n Monday night it will be 10 years since the University of Massachusetts upset No. 1 Kentucky 92-82 in the now-defunct Great 8 showcase.
While that 35-2 season was just a decade ago, it feels like forever since UMass basketball has been nationally relevant. The Mullins Center hasn't had back-to-back sellouts in years and the school hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1998.
But it seems appropriate that this year marks the 10th anniversary of that team. New coach Travis Ford's energy and promises of success, has drawn comparisons to Calipari and there's an energy and optimism not seen around the program since the 1995-96 season.
That year was about a lot more than just a good team making an impressive run. The characters were memorable, and many of the stories were unforgettable.
Ten years later Calipari has had a hip replaced and the boys that captured the hearts of the region are now men. They're husbands and fathers and, in a few cases, coaches.
Here's a look at where the members of the 1995-96 UMass men's basketball team are today.
Edgar Padilla/Carmelo Travieso
The two junior guards will be forever linked. They shared a birthday, a dorm room, a heritage and an awful lot of time on the floor together.
Because of an early injury to freshman Charlton Clarke, Calipari didn't have any other scholarship guards available. So Padilla and Travieso rarely left the floor that year.
The two remain close. They both live and work in Puerto Rico and still play professionally in the territory's Superior League, Padilla for Arecibo and Travieso for Santurce.
Padilla sells real estate and Travieso works at a financial consulting firm. Both work with Edgar's older brother Giddel's sports agency. Both are married with children.
During their careers, they sparked an increase in interest in basketball in Puerto Rico and represented the island in the 1996 Olympics. People regularly still ask them about the Final Four season.
By Matt Vautour
Daily Hampshire Gazette UMass Sports Blog
People suggest story ideas to me all the time and no theme is more common than a "Where are they now?" type piece.
They�re a lot of work, but they�re pretty fun to work on too:
I owe a lot of people a thanks for helping me track down the members of the 1995-96 team for the story that ran last week (check the men's hoop achives if you missed it). The coaching staffs at Memphis and Drexel were particularly helpful as was ex-Minuteman guard Jason Germain.
I had plenty of stuff that didn�t make it into the story. The following is the best of it.
Edgar Padilla seemed sad that the players had lost touch.
"You share so many experiences. being together for four years. You hope that will last forever. We�re both looking forward someday if we can to meet with these guys and see how everybody is doing. See if they have kids or where they�re living at. It�d be great if the school did something so everybody could go back there and meet."
Dana Dingle like many of the players appreciated Travis Ford wanting to bring the former players back into the family.
"The guy who was there, Lappas, I never spoke to him. He never was friendly. I was at the game at Fordham when they beat UMass last year. I was like They gotta get rid of this guy.
I spoke to Travis and another assistant already. It looks like they�re starting to get it done.
Dingle was stunned to think of how far attendance had fallen.
"I heard the last couple years, the Mullins has just been empty. I can�t even picture that. It�s unbelievable that that place could be empty."
Dingle, who is an AAU coach now, said some of his AAU players, who�ll be seniors next year have high Division I talent. He expected UMass would recruit them.
Charlton Clarke is probably more in touch with his teammates than most.
"Ross Burns and I were roommates and best friends. We talk just about every day. I go over there (to Fordham) and play with those guys. I speak to Tyrone periodically."
He and Ross watch Sox-Yankees together with each players rooting for their home team.
He was cheering loudly in front of a TV when UMass beat UConn last year.
"I watched them when they played against UConn this year and they beat them at the Mullins Center. People stormed on the court. That never happened top me a UMass. They expected us to win. But we could never beat UConn. It was like �Look at these guys.� They have less talent, but they ended up beating UConn. That was great. That was a good feeling."
Ross Burns� Fordham players pick on him when they see those UMass games on ESPN Classic.
"My players catch those games on classic sports and they bust my chops. "Hey coach you look about 15."
I didn�t get Andy Maclay until last Sunday night before I left for Davidson. He and I had played phone tag without much success. I knew, through Mike Babul, what he was doing so I could have written his section without talking to him, but I took one last shot before finishing the story. His Forest Gump line turned out to be the best quote in the story in my opinion.
