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Matt McCall ‘humbled and extremely honored’ to be the next UMass men’s basketball coach

(Julia Brown/The ECHO)

Massachusetts athletic director Ryan Bamford began his opening remarks at Thursday’s introductory press conference for UMass men’s basketball coach Matt McCall with a quote from former Minutemen coaching great John Calipari.

“John always said that ‘teams and coaches win games, but administrations win championships,’” Bamford said.

Bamford is surely hoping that McCall is the school’s next Calipari.

McCall was introduced as the Minutemen’s 22nd head basketball coach at the John Francis Kennedy Champions Center Thursday afternoon after signing a reported five-year deal worth $750,000 annually to become the next UMass coach Wednesday afternoon.

“I am humbled and extremely honored to be the basketball coach of this great university,” McCall said.

“Like I said when we started this search, we looked for someone that can take us to the mountain top,” Bamford said. “Someone that can take us to the top of the Atlantic 10 and keep us there. He is a relationship builder. He’s someone who cares about people.”

McCall was hired after receiving a call from Bamford while recruiting on Monday of this week to meet with UMass officials in Boston on Tuesday morning. He visited the campus and toured the facilities Tuesday evening before finalizing the deal and signing on the dotted line Wednesday afternoon.

The 35-year-old coach had plenty of great things to say about his new home.

“What I didn’t know was the unbelievable facilities, infrastructure and resources that are here to continue to make this place great,” McCall said.

“You could talk about the school’s rich tradition. You could talk about the unbelievable coaches that have come through here like [Jack] Leaman. You could talk about the unbelievable players that have put on this jersey like Julius Erving and Marcus Camby. Or you could talk about coach John Calipari and the unbelievable job he did and the tradition he built and the games that he won.”

“Matt’s been on our radar since the very beginning,” Bamford said, despite the team not meeting with McCall during its initial search. “Every place he’s been he’s won, and I believe he will bring that winning here.”

McCall spent two seasons as coach of Chattanooga, compiling a 48-18 record (.727 winning percentage) and making an NCAA tournament appearance in his first season after the Mocs won the Southern Conference.

He spent 11 years under the tutelage of current Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan while at Florida as a student manager and eventually an assistant before becoming the Chattanooga head coach. He spent three seasons with Florida Atlantic as an assistant before returning to Florida in the same role. McCall was part of two NCAA titles and another Final Four appearance in his time on the Gators staff.

“The goal is to play in the NCAA tournament,” McCall said. “The goal is to win championships and hang banners like it’s been done before here in the past.”

Bamford jokingly thanked the facilities staff for the “dress rehearsal” that was last week’s scheduled press conference for coach Pat Kelsey, who signed with the team before an abrupt “change of heart” 30 minutes before his scheduled press conference last Thursday.

“This business is all about timing, and this was the right time for me to be the head coach of this university,” McCall said when asked about being the team’s second option behind Kelsey. “I don’t look at it that way at all. I look at it as an opportunity and I’m really excited about this opportunity.”

Bamford also took the time to thank former coach Derek Kellogg, who was fired following the Minutemen’s second round exit in the A-10 tournament.

Kyle DaLuz can be reached kdaluz@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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