Minutemen to play with one man down
By Jim Pignatiello, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Staff, 2/12/2003

Monday night, Massachusetts men's basketball coach Steve Lappas was thinking giving freshman center Alassane Kouyate more playing time.

Hustling back and forth from the interview table with radio host Bob Behler to a table of reporters during the commercial breaks of The Steve Lappas Show at the Hangar, the second-year coach said that he was considering taking a stronger look at No. 21.

"He's the only freshman who hasn't gotten a chance," said Lappas, who has currently has three rookies in the starting lineup.

The Minutemen were just two days removed from a 61-50 loss to Temple, a defeat that out rebounded UMass (8-14, 2-7 Atlantic 10) 44-26. The Owls (7-12, 5-4 A-10) scored 24 second-chance points in the contest compared to just two for the Minutemen.

Lappas figured that if his big guys were going to have that much trouble inside, Kouyate "couldn't be any worse."

But it was revealed yesterday at practice that Kouyate had been admitted to the hospital Monday night. Lappas told reporters that Kouyate had taken a ball to his side at the beginning of practice.

Kouyate was fine through practice, Lappas said, but began to feel pain later in the evening while in his dorm room. He was taken to University Health Services after placing a call to assistant coach Andrew Theokas before being taken to Cooley-Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, where he stayed the night.

According to Lappas, the hospital believes that Kouyate may have done something to his pancreas, but is expected to make a full recovery.

Kouyate had not been released as of press time yesterday, and will not be playing in tonight's game against Richmond (12-8, 6-3 A-10).

The Spiders, who are third in the A-10 West, rely heavily on their perimeter. Small forward Mike Skrocki and guards Jeff Myers and Tony Dobbins are the Richmond's top three scorers.

None of the three are a true point guard, but Myers has taken on that role the most, averaging 4.5 assists per game. Dobbins, meanwhile, leads the team with 5.4 rebounds.

"They all do a little bit of everything," Lappas said. "They are very versatile."

With UMass' recent problems underneath, a matchup with a more perimeter-based squad could be exactly what the Minutemen need tonight.

"I think it's a team that we match up well against," Lappas said at practice yesterday.

Not that it seems to matter all that much. The Maroon and White have a habit of making half-decent - and sometimes worse - big men look like All-Americans.

"We've done a better job against some of the good guys we've played against," said Lappas, whose team has usually been successful at making teams' secondary options beat them.

Problem is, Richmond has a second option. And a third.

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