AMHERST - The knee injury suffered last week by University of Massachusetts basketball center Lari Ketner is not nearly as serious as first feared, and the 6-foot-10 senior is expected to resume practicing tomorrow.
Ketner injured his right knee at practice Thursday, and UMass coach Bruiser Flint was initially concerned he would miss much of the preseason practice schedule, though Ketner was expected back in time for the Nov. 16 opener against Niagara. An MRI, however, revealed no damage to the meniscus (a cartilage in the knee), only a deep bruise.
"False alarm," Flint said yesterday. "He banged the knee at first, and then he kept practicing on it, so it became swollen and we had the MRI done on it."
UMass plays two preseason games at Mullins Center, the first of which is Nov. 5 against the Converse All-Stars.
COACHES CLINIC: The first UMass Tip-Off Coaches Clinic will be held Saturday at Mullins Center. Featured speakers include Flint, UMass women's coach Joanie O'Brien, and men's coaches Dave Hixon (Amherst College), Phil Martelli (St. Joseph's) and Dennis Wolff (Boston University).
Topics will include practice drills, and offensive and defensive schemes - including the matchup zone. UMass staff assistant Brian Gorman said the event is aimed at increasing contact and communication with local coaches at all levels.
Cost of the clinic is $50, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. Walk-ins who have not pre-registered are also welcome. Further information is available at the UMass basketball office (545-2610) for the clinic, which will run throughout the day and include lunch.
BIG TEST:When Kansas visits the Mullins Center Jan. 16, the Jayhawks will not have NBA-bound Raef LaFrentz (6-11), but they won't lack for size. Kansas is carrying six players who are 6-8 or taller, including 7-foot, 235-pound sophomore Eric Chenowith.
UMass will have five such players this season, including three (Ketner, Kitwana Rhymer, Anthony Oates) who are 6-10.
Kansas also visits the Springfield Civic Center for the Nov. 27 Tip-Off Classic, and expects to be 3-0 by then. The Jayhawks play Gonzaga, Penn and Fort Hays (Kan.) State before meeting Nevada-Las Vegas in Springfield.
NUMBERS GAME: UMass enters the season ranked eighth nationally in victories in the 1990s (223) and 12th in winning percentage (.741). UConn is one notch above the Minutemen in both categories with 225 wins and a .755 percentage.
AMHERST) - Lari Ketner gave the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team a scare this weekend when he came down the wrong way on his knee. After getting a magnetic resonance image Sunday, all fears were erased.
The MRI came back negative and Ketner sat out Monday's practice as a precaution. Today is a scheduled day off, and Ketner is expected to return to practice Wednesday.
"He's fine," Flint said. "He'll practice on Wednesday. He came down wrong on his knee and it swelled up. He had an MRI and he's fine."
Ketner wasn't the only Minuteman to sit out Monday's practice. Two separate collisions cost Shannon Crooks a tooth and gave Rafael Cruz a headache. Kit Rhymer suffered a sprained ankle and Winston Smith was also sidelined with swelling in his knee. None of those injuries is considered serious.
Despite these injuries, Flint said he is pleased with his team so far.
"Guys have been around for awhile and have an understanding of what we're going to do," Flint said. "They can scrimmage a little bit sooner and put some things in earlier. We can compete instead of doing a whole lot of drills. That's the best things."
While the level of practice has benefited the veterans, some of the younger players are struggling to keep up, Flint said.
"They've been all right, but it's been tough for them because we're not doing a whole lot of stopping," Flint said. "They're learning on the run. So they struggle at times, but they've been doing okay."
Anthony Oates is further along than Rhymer, Flint said.
"He's a hard-working kid. He's been doing okay," Flint said of Oates. "Anthony will help us. Kit's been struggling a little bit, thinking too much instead of going out there and playing. It's been a year since he played so it's been pretty tough for him."
UMass begins its season Nov. 5 with an exhibition game against the Converse All-Stars at 7 p.m. at the Mullins Center.
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Carlton Aaron, a center from Virginia who UMass had been recruiting, has narrowed his final choices to Tennessee and Virginia Tech, according to his high school coach.