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Box score


Bonnies next for UMass
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 2/28/2004

There haven't been too many opportunities for Paco Kotaridis this season.

The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team has rarely led by enough to allow the senior walk-on from Greece to see action.

But Kotaridis will get the start in his final collegiate home game at 2 p.m. Saturday. He and senior manager Eric Schwager will both be honored prior to the game against St. Bonaventure.

''It's my last game at the Mullins Center. I'm excited. It has been a good experience,'' said Kotaridis, who will try out to play professionally in Greece shortly after the season. ''Practicing against Anthony Anderson and Shannon Crooks and Chris Chadwick has helped me a lot and improved me a lot and helped my game.'' Lappas said he is happy to give Kotaridis a chance to start.

''I think it's a great thing for Paco,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ''He's been a special kind of walk-on for us. I think he deserves it.''

Kotaridis will replace Maurice Maxwell in the starting lineup. Maxwell suffered a right thigh injury Wednesday against Saint Joseph's and didn't return to the game. He didn't practice Thursday but is expected to play Saturday.

Anthony Anderson, who is technically a senior, is not taking part in senior day activities. Anderson, who was academically ineligible as a freshman, is on track to get his degree at the end of this year which will earn him another year of eligibility next year.

The Bonnies (6-18, 2-11 Atlantic 10) appear to be limping through the final weeks of their season as they have lost nine straight games.

Marques Green enters the game in the midst of a scoring slump as his college career winds down. He was averaging a league best 24.1 points per game when UMass last faced St. Bonaventure, but that average has dropped to 19.3 points and he's been held under 15 points in his last five games. Defensively he's still a pest with an A-10 best 3.65 steals per game.

''They're a tough perimeter with Green and Patrick Lottin and Maurice Young,'' Lappas said. ''We know we need to be able to defend.''

St. Bonaventure prevailed 77-71 on Jan 14 in a game that Jeff Viggiano missed because of a thigh bruise. UMass starting center Gabe Lee suffered an ankle injury in that contest that ended his season. Lottin had 22 points to lead the Bonnies in that game.

NOTES - In the aftermath of last year's eligibility scandal at St. Bonaventure that led to the Bonnies to elect not to play their final two games, Atlantic 10 Commissioner Linda Bruno has sent letters to the editor at each A-10 student newspaper prior to a Bonnies' visit. She encouraged students not to ostracize the Bonnies' players for those events.

''Last season, we had an unfortunate incident regarding the men's basketball team at St. Bonaventure University. We can all agree that what happened does not reflect the spirit of competition of Atlantic 10 institutions. Despite everything that occurred, it is time for all of us to move forward and enjoy the season,'' Bruno said in the letter which appeared in an edition of the UMass Daily Collegian this week. ''I hope that the spirit of athletic competition will continue as it has in the past. As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons I enjoy attending games on our campuses is the excitement generated by our fans and the civility in which this excitement is expressed.

''I ask that you continue to root with passion for your school and to conduct yourselves in a manner in which we can all be proud. Best of luck to you and your teams.''

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


Hoops set to face St. Bonaventure
By Mike Marzelli, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, 2/27/2004

Still in search of its 100th overall win at the William D. Mullins Center since the building's 1992 opening, the Massachusetts men's basketball team will take to its home court for the final time this season when St. Bonaventure (6-18 2-11 Atlantic 10) comes to Amherst Saturday for an Atlantic 10 contest slated to tip off at 2 p.m.

Usually a day reserved for Senior Day festivities, the lack of a fourth-year player on its roster other than injured guard Marcus Cox, who has not played this season, will allow UMass (9-16 3-10 A-10) to use the contest for what it is: one of three remaining games in what has been a tumultuous season, and additional chance to further growth for next season.

In other words, Steve Lappas' Minutemen are playing for pride.

The Bonnies will enter play fresh off NCAA-imposed sanctions that will, among other penalties, place the program on three years probation as well as prohibit them from entering post-season play in 2004. The sanctions come as a result of the discovery that the school did indeed knowingly compete with an ineligible player last season under then-head coach Jan Van Breda Koff.

