Lappas announces lineup
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 10/27/2001

AMHERST - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball season doesn't start today.

In fact the Minutemen don't play an exhibition game until Sunday and don't open for real until the middle of next month.

But if UMass did start today, coach Steve Lappas knows what his starting lineup would be:

Senior Kitwana Rhymer at center, junior Micah Brand a power forward, sophomore Anthony Anderson at point guard, senior Shannon Crooks at two-guard and sophomore Willie Jenkins at small forward.

"If I were playing a game tonight that would be the starting lineup tonight," Lappas said. "But it's not the 16th of November yet."

While Rhymer, Brand, Crooks and Anderson seemed to be foregone conclusions, Jenkins would be a surprise at the wing.

A year ago he had a strong preseason and drew praise from the coaching staff. He played in a few games early, but then was relegated to garbage time the rest of the season.

Small forward is the team's least proven and most populated position with senior Ronnell Blizzard, sophomores Raheim Lamb and Jameel Pugh, as well as freshman Brennan Martin all looking to log time at the position.

The Minutemen invited some of the program's biggest donors to an open scrimmage Sunday evening and divvied up the roster three times for mini-games. The second one which featured the first team against the second team had Jenkins with the first string.

Lappas praised Jenkins' understanding of the system last week.

"Willie's been pretty good. He understands what we've been trying to do," Lappas said. "He's been playing hard. He takes charges. He's been doing a lot of the little things."

Pugh sat out the scrimmage with an ankle injury.

Rogers will play -Lappas squelched the rumors that senior power forward Jackie Rogers might redshirt.

"He's playing," Lappas said. "I don't know how that started. It's spread like wildfire."

The rumors were popular on internet message boards and were even referenced on ESPN.com.

Rogers was one of the bright spots of the slightly sloppy scrimmage Sunday. He made hook shots from several different angles and looked the most polished offensively of any of the UMass players.

The coaching staff touted Crooks' improved 3-point shooting last week and he backed up that praise with a buzzer-beating three at the end of the first scrimmage on a pass from freshman point guard Kyle Wilson.


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