Men's Basketball

 
UMass Basketball Set To Host Dowling On Wednesday At 7 p.m.

Gary Correia enters his second season at UMass.

Gary Correia enters his second season at UMass.

Nov. 4, 2008

AMHERST, Mass. -

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    AMHERST, Mass. -- The UMass men's basketball team and new head coach Derek Kellogg will play their first game at the Mullins Center in their lone preseason exhibition on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Check out the team's season preview in anticipation of the start of the season.

  • UMass is facing Dowling for the second time in four years. The Minutemen hosted the Golden Lions on Nov. 10, 2005 and beat the Division II team from Long Island, 96-55. The only player on the current team to play in that game was Chris Lowe, who saw 19 minutes and scored two points to go with six assists.

  • Dowling has a connection to UMass as the Golden Lions' Athletic Director Rick Cole worked with UMass Associate Athletic Directors Tim Kenney and Jason Yellin and Assistant A.D. Garrett Waller while they were all at Stony Brook in the 1990s. Dowling is led by a Stony Brook alum in Steve Hayn.

    Here is the complete UMass season preview.

    UMass has brought one of its own home to run the men's basketball program. Former Minuteman point guard and Springfield native Derek Kellogg was named the 21st head coach in University of Massachusetts men's basketball history on April 23, 2008. The 1995 UMass graduate returns to his alma mater for his first head coaching job after serving as an assistant coach for 12 years, the last eight at the University of Memphis under former UMass head coach John Calipari. The energetic and hard-working Kellogg is largely credited for recruiting many of the Tigers which helped Memphis reach the NCAA Championship game this past season and eight straight 20-win seasons and eight consecutive postseason berths.

     

     

    "I'm excited to be back at UMass," said Kellogg. "Its my alma mater and I'm looking forward to coaching this team and getting to know the players and the people on campus. I'm looking forward to a packed Mullins Center. It's going to be a great year of fun basketball where guys are going to compete at the highest level, we are going to play an unbelievable style and really get after it on the defensive end of the floor. Our staple is going to be our half court defense. We want to be one of the most aggressive, toughest teams in the country and we are going to practice and play that way on a daily basis."

    After a season that saw the Minutemen make their deepest postseason run since the Final Four berth in 1996, the UMass basketball team will have a different and unique look. With the departures of A-10 Player of the Year Gary Forbes, sharp-shooter Etienne Brower and Dante Milligan clogging up the middle, the Minutemen will have to utilize Coach Kellogg's new offense to fill the void from these key players.

    In his first season in Amherst, Coach Kellogg will look to implement the dribble-drive motion offense. The Minutemen will look to play a fast-paced, exciting style of basketball.

    Last season saw the Minutemen finish 25-11 overall. Included in their record was an unforgettable run to the NIT Finals at Madison Square Garden. In their first round game, UMass defeated Stephen F. Austin. After defeating Akron, the Minutemen traveled to the Carrier Dome to face the Syracuse Orange for the second meeting of the season.

    After being down 19 points at halftime and 22 points with 15 minutes to go, no one thought UMass had a chance to advance further in the NIT. Then 3-pointer after 3-pointer began to fall. The comeback culminated with a perfect no look pass from Chris Lowe to Dante Milligan. UMass became the only team to ever defeat Syracuse twice in the Carrier Dome in the same season. That victory showed the true grit and determination the Minutemen displayed all season.

    UMass advanced to the NIT Final Four where they played the defending National Champions, the Florida Gators. In a hard-fought contested battle, the Minutemen won, led by strong performances by Gary Forbes (19 points) and Dante Milligan (17 points and 12 rebounds). This gave the Minutemen an opportunity to play for a NIT Championship against Ohio State.

    In the championship game, the Minutemen started off strong from the start. On the first play of the game, Etienne Brower drove down the middle and dunked over Ohio State's Kyle Madsen. In a back a forth battle, Ohio State eventually prevailed with a 92-85 victory.

    In addition to the departures of Gary Forbes, Etienne Brower and Dante Milligan, UMass also said goodbye to consummate teammate and fan favorite Matt Pennie and four year walk-on Nana Ampim.

    This leads us to 2008-09. The new look Minutemen: a new coach, four newcomers on the court and three more transfers sitting out who will play in 2009-10.

    UMass returns senior Chris Lowe, a Preseason Atlantic 10 First-Team selection and a preseason Atlantic 10 First-Team Defensive team. Lowe averaged 11.8 ppg along with 6.3 assists per game. His improved jump shot and floater in the lane has made him extremely difficult to defend.

    Junior Ricky Harris had a breakout season last year as he captured the Atlantic 10 Most Improved Player. He averaged 18.2 ppg while shooting 38% from three point land. Harris was also a Preseason Atlantic 10 Second-Team selection.

    The front court will be headed by players expected to fill big roles. Luke Bonner has a great jump shot for a seven- footer. His enthusiasm on the court is tough to match and makes him a fan favorite. Tony Gaffney epitomizes what a team player is, a hard-nosed defender that makes opponents fight on every possession. His energy and determination are the right ingredients to have a great senior season.

