Jan. 4, 2010
AMHERST, Mass. -
With men's basketball conference play starting this week, the Atlantic 10 Conference held its first weekly teleconference of the year on Monday. UMass head coach Derek Kellogg gave his thoughts on the Minutemen's performance so far this season, his young players, his veterans, and some injury updates.
Below is the complete transcript of Coach Kellogg's portion of the teleconference.
On the first 13 games of the season:
I think we have done a decent enough job trying to get the young guys acclimated and of our new guys and transfers to the level of college play, especially when I think we have played one of the tougher schedules in the country. We have played Seton Hall, Michigan State, Memphis, Boston College, at Central Florida, at Holy Cross, at Davidson, and Rutgers. To be 6-7, obviously I would prefer to have a better record, but we are least battle-tested and have competed with some of the better teams in the country.
On all the young players on the roster:
It just takes time. As the season has progressed, we have continued to get more of a consistent effort out of our young guys. The toughest thing this year has been that I don't have a lot of returners to show these guys how to do it. With only one senior, Ricky Harris, and really two juniors on the team that played last year, that gives me three guys out of 13 or 14 that have any experience of how I coach and how I want this team and program to go. So it has been a slower process than I would like, but on the same token it is a necessary process so that by the end of the season and in the future for the program that everything is in order.
On the play of Terrell Vinson:
On Freddie Riley's injury status:
The one thing he does is that he is a competitor. He comes to practice and plays hard everyday and wants to get better. He is one of the first guys in the gym. I think when you can get a bunch of kids like that you have a chance to do something special. While the rewards may not be immediate, hopefully in time his consistent effort will continue to pay dividends on the court. He has been up and down. He has some great games like the Memphis and the Grambling games, but he has also had some games where he has played like a freshman. I think a lot of teams in the league are in the same boat that when you play so many young kids, what you get from them isn't always consistent numbers and effort. Our job is to continue to work them in practice and get them better to let them know that you must get better every time out.
He is coming back. He will probably play some on Wednesday against Fordham. I am not sure how much or what kind of wind he has. He has been practicing some. Not a lot of contact yet, but he was showing good promise early on. He was really scoring the ball, but he is one more guy that when you have someone like him you have to show him some of the finer points of the game like shot selection, defense, and rebounding. Those are the things that really win games, not how many times you can put the ball in the basket. Freddie is kind of in the that middle ground where he has a natural ability to score the ball and we will continue to work with him on a daily basis to get him ready to play at this level.
On the performance of the Atlantic 10 in non-conference play:
If you look at our league and what these teams have done, it has been pretty much amazing for the Atlantic 10 Conference how well our teams have done and performed.
On Ricky Harris' injury and shooting:
I'm not one to make excuses for players, but I think that has really hampered Ricky and his shot. He hasn't really been able t rise up and knock down jumpers like he could before the injury. You can even see it practice and in the games some that he isn't getting the lift he normally has. We are trying to work through it and he will play. We are working the ankle and getting it back to 100 percent so he can give us what I am accustomed to him giving us, which is every time he raises up I think it's in and a 20-point night just about every time out. He is getting better and we do need his points and his production.
On if his minutes will go back up with A-10 play starting:
We played 25 against Davidson. Before the season got underway, I was hoping he would play somewhere between 25 and 28, maybe 30. I think the goal of every coach is to get guys to play fewer minutes and play harder and compete at a higher level. I'm hoping that as his ankle gets better that he plays anywhere from 25 to 30, but continues to play at a higher level, score what he has been scoring, but in less time. I would say that is the goal of just about every coach across the country, to get all their guys playing less minutes but going harder while they are out there.