This season, SBU has struggled mightily under first-year head coach Anthony Solomon. Losers of nine straight and 16 of their last 18, the Bonnies can however boast of a 77-71 victory over UMass on January 24 at the Reilly Center, which coupled with a win over Rhode Island just three days later accounts for all of the Bonnies conference victories on the season.

In the two teams' prior meeting, Junior swingman Patrick Lottin poured in 22 points and six rebounds while relying on his outside shooting to help key a 12-2 run to begin the second half that allowed Bonaventure to take a commanding lead and cruise to victory in Olean, N.Y. It was one of five consecutive losses for the Maroon and White.

St. Bonaventure is led by dynamic point guard Marques Green, widely considered one of the conference's premier players and a candidate for A-10 Player of the Year as well as All-America team consideration.

The shortest player in the A-10 at just five foot seven inches tall, Green is the first player in school history to record 1,000 points, 600 assists and 300 steals in a single career and currently averages 19.3 points, 5.0 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.3 rebounds per game this season.

Lottin is second on the team in scoring averaging 13.0 points per game, while Maurice Young (12.0 ppg) and Ahmad Smith (10.6 ppg, 5.7 rebounds per game) have also picked up the slack for the Bonnies this season.

The Minutemen are coming off their fifth consecutive loss; an 83-58 loss to undefeated No. 2 St. Joseph's at the Mullins Center in which UMass held a lead for more than 10 minutes into the game but was unable to hang on, falling down by 10 at the half and letting the game slip away down the stretch. The Maroon and White was led by Rashaun Freeman's team high 21 points and 15 from reserve guard Chris Chadwick.


Bonnies look to avoid school-record losing streak
By Brian Moritz, The Olean Times-Herald, 2/28/2004

AMHERST, Mass. — In the two years he played high school ball in North Carolina, Andy Smith’s teams lost 10 games.

Kern Carter played for a successful program at Father Henry Carr High School in Toronto and for Grassroots Canada, a well-known AAU squad.

Neither of them has ever experienced anything like this.

Smith and Carter, the two freshmen on a St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team that’s lost nine in a row, are getting a crash course in the harsh realities of major college hoops.

“It’s been hard,” Carter said. “All the losing is hard to take.”

The Bonnies (6-18, 2-11 Atlantic 10), who haven’t won since Jan. 17, take their nine-game losing streak into this afternoon’s A-10 match-up with Massachusetts at the Mullins Center (2 o’clock, WPIG-FM, www.gobonnies.com).

UMass (9-16, 3-9) is on its own five-game losing skid. Neither team has won since Feb. 3, when the Minutemen topped Rider.

Bona needs a win to avoid tying the longest losing streak in program history. The 1992-93 Bonnies dropped 10 in a row to close Jim Baron’s first year. A Bona loss today will give the team 10 straight defeats heading into Tuesday’s game at undefeated No. 2 Saint Joseph’s.

But instead of focusing simply on breaking the streak, first-year coach Anthony Solomon is trying to make his team better individually and collectively.

“We have a responsibility to get ourselves ready for the next opportunity,” Solomon said. “What I don’t want is for our young men to start feeling sorry for ourselves. There’s no need for that and no time for that. We must continue to improve, even though it’s late in the year.”

The Bonnies may have guard Ahmad Smith back in the lineup for this afternoon’s game. The sophomore suffered a strained hip muscle in the opening minute of Bona’s 65-49 loss to Xavier on Wednesday.

Solomon said Smith’s status would be a game-time decision.

OF ALL THE adjustments a freshman has to make to playing Division I ball, the hardest may be the one that sounds simple: getting used to losing.

“Every high school player (in D-I) was playing on a winning high school team,” said UMass coach Steve Lappas. “He was the best player in his whole league, whole section, maybe even the state. They start losing and they get discouraged.”

Smith was regional player of the year in North Carolina last season and was a Class 2A Prep All-State first team selection two years in a row.

