he University of Massachusetts basketball team will have a full complement of returning players on the trip when it boards the plane for Greece on Aug. 10, as Raheim Lamb and Anthony Anderson both completed their necessary academics to be eligible to play in Europe, as well as this year at UMass.
Lamb and Anderson both sat out last season due to NCAA freshman eligibility requirements, but according to Minuteman coach Steve Lappas, both are set to play as sophomores.
"It's tremendous," Lappas said. "A big reason why we're doing this trip is to see what everybody can do. Having those two guys eligible is a big plus."
The NCAA sorts ineligible freshmen into two categories: partial qualifiers and non-qualifiers. Partial qualifiers achieved the necessary high school grade point average, but not the corresponding standardized test score. They can receive a scholarship and are allowed to practice and sit on the bench during home games in street clothes.
If a player does not get the required GPA, then he or she becomes a non-qualifier regardless of his or her test score. Non-qualifiers are allowed no official contact with the team and must pay their own tuition, although they are eligible for need-based financial aid.
Both non- and partial qualifiers can earn back their lost year of complete their degree requirements in four years.
The 6-foot-5 Lamb, who practiced last year as a partial-qualifier, will be a leading contender to get significant minutes at the wing, a position that will either be filled by a small forward or a third guard. Seniors Shannon Crooks and Ronell Blizzard, sophomores Jameel Pugh and Willie Jenkins, and incoming freshman Brennan Martin could also see time at that spot.
Anderson, a 5-10 guard from Lynn, will battle with Crooks as well. Crooks, the 6-1 senior guard, is the incumbent at point guard and will compete with Anderson and incoming freshman Kyle Wilson for minutes at point guard.
As an academic non-qualifier, Anderson is likely to be rusty with intramural and pickup games serving as his only hoops outlet.
Lappas praised Anderson, who had struggled early academically.
"He did a good job in the spring and a great job in the summer," Lappas said. "He passed three classes (in the summer). I think that says something about his motivation. He wants to be a part of what we're doing here."
The Minutemen begin practice for their 10-day trip to Greece on Sunday. Lappas was raring to go.
"I'm looking forward to Sunday and a chance to see these guys go at each other," Lappas said. "I can't wait."
Fans of Italian food and Minuteman basketball won't be able to piggyback a trip to any one of Providence's numerous excellent restaurants of that genre with a UMass-Rhode Island basketball game any more.
The date and time has yet to be determined, but the Minutemen and Rams are moving their annual Ocean State meeting back to Kingston, R.I., this year, according to the Providence Journal.
The Rams, who are hoping to open a new arena in 2002-03, are only playing Providence College in the state capital this year, while moving the rest of their games, including the one against UMass, back to the 3,385 bandbox that is Keaney Gymnasium.
The Minutemen had played Rhode Island in Providence for the last nine seasons, and last played the Rams in Keaney on Feb. 27, 1992, when UMass came away with a 72-59 victory.
Bayno back on bench - Former UMass assistant Bill Bayno may be rejoining the coaching world shortly.
Bayno, who was fired as the coach of UNLV last December after the school ran afoul of the NCAA, is expected to be named the head coach of the Phoenix entry to the ABA 2000, one of the several leagues hoping to fill the void left by the now defunct Continental Basketball Association as the nation's top minor league.
An opportunity for Weeks - Rhode Island assistant coach Shawn Hood's legal trouble stemming from a indecent assault of a minor charge has turned into an opportunity for former Minuteman forward Tyrone Weeks.
With Hood on leave, Weeks, formerly the Rams' No. 3 (non-recruiting) assistant under new coach Jim Baron, is now out on the road recruiting, a step that could help him get a job down the road.
Around the Atlantic 10 - For those who read it for the articles, Xavier's David West and St. Joseph's Marvin O'Connor were named to Playboy's All America Dream Team (insert joke here).
- West dropped out of the tryouts for the Team USA trials earlier this summer to further rehab his injured toe.
- Midnight Madness has been a dwindling fad in college basketball and Xavier has added its name to the list of teams that won't be holding a first practice party this year.
According the Cincinnati Enquirer, Xavier will have an evening event ushering in the start of basketball practice the following week.
- George Washington will be without oft-traveled and oft-troubled center Attila Cosby for at least the first half of the season. New coach Karl Hobbs suspended him for academic reasons, but he could regain his eligibility for the second semester.
- UMass isn't the only Atlantic 10 team that is spending a chunk of its August in Europe. St. Bonaventure will be heading to England, Belgium and France next week, and began practicing for the trip Monday.