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UMass men’s basketball reacts to season-ending loss, looks forward to the next steps

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

PITTSBURGH – Thursday was just not the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s day and there was no disputing that for those in attendance at the PPG Paints Arena for the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Whether it was UMass (15-18) only being able to put up 26 points in the first half, its once again subpar 3-point shooting or its inability to execute easy chances at the free-throw line, it was clear early on that the Minutemen’s season would end at the hands of St. Bonaventure (20-11). The Bonnies dominated throughout and topped UMass, 73-60.

With a recruiting class that was considered one of the best in the nation, UMass under performed considerably prompting people to wonder if Derek Kellogg will maintain his job as coach of the UMass men’s basketball team.

Just about an hour after the final buzzer capped off UMass’ 2016-17 season, Athletic Director Ryan Bamford fired Kellogg.

For the Minutemen, their season concluded how it played out for most of the season, promising at times, but disappointing in the end.

“We made a pretty good effort at the end to try and get back in the game, but a couple of plays that were some weird basketball plays, we just didn’t get over the hump,” Kellogg said.

The 2016-17 UMass team will be remembered as a team with potential and one of the guys who took a step toward reaching his potential this year was center Rashaan Holloway. After shedding a significant amount of weight over the offseason, the sophomore showed spurts of being a dominant big man in the A-10. He upped his points per game average to 10.4 from 5.2 last season and his rebound per game average to 5.75 from 3.1 in 2015-16.

In games like the one against Providence back in December or his double-double against VCU on Jan. 7, he looked like a guy the Minutemen could run their offense through.

Inconsistency still crept up into his game though, and Holloway knows there is a ton of room for him to improve heading into his final two years with UMass.

“We’ve got to learn how to mature on the court,” Holloway said. “Guys like myself, we need to know how to dominate every game and come out with good energy and just learn how to win games in the second half.”

Barring any transfers, UMass will be returning all but one of its players going into the 2017-18 season with only walk-on forward Zach Turcotte graduating after the season. One of the guys expected to carry a major load next season will be freshman guard DeJon Jarreau. Jarreau was great in stretches this season, but also made tons of freshman mistakes, namely in the turnover department, where he led the team with 102 on the season.

In a conference that is mostly dominated by guard-play, Jarreau knows it is incredibly important to take his game to next level going into next season.

“I know this off-season, I’ve got to go and work hard so I can get to their level, try to match that,” Jarreau said. “So if I go and work hard, then I could be able to lead my team next year and we’ll be in a better place and not be up here after a loss.”

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34.

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