Unfortunately I didn�t speak to Marcus Camby or Donta Bright and I�ve been trying since late August.
Camby doesn�t like to talk about his UMass experience. I�m guessing it�s either because he�s embarrassed by it, or because he feels the school abandoned him to cover its own backside.
The Nuggets community relations director was great trying to help me and thought he might call me back. But in the end I never got him.
Bright was another story. Jason Germain told me right away that nobody has a number for Donta Bright. Germain, who works in athletic development, gave me some starting numbers when I began this project.
He said nobody had a number for Bright. He wasn�t sure of Inus Norville�s whereabouts and told me that Marcus Camby wouldn�t return phone calls.
Norville was easy. I didn�t talk to him, but a quick search of the Internet revealed that he was playing professionally in Cypress, further proving that there is a league and a country for everybody.
For Bright, I started with Dana Dingle, Bright�s classmate and buddy. Dingle said Bright, who�d been living in Boston after his playing career ended, had moved back to his native Baltimore, where he�d starred at Dunbar High School. Dingle said he�d spoken to Bright a few weeks before when a cousin of Dingle�s ran into Bright and called Dingle and connected the two.
Dingle said Bright was working with kids at a group home. He gave me a number where he thought people would know were to reach him.
When I called, it appeared to be either a Boys Club or a YMCA or something. The guy I spoke to didn�t know who Bright was, but somebody behind him appeared to hear Bright�s name and offered to help.
He said he knew Bright and expected to see him later that night. He took my number and told me he�d pass it along. I was hopeful, but skeptical.
He never called back.
An old media guide listed Bright�s mother as Patricia Bright. I looked her up and sure enough there was a Patricia Bright living in Baltimore. It wasn�t her.
As I began reaching more and more players, they�d all heard similar things. Back in Baltimore. Working with kids. No number for him.
I was so used to that response that I�d forgotten to even ask Tyrone Weeks about Bright when I spoke to him in late October. But he mentioned that he�d spoken to Bright recently. I got excited. Did he have a number for him? Weeks scrolled through his cell and produced the digits.
"We�re sorry due to the customer�s request, this phone does not take incoming calls."
If anybody knows how to reach Donta, email me I�d still love to track him down and include it somewhere at a later date.
Perhaps 10 years from now the team will reunite on campus for the 20th anniversary.
The players seemed to enjoy the idea that people are still interested in them and what they accomplished. They asked me to create a list of their names and numbers to pass along to them. Which I was glad to do.
'I didn't realize what an accomplishment it was at the time,' Travieso said. 'We worked so hard it became second nature. We worked hard enough to be able to do it.'
Travieso plans to move back to New England before long and hopes to get involved with UMass on some level.
'It's hard to follow UMass down here,' Travieso said. 'I'd definitely like to get up there and go to some games.'
Padilla marveled at how fast the time has gone. Hopes there would be a reunion of the full roster.
'We're both hoping that someday we can meet with these guys and see how everybody is doing,' he said. 'See if they have kids or where they're living at. It'd be great if the school did something so everybody could go back there and meet.'
Padilla, who had been a standout at Central High School in Springfield, was a walk-on at UMass. He was known more for being Edgar's big brother than for his basketball career.
But Giddel made a name from himself in the final game of his career. When Travieso got into foul trouble in the Minutemen's Final Four game against Kentucky, Calipari sent him into the game.
He only played eight minutes in that game, but he sparked the Minutemen who closed a sizable Wildcat lead while he was on the floor. UMass eventually lost 81-74.
Like his brother and Travieso, Giddel Padilla is back in Puerto Rico where he runs a sports agency.
The Bronx native was a popular player among UMass fans, who appreciated his unassuming nature and blue-collar playing style.
Dingle didn't get as much attention as some of his more high-profile teammates, but his defense, rebounding and leadership were indispensable to Minutemen's success that season. He's currently the school's No. 10 all-time rebounder and No. 30 all-time scorer and his 137 games played are the most in school history.
Dingle's professional career spanned four continents before he called it quits.
