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December 28, 2016

UMass competes in first road game of the season

Jeff Bernstein, Collegian Staff

For the first time this season, the Massachusetts men’s basketball team travels out-of-state to Connecticut, where it’ll take on Quinnipiac on Wednesday.

The Minutemen have gone undefeated through its first six games while competing in Massachusetts at both home and neutral-site games at the Mullins Center and MassMutual Center, respectively. UMass will now head south to take on the Bobcats (4-1) for its first real road game.

“It’s a challenge, and anytime you go on the road to play a game no matter who it is, it’s a tough game,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “Going on the road to do this is going to be a difficult task against a very good team.”

For the Maroon and White of 2009-10, going on the road was not the easiest of jobs, as the team went 3-11 throughout the entire season, including a 1-5 record during non-conference play.

However, Kellogg believes that this year’s undefeated lineup may be at a point where the maturity and strength of the team could give them some benefits on the road.

“Well this is a very good challenge for us to see how we respond, to see if we have matured,” Kellogg said. “When you’re not a very good team, you’re going to lose road games. As you get better, you’re going to win some. How much better and how many road games can we win? I think 3-11 [last season] goes along with the win percentage of [college] home teams.”

Though the UMass coach did believe the team has the ability to mature from last season, Kellogg went on to explain that he doesn’t like to keep his mind on the previous season.

“I don’t even think about it,” Kellogg said. “Last year’s a whole different team, a different ball game.”

Kellogg is even looking beyond the non-conference schedule when it comes to road games, as he believes the competition outside the Mullins Center is some of the most difficult, especially when compared to previous seasons.

“In our league, we’re in a tough conference,” Kellogg said. “Going on the road in conference is difficult, and our out-of-conference road games were not helpful [last season].”

So far this season, the TD Bank Sports Center has not proven to be either a hard or easy place to compete in, as QU has won two of its three games on its home court. No matter what record the Bobcats boast at home, Kellogg doesn’t see the pressure easing on the UMass side.

“I’m sure it’ll be sold out, or close to sold out,” Kellogg said. “They have one of the nicest arenas I’ve seen in the Northeast and it’s going to be a tough place to play. Anytime an Atlantic 10 team enters their home environment its going to be a jammed place.”

As the Minutemen prepare to travel down to Hamden, Conn., the team still admires playing in its home state over the pass six games.

“I think we’ve enjoyed being home, it’s been a good change of pace because in the last two years it’s seemed like we’re the traveling all-stars,” Kellogg said. “[We were] really going all over the place to play road games. It feels good to actually be at home and starting having a little camaraderie and unity with the campus community and the students. At some point, you do have to go on the road.”

Herb Scribner can be reached at hscribne@student.umass.edu.

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