Team preview: UMass

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

After finishing 15 games under .500 over the course of his four years at UMass, Steve Lappas was shown the door in Amherst.
The new head man is Travis Ford, an upbeat, can-do type of guy who starred at Kentucky for Rick Pitino and has quickly moved up the coaching ladder, spending three seasons as the head man at NAIA school Campbellsville (Ky.) and then turning around the fortunes at Eastern Kentucky -- where he won the Ohio Valley Conference title game last year and earned a spot in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

Shortly after Eastern Kentucky lost in the Big Dance, Ford was hired by UMass, Pitino's alma mater. He hit the ground running this summer, doing meet-and-greets all over New England and even in New York City. He threw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game in Fenway Park. And everywhere he went, Ford was greeted by hungry, passionate UMass fans.

"They have a deep love of basketball and are hungry for a winner here again at UMass," Ford said. "This program has great history ... Dr. J played here, my college coach Rick Pitino went here. While I played at Kentucky, we had some great games against John Calipari's teams here at UMass.