'Big City' expected back with Minutemen today
When the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team resumes practice today, senior center Hashim "Big City" Bailey is expected to be back with the team.
Bailey was suspended for an undisclosed team rules violation and wasn't even on the bench for Saturday's loss to Seton Hall. UMass coach Derek Kellogg said barring further problems, Bailey's suspension had been lifted.
"As of right now he'll be with us," Kellogg said. "He's got to follow the rules. We'll practice (Wednesday) at 5 p.m. and we expect everybody to be present and accounted for."
With final exams starting, UMass did not hold practice on Sunday or Monday. Some players participated in individual or small group workouts on Tuesday depending on health and their schedules for final exams.
PRESENT DELIVERY - Minuteman junior center Sean Carter will be among a sizable contingent of UMass student athletes that will deliver presents to kids at the Shriners Hospital in Springfield this afternoon.
FIXING FARRELL - Kellogg hoped that the 11 days off between games might help Javorn Farrell get going again. The versatile sophomore is battling a lingering ankle injury and has struggled in the last three games.
"I've got to get Javorn playing better. He's honestly a much better player than he's played in the last couple games," Kellogg said. "When he was playing his best, we were playing our best."
RE-EVALUATION PERIOD - Kellogg said the time off also offered him a chance to step back and evaluate how to best position his team going forward. The Minutemen have three more nonconference games before Atlantic 10 play begins next month.
"I have to look at roles and rotation. We're a little thin in the paint, but we've got to play the hand we've been dealt," he said. "I didn't think we're going to run around and press quite as much until I get the halfcourt defense solidified."
He thought the players didn't adapt well to playing tougher competition in recent weeks.
"There's guys who've been very good against some teams, but when the level of competition goes up, it's hard for them," Kellogg said. "My job is to get practice to be tough so it better simulates playing Boston College or Seton Hall. Those guys are bigger, more physical and have better players. We're taking the same shots we did against other teams, but it's not as easy. I have to get our guys to realize you can't just fire the ball at the rim."