Correia seeing more time for Minutemen
After coming off the bench in 29 of 30 games last season, junior guard Gary Correia was very close to transferring to Boston University in 2009. Correia had backed up guard Chris Lowe during his first two seasons in Amherst, and didn’t know what his role with the Massachusetts basketball team really was, with coach Derek Kellogg bringing in five freshmen. Besides senior guard Ricky Harris, Correia is the most experienced player for the Minutemen (7-9, 1-2 Atlantic 10).
At the beginning of the season, Correia was splitting time with sophomore guard David Gibbs at running the offense. After having Harris run the point for a bit, Kellogg turned to Correia to play a much bigger role, and as of late, it has paid off. He played 31 minutes in the upset over Memphis, playing tough defense, scoring seven points and grabbing a career-high five rebounds.
Following the Memphis game, Correia played 24 minutes, dishing out five assists and no turnovers in a Boston College loss. He has started the past four games for UMass, earning his second career start at Davidson on Dec. 30. He has turned the ball over just 14 times this season, and Kellogg sees Correia as somebody who he can trust on the court.
“Really, he gives us a junior who’s been through the wars a little bit,” Kellogg said. “I think he’s maturing into a role of being a good guy that the coach can rely on and trust out there, [and] he’s really one of the guys that does the little things out there.”
Riley scoring big
It seems that there are no questions regarding freshman guard Freddie Riley’s health.
After having minor knee surgery on Dec. 9, Riley has returned to the court and has been a strong force off the bench offensively for the Minutemen after missing four games. In his first game back against Fordham on Jan. 6, Riley played 16 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing three rebounds in the UMass victory. During the next game against La Salle, Riley exploded for 22 points, leading all scorers while going 6-of-14 from beyond the arc.
The following game against Richmond, Riley again led all scorers with 20 points, going 7-of-13 from the field and 5-of-10 from 3-point range in 25 minutes of action. It was Riley’s sixth game in double figures, and his second in a row.
While the contests against the Explorers and the Spiders both ended in defeats for the Minutemen, Kellogg now knows how big of a threat Riley can be scoring the basketball off the bench. In 12 games, Riley is third on the team behind Ricky Harris and Anthony Gurley with 11.2 points per game, while averaging just 17.8 minutes per game.
“I expect Freddie to have a big game now every time out, and if it goes the other way, I’m going to be disappointed,” Kellogg said. “We no longer have freshmen, and I think Freddie is starting to figure out how to play the college game.”
Freshman forward Javorn Farrell had seven points and five rebounds against the Spiders in his first game back after sitting out the previous two games against La Salle and Fordham with hip and groin injuries. Farrell played in the Minutemen’s first 13 games, including the first 12 off the bench, averaging 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, in 11.4 minutes. The game against the Spiders was also special for Farrell along with freshman forward Raphiael Putney, who played in front of family and friends in their home state of Virginia on Jan. 13.
David Brinch can be reached at email@example.com.