This year, he’s spent much of the season on the Bonnies’ bench. A nasty flu bug forced him to miss two games and almost two weeks of practice. Once healthy, it took him a month to get back into the lineup.

“It’s been real hard sitting on the bench,” he said. “Especially when the other team goes on a run, you think you can get in there and help. It’s frustrating sitting there watching it happen. You just want a chance to get out there and help.”

Smith has played an average of 10 minutes a game. Carter’s played in all 24 of Bona’s games and started seven, but his playing time has fluctuated. In the last four games, Carter’s played between seven and 29 minutes.

“You have to be mature about it,” Carter said. “You never know when you’re going to play, and no matter how down you are or how frustrated you are, you always have to stay ready.”

As tough as the losing’s been for Smith and Carter, it hasn’t made games or practices hard to get up for.

“Everybody has personal pride,” Carter said. “So you get up for the games.”

The Bonnies have far from packed it in, despite a nine-game skid. Bona hung with a Xavier for a half on Wednesday, a team that’s playing its way into the NCAA Tournament.

“I think our young men are holding up quite well,” Solomon said. “Each individual has his own way of dealing with it. But I want them to look at how I conduct myself, and I’m fine. I want our young men to focus on the next opportunity, and the next opportunity for us is against UMass.”

UMass has been a case study in inconsistency this year. The Minutemen dropped seven in a row, then won four straight before the current five game losing skid. UMass starts two freshmen and sophomore Rashaun Freeman, in his first year of playing college ball.

“There’s no doubt about it — this year is going to help them down the road,” Lappas said. “But this year is tough for them.”


Minutemen show their age
Freeman leads youth movement
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 2/29/2004

AMHERST - University of Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas has insisted all season that the Minutemen's newcomers signify a bright future for the program. At times, the UMass freshmen and sophomores have shown signs of such -- but none quite as apparent as in yesterday's 82-71 triumph over Atlantic 10 foe St. Bonaventure before 3,140 at the Mullins Center.

UMass sophomore Rashaun Freeman scored 31 points to become the first first-year Minuteman player to tally at least 30 points since Marcus Camby had 32 against Maryland in the 1994 NCAA Tournament. Freeman also set a Mullins Center record with 18 rebounds, and freshman Art Bowers posted 13 points and a career-high nine assists as the Minutemen snapped a five-game losing streak.

For UMass (10-16, 4-10), it was its first A-10 victory by double figures this season. Freshmen and sophomores accounted for 73 of the Minutemen's points and were a major factor in the team registering more assists (a season-high 25) than turnovers (16).

Sophomore Jeff Viggiano had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Minutemen, who finished with four players with at least six boards and three players with at least four assists.

"To play like that shows what we can be at some point when we do that on a consistent basis," said Lappas. "I don't know how many [first-year players] play a game like [Freeman]. The game that kid played was unbelievable."

Freeman sat out last season under academic eligibility requirements. This season, he is a leading candidate for A-10 rookie of the year honors, particularly since he has returned to his form of earlier this season, when he posted double figures in nine of his first 10 games.

In recent games, however, Freeman had struggled, but on Wednesday night against second-ranked Saint Joseph's he had 21 points for his first 20-point outing since Dec. 28 against Albany and only his second double-figure outing in five games.

"I had a good game last game, and I really didn't know how I was going to play, so I just tried to focus on rebounds and defense, and it led to me scoring," said Freeman, who shot 14 of 19 from the floor. He said that the only other times he has scored 30 points in a game were during AAU contests.

"Throughout the year I had good games and bad games," said Freeman. "For a while I was thinking about how much I should help my team out and if I didn't, it frustrated me. Now when I come into games I just focus on the defense and rebounds, and it leads to me scoring."

Freeman's effort offset that of St. Bonaventure guard Marques Green, who scored a game-high 33 points -- including 14 points during a 3-minute-19-second stretch that helped the Bonnies cut a 16-point second-half deficit to 65-61 with 4:42 to go.

