Derrick Gordon: ‘We’re not quite on the same page’

By Mark Chiarelli

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(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

It’s been an up and down season for the Massachusetts men’s basketball team and its most recent performance – which would unequivocally be placed in the down category – indicates the entire team isn’t on the same page.

Following a 62-56 road loss to Saint Joseph’s Wednesday night, UMass guard Derrick Gordon cited the need for better unity throughout the team.

“We’ve got to come together,” Gordon told reporters following the game. “There’s a little bit of separation right now, to be honest. We’ve just got to come together and finish the year off strong.”

The Minutemen lost what UMass coach Derek Kellogg described as a winnable game. They committed 13 turnovers and allowed Saint Joseph’s to go on a 9-0 run late in the second half to extend the lead.

“We’re just bumping heads,” Gordon said of people within the locker room.

“Different people bumping heads with different people, whether it’s coaches or teammates. We’re not quite on the same page for the most part. It’s showing out on the court. I’m not the type to say names, but that’s where we’re at right now. We’ve got to pick it up.”

The Minutemen entered the season with high expectations following an NCAA Tournament run from a season ago. But a lack of consistency and strong play against high-level opponents has those types of postseason dreams looking far more like fantasy than reality.

Gordon’s performance is one of numerous examples of up and down play this season. He scored nine points against the Hawks – all of which came in the second half – after missing most of the first half due to foul trouble. Combined with a subpar game from leading scorer Maxie Esho (two points, four turnovers), UMass couldn’t generate offense down the stretch – and it cost them.

The lack of consistency was similar to losing performances against both St. Bonaventure (a 69-55 loss to open conference play) and Davidson (a 71-63 loss at home).

“We’ve got to stay consistent,” Gordon said. “That’s where consistency comes in as far as making sure everybody’s on the same page.”

According to reports following the game, Kellogg was told of Gordon’s comments and had an opportunity to offer his take.

“I didn’t really see it in that regard, but if he says there is, we’ll deal with it,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg said he wants guys to care, and if that means showing emotion following a loss, he’ll accept it.

“I’m concerned because we lost tonight,” he said. “When that happens, I think emotions can be at an all-time high. Normally we have pretty good kids.”

“I want some emotion,” he later added. “It’d be nice to have some emotion in the locker room and on the floor. They should be fighting for playing time and trying to care.”

At the beginning of the season, Gordon was one of the biggest advocates of the Minutemen’s improved team chemistry from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. He spoke at length about the closeness of the team and how he envisioned strong chemistry playing into a successful season.

Now, following another frustrating loss, it appears that chemistry is at a crossroad.

“We’re having an up-and-down time right now,” Gordon said. “Like I said before, we’re bumping heads and we’ve got to fix a lot of things in the locker room as far as teammates and coaches. I think we when fix those, everything will be a lot better.”

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.