UMass Athletics - Bahamas announcement 6/13/06
The Springfield Republican
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
UMass Athletics - 7/26, dates finalized
MHERST - Details and destination have yet to be made final, but there is a good chance the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team will be headed overseas this summer.
The NCAA allows programs to take foreign tours during the off-season once every four years. Teams use the trip to gain experience playing together.
With four new players who sat out last season eligible to make the trip, coach Travis Ford said the situation would be ideal for his team.
'With all the guys we have sitting out and the guys we have returning, it's going to be a good experience for our basketball team,' Ford said.
In addition to transfers Gary Forbes, Etienne Brower and Luke Bonner, who all practiced with the Minutemen this season, freshman Tiki Mayben could also participate. As an academic nonqualifier, Mayben didn't play or practice.
'Tiki can go with us for that, which would be a huge plus,' Ford said.
Ford has looked into Italy, France, Germany and Australia as potential destinations.
'We haven't decided where yet,' he said. 'I want some tough competition. But also where would be a good bonding experience? Chemistry is going to be very important. We will hopefully finalize that in the next week or two.'
The Minutemen would be allowed 10 days of practice before the trip and five games while on it.
UMass has done a similar trip once before. The Minutemen went to Greece before the 2001-02 season, the first under former coach Steve Lappas.
GLUED TO THE TV - It's safe to say Ford will be in front of the television late Thursday afternoon. In the second game of the Minneapolis region, Ford's good friend and former roommate and Kentucky teammate John Pelphrey will coach No. 14 seeded South Alabama against Florida, which is coached by Billy Donovan. He is another good friend of Ford's and was an assistant with the Wildcats when Ford and Pelphrey were players there.
'That's going to be interesting,' Ford said. 'My heart sank a little bit. I was in shock. I've talked to those guys. John and I were roommates for two years. So we're very close and I know the relationship those two have. They've very close. It should be interesting. I hate it on one hand that they have to play each other because one has to knock the other out.'
Ford knows the drill. His Eastern Kentucky team played his alma mater last year in the first round of the tournament.
'But I told John that it's going to get him a lot of publicity,' Ford said. 'For us last year, playing Kentucky turned out to be very, very good. We had one of the most publicized first-round games. We gave them a heck of a game. It will generate a lot of publicity for his basketball program.'
FOR AMUSEMENT ONLY - NCAA rules prohibit Ford from joining an NCAA pool, but he and his staff still fill out a brackets.
'We don't bet. But we do one just to see how smart you are. I make out about 10 of them, then use which one is the closest,' he said laughing. 'I do think this year there will be a lot of first-round upsets. I picked quite a few.'
Among them were No. 12 Texas A&M beating No. 5 Syracuse, No. 10 Alabama over No. 7 Marquette and No. 10 Seton Hall over No. 7 Wichita State. He also had Louisiana State knocking of No. 1 Duke in the Sweet Sixteen.
Ford's Final Four featured his sentimental favorite Florida along with Texas, Connecticut and Pittsburgh.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. For more UMass coverage including a frequently updated UMass sports blog, go to www.dailyhampshiregazette.com/umsports.
MHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts head coach Travis Ford announced the men's basketball team will take a preseason training trip to The Bahamas in late August in preparation of the 2006-07 season. The trip, which will run from August 17-24, will feature the Minutemen playing five games against international competition. All of the returning players from last season along with now-eligible transfers: Luke Bonner, Etienne Brower and Gary Forbes will play as Minutemen for the first time as well as point guard Tiki Mayben, who has met eligibility standards and is now a member of the roster.
"For our team, heading into the 2006-07 season, this may be the most important year to take an international trip," said Ford, who is entering his second season at UMass. "We are incorporating four new players to our rotation in addition to all of our returning players so this trip will be very beneficial."
UMass returns its top three scorers including A-10 First Team star Rashaun Freeman and 2006 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Stephane Lasme. Freeman, James Life and Lasme combined to score more than 35 points per game and grab close to 20 rebounds per game.
In addition to the training time and five games in the Bahamas, taking a trip allows UMass to have 10 days of practice on campus in Amherst prior to the trip, which will also be an asset in preparation to the highly-anticipated season which will start in November.
"We will have 10 days on campus before we head out which will benefit our new players mixing in," said Ford. "The trip itself will be a bonding experience and build team chemistry. It has been a trend for many schools with many additions to take such trips which will prove to be beneficial for UMass."