After the game, Green, a senior, offered kudos to Freeman. "I feel bad for the A-10 because they have to play against him for three more years," Green said.

After the Bonnies cut the deficit to 4, UMass took a 68-61 lead on a 3-point play by Maurice Maxwell with 4:23 remaining. St. Bonaventure never came closer than 5 points, as UMass sealed the victory by going 7 of 10 from the free throw line.

"Freeman was too much to handle. He really set the tone and handled the basketball game," said St. Bonaventure coach Anthony Solomon, whose team has lost 10 straight (tying the longest streak in school history) and fell to 6-19, 2-12. "If there was ever a day where there was an inside presence, UMass had it."

The Minutemen outscored St. Bonaventure in the paint, 48-18. In fact, the Bonnies had just 6 points in the paint after intermission. Early on, UMass appeared primed to make it a rout, holding the Bonnies without a field goal over the first 5:09 and going ahead, 11-2. But the Bonnies tied it, 15-15, with 10:04 left in the first half on a basket by Patrick Lottin. UMass got off to a fast start in the second half, outscoring St. Bonaventure, 21-5, over the first 7:55 to take its biggest lead -- 55-39 -- with 12:04 left.


Minutemen down Bonnies
By Mike Marzelli, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, 3/1/2004

Saturday afternoon marked the conclusion not only of the Massachusetts men's basketball team's 2003-04 home schedule, but also of two careers that have gone largely unnoticed and under-appreciated over the last four years.

For the final time on the Mullins Center hardwood, senior walk-on Paco Kotaridis of Athens, Greece and senior student manager Eric Schwager, a sports management major from Long Island, N.Y. completed their duties within third-year UMass coach Steve Lappas' program, and Rashaun Freeman helped assure they went out as winners.

Photo
UMass picked up their 100th win in the Mullins Center.
In an effort that earned him his sixth Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award of the season, Freeman put together one of the more dominating performances in UMass history, tallying 31 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in an 82-71 victory over St. Bonaventure before 3,140 on Senior Day. The win was the 100th for UMass at the Mullins Center since the building opened in 1992.

The Minutemen (10-16 4-10 A-10) return to action on Wednesday night at Temple, while the Bonnies (6-19 2-12 A-10) will also head to the Philadelphia as the last remaining hurdle between No. 2 St. Joseph's and a record-setting unbeaten season.

Nonetheless, the talk surrounding the Maroon and White focused on its dominant big man.

"I thought Ray played a tremendous game," Lappas said. "It has to rank right up there with anything [former UMass star Marcus] Camby did as a freshman.

"I don't know how many [first-year players] play a game like [Freeman]. The game that kid played was unbelievable."

Photo
Jeff Viggiano and Rashaun Freeman try to convert the loose ball into 2 points.
"Obviously, every time Ray touched the ball, he did something good with it," sophomore forward Jeff Viggiano added. "Why not go to him as often as we could?"

Freeman's point total was the highest for a Minuteman since Monty Mack scored 32 in 2000, and was the highest for a first-year player since Camby also scored 32 in a 1994 NCAA tournament game. His 18 rebounds also established a new Mullins Center record.

"Freeman was too much to handle," St. Bonaventure coach Anthony Solomon said. "If ever there was a day with an inside presence, UMass had it today."

The Bonnies, who dropped their 10th straight, were also led by an outstanding individual performance, as senior guard Marques Green went for 33 points, including eight 3 pointers, while playing all 40 minutes.

"Don't get me wrong, Green is a great player," Steve Lappas said. "But he shot 11 for 26, and Rashaun shot 14 for 19. I'll take the 14 for 19."

UMass also received solid contributions from freshman guards Art Bowers (13 points and a career-high nine assists) and Maurice Maxwell ( 10 points), as well as Viggiano, who chipped in with 14 points.

Maurice Young also contributed 14 points for SBU.

The Minutemen were able to seal the game from the free throw line down the stretch, after the Bonnies pulled within four with less than five minutes remaining, Maxwell converted a 3 point play to push the lead to 68-6, with 4:23 remaining. From there, SBU never got closer than five as UMass hit seven of 10 from the line to seal the victory.

