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UMass set for Albany
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 12/27/2003

AMHERST - At home in Lynn for Christmas, University of Massachusetts senior point guard Anthony Anderson's friends asked him for tickets to Tuesday's game against No. 1 Connecticut.

Anderson turned them down, temporarily. It's not that he wasn't feeling generous. He said he just wasn't allowing himself to spend any time thinking about the Huskies yet.

That's because the Minutemen still have Sunday's 2 p.m. game with Albany sitting between them and their date with the Huskies.

''I told them call me on Monday. Right now I've got to worry about Sunday,'' Anderson said. ''We're at a point where we can't overlook anybody. I think we'll be focused on Sunday.''

UMass coach Steve Lappas expected his team to have its head in the right place.

''They need to be thinking about what they're going to do on Sunday first,'' he said. ''Hopefully what we've learned is you have to go out and play every game like we're playing the No. 1 team in the country.''

''It's good we got back today so we can focus on Albany,'' sophomore Jeff Viggiano said. ''We know we play UConn on Tuesday, but we have to take care of Albany first. We'll all be amped up, to play the No. 1 team in the country, but we have to remain focused on Albany. You can be beaten by anybody.''

The Great Danes are the type of team that can be easy to overlook.

They're in the midst of only their fifth year in Division I and have yet to have a winning record. This season hasn't shaped up much differently as Albany will arrive in Amherst at 2-5. The Danes have started 2-5 in four of their five seasons in Division I.

They opened the season with three straight losses at Siena, Pittsburgh and Colgate. They bounced back to beat Army but then lost to Long Island and Sacred Heart.

The Great Danes have yet to win a road game but enter Sunday's game coming off an overtime win over Lehigh at home.

UMass will have a considerable size advantage as Albany's nine-deep rotation only features one player taller than 6-foot-7, Janis Pipikis, a 6-foot-8 center from Latvia.

The only other team with size that Albany has faced was Pitt, which hammered the Danes, 83-54, and dominated the boards 41-29.

Nobody is confusing UMass with the No. 16-ranked Panthers, but the Minutemen have a similar size advantage, which they will likely try to exploit against America East's worst rebounding team.

''Being able to go inside was one of the things that helped us beat Maine,'' Lappas said.

The Great Danes will likely try to play zone defense to counteract it, forcing UMass to shoot from outside.

Albany's top returning player, Jamar Wilson, is out for the season with an injury after playing just one game. In his absence, sophomore forward Levi Levine has led Albany in scoring, rebounding and assists, averaging 17.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.14 assists per game. His 21-game double-figure scoring streak was snapped when he scored just eight points against Lehigh.

Freshman guard Jon Iati has been a solid addition so far with 14.7 points and 3.0 assists per game.

''We have to do a good job on those two guys,'' Lappas said. ''It'll be a good test for our perimeter defense.''

NOTES: Gabe Lee's 3.6 blocks per game is No. 9 in the nation.

Matt Vautour can be reached at

UAlbany falls short on road
Undermanned Danes bow to UMass
By Mark Singelais, The Albany Times-Union Staff Writer, 12/29/2003

AMHERST, Mass. -- Just when it seemed nothing else could go wrong, the University at Albany men's basketball team stumbled into more bad fortune.

Senior center Janis Pipikis injured his right knee in practice on Saturday, sidelining the 6-foot-8 Latvian who was playing the best basketball of his career.

That left the Great Danes with only eight players in uniform, including three walk-ons, for Sunday's nonleague game against Massachusetts.

Predictably, the Minutemen coasted to an 82-66 victory that was never in doubt in the second half despite a game effort from UAlbany (2-6), which suffered its seventh straight road loss dating back to last season.

"The two years I've been here, a lot of people have been going down," UAlbany sophomore forward Levi Levine said. "I don't know what it is. I think Albany has a curse on them or something. You've just got to keep playing through it. That means somebody else has to step up. Our numbers are limited, but everybody has to play. There's no time for rest. You've got to keep working."

The Danes worked hard enough on Sunday, actually outrebounding UMass 34-33 without Pipikis, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He is listed as doubtful for Tuesday's home game against Wagner. He'll undergo an MRI exam today to see if there's further damage.

