Lappas keeps Wilson on bench
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 12/5/2002

AMHERST - University of Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas praised sophomore guard Kyle Wilson for his attitude in the first four games of the season. But he isn't ready to play him, yet.

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Kyle Wilson has yet to take off the warmups this season.
Wilson, who was UMass' primary guard off the bench last year, is the only scholarship player who hasn't seen action for the Minutemen.

Lappas said it has simply been a matter of not enough minutes to share with the addition of transfer Marcus Cox and highly-touted freshman Mike Lasme, joining last year's starting point guard Anthony Anderson, in the backcourt.

"Ideally, we'd like our starting point guard, which is Anthony, to play about 35 minutes," Lappas said. "We made a decision that we wanted to get Mike Lasme and Marcus Cox as many minutes as we could.

"We felt like the way to maximize those minutes was to give the backup point guard minutes to one of those two guys. That's how it's evolved that Kyle Wilson has not had an opportunity."

Wilson said he's been frustrated, but not angry, at the situation.

"It's been tough not playing. You always want to play," he said. "But I have a lot of trust in Coach. I'm just trying to work hard and get better."

Lappas dismissed the rumor that Wilson's benching was a disciplinary move.

"It has nothing to do with Kyle. He's a great kid. He's done everything I've asked," Lappas said. "He's been tremendous on the bench. He's been very vocal with his teammates."

Wilson's absence has drawn more criticism because Anderson has struggled in UMass' 1-3 start.

Lappas said he wasn't losing confidence in Anderson, who was the Atlantic 10's Rookie of the Year last year.

"I feel very strongly about Anthony Anderson, struggling or not," Lappas said. "I'm not saying Kyle won't get an opportunity. We've made a decision to go a certain way, but you're only going to go that way for a while, if that's not going well. Then you're going to go in another direction."

Wilson said he expects to get a chance at some point.

"I hope so. I think there will be," he said. "There are 26 games left. I'm sure I'll get an opportunity. I just want to be ready when I do. I know God has a plan for my life. We'll see what happens."

In Saturday's noon game against BC at the Mullins Center, Lappas said the lineup will remain the same.

"I'm still committed for Saturday to do what we've said we were going to do," he said.

Wilson was originally going to play for Lappas at Villanova and followed the coach to Amherst. He was the first recruit signed by Lappas when he was hired at UMass prior to last season.

He started the first game of the season at point guard and started seven games overall, but Anderson handled most of the point-guard duties.

Wilson served as the backup at both guard spots and averaged 3.9 points in 16.4 minutes and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.20-to-1.

The highlight of his season was a 17-point effort in UMass' win over Temple.

Lappas said he and Wilson have talked about the situation.

"He understands and he's been terrific. He knows Anthony is a good player. He would like to play those backup point-guard minutes," Lappas said.

"Coach has been clear with me," Wilson said. "It's been a tough situation. We have great guards here."

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


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