"To play like that shows what we can be at some point when we do that on a consistent basis." Lappas said of his team's effort.

The Minutemen seemed poised to turn the game into a rout in the early going, as they jumped in front 11-2 while holding St. Bonaventure without a field goal over the first 5:09. However the Bonnies fought back, tying the score at 15 with a Patrick Lottin bucket at the 10:09 of the first half.

With the score 34-34 at the half, UMass took control of the contest with a 21-5 run over the first 7:56 of the second frame to open its biggest lead of the afternoon at 55-39, and led the rest of the way. Kotaridis, who says he plans on playing professionally next season in his native Greece, received the starting nod from Lappas and played the first four minutes. He scored a point on a foul shot and also recorded his first assist of the season, exiting the game with the Maroon and White up 7-0.


Freeman puts up career stats in win
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/1/2004

AMHERST - Marques Green of St. Bonaventure got the better of an impressive scoring duel with Rashaun Freeman, but Freeman got more help as the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team held off the Bonnies 82-71 in the final game of the season Saturday at the Mullins Center. Freeman and Green had their own personal game of ''HORSE'' going for much of the second half with Freeman destroying the Bonnies inside while Green launched away from the perimeter in the first Atlantic 10 game this season with two players scoring 30 or more points. Freeman finished with a career-high 31 points and 18 rebounds, while Green had 33, including 21 in the second half.

Photo
Rashaun Freeman and Yankuba Camara battle for the rock. Freeman got the better of most of these battles, hauling down 18 rebounds for a new Mullins Center record.
''All the baskets I scored I credit to my team,'' Freeman said. ''I can't score if they don't give me the ball. They had confidence to give it me. I just tried to focus on rebounding and defense and it led to my scoring.''

UMass coach Steve Lappas was impressed. ''I was happy for Ray. I don't know how many (rookies) play a game like that,'' Lappas said. ''It was a heckuva game the kid played.''

Jeff Viggiano said the Minutemen realized early that Freeman was automatic in the second half.

''Every time he touched the ball, he did something good with it so why not give it to him?'' sophomore Jeff Viggiano said. ''They had three or four guys around him and they couldn't stop him. It was like a man against a bunch of little kids out there. I looked up (at the scoreboard) a couple times and he kept piling them on. It was impressive.''

Green and Bonnies' coach Anthony Solomon saluted Freeman's effort.

''I feel bad for the A-10,'' Green said. ''They have to play against him for three more years.''

''Freeman was too much for us to handle today,'' Solomon said. ''He really set the tone and controlled the basketball game. Not only did he get shots right at the backboard. He caught the ball outside the lane and was able to put it on the floor for two or three dribbles. He has a fine college career ahead of him.''

Viggiano said he won't miss Green, who graduates after this season.

''He's tough to play against,'' Viggiano said. ''He's got deep, deep range. He's a very, very good player.''

The Minutemen (10-16, 4-10 Atlantic 10) will close the regular season with two games on the road - at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Temple and at 4 p.m. Saturday at Richmond - before the A-10 Tournament in Dayton.

The rookies owned senior day. After walk-on Paco Kotaridis was honored prior to the game, three of UMass' first-year players delivered an impressive effort, accounting for 54 of the Minutemen's 82 points. In addition Freeman's standout day, Artie Bowers had 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds while Maurice Maxwell added 10 points.

''That shows what we can be at some point, when they're able to do that on a consistent basis,'' Lappas said. ''I thought the three of them played great.''

UMass led by as many as 16 at 55-39 with 12:05 remaining, but Green began shooting St. Bonaventure back into it. He scored 14 points in the next nine minutes, helping the Bonnies get within five points at 68-63. But Viggiano (14 points, seven rebounds) knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to bring the lead back to eight.

Saulius Dumbliauskas hit a 12-footer, but Maxwell dumped the ball to Freeman inside and he drove by Yankuba Camara to make it 73-65 with 1:51 left.