But the Danes didn't have the talent or numbers to beat the Minutemen (5-4) of the superior Atlantic-10 Conference. UAlbany also was without star guard Jamar Wilson, out for the season with a fractured kneecap, and sophomore forward Jamal Hughes, who remains out for personal reasons.

"A loss is a loss," UAlbany coach Will Brown said. "Obviously we want to win the game, but I am happy with how we competed."

Levine had 21 points and eight rebounds and junior forward Aquawasi St. Hillaire added 17 points, a career high, and 12 rebounds. Freshman guard Jon Iati had 15 points and six assists.

UMass sophomore forward Rashaun Freeman of Schenectady paced the Minutemen with 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 10 rebounds.

Reserve guards Maurice Maxwell and Art Bowers scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, as the UMass bench outscored UAlbany's 30-7.

Yet the Minutemen were unhappy with their performance, especially since they face top-ranked Connecticut on Tuesday.

"I think we all expected to blow (UAlbany) out," said UMass forward Jeff Viggiano, who had nine points. "But we started to get a little lackadaisical, and they just kind of chipped away."

The Danes trailed 41-25 at intermission, their largest halftime deficit of the season. UMass' lead never dipped below 11 after that, but UAlbany hung around largely because of St. Hillaire, who had 14 points in the second half.

"One of our big men went down, so I figured I had to step my game up a little bit more," St. Hillaire said.

But UAlbany was done in by its own mistakes (17 turnovers) and UMass' hot shooting from the field (52 percent).

"We made too many mistakes that we can control for us to beat a team like UMass," Brown said. "If we could have cut down on some of our mistakes, we could have made that game a dogfight."

UMass warms up by edging Albany
By Joe Burris, The Boston Globe Staff, 12/29/2003

AMHERST - On the brink of its most daunting task of the season, the University of Massachusetts yesterday got little resistance in an 82-66 rout of America East foe Albany. The victory was the third in a row for the Minutemen, yet moments after the triumph they admitted they would need a more solid effort tomorrow night at top-ranked Connecticut.

Gabe Lee takes control of the rebound next to Jeff Viggiano.
UMass (5-4) led by 16 points at halftime and by as many as 19 three times in the second half, but allowed several rallies by an Albany team that suited up five scholarship players and three walk-ons. The Great Danes (2-6) never came within 11 points in the second half, but their scrappiness kept the Minutemen from coasting.

Sophomore forward Rashaun Freeman had a game-high 22 points and a team-high 10 rebounds to lead UMass, which shot 62.5 percent in the second half. Freshman guard Art Bowers had 13 points and Maurice Maxwell added 10. Both were scheduled to start but were benched for the first five minutes after arriving late.

UMass senior point guard and leading scorer Anthony Anderson struggled offensively for the second consecutive game (6 points on 2-for-9 shooting) but he added a game-high nine of the Minutemen's 24 assists.

Playing without America East Rookie of the Year Jamar Wilson (18.9 ppg last season), who is out for the year with a fractured kneecap, Albany could not produce a consistent offensive flow against a physical defense. The Great Danes shot just 43 percent and managed to stay close in part because they outrebounded UMass, 34-33.

Levi Levine led Albany with 21 points and Aquawasi St. Hillaire had 17 points and 12 rebounds (6 offensive).

"I told them in the locker room that if St. Hillaire has six offensive rebounds, what are Emeka Okafor and Charlie Villanueva going to get?" said UMass coach Steve Lappas, referring to UConn's standouts. UMass raced to a 21-5 lead with 11:08 remaining in the half before Albany staged a 15-4 run, cutting the deficit to 25-20 with 5:45 to go. Then Jeff Viggiano and Freeman scored 5 points apiece as the Minutemen outscored the Great Danes, 16-5, the remainder of the half to lead, 41-25, at the break.

UMass avoids Albany trap
By George Miller, The Boston Herald, 12/29/2003

AMHERST - With tomorrow's game against top-ranked UConn looming, UMass faced a considerably lower hurdle yesterday and cleared it with only minimal stumbling.

Lee and Antony Anderson apply the trap on Todd Martin.
The Minutemen led by 16 at halftime and it was still 16 at the end, following an 82-66 victory over outmanned Albany before 2,522 at the Mullins Center.

Youngsters led the way for UMass, with sophomore Rashaun Freeman scoring a game-high 22 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Freshman guards Art Bowers and Maurice Maxwell came off the bench to add 13 and 10 points, respectively. Sophomores Gabe Lee and Jeff Viggiano each contributed nine.

