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Notebook: UMass men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg ready to move on from Fordham loss, impressed with Rashaan Holloway’s improvement

Rashaan Holloway during Saturday's game against Kennesaw State. (Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

Rashaan Holloway during Saturday’s game against Kennesaw State. (Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

After taking time to review film from Saturday’s 71-68 loss to Fordham, Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg spoke Monday morning on the weekly Atlantic 10 coaches conference call about UMass’ struggles against the Ram’s defense.

“I think it’s a little of both, but I think it was more of their unique style of play,” Kellogg said when asked about if the Minutemen’s (12-8, 2-5 A-10) struggles were a result of internal mistakes or what Fordham did.

“They play a hybrid zone with a trapping man. I think they’re good at that and getting better. Especially when you are playing a young backcourt, they have to start recognizing different defenses and how to attack and play against them,” Kellogg added.

Against Fordham, UMass committed 19 turnovers and allowed 15 offensive rebounds. Point guard DeJon Jarreau committed eight of those turnovers while dishing out nine assists.

“The only thing you can really do is continue to put him out there in those situations and in practice try to emulate some of the things they’ll see,” Kellogg said. “I thought he did a fantastic job at different junctures of the game. Three or four plays where not only him, but some of the other guys turned the complexion of the game.”

“I’m sticking with him. I think he’s going to be really good and continue to improve and get better. For a little while in that game he was the best player and for a little while he did some things that were very, very young.”

Kellogg impressed with Holloway

As the Minutemen have struggled in conference play dropping five of their first seven games, center Rashaan Holloway has taken a significant step forward in A-10 games.

Prior to the start of the conference play, Holloway averaged just 9.8 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game as UMass was still figuring out the best way to utilize him on offense. In A-10 play, Holloway’s numbers have improved to 15.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while also losing an additional 10 pounds since the start of the season after losing 50+ over the summer.

“His confidence is really high,” Kellogg said. “When you get in good shape and you feel good about yourself you tend to play better. I think he’s got a good way about him where he’s feeling like he can dominate.”

“There are a couple things right now, I think our team is accustoming to playing with a guy who can score and do those things inside. I think the physicality inside on him with a lot of guy’s kind of double-teaming him and whacking at him, he’s figuring out how to play through that stuff. As that’s happening, he’s becoming more effective and I think that’s going to continue as he gets in better shape and our guys kind of realize where he is effective on the floor.”

Entering Monday night’s games, Holloway currently is tied for the lead with 14 block shots in conference play with Rhode Island’s Hassan Martin, and ranks second in blocks per game (2.0).

UMass visit Saint Louis, Travis Ford

Wednesday night’s game against Saint Louis means a little bit more to Billikens head coach Travis Ford than any other conference game on their schedule.

Ford coached the Minutemen from 2005-08 where he accumulated a 62-35 record and back-to-back trips to the NIT tournament. UMass finished tied for first in the A-10 title in the 06-07 and the following year reached the NIT championship game where it fell to Ohio State.

“A lot of time has passed, but I still have a lot of great relationships in Amherst and at UMass,” Ford said in his A-10 coaches conference.

“It’s a place I absolutely loved for three years and I don’t think people fully grasp how much we did enjoy it. There’s still some emotions there, no doubt about, just for the love we had being there and the people there.”

After UMass, Ford went on to coach Oklahoma State for eight seasons before joining SLU prior to the start of this season. Also on Ford’s coaching staff is graduate assistant Dante Milligan, who attend UMass from 2004-2008 after spending his freshman season as a redshirt with Pittsburgh.

“There has been a lot of time that has passed and Derek has done a terrific job out there,” Ford said. “It’s not like any of my players are still there or anything like that, but there is still some emotion just because of how much we enjoyed it there and how much respect I have for Derek and the UMass basketball program.”

The Billikens (5-14, 1-6 A-10) rank last in the conference standings with their only win coming against George Mason on Jan. 14.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Chaifetz Arena Wednesday night.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at arcyr@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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