For Gary Correia and Daryl Traynham, this season will be a constant battle for the guard position on the Massachusetts men’s basketball team.
Traynham, a freshman recruited from Maryland, dawns the maroon and white jersey with Correia already inheriting the starting guard position. Despite this, the two will be in a constant battle at practice, looking to make one better than the other.
“They go at it; I mean they battle,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “Darryl knows that GC’s starting, and I think GC knows that Darryl’s trying to get that starting spot, and that’s what you want.”
Despite not holding the starting position, Traynham has impressed on the court so far this season, earning a team-high 15 points off the bench in UMass’ 83-60 trouncing of Brandeis.
“GC, he’s a great player,” Traynham said. “Of course, I want to start, but it’s not always about that. I’m just going to come in and work hard every day.”
The output by Traynham didn’t have Correia worried though, as “GC” passed out six assists to compliment his four points. This is but a taste of what fans should expect between the two guards on the court.
“I feel like we go at it every day at practice,” Correia said. “Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to compete.”
With the practices featuring heated competition, on the court Correia and Traynham work together in a manner that is something different for the Minutemen.
“I think the two of us know we complement each other,” Correia said. “We bring something different to the table, bring something different to the floor. I think it’s something our team needs.”
Away from the court, Correia and Traynham have a mutual respect for each other, even though most players fighting for a spot might not feel such a connection.
“GC is my good friend; I respect him as a player and as a person,” Traynham said.
Part of this respect comes from Correia’s teaching role for Traynham. The senior guard has been giving the freshman tips to use on the court.
Some of the advice Correia has been dishing out to Traynham is how to get the ball to certain players where they like it. Correia emphasized that everything he teaches the young guard is mostly little things which every guard needs to learn before taking a top spot on the court.
Correia is hoping to lead by example, as his experience has given him the skills necessary to teach Traynham to execute.
“There’s little stuff [I teach him] like entry passes, [making] sure you throw the ball to someone’s outside hand, or making sure you’re getting people the ball where they like it,” Correia said. “That just goes along with playing with each other. Like I know where Anthony likes the ball, I know where [Terrell Vinson] likes the ball, because I’ve played with them.”
Furthermore, Correia sees himself as a different player than Traynham.
“I’m a little more under control, understand the game, understand the college game,” Correia said. “He’s still a freshman, he goes through little freshman moments, which is fine, we’ve all been there, we all go through them. I’m just trying to help him to always, always go forward.”
Other than the little things, the most important role Traynham is learning from Correia and coaches is how to be the head of the team.
“[Correia] and Coach Kellogg, the first thing they want to teach me is to try and be a leader, that’s my number one focus because I’m a point guard,” Traynham said. “I’m the general on the court, so I’ve got to lead.”
Regardless of the differences between the two, Correia and Traynham believe they both need each other on the team if they are going to succeed this season.
“He’s good, we need him; we’re not going to win without him, that’s very clear,” Correia said. “I think the two of us, at that position, will be very productive. We just bring something different, it works, it’s going to be good for us, and if we just continue to move forward than we’ll be good as a team.”
The rapport between Correia and Traynham is evolving across all different positions on the floor, according to Kellogg.
“This is the first year we’ve had competition in practicing where each guy knows that there’s somebody behind you who’s not a bad player himself,” Kellogg said. “At some point, you have to pull back how many players I’m going to play.”
While Kellogg sees the battle for positioning happening at all positions, guard Terrell Vinson is one of the players actually trying to make a difference with his younger teammates.
“I just told [the freshmen] to work hard, and the season will be quicker than they know,” Vinson said. “Everything the coaches tell us is true about the little things. The little things win games and you’ve got to go hard in practicing and in games.”
Vinson is just one example of what Kellogg is seeing across the entire court regarding how the seniors and veteran players are getting along with the freshmen and new guys.
“[The veterans] have been there for three or four years so they have a pretty good indication at how the campus works and how things are supposed to be run as a basketball program,” Kellogg said.
Herb Scribner can be firstname.lastname@example.org.