In the second half, UMass (5-4) never led by fewer than 11 points or by more than 19. The Minutemen won their third straight game and fourth in a row at home to move back over .500.

``We went out there from the beginning and did what we had to do,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ``The rest of the game was what happens sometimes - sometimes you're going to win by 35, and sometimes it's going to end up being 15 the whole way.''

Albany hung in gamely with only five scholarship players and three walk-ons dressed for the game. Levi Levine led the Great Danes (2-6) with 21 points, while Aquawasi St. Hillaire filed a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards. Jon Iati scored 15.

UMass held the visitors to only three field goals over the first 10 and a half minutes, building a 23-7 lead. The Great Danes came back with a 13-2 surge of their own, with six points from Levine, to get within 25-20, but the Minutemen's Anthony Anderson (six points, nine assists) and Viggiano both hit 3-pointers in a 7-0 run to close the half with UMass ahead, 41-25.

Freeman hit two jumpers to open the second half for a 45-26 lead, but Levine knocked down a pair of triples as Albany closed it to 47-36 with 13:52 to go. Maxwell then scored nine of his points over the next six minutes as the Minutemen went back in front by 19, 65-46, at the 7:33 mark.

The Minutemen shot 62 percent from the floor in the second half and 52 percent for the day, committing only 12 turnovers.

``I think we all expected to blow them out,'' Viggiano said. ``We got lackadaisical and they kind of chipped away. We wanted to go at them and get them in foul trouble, but they just kept battling.''

Now the border war takes center stage tomorrow night in Hartford against the Huskies (9-1), who blasted Ball State yesterday, 101-62, and have won 20 of the last 21 meetings with UMass. Last year's game featured a monumental UConn comeback from a 25-point second-half deficit that resulted in a 59-48 win.

``They're always good, they're always well-coached and we're a lot younger team this time around,'' Lappas said. ``It's about us going down there and keeping our poise.''

Minutemen muzzle Great Danes
By Matt Vautour, The Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 12/29/2003

AMHERST - After the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team's first four wins, the postgame locker room atmosphere was festive and celebratory.

Stephane Lasme drives to the bucket.
That wasn't the case as the Minutemen were disappointed in their play after Sunday's 82-66 win over an undermanned Albany squad at the Mullins Center.

''After our first four wins, when they came into the locker room, they were all clapping,'' UMass coach Steve Lappas said. ''When they came into the locker room (Sunday), nobody was clapping. I was in there first and I didn't look real good, so they knew not to clap.''

Lappas wasn't satisfied because even though the Minutemen scored the first five points of the game and never trailed, UMass couldn't quite put the Great Danes away either.

''I felt like we went out there from the beginning and did what we had to do and the rest of the game is what happens sometimes,'' he said. ''Sometimes you're going to win by 35, and sometimes it's going to be 15 the whole way.''

''I think we all expected to blow them out,'' said sophomore Jeff Viggiano said. ''In the last three minutes, we started to get lackadaisical and they kind of chipped away.''

What did aggravate Lappas was his team's rebounding. Despite being considerably smaller, Albany outrebounded UMass, 34-33.

''Horrendous,'' Lappas said. ''What led to that? No boxing out.''

Sophomore rookie Rashaun Freeman took some of the blame.

''That's terrible,'' Freeman said when he saw the stat. ''I didn't do the things I needed to do like boxing out on the offensive and defensive glass.''

The win put the Minutemen (5-4) over .500 for the first time since the season-opener and gave them their first three-game winning streak since February. Extending that streak to four will be difficult. UMass plays No. 1 Connecticut, Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Hartford Civic Center.

Freeman notched his fourth double-double of the season with team-highs in points (22) and rebounds (10). Rookie guards Artie Bowers (13 points) and Maurice Maxwell (10) each cracked double figures as well.

Levi Levine led Albany (2-6) with 21 points, while Aquawasi St. Hillaire scored 17 and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Senior guard Anthony Anderson's shooting struggles continued. He went 2-for-9 and is 3-for-20 in his last two games.

He had better luck passing to guys who were shooting better as he matched his career-high with nine assists (one turnover).

Junior Chris Chadwick played a career-high 27 minutes and had seven assists and two turnovers to go with his six points.

