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

UMass, Trey Davis ready for Richmond and Kendall Anthony

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Trey Davis said the Massachusetts men’s basketball team’s coaching staff had an assignment for him.

They needed Davis to be more of a defensive presence, to assert himself on both ends of the floor. The guard worked on his defense all season and is slowly starting to see the results.

Over his last three games, Davis is averaging 2.3 steals per game. He had four in an 82-71 loss to Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday and back-to-back steals Saturday against Fordham. And while Rams point guard Mandell Thomas had 29 points in the game, it was Davis’ two steals which jumpstarted the victory.

“I’m just trying to be more aggressive on the defensive end,” Davis said. “(I’ll) do whatever to help the team.”

Now, another difficult defensive assignment awaits Davis and the Minutemen.

UMass hosts Richmond Wednesday night in its final regular season home game of the season. The Spiders are led by diminutive point guard Kendall Anthony, who is averaging 16.4 points per game.

“I’m just going to try to play smart,” said Davis on defending Anthony. “I’m taller so I’ll keep my hand (up) and keep my distance and put up a hand up on shots.”

Luckily for Davis, who is a junior, guarding smaller scorers was once something he had to do every day in practice. He was former UMass guard Chaz Williams’ understudy for his first two seasons in Amherst.

“I think I know what I’m doing against smaller players,” said Davis of guarding the 5-foot-8 Anthony. “He’s not as fast as Chaz (who was 5-foot-9) and I’m about the same height.

Davis said that he saw on tape that Anthony prefers to shoot more pull-up jump shots than Williams, and prefers to score off the dribble. UMass coach Derek Kellogg went one step further, saying Anthony’s adept at initiating contact in the paint.

Kellogg also said Anthony looks to score within Richmond’s motion offense, but he’s also an unselfish player. While Davis will defend Anthony at certain junctures, Kellogg made it clear he’ll need multiple players to slow him down.

“We’re going to mix it up quite a bit,” Kellogg said. “He’s the one guy I think you have to give different looks to. Maybe a longer, athletic guy and a smaller, quicker guy. Switch a little bit, try to keep him off balance.

“The last couple of games’ (opponents) have gotten on balance and really got going. We’re going to continue to take a look at that and try different ways to stop him as well as the team.”

Richmond enters on a four-game winning streak which includes wins over Virginia Commonwealth University and George Washington. They play a match-up zone defensively and look to score offensively without upping the pace of the game.

It’s a style which contrasts with UMass’ ideal style of up-tempo play.

“I’m trying to figure out what pace is the best, how fast to go and how to play,” Kellogg said. “It’s two similar but contrasting styles, if that makes sense. We’re both looking to put points on the board but we’re trying to do it in different ways.”

The Spiders are currently tied with the Minutemen within the conference after scuffling out of the gates.

“They’re shooting the ball a little better, they’re making shots,” Kellogg said. “I do think it’s a little more free-flowing and the ball’s moving faster. I think the guys have become more comfortable in their defensive process. They’ve gotten a little better in a lot of different areas.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Mullins Center. UMass will honor seniors Maxie Esho and Cady Lalanne before the game on Senior Night.

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

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