Derek Kellogg's Weekly Atlantic 10 Teleconference
Jan. 26, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. - UMass Men's Basketball Coach Derek Kellogg participated in the Atlantic 10 Teleconference on Monday. Kellogg recapped the team's performances of the past week and detailed the process of becoming more mentally tough. The Minutemen will be back in action this Saturday when they will travel to Cincinnati to take on Xavier. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 PM and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Head Coach Derek Kellogg on team's performance
On Saturday against La Salle, I actually thought we played a decent game. I thought La Salle came out with a very good game plan and played well. Their size gave us trouble--they are a pretty big team across the board. They came out with the victory. We didn't make shots and really didn't execute and do all the little things that are necessary, mental toughness-wise, that are necessary to win the game.
Coach Kellogg on mental toughness
That is funny, because as I was listening to Coach [Fran Dunphy] I was taking some notes on some of the things he was talking about. It was pretty interesting. I think we are all in the same boat, where, there is not a huge margin for error with a group of us in this league. Maybe after the top three, there are a lot of teams that are lumped together and it is all the little things, the mental toughness, the small things between winning and losing games. You hope you can garner that by practicing and putting them in tough situations in practice. But more often than not, it is true game experience and having guys that have been through the wars and continue to get better and relish in those situations. I think we have been put in a ton of those situations this year, where it has come down to the last four or five minutes of the game. We have performed on occasion, and other times we haven't performed so well. My team is in a situation where we are continuing to get better. Some of that is just being around your guys for a longer period of time and letting them get comfortable with your style of play and the personality of the coach.
Coach Kellogg on if he has seen progress in team
We are. Even though we played Charlotte pretty close down the stretch and didn't really make the plays we needed to down the stretch, I could see guys were trying to do the right things. It felt like we executed and just didn't put the ball in the basket. I think it is a work in progress. The more times we are in close games coming down the stretch, the better we'll perform. I am hoping by the time the second half of this Atlantic 10 conference and tournament come around, we will be in a position to close out some of those games.
Coach Kellogg on close games
Like I said, we have a fine line of winning and losing. Our margin for error is not really that great. I am hoping it will be an eight-point contest coming up at Xavier on Saturday. The good thing is that we have been in a lot of games. The tough thing is that we haven't really come out on the winning end. I think as Chris Lowe continues to get more comfortable with what I expect out of him, coming down the stretch, we will start to close those games out and play a little better. That is where we are right this second.
Coach Kellogg on Chris Lowe
I expect him to be the best point guard on both ends of the floor. Being a point guard, and coaching some pretty good ones down in Memphis, there is a lot of demands put on the point guard, especially in my style of play and how I want the point guard to run the team, run the program. Chris is getting more familiar with that as the season has gone on and has had some great games now in the Atlantic 10 schedule. I think when he is the best player on the floor and when he is dominating his position, we are a pretty good team. He has done that on occasion, and I think as he continues to get more comfortable, not only with the style of play, but with myself and the team and what is expected of him, I think he is going have a nice little run in the second half of the season.
Coach Kellogg on, as a former point guard, being harder on the floor general
Absolutely. I don't know what other coaches have said, but I think being a point guard and being in those situations, it is good because you are harder on them and they know how to respond in tough situations, But you have mentally toughen up your point guard. You have to make sure that when the game is on the line and its crunch time, that he can take the ball or he can make a stop on defensive end on the floor to win your team the game. I judge the point guard's play on wins and losses, on how we respond in certain situations, and that is how we want to play.
Coach Kellogg on Xavier
Obviously, they are where every program in this league wants to be. They have two of every position. They are very big and physical, athletic. They are very well coached. To go to Xavier, and have a realistic chance of staying in the game with them, not only beating them, you are going to have to play a perfect game just because of the talent level they have. What they have is the mental toughness that they expect to win every night out. Seeing what they have done to the teams in our league, and also on the national level; I watched them play LSU the other night, they just win the game. They play their style and at some point it takes over the game and they come away with a ten-point win. Obviously, I respect them and what they've done there and how they go about their business. It is going to be a very, very tough game for us. Once again, I just want our guys to go out there and compete and play like every possession matters. Every time down the court, you are giving everything you have so when you leave the game at the end of regulation, you feel like you have given everything you have in your body on the court.
Coach Kellogg on similarities between Xavier and UMass in the 90's
It is one of those things where, year after year, when guys graduate or leave early for the pros, the next guy steps in and he fills that role. You keep saying, well, they're not going to be as good next year. And then they're better. He has the program and the position where, its not you're just replacing guys with the next guy down the line. They have done an unbelievable job of recruiting, of graduating players, of fan base. They are a great model for a lot of other schools in this league to model your program after of how you can take an Atlantic 10 team and be the fifth rated team in RPI in the country. From the way you schedule, to the way you play, to the way you recruit and the way you go about things. It is actually very nice to see a team modeled after how Coach Cal was doing it back in his days at UMass. They are just consistently the best team in the league.
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