Men's Basketball

Postgame Quotes: UMass 70, SJU 62

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Coach Derek Kellogg's postgame reaction

Well I am happy I am able to come away with the W on Valentines Day. It was a good game. It thought we played hard, at times it looked like we were a little lethargic, but our guys fought through. We started winning the 50-50 balls, rebounded a little better, and we had stretches when we played great defense. Offensively I thought Rickey was great again, and Anthony Gurley is starting to get back to the Anthony Gurley we know and love. A good win for us, we are pushing forward here for the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Coach Kellogg on winning without playing their best game

We are growing up as a team, getting more mature, playing tougher, and its evident by the ability to win a game when you don't play great or perfect. We made free throws down the stretch, I thought we were strong with the ball, but defensively and on the boards is where we were making very good strides. When we start making shots we look like a pretty good basketball team.

Coach Kellogg on players falling into their roles

It's taken awhile but the roles are starting to be established. It's been a slow process, we've had injuries, guys playing different positions, and we are starting playing three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior. So that part of it has been somewhat difficult. Rickey has been playing a much more complete game as of late; his defense has gotten much better. He is playing much better, and over that stretch he might be the most valuable player in the league.

Coach Kellogg on Ricky Harris

He actually gets inside the key area this year. He is banging heads, and fighting and scraping when at times early on he was looking to go the other way. He is becoming a complete basketball player, and that's what I want for all of our guys. It's great cause Ricky and I have spent a lot of time together meeting and talking, and when you see a guy buying in and taking his game to the next level, that's really what coaching is all about.

Coach Kellogg on the first half defense

They did a good job in transition and got a lot of open looks. We were playing a pretty solid and physical man to man defense; we are getting better in practice defensively so that's carrying over to games. My time is looking like they know what they are doing defensively, that makes me feel like we are moving in the right direction. When the ball goes from one side to the other they are moving as a pack, when the rebound goes up we are screening out and rebounding; not for a full forty minutes just yet, but we are moving a little closer.

Coach Kellogg on the team's energy

It's been good for those guys; it's been good for the players, it's been good for the coaches and I think it has been good for the university and the area to really take that next step. The guys have been a really good bunch of kids to be around, they haven't wavered too much. There has been a stretch when I had to come up with some creative ways to get them pumped up for practice, but for the most part they have been following the mission and pushing forward with the coaches. I have good bunch of kids, that's what has been fun about this year. Those are the guys I want to go to battle with every night.

Ricky Harris on this year being personal for him

These last couple of games I have just wanted to leave it all out on the floor. I am starting to realize this is my last time being able to play college basketball, and my teammates are starting to realize that too. Basically we all just came together, we don't want to end on a bad note, we want to finish on some type of positive note. My teammates are starting to buy-in. I am starting to play a lot harder defensively, offensively I know what I am capable of doing, but I just applaud these guys they come to practice every day and work hard for the coaches and myself. Now we just need to continue to build off that.

Phil Martelli On Ricky Harris:

I give a lot of credit to a kid like Ricky Harris, obviously the last seven games now his average is 27 a game. We wanted to make him a vocal point, the focus of our defense, and he was still able to get 15 shots in the air. I'm leaving here not disappointed at all defensively, I think we accomplished what we set out to do. I do leave hurting for my players because we went 11 and a half minutes without scoring. That's hard to do, that's on me. We need more skill time, we need more creative offensive thinking. It wasn't even turnovers, it was jumper, jumper, and we have to get some thrust to the basket. Second half defense, attention to detail, giving them nine field goals, we have not been good in the second half defensively either at home or on the road.

Martelli on growth of team:

No, I just said that to the coaches, that's the hurt that I have because we've built this on daily improvement individually and collectively. I said to the player's after Tuesday nights game, we were off Wednesday and Thursday, we practiced Friday and we did a six game recap with is what we do after every six games. My comment to them is when I stay awake at night, it's whose improving, who is taking advantage of extra gym time or extra coaching time or film study or that kind of thing. That's where I am, it's not the record, it is what it is. It's not our predicament in the league, it is what it is. Where I'm hurt, where I failed them, is I would like to be able to say that in this area we're moving forward. Now collectively we're better defensively and we're rebounding better. If you combine this first half with the first half at St. Louis, we scored 39 points. That's just hard to swallow and it's on me, it's not on them.

Martelli on momentum in game:

When you're fighting uphill the way we were you need every play to be perfect and it might have been a bounce, a rebound, a loose ball, a whistle. You need everything to fall in place. There were times in the second half when I thought one more play and we didn't get that one play. Whether we stepped to the line and went 0-2, or we rushed a play to the basket which I thought we did in the second half. We rushed some plays to the basket instead of maybe being a little more composed.

Martelli on UMass' improvement:

Well Harris. I don't want to dismiss anyone else, but there playing without a starter, Gibbs. Ricky Harris to me has embraced this thing as a senior. I think as a senior you can grab it by the throat and not let it get away. Some of these games are astounding. I'm watching the Rhode Island game and thinking this is going to be a 45 point game, and it's 23 and they cut it to six. The game the other night in Pittsburgh, they're dead in the water and he hits two threes and the rest of them pile up. They were down 17 to Xavier at the half, 50-33 and they have a lead, whatever that was 60-59 or something like that. I've always believed that in this league it's your seniors. I've used this on the conference coaches, your seniors get a tattoo at the end of their senior year, and the tattoo says their record for their senior year, some guys don't want that tattoo. They don't want 10-17, 10-20. He seems to be a guy that has choked this thing, and they were very very impressive. And they were better defensively today than they've been. They were more active and energized and active defensively.




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