Head Men's Basketball Coach Steve Lappas
Atlantic 10 Teleconference - Monday, December 17, 2001
From UMass Athletics, 12/18/2001

On Kitwana Rhymer's Play: "It was a tremendous week for him. He helped us in every way, offensively and defensively, and he's a big part of everything we do."

On Playing at Mohegan Sun: "Well we really didn't even see the casino, we entered into a tunnel below the arena, went in the gym, played and left. We didn't see anything. It looked like a regular arena. It was a very nice arena. It's baskets on a wood court."

What do you want to see from your players with the conference season coming up?: "I'd like to see us win more than anything else. I'd like to see us become more consistent offensively, that's our biggest thing. We're a very good defensive team, and we do some good things on offense at times, but we've been inconsistent, and we need to work on getting better offensively, so that every game isn't going to be a one of two possession game either way."

On Anthony Anderson: "I think what Kit meant was that Anderson isn't Allen Iverson, one of the best players in the world, but he needs to focus more on the team. He helps make us go. He's a very good point guard, he leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. He's taking care of the ball well. But he's just a kid who has played in eight games so far, you know he didn't play or practice last year, so there's a little rust in him, and his best basketball is ahead of him."

Is it weird to see Villanova's name on the ticker instead of being on the floor with them? "Well, it's a little weird. I'm following the kids there because I recruited them, and I want to see them do well. It's a little weird when you spend so much time in one place."

Is the playing field becoming more level in college basketball? "Now you can't mark it down that it's going to be a North Carolina in there, or Kentucky. Except for Duke, the other teams change. You have 321 teams in Division I, so it's never going to be level. What you'd like to see is there are teams from the top, and then other teams, like Gonzaga, who was never in it. Besides Duke, it's pretty spread out."

How do final exams affect the team's schedule? "We practice every day, but not for very long, to keep ourselves sharp and learn about the system we are trying to play. We have exams and study halls and things like that. It's a tough period for the players, but their focus right now is on their school work."

How much more do your players need to learn about the new system your teaching? "They've learned a lot, but there's a while to go. They have a great attitude. They want to learn, and they want to get better. I don't think we're going to be where we need to be until probably January or February."

Why is Jameel Pugh getting more minutes? "We've had a revolving system with our three spot, and he responded pretty well against Connecticut, and he did some real good things today. Hopefully he'll be a major contributor."

Has anyone stepped up in that three spot for you, or is it still a revolving door? "(Raheim) Lamb had been the most consistent, but he's struggled a little bit of late. Willie Jenkins has struggled too, and that' where Jameel has stepped in. Brennan Martin will probably get a chance, too. We have to keep looking for some answers."

What do you like about Jameel Pugh? "He's very athletic, and strong physically, they're all good attributes to have. He can finish around the basket. He's been playing pretty good defensive ball."

Are you concerned about where the points are going to come from? "We didn't score a lot last year, and we lost a 20-point scorer, then throw in a new system. No matter what system you throw in there, they were going to have trouble scoring. They need to become more efficient, and by the end of the year be a better team. There are positives this year. We're number 10 in the RPI. But you can't think that everything will stay the same. They've done everything that I've asked them to do in the classroom, and on the court. They've been great."


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