FEATURE: Gary Correia Glad He Stayed
Oct. 23, 2009
By MATT VAUTOUR
AMHERST - If things had gone a little differently, Gary Correia could have been watching his University of Massachusetts men's basketball teammates from the opposing bench when the Minutemen compete with Boston University in a closed scrimmage on Halloween.
The junior point guard had decided to transfer from UMass and had planned on becoming a Terrier.
"At some point during last season I felt like I wasn't needed or wanted," Correia admitted Monday.
Senior point guard Chris Lowe was graduating, but Minuteman coach Derek Kellogg already was touting freshman David Gibbs as the point guard of the future while Connecticut transfer Doug Wiggins waited in the wings.
Correia's role seemed uncertain after averaging 2.2 points and 1.2 assists in 11 minutes per game. But after Wiggins' dismissal from the program in May and a talk with Kellogg, suddenly Correia's UMass future seemed much brighter.
"We ended up in a phone conversation and I said 'Gary, you have a chance here to come and earn major playing time,'" said Kellogg, who is happy that Correia stayed.
"He's been great to have around. He's an older player showing good leadership qualities," he added. ... "He gives us some stability in the backcourt. I'm glad he's here."
Correia is glad too. "Everything is going a lot more smoothly," Correia said. "They've got more confidence in me. Having the confidence of your coach makes the game a lot easier. I'm not looking over my shoulder. I'm playing with more confidence. My role is to play defense and knock down open shots. That's what I'm doing."
If Gibbs is going to be the starting point guard, Correia hopes to help him improve.
"They say he's going to be in position to start," Correia said. "That's fine. I'm going to play. When I get in there I'm going to do what the coaches ask me do and be a great teammate.
"I want to put (Gibbs) and my teammates in the best position to win," Correia added. "He's young. When he makes mistakes he gets down on himself. I let him know you're a point guard. You're going to have the ball in your hands 90 percent of the time. You're not going to go a whole game without turning the basketball over. No reason to worry about that last play. Put it behind you and get the next one. He's so fast and athletic if he turns the ball over, he can always get it back for us."
That approach is helping Correia prepare for what he hopes is his next career.
"In the long run what I really want to do is coach. Why not be around a guy (Kellogg) who came from the bottom of the coaching profession to the top? Why not be around (assistant) coach (Vance) Walberg who created his own offense?" Correia said. "I watch film with coach Walberg every chance I get. I talk to coach Kellogg a lot."
Correia also likes to study how the coaches motivate the players.
"I feel being a coach you have to know how to push your players' buttons and get more out of them than they can get out of themselves. Especially with freshmen," Correia said. "You have to push them to the wall to a place they've never been before.
"I've been around a lot of coaches," he added. "There's a lot of approaches you can use. You can scream and yell or be a players' coach. I'm trying to take them all in and store them in the back of my mind for the future."
Kellogg believes Correia could be a good coach.
"You look at a lot of head coaches around the country, there are a lot of former point guards," Kellogg said. "I think it's a great opportunity to play his last two years and help me get the program to where I see it needs to get to and maybe do some grad school work and get into the coaching profession when he gets out.
"It's a win-win for him and for me. We're thin in the backcourt and I think he can give us some valuable minutes."
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.
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