City Of Springfield Supports UMass As Minutemen Prepare For Saturday's Game
Jan. 7, 2009
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Derek Kellogg was the speaker of honor at the MassMutual Center on Wednesday morning as the arena hosted a press conference promoting Saturday's UMass men's basketball vs. Dayton in Springfield. Kellogg was introduced by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. Kellogg's high school coach at Cathedral, Kevin Kennedy and several local business members spoke about the game and its importance to the City of Springfield. Here is a transcription, which also features comments on Springfield's bid to host the 2010 and 2011 Atlantic 10 Basketball Championships from Basketball of Hall of Fame President John Doleva.
Kevin Kennedy: It really is a pleasure to be here. I had the honor and privilege of coaching Derek when he was in high school. It has been wonderful to watch him grow and mature and become someone on the national scene. UMass, as we all know, is a school we all love and it is a team that we all know and love here in Massachusetts, particularly in Western Massachusetts.
There is a very, very big game coming up here on Saturday as the Dayton Flyers come to town. They are one of the most outstanding teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference and we expect they will be on the national map as the season progresses. They now stand 14-1, so the game here in Springfield to Tim Kenney (Associate Athletic Director at UMass) and the rest of the UMass staff here is not a game of the lower echelon. This is a higher echelon game and it will be a very difficult game for the Minutemen.
One of the things we should recognize is that the Tip-Off Classic honored a number of our native sons. Vinny Del Negro came with his North Carolina State team. Vinny is now the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Travis Best, one of the best, if not the best player in Western Massachusetts high school history, from Georgia Tech, played here in the Tip-Off Classic. Also, when Derek was playing for Coach Calipari in the 1994 Tip-Off Classic against the defending National Champion Arkansas. UMass really gave them a game (a 104-80 win). In his playing days, Coach Kellogg only gave up two turnovers in that particular game and coach (Nolan) Richardson sent three games after him in the game. He held up well and we expect him to hold up well as the season goes on.
It is great that we are now honoring and hoping that we will draw a very large crowd for Saturday's game. We are really looking forward to what can grow out of this.
John Doleva, President of the National Basketball Hall of Fame: I just want to say what a joy it is to be a partner with UMass Athletics. We are looking forward to welcoming UMass back to Springfield. We are partnered with UMass. I'm a grad, class of 1982 and a big UMass basketball fan.
I think the city has shown, it is ready to host not only a single game like this, but also more tournaments downtown. We do a great job with the Division II Tournament. It has a great economic impact for the city. We think UMass returning down here is great.
We are speaking to the Atlantic 10 Conference about their championship moving forward. We will be hosting the commissioner (Bernadette McGlade) on Friday night for discussion. The commissioner will be very interested in seeing what kind of turn out Springfield has and how championship-ready the city of Springfield is. I look forward to partnering more with UMass in the future. I want to tell fans that if they have a ticket to game for Saturday, the Hall of Fame opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and we are giving free admission to the Basketball Hall of Fame with a UMass game ticket to the game at the MassMutual Center. So we invite you to come over and take a look at the Basketball Hall of Fame and then enjoy some great A-10 basketball. I know they are going to have a great season. I wish Coach Kellogg very well and hope he has a long career at the University of Massachusetts.
Mayor Domenic Sarno: When we were putting this game together, when we look to market the city of Springfield as Basketball USA, the home of the one and only Basketball Hall of Fame. I have to tell you something about Derek, I know it is a special moment when we were putting this together I spoke with Tom Walsh, my communications director. We said that our dear friend and Derek's coach Kevin Kennedy should serve as the emcee for this event. I really appreciate this Kevin and I know this is a special moment for you and for Coach Kellogg.
Derek's old house, his old parents' house, I bought it back in '92. You could tell he was going to be a star back then with his leadership on the court. The driveway area had its own half-court with a 3-point line, foul line and a hoop. His brother Bobby, who was a heck of hockey player, played in the cellar with the outline of the hockey rink. Bobby went to the Triple-A (AHL) in hockey.
Derek had an outstanding career at UMass. When he was tabbed UMass coach, many people were very, very happy. He is a native son, a favorite son, he's Springfield born and bred. I have to tell you, when he was announced as the UMass coach, we traded phone calls back and fourth. The first thing out of his mouth was not getting a UMass game here in Springfield which we wanted to pursue, he said to me, "Domenic, how can I help out city of Springfield. I want to reach out to the community as you did with Coach Calipari at Memphis. Within a couple weeks like our administration along with UMass was able to put together an eight-week program with Coach Kellogg and his staff and his ball players. Back-and-fourth with community centers and schools and parks, holding clinics not only teaching basketball skills, but also teaching life lessons. We continue this collaboration with Coach Kellogg and UMass. It is just important that we are going to support UMass basketball. Most importantly, we are going to support Derek Kellogg.
As John Doleva indicated, we had the most successful Division II Tournament in years last year. We are in the midst of competing for the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
Derek has proven, we went out to Kansas and beat a ranked team. His heart and soul is with UMass basketball. It is now time of the City of Springfield, the surrounding area, its business communities to step up to the 3-point line and show our support and PACK THIS HOUSE Saturday. It will send an important message we want to continue to collaborate with UMass.
Derek Kellogg: I want to thank everyone for coming out today. It truly is an honor and privilege to be here and see a lot of familiar faces not only in my career at UMass, but also in the building block stages of growing up in the city. I want everyone to know that the foundation of myself as a human and as a coach were built in this major city, Springfield, Massachusetts. A place that you get a work ethic, a passion, a desire to be a good person to fight and be a hard worker. That's what I try to stress to our team right now. The building blocks that I grew up with in this city are how we want to play and how we want to be as people. This is an unbelievable place.
To come back here, the place I grew up, is truly a special feeling for me. To be able to coach in this building, it is kind of strange because, coaching for Coach Kennedy for Cathedral and playing Central with Travis Best and Coach Burns, there were 7,000 people watching us as high school players in this building right here.
I actually remember sweeping the floor over a summer one year, working in this building. That is the foundation of hard work. I recall playing Arkansas in one of the finest games of my college career. The memories of being in the Springfield Civic Center with 7,000 people going crazy. That's my vision for myself coming back here as a coach. This is Basketball City USA, a place where people flock to come watch teams and games in the downtown area. This a place where you can come on a Saturday afternoon and visit the local businesses, go shopping, go visit the Hall of Fame. You can have an unbelievable day.
I'm a downtown person, I love downtowns of cities and I love coming to downtown Springfield. I think this gives us an opportunity for us to showcase not only what we have as a downtown, but also what we have in an interaction between UMass and the City of Springfield.
I hope our team continues to improve and play at the high level. We are doing an excellent job of practice to get ready for Saturday and I want all the people of this area to come out and feel proud that this is our team. I want people to come to expect that we will work at the level of this area that we all come to expect, which is a hard-working group who plays with unselfishness, plays hard and plays together. That's what I see for a vision and I hope everyone comes out and supports this team.
We are playing a team that is 14-1, we need people to come out and support our team. We need a sold out arena, we need people to come out and make a lot of noise. We need people to come out and support the downtown as well as the University of Massachusetts!
I'm looking forward to an unbelievable day on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at the Hall of Fame, then the game and after the game. Thank you.
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