Freshman forward Javorn Farrell has earned a new nickname not only from his teammates on the Massachusetts men’s basketball team, but from UMass coach Derek Kellogg as well.
Junk Yard Dog.
“He’s earning the nickname, I won’t say he’s totally earned it yet, but we call him J.Y.D. around here, because that’s how he performs,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg is talking about Farrell’s scrappy and intense defensive play, particularly as of late, that has kept the Minutemen in a number of close games.
Farrell earned his third collegiate start against Charlotte on Saturday after playing in the teams first 15 games. Farrell blocked one shot and grabbed four steals in only 16 minutes of play, and also contributed offensively, grabbing three rebounds and scoring four points.
“It’s been good, I just try to do what I can to stay out on the floor, so I guess that got me more playing time,” Farrell said.
Even though the Minutemen fell to the 49ers, Farrell thought he played a complete game, defending forward Shamari Spears, a highly touted player who transferred from Boston College. Farrell held Spears to just four points and three rebounds throughout the contest.
“Last game was a good game, we fought pretty hard, but they made more runs than we did down the stretch, they took care of the ball and made their shots,” Farrell said. “I think I played pretty solid defensively.” “My assignment for the night was Spears, and I held him under his season averages, so I thought I did pretty well.”
Spears is eighth in the A-10 averaging 16.0 points per game.
Kellogg agreed, noting that if not for some miscues made on the offensive side of the ball for UMass, the Minutemen might have had a victory over one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10.
“He played great defense, and if it wasn’t for Green having a career night, we were in really good shape,” Kellogg said.
Farrell is averaging 3.7 points per game, and is second in the team in steals with 14, behind senior guard Ricky Harris who leads the team with 27.
Even with his scoring numbers not where he wants them to be, Farrell wants to improve offensively.
“I need to attack more, get to the basket and get to the free-throw line,” Farrell said.
This week, his defensive assignment doesn’t get any easier, with Xavier coming to the Mullins Center on Wednesday night.
The Musketeers are the best team in the A-10 with a 15-6 overall record and a 7-1 record in conference play. Farrell will most likely see a lot of action, especially against sophomore guard Jordan Crawford. The Indiana transfer sat out all of last season, but averaged 9.7 points per game for the Hoosiers in 2007-2008.
However, playing two of toughest conference opponents as well as matching up with two of the best players in the A-10 does not faze Farrell.
“They’re a very talented team that has a lot of power, so we’re just going to do what we normally do,” Farrell said. “Play tough defense; try to keep Jordan Crawford from getting the easy buckets that he has been getting all season.”
Crawford leads the A-10 in scoring (19.2 points per game), and although he is a huge scoring threat for the Musketeers, Kellogg sees it as a good test for his young player.
“I think he’s a good match up for Crawford, although he is older, knows the game a little bit better, and is a little bit mature, I think Javorn can match up with him at least physically.”
Both players are similarly built, with Farrell being listed as an inch taller than Crawford at 6-foot-5, and Crawford outweighing him by 15 pounds, weighing in at 195.
Kellogg feels that even though he is a freshman, Farrell has the physicality to compete at a high level early on in his collegiate career.
“You never know with freshmen, some guys come along a little bit quicker than others,” Kellogg said. “I think because he is a little bit more physically developed then some of the other guys, I think that’s helped him.”
Even though he is inexperienced, Farrell knows that he can compete with anyone he defends, and knows that he will have to work hard to continue to get better.
“Personally, I have a lot of confidence in myself, so I felt that if I kept working hard in practice that I would eventually crack the starting lineup,” Farrell said. “I’m not surprised at how early it came, but I am surprised at how much I’ve been playing. I think I’ve improved in knowing what I have to do on the court to stay on the court.”
Kellogg has been just as impressed with his highly touted freshmen, even comparing him with a former XU player.
“Just with his propensity to play hard, especially in the games, he’s done a great job,” Kellogg said. “Now, I need him to bring it everyday in practice, and I envision him someday here to be like C.J. Anderson was at Xavier the past few years, that kind of midsize tough guy that can penetrate to the rim, the best defender on the floor, and really the guy that comes up with all the lose balls and the tough guy plays.
“Not the most skilled, not the prettiest shot, but a guy who gets it done night in and night out.”
Gibbs breaks foot
Sophomore guard David Gibbs broke his foot during Monday’s practice, and will likely be out for the remainder of the season, according to Kellogg.
“It’s a blow for us, we’ve been thin at the point guard position up to this point, and I think losing him makes us a little more thin at that spot,” Kellogg said on the UMass Athletics web site.
“But I really feel for him and his family, to start to play well as he has been as of late and really get comfortable at that point guard spot, to have an injury at this juncture is difficult for a young man, and we’re going to say our prayers and stay with him.”
Gibbs had played in all 19 games, averaging 2.6 points per game, 2.5 assists per game and 1.8 rebounds in 19.9 minutes. He played 20 minutes against the 49ers, scoring two points, registering two assists, one rebound and one turnover in the loss.
David Brinch can be reached at email@example.com.