Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Calipari and Kellogg relationship will pay dividends

By David Brinch

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This past Massachusetts men’s basketball season can be summed up in nine simple words which will leave UMass fans with an optimistic view for years to come.

The talent is there. The results were not. Be patient.

The Minutemen finished the season 12-20, with two more losses and the same amount of wins they had when UMass coach Derek Kellogg was hired in 2009, after Travis Ford sold out his team and went to Oklahoma State.

But look at UMass’ non-conference opponents.

Cornell, Michigan State, Baylor. These are big time programs that went on to not only win in the NCAA tournament, but win two or more games. UMass coach Derek Kellogg knew that it would be a challenge for his young team, but yet he welcomed the challenge, knowing his team would grow and mature, even if they lost. They did lose, but the Minutemen’s experience against a tough non-conference schedule will help them down the road.

UMass won its first Atlantic 10 tournament game in eight years, defeating sixth-seeded Charlotte 59-56.

Kellogg played for the Minutemen back when they were one of the nation’s best programs (1992-1995). As a player, Kellogg made the NCAA tournament every year, including 1995, when the team made the Elite Eight under former UMass coach John Calipari. During his time as a Minuteman, Kellogg and Co. were 111-24, and were just the second team in NCAA history to win four-straight season and Atlantic 10 tournament championships.

After his playing days were over, Kellogg was an assistant for 12 years, and spent eight seasons learning under Calipari at Memphis.

Eight-straight 20-win seasons, including a trip to the 2008 NCAA Tournament title game speaks volumes on Kellogg’s resume. He also had a heavy hand in recruiting Derrick Rose, one of the best collegiate players in recent memory, who has also enjoyed great success as a member of the Chicago Bulls.

So far, Kellogg has had the same recruiting success at UMass, bringing in freshmen Sampson Carter, Javorn Farrell, Raphael Putney, Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson, along with Memphis transfer Hashim Bailey, Oregon State transfer Sean Carter and Wake Forest transfer Anthony Gurley, all of whom will be back next season.

While it has been an adjustment to combine a roster full of transfers, freshmen and a lone senior, Ricky Harris, who will go down in history as one of the best players to put on a UMass uniform., the freshmen showed their talent at times this season.

Vinson started all 32 games, and was third on the team in scoring behind Harris and Gurley, averaging 9.6 points per game, and second in rebounds, with 5.4 rebounds per game.

After missing four games due to knee surgery, Freddie Riley played in 28 games, starting the last nine and averaging nine points. Farrell was responsible for guarding some of UMass’ toughest opponents in Xavier’s Jordan Crawford and Charlotte’s Shamari Spears, while Sampson Carter played in all 32 games and contributed on both ends of the floor.

While Putney will redshirt after not seeing any action, Kellogg has already brought two players to Amherst with impressive pedigrees. Jesse Morgan, who signed to play with Seton Hall in 2010, opted out and enrolled at the University, while Kellogg signed 6-foot-8 Maxie Esho, who played on the same AAU team as Putney and Farrell, and joins Vinson and Harris as another player from Maryland. This is a smart recruiting method by Kellogg, because he is making his name and program familiar in a very talented area for youth basketball.

Much like in life, the same holds true in basketball. It’s not just about what you know, but who you know. Kellogg was basically an apprentice under Calipari at Memphis, and Calipari’s knowledge of the game and coaching style have rubbed off on Kellogg. Calipari is one of the most successful, albeit controversial, college basketball coaches of all time, and led Kentucky to the Elite Eight this season. The two talk almost daily, with Calipari even coming back to his former coaching alma mater.

So Minutemen fans, while 2010 was a rebuilding year, there are some things to look forward to in Amherst.

The talent is there. The results were not. Be patient.

David Brinch can be reached at [email protected].

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