Monday, March 14, 2005

Unreasonable Expectations in Amherst

The University of Massachusetts fired Steve Lappas, head coach of the men’s basketball team. He was in Amherst for four seasons and had a record of 50-65. Although he is leaving with a losing record, he inherited a team short on Division I talent. The team finished with a 16-12 record this season, with two impressive wins, one at home over the University of Connecticut and the other at George Washington. Both of those teams are now in the NCAA Tournament. College basketball greatness does not come overnight. It takes time for a coach to bring in good recruits and develop them. And after all, nothing breeds success in college basketball like previous success. Ever since the Marcus Camby / John Calipari years, the University of Massachusetts has been desperate to achieve that same level of success. But they lack the patience they need to give a coach time to build a strong program. Lappas had success while head coach at Villanova, taking them to the NCAA tournament three times in nine years, and likely could have built a strong program in Amherst if given the time.

UMass had a young team this year with 4 starting sophomores, and their best player, Rashaun Freeman, will be returning. They could have had a strong team next year and the year after if Lappas had been allowed to stay on.