Trey Lang suits back up for Minutemen
When Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg dismissed sophomore Tyrell Lynch from the team, he didn’t have to go far to find another big man to replace him.
In fact, he was already at UMass, just waiting for another opportunity to play. Trey Lang came to Amherst for the 2007-08 season when Travis Ford was still the team’s coach.
Lang is undersized as a 6-foot-7 power forward, which didn’t bode well for him since the Minutemen already had three centers and six forwards competing for playing time.
UMass’ depth meant Lang would spend most of his freshman year on the bench. He ended up playing eight minutes in four games and finished the season with three rebounds.
The next season, academic trouble and personal problems kept Lang off the team, although he said he never wanted to quit playing basketball.
Kellogg never spoke more than a few words to Lang much during his first year coaching the Minutemen, but wasn’t sure if he’d return to the team.
Lang worked out with UMass players over the summer, but he did it only to keep in shape. It wasn’t until one of the assistant coaches, Adam Ginsberg, talked to him about the possibility of returning to the Minutemen that he thought about playing during the 2009-10 season.
“We had a great relationship ever since I’ve been here,” Lang said. “He basically told me that if I wanted to come back, they’d let me back and that they were short on big men.”
Kellogg had no idea about Lang’s intention until he showed up to the first day of practice as a walk-on.
“Really, he just showed up and the guys said ‘Trey’s back,’ and I said, ‘ok, can’t wait to coach him,’” Kellogg said. “I’ve always liked him as a kid and I thought he’s done some pretty good things and he really gets along well with the team.”
Unlike his freshman year where there wasn’t space for Lang on the team, UMass is thin on big men, which should give Lang a decent opportunity to earn quality minutes.
Kellogg isn’t expecting centers Sean Carter or Hashim Bailey to play too many minutes in the beginning, which is exactly where Lang’s help comes in.
Kellogg doesn’t have a specific number for playing time in mind, but he believes Lang could play anywhere from 10-14 minutes per game and maybe even more depending on how he progresses. However, Kellogg won’t know exactly where Lang is at until he plays in regular season games.
“He’s been good at practice,” Kellogg said. “I don’t really know what he can do because he really hasn’t played basketball in two years.”
Lang played five minutes in his first game since freshman year against Dowling and finished with nothing more than a block and a foul. Even with his limited playing time, Lang was happy just to step foot in the Mullins Center with a UMass uniform.
“I can’t tell you how excited I was to be back, even though the crowd wasn’t that big,” Lang said. “Just being back around the crowd in warm-ups and being on the bench, cheering on the guys was great.”
One thing that kept Lang on the bench his freshman year was his work ethic and toughness. But since returning to the Minutemen, he believes that is no longer an issue for him.
In the limited time Kellogg coached Lang this season, he praised his ability to fit in with the team and his improved work ethic.
“I’ve always liked him as a [player] and I thought he’s done some pretty good things and he really gets along well with our team,” Kellogg said. “His attitude has been great and he’s a [player] that takes care of business off the court, which is huge.”
Adam Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.