2 Greek national teams in store for Minutemen
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 8/11/2001

AMHERST - University of Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas speaks Greek fluently, but if he plans to work the officials in his team's four games in Greece he will need a slight brush-up.

"I speak Greek well, but I don't know the term for traveling and those things. I gotta get up on that," he said.

Lappas admits there is a lot he doesn't know or hasn't decided yet, including who will be his starters when the Minutemen take the court Tuesday in Athens. He plans to take the Jimy Williams approach to lineup preparation for the four games while they're there.

"I'm going to change starting teams every game," Lappas said. "Everybody is going to get a chance to start. We're doing the whole gamut."

The Minutemen will play two versions of the Greek National Team during their trip. They will play the one that will compete in the Mediterranean Games three times, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. And they will play the Greek Olympic team Sunday. All four games will be in Athens.

Lappas' knowledge of his opponents is limited.

"I just know that the Greek national team is big and physical, but I don't know anything else about anybody," said Lappas, who added that competing against older players would be a good experience. "I think it will be good for them to play against men like that. It will help them in the long run."

As he attempted to begin installing the motion offense that the team will run during the season, Lappas didn't spend much time focusing on the rules differences between NCAA Division I and international play.

"I know they play (with a) 24-second clock. I know the lane is wider. I know on out of bounds, it's just go (the official never touches the ball)," Lappas said. "We aren't even going to worry about that. We're just going to play our way and what happens happens."

The only player familiar with the international rules is Kitwana Rhymer, who has played for the Virgin Islands National Team, but his action will be limited by the lingering effects of the foot surgery he had earlier this summer.

Lappas said Rhymer's ability to practice this week has varied.

"The first day he could hardly do anything," Lappas said. "Then the next couple days he did quite a bit. Not the full. Then he was real sore this morning."

Rhymer wasn't sure how much he'd play in Greece, but he was planning on passing along his worldly basketball knowledge to his teammates.

"I do know the rules," he said. "I know the rules as far as what you can do with the ball when it comes off the basket, the shot clock, the way you're supposed to call time-out. It's different rules and I understand it mainly."

Lappas said his team has made significant strides in learning the team's new system since last week.

"The way we botched every drill Sunday, to now we're at least moving and screening," he said. "It's not good, but at least we have an idea what we're trying to do."

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