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Kellogg hoping for first home opener win

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team won five of its past six home openers. The only one UMass didn’t win was last year in their first home opener to Jacksonville State, 75-74, on Nov. 28.

The team is 14-3 in home openers, including the first game ever played there back in 1993. Kellogg helped the Minutemen in a 68-60 victory over Cleveland State of that year, when the team reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

UMass beat another member of the Ivy League in their 2007 opener, a 90-89 victory over Yale. The only other defeats came in 1999 and 2002, while the Minutemen are 8-0 at the Mullins Center, dating back to Kellogg’s time with the Minutemen. That year, Kellogg averaged 7.4 points per game along with 3.7 assists per game

Esho signs with UMass

The future got even brighter for the Minutemen after Kellogg signed five freshmen his first year. Kellogg announced the first signing of a letter of intent for the fall signing period in forward Maxwell Esho. The 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward is from Upper Marlboro, Md., and is currently playing at Lee Academy in Maine.

“We’ve been around him and watched him play for a couple of years now, and I think he’s a good asset to our program,” Kellogg said. “He’s a great kid, a long, athletic kid and a kid who hasn’t really scratched the surface, kind of like some of the young guys we have now.”

Esho played for the DC Assault, the same AAU team freshman Javorn Farrell played for and one of the best developmental teams in the country. With the Assault, Esho averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game, and played among a number of highly-touted recruits that helped the team total 120 wins over the last four years.

Esho had a highly touted career at Henry Wise High School, averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game before doing his prep year. He will also join highly touted freshman Terrell Vinson, who is also from Maryland next season.

However, like the five freshmen currently on the Minutemen’s roster, Kellogg sees Esho as having to adjust to the UMass system.

“We’re going to have to be patient with him, but at the same token, I’m hoping the dividends down the line prove worth having him come here,” Kellogg said.

While a presence offensively, Kellogg sees Esho making an impact on the defensive side of the ball by blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and knowing where to be on the floor.

“He plays a lot of different positions, and I think defensively, he’s a little bit ahead of the curve because he knows where he is supposed to be, and that’s a nice bonus,” Kellogg said.

Groebe returns

Max Groebe, a former member of the Minutemen, will return to Amherst as a member of the Big Red. Groebe, a redshirt sophomore guard from North Miami Beach, Fla., played in 19 games as a reserve during the 2007-2008 season, former coach Travis Ford’s final season at UMass. He averaged 2.1 points per game in 5.5 minutes, making 10 3-pointers. Groebe has yet to make his debut for Cornell, behind a veteran backcourt.

David Brinch can be reached at dbrinch@student.umass.edu.

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