Antwan Space takes indefinite leave of absence from the UMass men’s basketball team; Luwane Pipkins likely to redshirt



Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2015

UMass’ already thin frontcourt just got thinner as senior transfer Antwan Space, who was expected to be a key contributor for the men’s basketball team this season, has left the team for an undetermined amount of time.

“Antwan Space will not participate in team-related activities as he attends to a private matter. As this is a private matter we will have no additional comment,” UMass spokesman Molly O’Mara said in a statement.

Minuteman coach Derek Kellogg gave no indication on the length of his absence or if he was expected to return at all. UMass confirmed he’s still a member of the team and is still enrolled in school.

“That’s a private matter,” Kellogg said. “I’m not going to get into that too much.”

Kellogg also revealed that freshman guard Luwane Pipkins, who has been waiting to have his academic status determined by the NCAA’s clearinghouse, will likely sit out this season. He’ll have four year of eligibility beginning in 2016-17. Regardless of how the NCAA rules, Pipkins would be eligible to practice during the second semester if he earns a 2.5 GPA in the first semester.

While the Minutemen had been preparing to play without Pipkins, Space’s absence leaves UMass lacking for frontcourt players and available bodies for practice. With Tyler Bergantino sidelined with a shin injury, UMass has eight scholarship players and walk-on Zach Turcotte.

“Some of the other guys are going to have to step up and play different positions,” Kellogg said. “Candidly we’re a little thin. I go to practice every day and work on the team we have that’s out there right now to continue to play and get better. As far as doing some things like pressing a little less, we’ve already been working on that stuff. We’re a little ways away from being where I want to be. ... I’ve been working (on zone) regardless of the situation. It’s something we have to get better at now. Just for foul trouble alone with might have to play some zone.”

Kellogg said he’ll work on some funky lineup combinations using a quintet with no center and either Seth Berger or Zach Coleman playing inside, or an ensemble where Malik Hines and Rashaan Holloway play together.

“If you put five guys that can play basketball on the floor, it doesn’t matter quite as much,” Kellogg said. “They can play and go off each other. There’s been cases of teams playing small and different and doing well. I’d like to be one of those teams that can play untraditional and traditional to win games.”

Kellogg said he’d like to accelerate the maturation process of Hines and Holloway.

“Malik and Rashaan have gotten a ton of playing time in practice and the scrimmage games,” Kellogg said. “I think they have a chance to be good ballplayers. I need them to be good right now.”

He was hopeful that Bergantino might be able to contribute in a week or so. The Minutemen open the season Saturday against Howard (noon, Mullins Center) and play at Harvard (Nov. 17) and at home vs. Central Arkansas (Nov. 19) next week.

Kellogg said the Minutemen are exploring how to add bodies. In February, football coach Mark Whipple said that James Sosinski, a 6-foot-7 freshman quarterback who is redshirting this season, was considering playing basketball as well. Kellogg said he hasn’t had any contact with Sosinski or Whipple, but would likely look into it. Athletes from other teams with a basketball background might be possible fits as well. Football and soccer players would be the most likely candidates because their seasons end soon, while the end of the basketball season overlaps with spring sports.

“We haven’t had a walk-on tryout or done much with it, but that’s in my thought process,” Kellogg said. “I don’t think anything is out of the equation. If there’s some good kids on campus or in another sports program to maybe take a look.”

Former walk-ons Tim Collins and Matt Pennie each started out as team managers. Kellogg said he’d look at his current managers to see if any seemed like fits as walk-ons.

Space, a 6-foot-9 forward from Dallas who began his career at Florida State and transferred to Texas A&M, was expected to help fill the frontcourt void left by the graduations of Cady Lalanne and Maxie Esho. He was expected to see time at power forward and center. Space averaged 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game as a sophomore at A&M. His averages and minutes diminished as a junior with 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.4 minutes.

At media day last week, Kellogg talked about how Space would have a chance to blossom in a role where the team was counting on him to be a factor.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage


 

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