    Sophomore Matt Glass will have an opportunity to knock down 3-point shots. He will also be asked upon to provide tough defense and rebounding off the bench. Sophomore Gary Correia proved to be a steady back up last season as he hit a crucial 3-pointer in which UMass prevailed over Houston 83-80. Matt Hill played in five games last year but will be expected to provide energy and defense this season.

    A lot is expected from the newcomers at UMass this season. Sophomore Anthony Gurley, a highly touted transfer from Wake Forest, will look to build upon his solid freshman campaign in WInston-Salem. Gurley will provide instant offense with his ability to shoot from the outside and his ability to score around the hoop.

    Freshman Tyrell Lynch will be expected to make solid contributions this season. His 6-foot 9-inch, 230-pound frame should allow him to be extremely physical on both the offensive and defensive end. Travon Wilcher is known for his above-the-rim abilities. David Gibbs, another highly touted recruit, is one of the most athletic players on the team. He can knock down the 3-point shot and take the ball to the rim with ease. All of these players will be counted on to help the Minutemen this season.

    The trio of players sitting out as tranfers is very talented and diverse. Junior Doug Wiggins comes to Amherst from UConn and the dazzling point guard is the heir apparent to Lowe, once he graduates after this season.

    Up front, UMass has imported the athletic defensive, shot blocker in sophomore Sean Carter from Oregon State. In the low post, Hashim "Big City" Bailey comes in from Memphis where he played the last two seasons. Bailey is a stout 6-foot, 10-inch, 275-pound huge body and will aid in the dribble-drive offense once he hits the court next year.

    All three players can practice this season and will help make up one of the best scout teams in the nation.

    Here is a positional breakdown:

    Backcourt

    Senior Chris Lowe is the leader of this new offense. Coming into his fourth season at UMass, Lowe led the A-10 Conference in assists per game (6.3). He needs just 149 assists to become the school's all-time leader in assists, as Carl Smith (648) tops the chart. Lowe earned much national attention with his flashy moves included the No.3 Play of the Day on SportsCenter with an amazing driving lay-up in a win over Houston. Lowe also recorded the sixth triple-double in UMass history, against La Salle with 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

    Gary Correia will be Lowe's back up as he provided steady leadership when Lowe was injured early last season. He has proven he can knock down big shots in the final minutes of games like he did against Houston and Boston College.

    Ricky Harris will look to build upon his solid sophomore campaign where he averaged 18.2 points per game, sixth in the A-10. He was also sixth in 3FG made (2.82). Harris tied the school record for 3-pointers in a season with 104, in just his sophomore year. He is a deadly 3-point shooter. He earned national praise when we won the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week and was named ESPN Weekly Watch National Player of the Week.

    David Gibbs comes to UMass with the team expecting an immediate impact. He has the ability to play both the point and shooting guard positions. His quickness and athleticism will make him tough to stop this season. He averaged more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in his last two seasons at The Master's School in Connecticut.

    Wings

    UMass is loaded with various wing players that will allow Coach Kellogg to assemble lineups with three or four guards.

    Redshirt sophomore Anthony Gurley leads the wing players after transferring from Wake Forrest. Gurley, who averaged 6.3 ppg and made 32 3-pointers at Wake Forest, will be expecting to help pick up the scoring load left behind by Gary Forbes. Gurley showed his potential when he scored 24 points against Georgia Tech. Gurley has tremendous upside and should have a breakout season with the Minutemen.

    Matt Glass showed glimpses of what he was capable of last season. He scored 14 points shooting 4-of-6 from behind the arc last season against St. Bonaventure. He also grabbed seven rebounds against Richmond. Look for him to be able to combine rebounding and shooting this season.

    Matt Hill was limited in action last year but looks to make strides forward this season. His long wingspan makes it extremely difficult for opponents to score against him. His 6-7 frame will also allow him to contribute to the team by rebounding. Hill averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds a game in his senior year of high school.

    Travon Wilcher has the athleticism and enthusiasm is a perfect suit for the dribble drive motion offense. He has the ability to finish strong around the rim with an extremely large vertical.

    Frontcourt

    UMass big men have a ton of talent. The Minutemen will feature a variety of big men.

    Senior Luke Bonner stands at seven feet tall and has proven that he has a very strong basketball IQ. Bonner led the team in charges last year while only averaging 11 minutes per contest. He shot 36% from 3-point land last year. He also possesses a sky hook which has proved very difficult to guard. His dunk last year against Houston landed him an ESPN Gym Gem. Bonner is an overall solid basketball player that knows what it takes to win.

    Fellow Senior Tony Gaffney is expected to fit in perfectly with this new offense. Tony's athleticism and work ethic makes him a tough guard for anyone. His fight and will to win was shown last year when he was injured against Akron in the NIT. He was not expected to play again that year but came back nine days later to help UMass defeat Florida in the NIT. His improved jump shot should also provide offense for the Minuteman.

