Jan. 12, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. -
UMass Men's Basketball Coach Derek Kellogg participated in the Atlantic 10 Teleconference on Monday. Kellogg recapped his team's 75-62 win over Dayton on Saturday and discussed his homecoming to Springfield, Mass. The Minutemen will be back in action this Wednesday when they will travel to Illinois to take on Saint Louis. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 PM.
Kellogg on his homecoming to Springfield:
It was great. I thought the City of Springfield and the UMass fans did a great job in coming out to support us. It was a great day not only for our program but also the City of Springfield.
Kellogg on Saturday's 75-62 win over Dayton:
I was nervous because we had watched Dayton on tape a lot. I think they're a great basketball team and an NCAA Tournament level team that is one of the better teams in our league. I thought that we would have to play a very good game to stay competitive and our guys did a good job of competing. We made some shots and some tough plays that let us play well.
Kellogg on how the Atlantic 10 has changed since his playing days:
Obviously there are more teams so it's a little more spread out, and there are some different areas geographically. I think the level of play is as good, if not better, than when I played. Back then we just had one or two teams that were in the top five or top ten at some point, but overall I think the league is fantastic. The way I see it, every game and every battle is a chance to lose. Every team out there is doing some good things right now and I'm looking at a lot of teams that have NCAA aspirations and are right on the border of being NCAA Tournament worthy. It's a great league and I think it's a league to reckon with for years to come.
Kellogg on how his team has changed over the course of the season:
Early on we were still trying to figure out a lot of things with our own team, and Luke Bonner got hurt as we were starting to have a good feel for what was going on. And we've just recently got him back, and I think now we're starting to figure out ways to win and ways to compete for a full 40 minutes. I'm expecting that our guys are starting to compete every possession and every play for 40 minutes, but I can't say that was the case for the early part of the season. With the Atlantic 10 Conference play starting has given them a new outlook on potentially a new season for us. I think we're excited that we have an opportunity to start anew and play in the Atlantic 10 Conference at 0-0.
Kellogg on his team's change in attitude:
I think our guys feel refreshed that we have a clean slate starting conference play, and I've spoken to them all year about getting ready for conference play. We need to make a strong move in conference; I thought an at-large bid for how we started the season was probably unlikely. So I told to guys to get ready to play well in the conference, and get ourselves ready to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. And now that this second half of the season has come, it was a refresher for our guys. We've also started our winter session out here, where we are more about basketball and don't have classes for a while.
Kellogg on Luke Bonner and his ability to take charges:
We worked on it a lot during the preseason. It's hard to do in the middle of the season because of the pounding he takes in the charge drills. But that's one of Luke's traits and that's what makes him a pretty good player is that he has the ability to step in and take charges. He has more charges taken than the rest of our team combined. So that's one of his attributes as a player in that he is not afraid to put his body in there. He's not really a shot blocker, so going in and using your body is as effective as blocking the ball.
Kellogg on the new three-point circle:
I like where it is right now. I think it's a good spot where it's a little further than it was in the past. In the spacing, it gives us a good indication of where we want to be on certain plays. I don't think college kids are ready for the NBA line, which is a little further and too deep, and would lead to a lot of terrible shots. The line where it used to be is also good for the college game. But I think right now this has been good for college basketball. You're seeing a lot of upsets out there and a lot of teams are staying competitive because they're able to spread the floor and knock down three point shots. I think it makes the game pretty interesting on a night-in, night-out basis.