'I knew I was eventually going to have to get a regular job so I decided to start sooner than later,' he said. 'If I waited, I'd be on the bottom of the barrel and never make any money.'
After working on Wall Street, Dingle moved on to Monroe Capital, a hedge fund on Long Island where he's currently employed.
Dingle, who is married with two children, is surprised how often people still inquire about the Final Four.
'I thought it'd be old by now. But people still remember. That team still stands out as far as UMass history,' Dingle said. 'People are like 'Hey, I remember you guys. That was my team.' For me. I've always been low-key and laid back. I don't really like the attention and all that stuff. But it's cool. It's better to be remembered than not.'
Dingle is still involved in basketball, coaching the AAU Long Island Lightning, where he has several Division I prospects.
He said he's impressed with Ford, who has invited many alumni to get involved.
'The new staff has reached out already. I spoke to Travis and another assistant already. It looks like they're starting to get it done,' Dingle said. 'I told them I'd try to come up there this year.'
Bright was the first McDonald's All-American ever to sign with UMass. Despite playing just three seasons he is still the school's No. 17 career scorer with 1,229 points.
His professional career took him to Europe, South America, as well as minor leagues in the U.S. He stopped playing in 2002.
Bright returned to his native Baltimore, but beyond that, no one is quite sure where to find him.
'I know he was living in Baltimore and working with kids,' Dingle said. 'I don't have his new cell phone.'
A preseason injury kept Clarke from making much of an impact that season. He averaged just 8.9 minutes in 23 games. But while he scored only 32 points that season he went on to join the school's 1,000-point club with 1,041 in his career.
Clarke, who is single, returned to his native Bronx. He still plays for fun and sometimes runs in pickup games with his old roommate Ross Burns at Fordham. He admitted he's not as quick as he used to be, but said his offensive arsenal remains intact.
'The running one-hander still works, that floater still works, the jump shot works. The legs don't hold up as well as they used to, but it's fun to get out there and compete,' Clarke said. 'I get in some local tournaments from time to time.'
The TV allows him to look back on his career.
'Every now and then I can catch our old games on classic sports,' he said. 'Plus I see a whole lot of people that are doing well in the NBA on TV that we manhandled.'
Clarke's ebullient personality made him a natural for sales. He currently manages a used-car dealership in the Bronx.
Maclay has the two most prestigious rings in UMass athletics history - one from the Final Four and the other a 1998 Division I-AA football national championship. The football team's punter found out he'd been added as a walk-on to the basketball team just days before the Minutemen flew to Detroit to play Kentucky on Nov. 28, 1995.
'That whole year was something else. I tell people I felt like Forrest Gump a little bit,' Maclay said. 'In the movie you see him at Alabama playing football, then he's shaking hands with John Kennedy, doing all this crazy stuff. That's how I felt. There I was talking to Bill Cosby. Then talking to Spike Lee, and Michael Jordan. We met (wrestler) Ric Flair working out in a gym in Charlotte.
'The people I met, I had no business being there, but there I was every single time, meeting these amazing people. One day I'm finishing football, then all of a sudden I'm on a plane to Detroit and we're playing the No. 1 team in the nation. Dick Vitale is doing the game and we wind up winning. I actually got in that game. It was a ride I wouldn't trade for anything.'
He remains the UMass all-time leader in punt yardage with 12,278.
Maclay, who got married last year, lives in West Paterson, N.J., where he's a special education teacher and freshman basketball coach.
The Mullins Center crowd loved the walk-on from Greenfield, envying the local kid who was along for the greatest ride in the school's history.
But Burns, who had more ability than most walk-ons that passed through UMass, paid close attention. Later in his career, then-UMass coach Bruiser Flint often said he could picture Burns becoming a coach. He was right.
Burns is in the midst of his sixth season as an assistant alongside head coach Dereck Whittenburg. Burns helped him turn around Wagner and is currently helping him rebuild Fordham.
Burns is still influenced by things he learned from Calipari and Flint.
'I find myself reflecting on how they would deal with situations. I reflect on how they dealt with us,' Burns said. 'Being around great coaches like that really rubbed off on me.'
