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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

September 21st, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball


Massachusetts Minutemen


Overall Rank: #51

Conference Rank: #3 A-10


2005-06: 13-15, 8-8, 7th (t)

2005-06 postseason: none


Coach Travis Ford finally has enough players to run an uptempo, high pressure system at Massachusetts.  The Minutemen have a remarkable amount of depth everywhere on the floor and the battles for playing time have been, and will continue to be, fierce. 


Who’s Out: Forward Jeff Viggiano averaged 8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a senior.  His versatility will be missed, but that can be replaced by some of the newcomers.  Maurice Maxwell started the first ten games for Umass at the point before running into academic issues.  Maxwell won’t be returning this season.


Who’s In: A nice group of transfers will battle for starting gigs and provide experience and depth all over the floor.  On the wing Gary Forbes has the talent to be a starter.  As a sophomore in 2004-2005, Forbes averaged 9.4 points and 4.1 rebounds at Virginia.  The Brooklyn, New York native is a solid outside shooter and, at 6-7 and 200 pounds, isn’t afraid to mix it up on the glass.  Etienne Brower started all 28 games as a sophomore for Boston University before heading to Amherst.  The 6-7 forward averaged 8.3 points and 5.4 boards for the Terriers two years ago and his versatility will prove valuable for Umass.  Luke Bonner, the last of the transfers, is less proven than the other two.  The 7-1 center saw very limited minutes as a freshman at West Virginia.  Bonner is the type of player you would expect at West Virginia, a big guy who can shoot the outside shot.  Tiki Mayben, who redshirted as a freshman to deal with academic issues, will make his debut for the Minutemen during the 2006-2007 campaign.  The 6-2, Troy, New York native is a solid floor leader and will contribute right away.  Ricky Harris is the lone incoming freshman.  The 6-2 combo guard is a solid defender and will spend this season providing a spark off the bench.


Who to Watch: The star of the team is 6-9 center Rashaun Freeman.  As a junior last year the big man led the squad with 13.6 points and 9.3 rebounds.  Stephane Lasme will join Freeman up front.  Lasme added on 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.9 blocks.  While Freeman and Lasme are the obvious main guys up front, both Dante Milligan and Lawrence Carrier are experienced backups.


Final Projection: Chris Lowe stepped right into the starting point guard job after the loss of Maxwell.  Lowe averaged 5.5 points and 4.9 assists, which isn’t bad at all for a freshman.  With a year of experience under his belt, Lowe is expected to run the offense more efficiently.  On the wings James Life and Brandon Thomas will hold down the fort.  Life is a great long range shooter and averaged 11.3 points last year.  Thomas will battle with some of the transfers for a starting gig and, at the least, will add to the seemingly endless depth on the wings.  If you’re looking for a second team in the A-10 to make the NCAAs, this one is as good as any.  If the conference can muster three bids, Umass should be dancing for the first time since 1998, but three bids is highly unlikely.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

Chris Lowe, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game

James Life, Senior, Guard, 11.3 points per game

Gary Forbes, Junior, Forward, DNP last season

Stephane Lasme, Senior, Forward, 10.5 points per game

Rashaun Freeman, Senior, Center, 13.6 points per game

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