Kellogg Says Its Time To See Where UMass Stands - UMass Athletics

Kellogg Says Its Time To See Where UMass Stands

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The Springfield Republican has a preview of Monday's game at Central Connecticut.

For the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team, November was busy and encouraging. December was light on games, and sobering on results. But January will be serious and revealing.

"I think the guys are ready to start playing games and stop listening to me talking in practice,'' coach Derek Kellogg said. "But the reality is, it's time to get into a regular schedule, play some games and see where we stand.''

Monday night's game at Central Connecticut State is the last non-conference test for UMass (8-4). The Minutemen have played only four games in the last four weeks.

Kellogg: It's time for UMass basketball team to find out where it stands

Published: Sunday, January 02, 2011, 9:56 AM     Updated: Sunday, January 02, 2011, 10:02 AM
Anthony GurleyMassachusetts' Anthony Gurley has led the offense of a team that takes an 8-4 record to Central Connecticut State Monday.

For the University of Massachusettsmen's basketball team, November was busy and encouraging.

December was light on games, and sobering on results. But January will be serious and revealing.

"I think the guys are ready to start playing games and stop listening to me talking in practice,'' coach Derek Kellogg said.

"But the reality is, it's time to get into a regular schedule, play some games and see where we stand.''

Monday night's game at Central Connecticut State is the last non-conference test for UMass (8-4). The Minutemen have played only four games in the last four weeks.

They had lost four straight befoe Friday's 71-54 win over Boston University. With Atlantic 10 play approaching, Kellogg believes increased practice time has helped his team, even if the 2-4 December record did not reflect it.

Now it's time to find out, starting against Central Connecticut (7-5), which is 4-0 at home.

The Blue Devils have won three straight, but the streak could easily be six. From Dec. 4-11, they lost three straight road games by a total of five points.

One was a 63-61 squeaker at Dayton, an Atlantic 10 school that is famously tough at home. But the UMass players believe their team is getting better, despite the December record.

"We were clicking on the defensive end (against BU), and started making some shots,'' said guard Anthony Gurley, who had 21 points and eight rebounds Friday.

"We stepped up and played at a high level, which I knew we were capable of doing.''

Like many coaches, Kellogg enjoys practice time as much or more than the games. He also knows it's time to find out how much the work translates into results.

"We're still young at key positions. I like working with guys like Raphiael Putney, Jesse Morgan, Daryl Traynham and even Maxie Esho at practice,'' he said.

All are freshman. Esho is a redshirt who is not expected to play this year.

Four other key players are sophomores. The light December schedule, which coincided with academic finals, produced spotty results but did allow for extended practice time.

"All that practice puts a strain on us, but it works,'' center Sean Carter said.

Health remains a concern. Point guard Gary Correia has missed two games with a stomach ailment, and an ankle sprain kept center Hashim Bailey out of Friday's second half.

Both are uncertain for Monday. Taking Bailey's place Friday was forward Matt Hill, who blocked four shots in eight second-half minutes.

"The good thing about Matt is that he's solid; you get the same from him every day,'' Kellogg said.

Kellogg said guard Javorn Farrell is playing at about 85 percent because of an ankle injury. He shot 2-for-6 with nine points and six rebounds Friday.

With Correia out, Farrell has been sharing time at point guard with Traynham, whose line Friday was mixed.

The freshman shot 0 for 8. On the bright side, he had a team-high five assists with no turnovers in 21 minutes.

Farrell showed signs of shaking a recent slump. His struggles have been partly injury-driven, and partly because he is adapting to a new distributor's role at the point.

"Javorn gets to a certain spot on the floor and thinks he has to shoot. I'm telling him he can be as effective by taking six to eight shots as if he takes 12 to 15,'' Kellogg said.


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