He and the Rams will visit Amherst on Jan. 18.
On a team with a deep frontcourt, Cottrell didn't see much time. Fans most remember him for his high socks and role as the team barber.
But like Burns, he turned his time on the bench into a coaching career.
Cottrell began as an assistant at Palmer High School, moved to Mount Holyoke College and is now working with the men's program at Emmanuel College in Boston, where former Amherst Regional standout Jamahl Jackson is now the head coach.
'I enjoyed basketball and I enjoyed helping others through basketball,' said Cottrell, who is married with two children. 'I'm hoping to move up in the business if the opportunity arises.'
Nunez's four-year career numbers won't jump out at anyone. But after starting his career as a walk-on, the Lawrence native earned himself a scholarship based on his energy.
Calipari would often put him into a game when the Minutemen were losing, hoping to spark the crowd and his teammates. Most of the time it worked.
Nunez is married and working as an assistant admissions director in the law school at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.
In addition to providing valuable minutes off the bench, Weeks was a pioneer in college basketball history. He was one of the nation's first players to take advantage of the change in the Proposition 48 rules that allowed a player who sat out his freshman year due to academics to earn back the lost year by graduating early.
He too is a member of the 1,000-point club with 1,013. He's No. 6 on UMass' all-time rebound list with 858.
Weeks worked in coaching for six years with Jim Baron at Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure. He's now in management at Stop & Shop in Rhode Island.
His Final Four ring still gets attention.
'People think it's football because of the size I am,' said the 6-foot-7, 250-pound former forward. 'But then they see UMass and they're like 'Oh yeah. I remember those teams.'
Norville was a reserve freshman big man on the 1995-96 team. At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, he provided size off the bench.
Norville transferred to Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, where he played for former UMass assistant coach Ed Schilling as a senior.
Norville's playing career has bounced him through several countries in Europe and the Dominican Republic. He played in Sweden last year and is on the roster of Keravnos Strovolou in Cypress.
Camby's 32-point, nine-rebound effort against Kentucky in the season opener was an early taste of what was coming.
That season, his junior year, Camby was quite simply the best player in America. The 6-foot-11 center was dominant en route to winning several national player-of-the year honors.
Camby entered the NBA draft after the season and was selected by the Toronto Raptors as the No. 2 overall pick.
Before this year, in nine NBA seasons with the Raptors, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets, Camby has averaged 10.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals.
Camby was leading the NBA in rebounding this season, entering this week.
Camby, who tutored South Hadley students while he was at UMass, has been active in charities throughout his career. He recently toured Africa with Basketball Without Borders.
Efforts to reach Camby for this story were unsuccessful. Shortly after he entered the draft, Camby admitted that he had taken money from two agents during his senior season, an offense that caused the NCAA to eventually vacate UMass' Final Four appearance. Camby has avoided discussing his UMass experience much since then.
His daughter Erin is now a freshman on the UMass women's basketball team.
His staff at Memphis features some familiar faces. John Robic, who was an assistant at UMass in 1995-96, rejoined Calipari after struggling at Youngstown State.
Robic replaced another former UMass Ed Schilling at Memphis. Schilling, a devout Christian, is working to promote his faith through basketball clinics and speaking.
Flint, who took over at UMass after Calipari left, is now the head coach at Drexel, where he was the 2003-04 Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year. He's still part owner of a health club in Amherst.
* * *
Ten years later, most of the players keep in touch with some of the their former teammates at least periodically. They watch Camby's NBA games on TV and occasionally see games from that season on ESPN Classic. Most of them enjoy reminiscing.
'I love talking about the old UMass days,' Weeks said. 'It was fun. We were winning. The way everybody got along was wonderful. It was probably the best year of my life.'
Matt Vautour can be reached at [email protected]. For more UMass coverage including a frequently updated UMass sports blog, go to www.dailyhampshiregazette.com/umsports.
Editor's note: Daily Hampshire Gazette stories from the 1995-96 University of Massachusetts men's basketball season are posted online at www.dailyhampshiregazette.com/umsports on the 10th anniversary of their original publication.