The Minutemen jumped ahead 25-11, but the Great Danes answered with a 9-0 run to keep UMass from running away.

The Minutemen scored the final seven points of the first half and led 41-25.

UMass pulled its lead to 19 three times after halftime, but could never could get the advantage to 20. They led 75-57 with 3:15 left, but the Minutemen got sloppy down the stretch allowing the Danes to make the final score more respectable.

Lappas said because of the big lead, he was able to experiment a little.

''I knew once we got up, there was a potential of us not going up 25,'' he said. ''We came out of the gate strong. The game was never in doubt and I wanted to play a lot of guys and I wanted to play a lot of combinations. I think when we got the big lead, we got a little complacent.''

Matt Vautour can be reached at

Video clips

All clips in MOV (QuickTime) format. Download QuickTime.
Video clip Jeff Viggiano hits the corner 3. (file size = 2.5mb)
Video clip Anthony Anderson connects with Viggiano on the alley-oop. (2mb)
Video clip The Minutemen work it around to Maurice Maxwell for the 3. (3.5mb)
Video clip Stephane Lasme's in position to put back the miss. (2mb)
Video clip Maxwell throws down the dunk. (1.5mb)

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Albany Great Danes 66
Massachusetts Minutemen 82
at the Mullins Center

Official Basketball Box Score
Albany vs Massachusetts
12/28/03  2:00 p.m. at Amherst, MA(Mullins Center)
VISITORS: Albany ( 2- 6)
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
11 LEVINE,Levi......... f  7-20   3-8    4-6    2  6  8   3  21  1  3  0  1  40
44 ST.HILLAIRE,Aquawasi f  5-10   0-0    7-8    6  6 12   4  17  3  3  0  3  38
21 WYATT,Chris......... c  3-6    0-0    0-0    1  3  4   4   6  0  3  0  1  24
01 MARTIN,Todd......... g  0-0    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   2   0  0  1  0  0  15
14 IATI,Jon............ g  6-13   3-9    0-0    1  0  1   2  15  6  4  0  0  40
02 JOHNSON,Courtney....    1-4    1-3    0-0    0  1  1   4   3  4  1  0  1  22
22 CHEESE,Marvin.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   2   0  0  1  0  0   3
23 KNOTTS,Jerrad.......    2-3    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   0   4  0  1  1  0  18
   TEAM................                         1  2  3
   Totals..............   24-56   7-20  11-14  11 23 34  21  66 14 17  1  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-23 43.5% 2nd Half: 14-33 42.4% Game: 42.9% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-5 40.0% 2nd Half: 5-15 33.3% Game: 35.0% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 3-5 60.0% 2nd Half: 8-9 88.9% Game: 78.6% 3,1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HOME TEAM: Massachusetts ( 5- 4) TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 01 FREEMAN,Rashaun..... f 10-13 0-0 2-4 2 8 10 3 22 0 5 1 1 32 22 VIGGIANO,Jeff....... f 3-5 1-1 2-2 0 4 4 3 9 2 0 0 2 18 02 LEE,Gabe............ c 4-5 0-0 1-2 3 4 7 4 9 2 1 1 0 30 12 ANDERSON,Anthony.... g 2-9 2-7 0-0 1 1 2 1 6 9 1 0 1 34 13 CHADWICK,Chris...... g 2-4 2-3 0-1 0 0 0 1 6 7 2 0 0 27 05 LASME,Stephane...... 3-5 0-0 1-2 3 0 3 1 7 1 1 0 0 16 11 MAXWELL,Maurice..... 4-9 1-1 1-2 0 2 2 1 10 1 0 0 1 20 34 BOWERS,Art.......... 3-9 2-5 5-8 2 0 2 2 13 2 2 0 3 23 TEAM................ 1 2 3 Totals.............. 31-59 8-17 12-21 12 21 33 16 82 24 12 2 8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 16-35 45.7% 2nd Half: 15-24 62.5% Game: 52.5% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 5-12 41.7% 2nd Half: 3-5 60.0% Game: 47.1% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 4-6 66.7% 2nd Half: 8-15 53.3% Game: 57.1% 1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: Ken Turner, Ron Tyburski, Eric Britto Technical fouls: Albany-None. Massachusetts-None. Attendance: 2522 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total Albany........................ 25 41 - 66 Massachusetts................. 41 41 - 82

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