ESPN.com chat with Steve Lappas
From ESPN.com, 10/30/2001

Steve Lappas: (9:02 AM ET ) I'm ready for your questions!!!

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Jeff Erickson: Coach Lappas, I've been a UMass B-ball fan since the days of Jim McCoy and Lou Roe. Watched all the great games until Camby and Calipari left. Since then, our record's been getting worse every year. What is the first thing that needs to be done to turn this program around and get it back to where it was?

Steve Lappas: (9:03 AM ET ) The first thing is to establish a style of play, playing hard and playing good defense. Also getting the ball moving so we can do better offensively.

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Wiggum (Boston): Have you found a remotely decent cheesesteak in the Valley yet?

Steve Lappas: (9:04 AM ET ) I have not had one up here yet!!! But I'm looking.

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tony from boston now in california : how is anthony anderson doing in your system? Also will he start at the point this year?

Steve Lappas: (9:04 AM ET ) He is doing very well right now and played great in Greece. He has picked up right where he left off.

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Brendan (St. Louis): Coach Lappas, I think your team has a great chance to make a jump to the top of the A-10 this year. You have a solid backcourt, but is your deep frontcourt the key to a successful season and a postseason berth? Good luck.

Steve Lappas: (9:05 AM ET ) That will be a huge key. But how our backcourt develops will also be huge. They are very young.

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Adam White (Amherst): What was it that you saw from Eric Williams that led you to name him as a tri-captain? Though he did play well at times last year, E has never played a very big part of the team since transferring from Syracuse. Did he show you something special during your Greece trip or early practices?

Steve Lappas: (9:06 AM ET ) For the first time, we had a vote. I didn't think it was fair for me to choose. He was voted by his teammates.

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Jim (Springfield): Coach, You have filled your staff with three former head coaches. Did you plan that? I don't think too many staffs have 3 assistants who have been head coaches.

Steve Lappas: (9:07 AM ET ) I didn't plan it but they are special guys. When you talked to them you just knew you wanted to hire them. It is coincidence in some ways but in some ways not.

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Nathan (Regina, SK, Canada): How is Kyle Wilson doing so far, and what kind of impact do you think he will have this season?

Steve Lappas: (9:08 AM ET ) He is doing very well. He will be in our rotation and he is really making me look at a lot of things that include him.

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Ryan(Spring: Steve, first off I just wanted to say I'm pumped about the season. How is Jameel Pugh progressing? He seems to have extraordinary athletic talent. Does he have a chance to crack the starting lineup?

Steve Lappas: (9:09 AM ET ) He has great athletic ability. He has been nicked up with injuries so he hasn't been able to practice as much. We will just have to wait and see how he progresses.

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Greg (Boston): Once upon a time UMass had a huge home court advantage largely in part to the loud, sell-out crowds. What are you, your staff, the players, and the University doing to draw more fans (students and the local community) into the Mullins? Winning more games will certainly bring fans, but what else is being done? Thanks and good luck. Greg (Minutemaniac...does this fan club still exist?)

Steve Lappas: (9:10 AM ET ) The first thing is try to win. But we have been out in the community a lot and will be doing a big dorm push to get the students excited.

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Brian, Amherst,MA: Do you think the motion offense will work good against teams in the Atlantic 10? What will be the key to success this year?

Steve Lappas: (9:11 AM ET ) Yeah. It worked in the MAAC and Big East. It works for a lot of people. People think it's just us but tons of teams use it. It has been good for us so far.

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MikeUMA: In recent reports you've said you like how much Willie Jenkins is progressing, and might be your starter at small forward. In the past few years in Amherst we haven't seen too much scoring out of the 3 spot. Can Willie give you the outside threat you're hoping for?

Steve Lappas: (9:12 AM ET ) He's got the potential to. He has been doing all the little things. He is a capable shooter. With confidence he will develop into a good shooter.

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Rob (Woburn, MA): Although it is early, how do you think the team will rate in the A-10 and who do you think are the top level teams in the league?

Steve Lappas: (9:13 AM ET ) It's so hard to say. Temple and St. Joes and Xavier, Dayton, all are good. A lot of teams will step forward but I can't tell you exactly.

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Eric, Amherst: I'm currently a Junior here at UMass and was wondering if your going to be as community orientated as Coach Cal? I understand that you haven't been able to get out because of the recruiting period. Above all I have high hopes for you and the team, Thanks~

Steve Lappas: (9:17 AM ET ) I was always very involved in Villanova and I plan to do that even more here. I want to get involved with the youth around here. My wife and I live right in Amherst which is important to us. This is where we are going to raise our children so it is very important to us.

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jerry(buffalo): Coach Lappas, What are your memories of coaching in the MAAC(I'm a Canisius fan)

Steve Lappas: (9:17 AM ET ) I have great memories. That was my first head coaching job. I remember most my first game at Manhatten College having about 50 people in the stands and my last game they were scalping tickets!

Steve Lappas: (9:18 AM ET ) I have to run now but thanks for the questions and the interest. Get ready for a long run here in Massachusetts!! Thanks everyone!!


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