Non-league foes a mixed bag
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 11/15/2001

The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team begins the Steve Lappas era with a schedule that features more home games and more balance than some of its predesessors did.

Following are capsules of the Minutemen's non-conference opponents this season.

Arkansas Little Rock

Mascot: Trojans

Coach: Porter Moser

Conference: Sun Belt

2000-01 Record: 18-11

When & Where: Nov. 16, 7 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Nick Zachery (6-3, soph. guard, 10.4 ppg)

Notable: The Trojans lost their top three scorers from last year and will need newcomers to contribute quickly to be successful.


Mascot: Red Foxes

Coach: Dave McGarity

Conference: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

2000-01 Record: 17-13

When & Where: Saturday Nov. 24, 7 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Sean Kennedy (6-2 Sr. G., 9.2 ppg. 8.1 apg), Rick Smith (6-3, Sr. G., 11.3 ppg.).

Notable: Kennedy's 8.1 assists per game were third best in the nation a year ago. Junior college big man Jared Hunsacker will be asked to contribute immediately.


Mascot: Ducks

Coach: Ernie Kent

Conference: Pac 10

2000-01 Record: 14-14

When & Where: Tuesday Nov. 27, 7 p.m., Springfield Civic Center

Key players: Fredrick Jones (6-4, Sr. G., 14.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg); Luke Ridnour (6-2, So. G., 7.4 ppg, 3.8 apg)

Notable: The Ducks signed four players 6-8 or taller and they'll need to contribute quickly with no notable big men returning. Will they be ready to face UMass' experienced post presence?

North Carolina State

Mascot: Wolfpack

Coach: Herb Sendek

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference

2000-01 Record: 13-16

When & Where: Dec. 1, 4 p.m., Entertainment and Sports Arena

Key players: Anthony Grundy (6-3, So. G., 14.3 ppg) Clifford Crawford (6-3, Jr. G., 7.7 ppg, 3.5 apg).

Notable: Like Oregon, the Wolpack will send a very inexperienced group of post players against UMass' veteran big men.

Grundy is good, but he'll have to bear a lot of the load early while a highly touted-freshman class gets acclimated. This is a better team to face in December than February.

Holy Cross

Mascot: Crusaders

Coach: Ralph Willard

Conference: Patriot League

2000-01 Record: 22-8 (NCAA Tournament)

When & Where: Tuesday Dec. 4, 7 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Ryan Serravalle (Sr. G., 11.2 ppg), Tim Szatko (Jr. For., 11.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg)

Notable: Without graduated mammouth center Josh Sankes, the Crusaders don't present the same threat that they did a year when they beat UMass and nearly upset Kentucky, but they're still among the favorites in the Patriot League with a veteran squad.

Boston College

Mascot: Eagles

Coach: Al Skinner

Conference: Big East

2000-01 Record: 27-5; NCAA, second round

When & Where: Dec. 8, 2 p.m., Conte Forum

Key players: Troy Bell (6-1, Jr. G., 20.4 ppg, 4.2 apg), Ryan Sidney (6-2, So. G., 9.4 ppg., 4.7 rpg)

Notable: Will the Eagles build off last year or crumble under the weight of increased expectations? Bell is one of the best guards in the country and his ability to recover from his preseason injury is critical. The losses of Kenny Harley and Xavier Singletary shouldn't be overlooked. The two provided toughness and rebounding.


Mascot: Huskies

Coach: Jim Calhoun

Conference: Big East

2000-01 Record: 20-12, NIT

When & Where: Dec. 11 9 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Caron Butler, (6-7, Fr. For., 15.3 ppg., 7.6 rpg), Johnnie Selvie (6-7 Sr. For., 10.9 ppg. 5.5 rpg)

Notable: The combination of Butler and Selvie are an enviable pair of forwards, as both are tough and talented. Sophomore point guard Taliek Brown was up and down as a freshman but will be more experienced this year. Center will be a question, as Emeka Okafor is a freshman with no natural backup.

Central Connecticut

Mascot: Blue Devils

Coach: Howie Dickenman

Conference: Northeast

2000-01 Record: 14-14

When & Where: Dec. 15, Mohegan Sun

Key players: Corsley Edwards (6-9, Sr. For., 16.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Notable: The Blue Devils returned to earth after a 26-win campaign in 1999-2000. The current edition of Central Conn. is young and inexperienced. The Blue Devils lost to No. 25 Oklahoma in the first round of the preseason NIT.


Mascot: Black Bears

Coach: John Giannini

Conference: America East

2000-01 Record: 18-11

When & Where: Dec. 23, 2 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Errick Greene (6-3, Sr. swingman (10.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

Notable: The Black Bears would be a contender for the America East title were Huggy Dye still on the roster, but he was dismissed from the roster following an off-campus incident, launching Maine into rebuilding mode.


Mascot: Thundering Herd

Coach: Greg White

Conference: Mid-American Conference

2000-01 Record: 18-9

When & Where: Dec. 29, 7 p.m., Cam Henderson Center

Key players: Tamar Slay (6-9 Sr. G., 17.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg); J.R. VanHoose (6-10 Sr. C., 16.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg)

Notable: The combination of VanHoose and Slay are potentially lethal. Slay is an impossible matchup for most teams, while VanHoose is a rebounding machine. If they can find a suitable replacement for Corneilius Jackson at the point, this team could be good.

Ohio State

Mascot: Buckeyes

Coach: Jim O'Brien

Conference: Big Ten

2000-01 Record: 20-11, NCAA, first round

When & Where: Jan. 9, 7 p.m., Mullins Center

Key players: Brian Brown (6-4, Sr. G., 14.5 ppg, 4.1 apg); Boban Savovic (6-5, Sr. G., 8.9 ppg)

Notable: The Buckeyes will be perimeter oriented with the departure of shot-blocker Ken Johnson from the middle. They'll need to find a rebounded to clean up for Brown, Savovic and co.

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