January 27, 2015

Scrolling Headlines:

Paranormal Research Society seeks to uncover the truth about the supernatural -

Monday, January 26, 2015

UMass tops Merrimack 4-1 to cap off successful weekend series -

Monday, January 26, 2015

‘Broad City’s’ second season off to a wickedly funny start -

Monday, January 26, 2015

Students respond to Obama’s State of the Union address -

Monday, January 26, 2015

St. Bonaventure earns tight victory, VCU clinches 11th straight win in Atlantic 10 men’s basketball action -

Monday, January 26, 2015

An open letter to the people who were kind when I was struggling -

Monday, January 26, 2015

UMass club hockey salvages weekend with tie against NYU on Saturday -

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Winter TCA’s announce bevy of show returns and new releases -

Monday, January 26, 2015

Brilliant online film archives for cinema lovers -

Monday, January 26, 2015

UMass men’s and women’s track and field teams see mixed results in Joe Donahue Indoor Games -

Monday, January 26, 2015

Steve Mastalerz, defense delivers for UMass hockey -

Monday, January 26, 2015

UMass online graduate programs climb U.S. News & World Report rankings -

Monday, January 26, 2015

Front to Back: Week of Jan. 25, 2015 -

Sunday, January 25, 2015

BLOG: UMass football receives seven verbal commitments -

Sunday, January 25, 2015

UMass plans to fail again with Super Bowl guest policy -

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Special teams play fuels late UMass rally, forces tie -

Saturday, January 24, 2015

BLOG: UMass hires Mark Michaels as special teams coordinator, outside linebackers coach -

Friday, January 23, 2015

Former Tibetan political prisoner overcomes odds in Tibet and the US -

Thursday, January 22, 2015

UMass basketball falls flat in loss to St. Joe’s -

Thursday, January 22, 2015

‘Selma’ resonates with the here and now -

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Click here to visit UMass Dining
Click here to visit UMass Dining

Consistent guard play pacing UMass basketball down the stretch

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

At the beginning of the season, Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg proposed the idea of using three guards at once in specific situations.

Now, coming off back-to-back wins over George Washington and Virginia Commonwealth, UMass sits in third place in the Atlantic 10 thanks in part to that very same lineup, making Kellogg’s three-guard system seem more genius than mad-scientist.

The triple-threat combination of Chaz Williams, Derrick Gordon and Trey Davis in the backcourt has given the Minutemen consistent performances in the last month.

“It’s been a good maturation process for those guys and it’s kind of what you envision as a coach when you’re trying to keep a program going, not just for one year, but for years to come,” Kellogg said.

At the start of the season, it was always a question about how well the three guards would play with each other while sharing the floor. But as the season progressed and UMass continued to win games against stiff competition, the question switched from, “Will they work well together?” to, “How high is the ceiling for these three?”

The three have different styles of play, but they complement each other more than they interfere with the flow of the game.

“(Teams) are connecting to Chaz,” Kellogg said. “Trey can do his thing and if it isn’t there, then he can hit Derrick Gordon, get out of the way and let Derrick Gordon make a play. … They have the freedom to go make a play.”

Williams, Gordon and Davis were the three leading scorers for the Minutemen in their latest win over VCU last Friday, combining for 49 points, eight assists and eight steals.

Individually, the three bring their own different strength and style to the game. Williams has the ability to make a play out of any situation, Davis is a pure shooter who can knock down a 3-pointer at any time and Gordon is a defensive specialist who likes to attack the basket.

Put them all on the floor at once and it’s an opposing team’s nightmare to match up defensively.

“You add extra ball-handlers and it’s just great because we can spread the ball out a lot more and other guys can make plays,” Williams said.

The reemergence of Gordon as a scoring threat has added to the high level of play in the backcourt for UMass. To begin the season, he struggled to find his shot, missing easy floaters close to the basket. But over the course of the last month, Gordon has become the Minutemen’s second-best scoring option thanks to a renewed confidence.

“I’m just not putting a lot of pressure on myself,” he said. “I talked to (Kellogg) a lot about that and he said, ‘Just be yourself and go out there and do what you know how to do,’ so that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s been paying off.”

But maybe the biggest surprise in how well the three-guard combination has worked so far this season has come from the play of Davis.

Davis’ role was virtually unknown entering the season, but he’s proven his worth so far. He’s the most consistent 3-point shooter on the team and he’s displaying the maturity that he gained in his first year and over the summer in his play as a sophomore.

“I really learned over the summer and I like to listen,” he said. “I listened to what people were telling me and I think just not turning the ball over and being able to score is really helping me.”

With an A-10 Championship well in reach and the Minutemen’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 years becoming more and more of a reality, the play of Williams, Gordon and Davis is going to be crucial in how far this team goes.

“The three of us is going to be the main reason why we win games,” Gordon said.

Patrick Strohecker can be reached at pstrohec@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @P_Strohecker.

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