Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times stopped by campus a couple of weeks ago and spent some time with coach Kellogg and some members of the university and basketball program. His story was published in today's paper.
AMHERST, Mass. -- Shortly after Derek Kellogg was hired at Massachusetts in the summer of 2008, he toured the surrounding countryside, popping into restaurants, coffee shops and bars across the Pioneer Valley to shake hands, and to promote and reminisce about the Minutemen.
He was a local product who had starred at UMass under Coach John Calipari during its heyday in the mid-1990s, back when Mullins Center rocked and N.B.A. scouts routinely visited. His sanguine message to the community in 2008 was that he could bring those days back.
It was, Kellogg reflected recently, "a tough sell." Fans had a right to seem skeptical. After Calipari left for the Nets in 1996, the program tumbled, cycling through three coaches in 12 years while reaching the N.C.A.A. tournament only twice. Recruiting dried up and attendance dipped, ranking 92nd in the nation in 2007, with fewer than 6,000 fans a game.
Kellogg slicked his hair back like Calipari, and he seemed to breathe the same fire on the sideline, but his early results at UMass were mediocre at best. It was difficult to shut out the negativity; already, there was grumbling that another coaching change was necessary. The administration, though, stuck with him.
Read the entire story here...