Kellogg makes lineup changes

By David Brinch

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Jeff Bernstein/collegian

Jeff Bernstein/collegian

In its loss to No. 2 Michigan State on Saturday, there were a lot of firsts for some members of the Massachusetts basketball team.

Senior captain Ricky Harris started his first career game at point guard, center Hashim Bailey started his first ever career game in a Minuteman uniform and sixth man Anthony Gurley joined Harris in the front court for the first time in 2009, as second-year coach Derek Kellogg tried to find the right combination of players in order to beat a Spartan team that made the Final Four last season.

Harris started all 30 games last season, and has started 66 in his career, but never ran the offense until Saturday’s blowout defeat to No. 2 Michigan State.

Bailey, who played in 16 career games so far, got the start in the middle, as Kellogg bumped usual center Sean Carter to forward alongside Terrell Vinson. Gurley started 23 out of 30 games last season, but has come off the bench so far in 2009.

While it was not the result the Minutemen were looking for, the starting five showed some rhythm as UMass got off to a quick start, going on an 8-to-2 run in the first two-and-a-half minutes.

But like the Minutemen’s earlier opponents, the Spartans knew how to shut down Harris, who brought the ball up the majority of the time. Harris played 24 minutes and turned the ball over a team-high six times, while usual point guard David Gibbs played 14 minutes and had one turnover. The Spartans capitalized off of the miscues, scoring 28 of their points off of turnovers, while UMass scored 14.

“It worked for a while, but Michigan State is an experienced team that started getting up and jamming him and making the game hard, and our game plan for the first six minutes worked pretty well,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg, who put in a zone defense during the shootaround, also used Bailey and Carter along with Gurley on the wing to start the game, and gave the Minutemen, as well as its future opponents, a different look.

Along with Vinson, who has started every game of his career so far, the trio of Bailey, Vinson and Carter combined for 10 rebounds in the first half, to the Spartans’ eight.

“I thought we rebounded the ball decent for a while, I thought we did a few good things, but they were superior,” Kellogg said.

Bailey, whose conditioning has been his main drawback, made the most of his start, seeing the most minutes (25) of his entire career at UMass. While scoring one point, Bailey finished second to Carter in rebounds (eight) and blocked a shot. MSU had five players in double-digits, but the starting five for UMass scored 48 points, despite turning the ball over 12 times.

In the loss against Rutgers on Friday night, Harris, Carter and Vinson all started, with Gibbs bringing the ball up and freshman Sampson Carter starting at forward.

The starters combined for 27 rebounds and 47 points, but accounted for nine turnovers against the Scarlet Knights. Kellogg is considering the possibility of shuffling his lineup again on Wednesday night, in order to take some of the load off Harris, keep Gurley scoring and continue to get rebounds and consistent play from Vinson, Carter and Bailey.

David Brinch can be reached at [email protected]