The Minutemen made enough free throws down the stretch to escape.

With 26 seconds left, the 3,140 fans began chanting for Kotaridis - who had one free throw and an assist in four early minutes as a starter - to come back in. Lappas obliged by reinserting the native of Greece as well as his three other walk-ons, Tim Collins, Mike Jones and Adham Osman.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


Return for Anderson academic
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/1/2004

During the senior day ceremonies prior to the University of Massachusetts win over St. Bonaventure Saturday, Minuteman guard Anthony Anderson clapped along with his teammates as walk-on guard Paco Kotaridis and senior manager Eric Schwager were honored before the game. The fact that Anderson, who is technically a senior, was not among the honorees, represents a victory in itself.

Photo
Anthony Anderson
The 5-foot-11 guard from Lynn sat out his freshman year as an academic nonqualifier. But UMass coach Steve Lappas and the school's academic support staff are confident enough that Anderson will earn back his lost year by graduating before the end of this summer that they felt no need to honor him Saturday. His senior day will be next year.

Three years ago, the idea that anyone would be confident in Anderson's school work would have been unthinkable to anyone familiar with his academic standing - including Anderson himself at that point.

''I definitely would have been surprised. I don't think I could have told that Anthony that I was going to graduate or be here this long,'' he admitted.

A two-minute conversation with Anderson makes it obvious that he's an intelligent kid. His answers to interview questions are thoughtful and thought provoking.

His academic struggles in high school stemmed from a simple lack of showing up as he had a lengthy list of absences and tardies.

''I missed a lot of days. I didn't want to be there and my mom had to work during the day so I had to stay back and put my little brothers on the bus. I'd be late,'' he said. ''After so many lates, they'd suspend you for a couple of days. It was a lot of things and there were things going on back home and I didn't think school was that important.''

He kept his head above water just enough to be eligible to play basketball. His performance on the court got the attention of several big-time schools, although many shied away after his academic struggles surfaced. But then-UMass coach Bruiser Flint's staff was willing to take him whether or not he was eligible.

That first year, Anderson couldn't practice or play with the team. It didn't take him long to lapse into old habits.

''Actually my freshman year I though being in college was way easier than in high school,'' he said. ''Classes were every other day and not a full day of school. It was easier not to go and not fall behind. That's the trap I fell into.''

His grades were good enough to be eligible as a sophomore and in Lappas' first season at UMass, Anderson earned the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year honors. But after the season ended, Anderson fell back into his pattern of missed classes.

Lappas called him into his office and issued an ultimatum.

''Coach called my mom and we sat in the office and had a long talk,'' Anderson said. ''The last thing he said was 'It's your last chance. One more time and you're done.' This was after being Rookie of the Year. It really hit me that there's no breaks for anybody. Ever since then I realized that if I don't do it, everything is gone.''

The thought of being out of college and out of basketball scared Anderson, who called that conversation a turning point in his career and in his life.

''It was a long hard road for me. I wasn't big on school in high school, but I gradually got into it. I actually like school now,'' he said. ''I'm the first in my family to have this opportunity. It's big for them to. My mother is very proud. My grandmother, my aunt... that's all they talk about. It's crazy.''

If Anderson does complete the necessary work by the end of summer session, he'll join Tyrone Weeks, Monty Mack and Kitwana Rhymer among the Minutemen to earn back their lost years.

Anderson thanked Lappas for putting a lot of time in with him even though he was recruited by the previous coaching staff.

''He's my guy. I'm his guy. He always said I've been adopted in,'' Anderson said. ''I think I grew on him. He probably thought like everybody else that I'm not going to make it. But he's been great to me.''

Lappas reciprocated the praise.

''I'm very proud for what he's accomplished. He's kind of the poster boy for the program since we've been here for how far he's come,'' he said. ''It will be a very special thing for him and his family and for us because I know how much we've all put in to coming to this point. It's a great lesson for what working and perseverance can do for you.''

