Feb. 16, 2009
UMass men's basketball coach Derek Kellogg had his weekly teleconference on Monday. Read what he had to say about last week's games at Fordham and St. Bonaventure and this Wednesday's New England clash with Rhode Island.
General thoughts on last week's games:
I thought we did some good things on both ends of the floor for a while, but I don't think we put together a full 40 minutes, especially up at St. Bonaventure. They did a nice job of taking it to us in the second half and really shot the heck out of the ball. I think they scored on 14 of the first 16 possessions and they did a real nice job of beating us on the backboards. They did a good job staying with it, even when we opened up a lead in the first half. I didn't think we did a good enough job of covering them and also rebounding the basketball, especially in the second half up there. Their crowd got into it, their guys played with a lot of energy. Their coach did a nice job with their team.
I thought we played very well at Fordham earlier in the week and really did a good job in transition and made the game difficult on them. They're playing a lot of young kids, so if you can keep the heat on them for a while, a lot of times young kids will take tougher shots and not respond exactly how Coach Whit would like them to. It was a combination week. We played really well at Fordham and hit a ton of shots that normally don't go in. Then the second half of the week, we didn't play so well up at St. Bonaventure.
On Chris Lowe's leadership role:
He's done a good job of trying to help the younger kids play at a certain level. It's pretty difficult because he's in a learning curve himself just with the new coach and also having to take on a leadership role on the floor where last year, they had three other fifth year seniors and the player of the year in the league. Now he has to be the guy who takes on not only the leadership role in the locker room, but also on the floor. It's been a learning curve for him. As the season's gone on, he's gotten better suited to lead in the locker room and on the floor. He can even take it to one more step and one more level in our last six games of the regular season and the Atlantic 10 tournament.
On what Kellogg expects from his point guard:
I'm expecting a lot out of the point guard. Once again, I will preface it by saying it's been difficult as he's had to learn a whole new playbook on both ends of the floor and also take on a bigger responsibility on both ends of the floor. I expect my point guard to be the leader of the team, to be the guy that is your best defensive player on the ball on one end of the floor, but on the offensive end of the floor, the guy who gets your team going. He's become more acclimated with that as the season's gone on. And it's new to him because, like I said earlier, he hasn't always had to be the guy, he's always been the secondary guy. That even goes back to high school. Now, it's on him a little bit. He's responded pretty well, especially in the conference season, he's played much better.
On UMass/URI rivalry:
Back from when I was a player, we had some epic battles with Rhode Island. They always brought a little extra to UMass and we did back at those guys. So it's always been one you've looked at on the schedule and said that this is a big game and you knew they were going to play very hard. It's been taken to another level since even when I played because Rhode Island is our rivalry game and one that seems to draw a great crowd at both places. Our guys realize, and they've said it, that that's one of the most physical teams in the league and a team that will pressure the whole game and play up and down. They're 18-8 overall and doing very well in the conference. It's going to be a tough game for us. It's going to be a battle. It's one that you look forward to at this time of year if you're a basketball player. A game where you're going to have a nice crowd, they're a little bit ahead of you in the conference, and they're playing very very well. It gives you a chance to come out and compete with one of the best teams in the league.