    Another freshman expected to contribute right away is Tyrell Lynch, a 6-foot, 9-inch 230-pound powerhouse from New York. He will make opponents fight on every possession, either offensively and defensively, and wear them down physically. He will benefit greatly from battling transfers Sean Carter and Hashim Bailey everyday in practice.

    Schedule

    The 2008-09 schedule marks the first time UMass has scheduled the two teams to play in the NCAA title game from the previous season. Last year UMass played the two teams from 2007 NCAA title game, both in the NIT Championships at Madison Square Garden, for the first time in history. UMass beat 2007 NCAA champ Florida to reach the NIT final and then lost to Ohio State, the `07 runner-up, as the Minutemen finished 25-11 in 2007-08.

    "This is a schedule that is filled with great challenges, but one that we are excited to take on," said Kellogg. "To play against the two teams who played for the NCAA title last year will be a wonderful experience and one that will get the players and fans very excited. Overall our schedule is very competitive and I think the fans will come out and support this team that will play and fun and exciting brand of basketball. I hope the fans pack the Mullins Center all season long."

    The Minutemen face six teams that played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Kansas, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Xavier, Temple, Saint Joseph's and three more that played in the NIT in conference foes Charlotte, Dayton and Rhode Island.

    "One thing in preparing this year's schedule is we wanted to play against the best teams in the country and try to get on national television," said Kellogg. "We wanted to have a national presence both in the recruiting base and also in the college basketball world. Playing the two teams that competed for the national championship. Obviously the Memphis game has a special meaning for us with Coach Calipari and some former players there that we recruited. Then the Kansas game, the team that ousted us (Memphis) in the finals of the NCAA tournament. It's a special year, for the 100th season of UMass basketball we figured we would put together a tough schedule and let all of the former players and fans see what this team is made of."

    UMass will have a chance to return to New York early in the 2008-09 season as the Minutemen open the year in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches Vs. Cancer. The Minutemen will travel to Carbondale, Ill. for the opening rounds in Southern Illinois bracket on Nov. 11 and 12. UMass opens with Arkansas-Monticello. Should UMass win its bracket at Southern Illinois, they would return to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals on Nov. 20 and 21 and possibly play Duke and or UCLA. Those two sessions bookend UMass' trip to Memphis.

    The Minutemen host five non-conference games prior to Atlantic 10 play beginning with the home opener on Nov. 24 against Jacksonville State at 7 p.m., in the Mullins Center. After back-to-back road games at Wisconsin-Green Bay (Nov. 29) and Toledo (Dec. 3), UMass returns to Amherst for its annual Commonwealth Classic against Boston College on Dec. 6 at 8:30 p.m. The Minutemen knocked off the Eagles last season in Chestnut Hill to reclaim the crown for the first time since 1999.

    The Minutemen renew their rivalry with Holy Cross on Dec. 10 at the Mullins Center, the first of three games with the Crusaders as UMass plays at the DCU Center in Worcester next year before coming back to the Mullins Center in 2010-11. UMass faces Kansas for the first time since 1999, in a game at the new Sprint Center in Kansas City.

    UMass wraps up non-conference play with three out of four games at home, all on Saturday late afternoons. The Minutemen host Hofstra on Dec. 20, IUPUI on Dec. 27 (both at 4 p.m.) and Vanderbilt on Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. The Commodores are coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. The lone road game in stretch is a return match-up at Houston on Dec. 30.

    Kellogg kicks off the Atlantic 10 season with UMass' much-anticipated return to his hometown of Springfield, Mass. The Minutemen will play Dayton at the MassMutual Center on Jan. 10 at 4 p.m. That game has special meaning for Kellogg.

    "It means so much for us to play a game in Springfield," said Kellogg. "The connection with the city and Mayor Domenic Sarno has been tremendous. Springfield is working to become a world-class city and this game is just another step in the revitalization of the city. We are very excited to host a game at the MassMutual Center and look forward to a sellout crowd cheering on the Minutemen."

    UMass travels to the new Chafeitz Center at Saint Louis on Jan. 14 before returning home to host age-old rival Temple on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. After a road game at Charlotte on Jan. 21, the Minutemen return to the Mullins Center to host La Salle on Jan. 24. UMass faces defending Atlantic 10 champion Xavier on Jan. 31 at 12 Noon in Cincinnati followed by back-to-back home games on Feb. 4 and Feb. 8 against Richmond and Saint Joseph's.

    The Minutemen have consecutive road games at Fordham and St. Bonaventure on Feb. 11 and 14 before alternating its final six regular season games of the season. UMass plays its final three home games on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. as it hosts Rhode Island on Feb. 18, Duquesne on Feb. 25 and George Washington on March 4. The road games down the stretch are at Saint Joseph's (which is playing at the Palestra this season due to renovations at Hawk Hill) on Feb. 22, at La Salle on March 1 and at Rhode Island on March 7 for the regular-season finale.

    The Atlantic 10 Championships continue at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on March 11-14, 2009.

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