Anderson chuckled when asked what he plans to do with his education once his basketball career is behind him. The irony of his answer made laughter unavoidable.

''I'll probably teach. Probably high-school age kids,'' he said. ''I'll be going back to school. It's funny. But that's kind of what I want to do now.''

Anderson created his own major combining education and sociology. He said he hoped to play a role in making education more appealing and inviting to kids from poor backgrounds.

''The school system is basically horrible,'' he said. ''There's a lot of things they could do to make kids want to come to school and want to go to college and not make kids say 'I hate going to school.' I know kids that have dropped out cause they don't want to be there. There has to be something you could do to try to spark the kids' interest to be in school.''

For now he said he hopes that the increased stature that his basketball success has provided him will help inspire other kids.

''I did the bad things and I grew up and realized what the right things are. I'm trying to show them the right things,'' he said. ''I have a lot of young cousins. I'm always on them trying to do the right thing. I'm from a place where not a lot of kids go to college, but look at me. It can happen.''

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


Lappas expresses confidence in future
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 3/1/2004

The building process hasn't gone as smoothly as he hoped it would, but University of Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas is confident that he will see it through to successful results. That was the dominant point made by Lappas in his Sunday interaction with Minuteman fans in an event that was unconventional in its use of technology.

Sitting in an empty Mullins Center, the Minuteman coach sat with UMass play-by-play broadcaster Bob Behler and Mike Fetterer, the webmaster and founder of popular fan site UMassHoops.com.

Fetterer took questions from fans through e-mail and instant messenger and posed them to Lappas. Using Sports Juice, the Internet audio provider that puts UMass sports broadcasts online, fans were able to hear Lappas' answers broadcast live.

Lappas said that the departures of big man Stephen Briggs (who was dismissed from the program) and Mike Lasme (who transferred to Colorado) set the program back a year in its building process.

But he stressed throughout that his team's youth is both a source of the Minutemen's struggles as well as reason for optimism down the road.

''Except for George Washington in our league, and maybe La Salle, everyone else takes a step back,'' said Lappas, who listed the remaining teams' potential losses. ''We have every single guy back. This core group of guys will be much better next year. How much better? That remains to be seen. But there's no doubt in my mind that this program will really show signs of a program being built.

''We could be the most improved team in the nation next year. That wouldn't surprise me. ... We are within sight of being a (Atlantic 10) championship team.''

Rumors have increased in recent weeks that Lappas could be fired after the season. Responding to a question about his job security, Lappas said he is confident that the administration understands the progress of the program.

''We're close to having it done. Starting all over would put this process behind again. I haven't spoken to anyone. But I think people see the kids that we've brought into this program. This program is moving forward and is in great shape except we have not won the way we want to win yet,'' Lappas said. ''It has not shown yet on that court, but it will show on that court. I know my job is to make it show on that court.

''I'm not trying to hide behind anything other than building. Next year, you will see. It will be the first time we have the same guys back from one year to the next.''

FREEMAN NOTES AND MILESTONES - Rashaun Freeman's 31 points and 18 rebounds Saturday against St. Bonaventure earned him a place in recent UMass history as well as his sixth Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week.

Freeman's points were the most by a UMass player since Monty Mack had 32 at Xavier on Feb. 12, 2000. It was the most by a Minuteman rookie since Marcus Camby had 32 against Maryland in the second round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament. Kitwana Rhymer was the last UMass player to score 30 on Feb. 21, 2001.

The 18 rebounds were the most by a Minuteman since Ajmal Basit had 19 against Rhode Island at the Providence Civic Center on Jan. 29, 1998. It was the most boards by one player ever at the Mullins Center and matched the most by an A-10 player this season.

