If there’s one player the Massachusetts men’s basketball team is glad to have back, it’s guard Javorn Farrell.
“Two wins against two very good teams can be correlated to him being back in the lineup,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “He was good today.”
Farrell has made an impact on the court since his return to the Minutemen lineup, which included 12 points and a Player of the Game award at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament against Texas Christian on Monday night.
“I felt I performed pretty well,” Farrell said. “I did the things coach Kellogg asked me to do.”
Farrell was absent in the early part of the season due to an ankle injury. On Saturday night, Farrell made his return to the UMass lineup and earned career-high numbers against New Mexico State.
Monday night was a similar story for Farrell, as he earned 12 points. He proved to be a key player in the first half when he replaced point guard Gary Correia for a brief period after Correia was taken for what appeared to be a sprained ankle.
Farrell shot 5-of-10 from the field, missing the one 3-pointer he shot during the game.
While Farrell didn’t dish out the ball for any assists on the night, he contributed to the rebounding effort for the Minutemen with four total rebounds, earning a pair on both the offensive and defensive side of the court.
His constant battle on the floor earned him Player of the Game honors, which wasn’t hard to miss with his strong defensive effort. Farrell ripped three steals from the Horned Frogs and knocked away a shot for a block against TCU.
Conversely, Farrell turned the ball over three times as well. However, Farrell was well aware that turnovers affected his game significantly.
“I just need to stop committing turnovers,” Farrell said. “I need to handle the ball a little bit better under pressure.”
On Saturday night, which was Farrell’s first game back in a maroon and white jersey, he put on a show with 15 points off of a similar 5-of-10 shooting effort. Along with earning four rebounds, he dished out three assists and earned a steal in the 18 minutes he played.
Aside from the turnover issue, Farrell was very modest about what he wants to do for the upcoming practices.
“I need to get back into shape,” Farrell said. “I’ve been out for awhile. I’m a bit winded out there.”
Being that Farrell is coming off an injury, Kellogg was wary about Farrell’s role in the team as the season unfolds. However, the start of the season had Kellogg singing much praise for Farrell.
“I said it before, the three best practices we had for the season was the three days he practiced and then he was hurt the rest of the time,” Kellogg said.
Yet, as Farrell comes back into the lineup, grows his game and continues to improve his efforts on the floor, Kellogg’s admiration for Farrell has taken a different turn.
“I think as he gets more comfortable, [he’ll be better],” Kellogg said. “He’s like a glue guy. Just like a tough killer that would do whatever you need him to do and he was trying to win the basketball game. It doesn’t matter. Javorn has that attitude and what he’s done is, because of how we play, he’s brought one more ball-handler and guy that can get by people and get other guys shots.”
Kellogg did note that Farrell seemed to be favoring his ankle in the game and that he hopes the team can remain healthy as the game against American International looms near.
Herb Scribner can be reached at email@example.com.