Guard happy at UMass
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 10/20/2005

AMHERST - In March, Chris Lowe's future was full of uncertainty.

The senior point guard from Mount Vernon, N.Y., wasn't sure where he was going to college or if he would have an SAT score making him eligible to play basketball as a freshman when he got there.

But when the University of Massachusetts hired Travis Ford, things began falling into place.

Lowe chose the Minutemen over Fordham and Texas-El Paso and a short time later earned the necessary SAT score. Now, 29 days from his first collegiate game, Lowe is the only true point guard on the Minuteman roster and he could see considerable time as a rookie.

''It worked out great for me,'' Lowe said.

Ford said he hopes that Lowe seizes the starting job so the other potential point guards can concentrate their energy on other positions.

Maurice Maxwell, who could be the starter at either wing spot, has worked at point guard as well. Juniors Artie Bowers and Brandon Thomas are options, as well, but unless things change neither will see regular minutes at point guard.

''Chris Lowe has the ability to do it. But is he ready to do it?'' Ford asked. ''We're going to need him to play a lot of minutes. I spend a lot of time with my point guards. He needs to be an extension of me out on the floor and he has to know what I want to do.''

Lowe, who averaged 11.1 points and 6.5 assists as a senior, believes he will be ready. ''I came from a really good high school program, so it's not that bad of an adjustment,'' he said.

Lowe is listed at 6 feet, but that could be a bit generous. His biggest attribute is his speed and his court vision. He showed off a runner while driving to the basket during the scrimmage at Midnight Madness, but Ford said Lowe won't be asked to score much this year.

''I've had point guards lead the team in scoring and I've tried to get them shots,'' Ford said. ''Chris is more of a true point guard in the sense that he's looking for his teammates, trying to make them better.

''He's already ready to contribute defensively, which makes sense because defense is really just hard work,'' Ford added.

By definition a point guard needs to lead, while freshmen look to be led. Lowe is trying to balance the two.

''I'm just staying back right now letting the experienced players show me the ropes. As the season goes on, I'll become more vocal,'' said Lowe, who has looked to Maurice Maxwell and Jeff Viggiano for guidance. ''Jeff leads by example, but Maurice will step up and talk to you. He's like a big brother to everybody on the team.''

He's getting some outside advice, too, from a source not popular among UMass fans.

''I've talked a lot to Ben Gordon,'' said Lowe of the former University of Connecticut star who is now with the Chicago Bulls. ''He's like my best friend. We talk on a weekly basis. He said to be in great shape and play hard and everything will fall into place.''

Lowe and the Minutemen will face UConn in his fifth college game as they try to repeat last year's memorable upset.

''He said he's going to come to the game,'' Lowe said. ''I told him we're going to win again.''

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


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