MISCELLANEOUS - In its narrow win over Rhode Island, Saint Joseph's improved to 26-0 - its best start ever and matching the 1995-96 Minutemen for the best start in A-10 history. ... Walk-on Adham Osman scored his first career basket on a nice pass from fellow walk-on Tim Collins. ... Olivier Lamoureux, the big man from Montreal who signed to go to UMass next year was at the game. ... Lappas said Sunday that California, DePaul and Florida may be on UMass' schedule next year.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


St. Bonaventure Bonnies 71
Massachusetts Minutemen 82
at the Mullins Center

Official Basketball Box Score
Saint Bonaventure vs Massachusetts
02/28/04  2:00 p.m. at Amherst, MA(Mullins Center)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
VISITORS: Saint Bonaventure ( 6-19,  2-12)
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
11 DUMBLIAUSKAS,Saulius f  1-3    0-0    0-0    2  2  4   1   2  0  0  0  0  19
23 YOUNG,Maurice....... f  5-11   1-5    3-3    2  6  8   3  14  0  1  0  2  35
41 CAMARA,Yankuba...... c  1-1    0-0    2-2    1  1  2   4   4  0  0  0  1   7
01 SMITH,Ahmad......... g  1-11   0-0    2-2    4  3  7   2   4  2  2  1  0  40
04 GREEN,Marques....... g 11-26   8-16   3-4    2  2  4   3  33  5  3  0  4  40
02 CARTER,Kern.........    0-1    0-0    0-2    1  1  2   2   0  0  0  0  0   9
10 SMITH,Andy..........    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  1  0   4
21 SUTTON,Cortez.......    2-6    1-1    0-0    2  0  2   2   5  1  1  0  1  12
24 LOTTIN,Patrick......    3-10   1-4    2-4    1  4  5   2   9  3  3  0  2  34
   TEAM................                         3  3  6
   Totals..............   24-70  11-27  12-17  18 22 40  20  71 11 10  2 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-32 40.6% 2nd Half: 11-38 28.9% Game: 34.3% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-9 44.4% 2nd Half: 7-18 38.9% Game: 40.7% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 4-5 80.0% 2nd Half: 8-12 66.7% Game: 70.6% 2

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Massachusetts (10-16, 4-10) TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 22 VIGGIANO,Jeff....... f 4-13 1-5 5-7 4 3 7 2 14 3 1 1 0 33 34 BOWERS,Art.......... f 4-12 2-4 3-6 2 4 6 4 13 9 3 0 2 38 01 FREEMAN,Rashaun..... c 14-19 0-0 3-6 4 14 18 1 31 1 3 3 1 33 12 ANDERSON,Anthony.... g 1-3 1-3 3-4 0 4 4 3 6 4 2 0 3 33 14 KOTARIDIS,Paco...... g 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 4 00 MARTIN,Brennan...... 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 2 1 1 0 0 5 05 LASME,Stephane...... 1-1 0-0 0-2 2 1 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 7 11 MAXWELL,Maurice..... 4-10 1-4 1-1 1 5 6 0 10 4 2 1 0 32 13 CHADWICK,Chris...... 0-1 0-1 1-2 0 1 1 0 1 1 4 0 0 15 20 COLLINS,Tim......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0+ 33 JONES,Mike.......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+ 40 OSMAN,Adham......... 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0+ TEAM................ 10 1 11 Totals.............. 30-62 5-18 17-30 23 33 56 11 82 25 16 5 6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-32 46.9% 2nd Half: 15-30 50.0% Game: 48.4% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 1-9 11.1% 2nd Half: 4-9 44.4% Game: 27.8% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 3-11 27.3% 2nd Half: 14-19 73.7% Game: 56.7% 7

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: Gene Steratore, Jackie Sanders, Paul Faia Technical fouls: Saint Bonaventure-None. Massachusetts-None. Attendance: 3140 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total Saint Bonaventure............. 34 37 - 71 Massachusetts................. 34 48 - 82 ID-224857

Points in the paint-SBU 18,UMASS 48. Points off turnovers-SBU 20,UMASS 14. 2nd chance points-SBU 12,UMASS 7. Fast break points-SBU 4,UMASS 15. Bench points-SBU 14,UMASS 17. Score tied-5 times. Lead changed-6 times. Last FG-SBU 2nd-00:11, UMASS 2nd-00:03.



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