A-10: Burden Of Proof

By - October 24, 2006

No one was more surprised when it came to Massachusetts’ second-place standing in the preseason poll than second-year coach Travis Ford.

“It’s weird being ranked second for a team that hasn’t done anything to back that up yet,” Ford said. “There are going to be four or five players that play significant minutes that have never put on a UMass uniform before.”

Among the four transfer players Ford welcomes into the fold are Virginia expat Gary Forbes and one-time Syracuse signee Tiki Mayben, who was named to the preseason All-Rookie team.

Ford, who resuscitated Eastern Kentucky's once-woebegone program before arriving in Amherst, is earning a reputation as an overhaul specialist. But it’s hard for him to understand how this year’s team -- with so much of the same personnel as last season’s group -- has gotten so much positive pub despite having proved nothing to date.

"It’s a little bit of a surprise to me, because sitting here last year we were eighth. We pretty much had the same players other than some transfers who haven’t played yet," Ford said. "We’re still an unproven basketball team. Potentially, I guess on paper people have some high expectations. But I think it’s unusual to be ranked second with a group of guys that have never put on the uniform before."

Ford insists he "doesn't get caught up" in rankings, saying that preseason polls are more for the the fans than anything else.

"There have been years where we’ve been ranked high and not done well, and there have been years where we’ve been ranked low and done great," the former Kentucky point guard said. "So I really don’t pay any attention to it."

Posted by at 05:35 PM on October 24, 2006

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