Perhaps it was a sign of the times. In the first half of UMass's 92-85 loss to Ohio State in the NIT championship at Madison Square Garden last night, a UMass fan sitting near the Minutemen's bench held up a sign that read: "Travis Ford Forget LSU Stay @ The Zoo."
Asked if he saw it,
It represented the fervent hope of UMass basketball fans fearful of losing their third-year coach to Louisiana State. After UMass completed a 25-11 season as the NIT runner-up, Ford addressed his status at UMass instead of coaching openings at LSU, Providence, and Marquette.
"I'm excited about the strides UMass basketball made this year and I'm looking forward to coaching these guys," Ford said. "I've heard everything you guys are hearing, but it makes me question some things because I haven't talked to anybody. When you watch something, is it true?
"Well, I haven't talked to anybody."
Asked if he planned on coaching UMass next season, Ford said, "Absolutely. We need to build on this, there's no question."
If someone calls, though, will he listen? "Hey, I haven't even thought about it," Ford said. "But no one has called. That [attention] just goes with success, that goes with winning. That goes when you take over a situation that wasn't doing very well and all of a sudden you get it back very quickly; if they're even talking about that, it's a tribute to this basketball team."
No distractions"Nonsense," answered Memphis coach John Calipari when asked if his Tigers were distracted by the suspension of backup point guard Andre Allen for this weekend's Final Four games in San Antonio because of a "violation of team rules."
"It may elevate us because if something is taken away, the team comes together," said Calipari, whose team faces UCLA in one semifinal tomorrow. North Carolina and Kansas face off in the other.
Allen, a senior who did not make the trip, averaged 14.1 minutes and 3.3 points this season. Calipari said starting point guard Derrick Rose likely would get more playing time and that Antonio Anderson (of Lynn, Mass.), Willie Kemp, and Doneal Mack could also fill Allen's role.
Anderson declaresCalifornia sophomore forward Ryan Anderson has decided to test his NBA value by declaring for the draft without signing with an agent. The decision gives Anderson the opportunity to work out at his own expense for NBA teams to gauge where he would be drafted before making a final decision. Anderson has until June 16 to decide whether to remain in the draft or return to school. He is projected by draft analysts as a borderline first-round pick . . . Texas sophomore D.J. Augustin won the Bob Cousy Award as the nation's top point guard.
Bayno to Loyola?Former UMass assistant Bill Bayno, who coached UNLV for five years, is expected to be named coach at Loyola Marymount today, according to a report on the Los Angeles Times's website. Bayno, currently an assistant with the Trail Blazers, guided UNLV to a 95-65 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances as the Rebels' coach from 1995-2000. He was fired during the 2000-01 season after allegations that he had broken rules in the recruiting of Lamar Odom in 1996 and '97. But the NCAA cleared him of wrongdoing, and he filed a lawsuit and received a settlement from UNLV. Bayno spent seven years as an assistant on Calipari's staff at UMass.
Mark Blaudschun contributed from San Antonio; material from the Associated Press was used in this report.