhymer had 12 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Happy Birthday Anthony: UMass sophomore guard Anthony Anderson, who sat out the 2000-01 season due to academics and missed the BABC All-Star game for violating a team rule, is celebrating his 21st birthday tonight as he makes his Minuteman debut. On UMass' four-game tour of Greece, Anderson averaged 9.0 points and 3.5 assists, while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range.
MHERST - Being 19 wasn't an easy year for Anthony Anderson.
After the surprising disappointment of being ruled ineligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse, he was forced to sit out last season. As a non-qualifier, he couldn't even practice.
So it's fitting that his first game as a University of Massachusetts basketball player in front of the Mullins Center crowd will come on his 20th birthday.
The Minutemen will play their final exhibition game tonight at 7 against the EA Sports All-Stars. Anderson, who missed UMass' first exhibition game for an undisclosed violation of team rules, is glad to finally be in the lineup.
"I'm really excited," said Anderson, who is a 5-foot-11 point guard. "I can't wait to get out there and play. It's been a long time."
Lappas was pleased with how Anderson responded to the one-game suspension.
"He's been great," he said. "He's had a very good week. I know he's hungry to get back in the starting lineup."
Anderson will come off the bench in his debut game. Lappas is keeping the same lineup - Kyle Wilson, Shannon Crooks, Willie Jenkins, Micah Brand and Kitwana Rhymer - that started UMass' 94-50 win over the BABC All-Stars last Monday.
Lappas said the fact that Wilson is starting doesn't mean he has passed Anderson on the depth chart.
"I'm not saying that at all," Lappas said. "I just didn't see any reason to change the lineup at this time."
Anderson and Wilson will play together at times too, when Crooks is out of the game and when the Minutemen employ a three-guard set.
"If they play together right now, Kyle is going to play the point because right now Anthony has a better idea of learning two positions," Lappas said. "Ultimately I would like Kyle to know both those spots. But we're not there yet."
"I'm still thinking like a one," Anderson said, referring to the point-guard position "When I come off the screen I'm still looking to pass, but other than that, I'm comfortable playing the two (off-guard)."
UMass forward Jackie Rogers, who missed the first game with a thigh injury, will miss tonight's game as well.
Fans looking for familiar faces on the EA Sports squad will be disappointed. The sports video game manufacturer is sponsoring six barnstorming squads and this one isn't exactly stocked with "all-stars," as its name suggests.
Unlike UMass' first opponent, EA Sports does have some height, including Keith Tower, a 6-10 former Notre Dame center.
Lappas said he plans to coach this game a little differently than the first exhibition.
"A little more trapping," Lappas said. "A little different zone. Hopefully we won't make the same mistakes we made last time."