Last summer, 2005 national champion North Carolina along with Marshall and Troy played in a similar tour in the Bahamas. This season, Oregon (the same week as UMass) and 2006 national champion Florida will also be participating in training trips to the Bahamas. Games against other U.S. college teams are not permitted as part of the trips, but the teams will paired as doubleheaders, which will be played at the Sir Kendal Isaac Gym in The Bahamas.
The trip will be funded completely by non-university sources as the program has been fundraising in anticipation of the event. Anyone wishing to contribute, please call 413-545-4290.
UMass last took an international trip in August of 2001, when the team went to Greece.
he first University of Massachusetts fans to get a glimpse of Gary Forbes, Luke Bonner, Etienne Brower and Tiki Mayben wearing Minuteman basketball uniforms will need a passport to get to the games.
UMass Tuesday announced plans for the Minutemen to take an eight-day, five-game trip to the Bahamas from Aug. 17 to 24.
UMass coach Travis Ford has been enthusiastic at the prospect of making such a trip because it will give his team 10 days of practice before leaving and a chance for his four newcomers to play together before the season. The four players who sat out last season would be able to play with their teammates for the first time in games on the trip.
Incoming freshman Ricky Harris is not eligible to play. If the Minutemen sign Farnold Degand, a transfer from Iowa State, he would not be eligible either.
''We're the poster child for a trip like this to prepare for the season because we can take all of our newcomers,'' Ford said. ''We can try to mix and mold and see what works. It should be a huge benefit for our team.''
It could be particularly beneficial for Mayben. The point guard from Schenectady, N.Y., sat out last year as an academic nonqualifier and wasn't allowed to play or practice. He has fulfilled his academic requirements to be eligible this year and is allowed to play on the trip.
''It's obviously very important for him. He'll be able to learn our offense,'' Ford said. ''It'll be important for Gary Forbes and these guys too because they'll be in an entirely different role than they've been in. They do know our offense and defense which gives them a little advantage over Tiki. But it will be huge for all of them to get a feel for game situations.''
This is the second summer international trip for UMass. The Minutemen went to Greece before the 2001-02 season. While the Bahamas doesn't offer the same level of competition as some of the European destinations, the location and smaller price tag made the trip attractive.
The cost of the trip is estimated at $60,000 and it will be paid through separate fund raising, not with athletic department or university money.
''It's almost half the price (of going to Europe). It sounds exotic, but budget-wise it's really a great option,'' Ford said.
KENTUCKY CLOSE - There are still final details to be worked out on the contract, but a home-and-home series between UMass and Kentucky is all but finalized. The Minutemen would face Ford's alma mater at Rupp Arena Dec. 22 and would host the Wildcats at the TD Banknorth Garden on Dec. 22, 2007.
The Minutemen are close to finalizing their nonconference schedule. Participation in the four-team exempt tournament hosted by Pittsburgh is a likely possibility to fill one of the open slots. Northeastern and Oakland universities are already in the field.
SUMMER PLANS - Senior Rashaun Freeman and Forbes, a junior, both will be working as counselors this summer at prestigious basketball camps. Freeman will work at the Nike All-America camp in Chicago, while Forbes will be at the Adidas camp in Teaneck, N.J.
Both camps feature top high school prospects competing in front of Division I coaches.
''You look at the guys who've gotten invited in past years, they've all been high draft choices,'' Ford said. ''They get to go and work out and be counselors, mentor these kids and work out with big-time coaches.''
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MHERST, Mass. - UMass has received the game days, times and locations of its five games to be played in the Bahamas during a preseason training trip. The Minutemen will play five games in six days from Aug. 18-23, all at night. UMass is pleased to announce it will provide live internet broadcasts of all five games with Bob Behler and Jason Yellin calling the action. All of the action can be heard here on SportsJuice.com.
UMass, which departs for the Bahamas on Aug. 17 will begin play with back-to-back games on Aug. 18 and Aug. 19 at 8 p.m. at the Sir Isaac Kendall Gymnasium in Nassau.
After a day off on Aug. 20, action moves to Loyola Hall where UMass will play three straight days. The games on Aug. 21 and 23 tip-off at 7 p.m. with a 9 p.m. start on Aug. 22.
There will be a 15-minute pregame show prior to each game. All game dates and times are subject to change. Opponents will be announced at a later date.
In addition to the live internet broadcasts, UMassAthletics.com will provide daily journal updates and photo galleries from the trip as UMass prepares for the 2006-07 season.
Check back once mid-August rolls around.