But the Minutemen – led by sixth-year coach Derek Kellogg, a former UMass point guard and teammate of Camby's – will still have plenty of talent on the floor.
The chief concern is senior point guard Chaz Williams. A 5-9 speedster who began his collegiate career at Hofstra, Williams has earned two first-team All-Atlantic 10 selections since transferring. He scored 20 points, 15 in the second half (and shot 5-of-5 from deep), to go with four assists in the Minutemen's 86-73 season-opening win over Boston College Sunday in a game played at TD Garden in Boston.
"Their point guard is special, a very good, heady basketball player," LSU coach Johnny Jones said Monday. "He can not only score but create opportunities for other people on the floor. We'll certainly have to pay a lot of attention to him."
Against the Eagles, UMass also got stellar play on the interior, out-rebounding Boston College by 17 boards (44-27). The driving forces in the paint for the Minutemen were junior center Cady Lalanne, who had a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds, and senior forward Sampson Carter (born in Baton Rouge, but went through prep school in Tennessee), who added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Jones indicated Lalanne, 6-10 and 253 pounds, will be a handful and that while Johnny O'Bryant will likely start out on him defensively, the Tigers will try several defenders on Lalanne.
"He's been one of those guys that's really been a focal point for them," explained Jones of Lalanne. "He's tremendous in terms of catching the ball down low and he's a serious low-block presence for their team. He shoots a very high percentage down there as well. At 6-10 and about 250, he's a load inside."
This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs. LSU is coming off a 19-12 (9-9) run through Jones' first season while UMass went 21-12 (9-7) a year ago, including a 9-5 mark at home, under Kellogg.
Overall the Minutemen are 86-77 on Kellogg's watch. He took over for Travis Ford, now at Oklahoma State, in advance of the 2008-09 season after spending eight years on the Memphis staff under his former college coach, John Calipari.
On the LSU side, perhaps the most interesting note pertains to freshmen in the starting lineup. Assuming Tim Quarterman, Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey get the nod in Amherst, they will be the first trio of freshmen to start a game for the Tigers since Tasmin Mitchell, Garrett Temple and Tyrus Thomas took the floor to start the 2006 national semifinal against UCLA.
"All of these guys have been in big games. They've played in really big environments, be it from there high school teams to championship games. College is certainly different, the intensity level and all, and they will have to go through it," Jones recognized. "It's been good for us to have one, the preseason scrimmage, because of the talent level we had an opportunity play against, and then also we had the opportunity to play here under the lights with an exhibition at home.
"I think it's growth for them, but it's hard to simulate and get ready for what they'll encounter tomorrow in their first Division-I basketball game."
Finally, Jones revealed that senior forward Shavon Coleman, who missed the exhibition game with a minor injury, will be available in the opener.
"Shavon is ready to go. He's had a couple of really good practices the last two days," said Jones. "We're excited about him. He's back to full speed right now."
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
G Tim Quarterman (6-6, 173, Fr.)
G Andre Stringer (5-10, 190, Sr.)
F Jarell Martin (6-9, 240, Fr.)
F Jordan Mickey (6-8, 220, Fr.)
F Johnny O'Bryant (6-9, 256, Jr.)
G Chaz Williams (5-9, 175, Sr.)
G Derrick Gordon (6-3, 205, So.)
F Raphiael Putney (6-9, 185, Sr.)
F Sampson Carter (6-8, 220, Sr.)
C Cady Lalanne (6-10, 253, Jr.)
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