Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Preseason report: UMass men’s basketball near full strength

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian File Photo

The Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s opener is still about a month and a half away, but the team is hard at work preparing for a season that is full of expectations.

The Minutemen practiced for about an hour on Saturday morning at the Curry Hicks Cage, and it appears the team is almost at full strength as it prepares for the season-opener on Nov. 13 against Harvard.

UMass coach Derek Kellogg said these practices, which began last Tuesday and will occur for two hours per week leading up to full practices that start Oct. 12, are a great way for some of the newcomers and even the returners to freshen up.

“It’s really good for the younger kids, especially with three freshmen and the transfer Derrick Gordon to make sure they understand our concepts on the defensive side of the floor and really what we’re trying to do to win basketball games,” Kellogg said.

Both Cady Lalanne and Jesse Morgan participated in practice. Lalanne, who had offseason foot surgery after injuring it early last season, appears to be close to 100 percent healthy. Morgan, who broke his wrist in July, appears healthy but will not participate in contact drills until he is cleared by doctors.

“(Cady) is cleared to do everything we’re doing. I’m taking it slowly, but at the same token I want to make sure he’s in game shape and is ready to play,” Kellogg said.

Two players did not participate in Saturday’s practice. Senior guard Javorn Farrell is expected to miss the season after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. He watched from the sidelines with a boot on.

Redshirt junior forward Sampson Carter is still recovering from a hip injury. He was present on Saturday but was on the exercise bike for the majority of practice and did not participate in drills with the rest of the team.

“Sampson is the one who’s a little behind schedule,” Kellogg said. “We’re taking it very slow with him just to make sure he’s fully recovered from his surgery.”

The three freshmen – point guard Trey Davis and big men Izzy Freeman and Tyler Bergantino – have been cleared by the NCAA and fully participated in Saturday’s practice.

Kellogg was impressed with all of their developments as well as Gordon, a sophomore guard who transferred from Western Kentucky and will have to sit out this season.

“I think Trey has a great opportunity in backing up Chaz (Williams) as much because of the lack of depth at that position for us. He’s doing a nice job,” Kellogg said. “And then Izzy and Tyler, our two big guys, and a lot of big guys, they catch on a little slower than smaller players, but they both have the intensity to work hard and are high character guys that are doing some good things.

“And then Derrick Gordon, he’s sitting out, but at the same token, I want him to get acclimated to what we’re doing.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @steve_hewitt.

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