Nov. 23, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. -
With the Legends Classic championship rounds coming up this Friday and Saturday at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, the tournament's teleconference was held on Monday. UMass head coach Derek Kellogg as well as Rutgers' Fred Hill, Florida's Billy Donovan, and Michigan State's Tom Izzo all took part.
Below is Coach Kellogg's portion of the teleconference, as well as Hill's thoughts on the Minutemen.
On playing in Atlantic City:
We are excited to get down to Atlantic City. I think it's a great venue. Although we didn't stay there quite long enough last year in the Atlantic 10 tournament, our guys appreciated how things were running, how things went. That really is a nice venue and the proximity to everything is pretty good.
On what he has seen from his team:
Well, I've seen a ton of youth. We're still a work in progress. My guys have given a great effort pretty much every day in practice. I think their focus is getting better. It's been a slow process, you know, we have eight new guys who haven't really played, if any, college basketball, very little. So I'm relying on Ricky Harris and Anthony Gurley as my only two guys who have really come back with a lot of playing time to really anchor this team and help my young guys get better. We're a little ways away but in the same token I'm going to be patient with this group and really concentrate on UMass basketball and making this team better. Pretty much, every shoot-around, every walk-through, every practice, every film session because we have a lot of room for improvement on mistakes on both ends on the floor.
On how Harris and Gurley have handled being the leaders:
On how the growth process of his young team has gone:
You know, it's always tough going from being the caddy to being the golfer. It's always a tough adjustment but actually Ricky's really handled it well. He obviously has more stuff put on him from scoring, but more than anything I want him and need him to teach the young kids how we do things and how hard you're supposed to practice and play. He's done a nice job with that. The reason is that I have great kids. He and Anthony are both great kids. They take care of business in the classroom, in the community, and on the court. They say good things happen to good people and I've surrounded myself with a great staff and a great bunch of kids right now, so now I'm waiting for the good stuff to really happen.
I think it's been a little slower than I imagined. Being an assistant coming from such a successful program at Memphis, I think you see visions of grandeur quicker than the process might take, but on the same token I enjoy being around this group of kids every day and when that's the case its not like you're coming to work, its like you're coming to be around people you really care about and love and I think that makes the job that much easier.
I haven't really had a chance to watch them as much as I would like because we actually play Saint Francis of New York tomorrow night so I'm concentrating on them. But I've looked at their box scores and caught them a little bit. When you're trying to run and change you're style of play, something's going to give early on. When you're trying to stress your transition offense, your defensive rebounding take a toll. The reality of it is that what's happening here. The more we've run the less we've rebounded. I think there's got to be a middle ground of how much rebound you're willing to give up to score more points.
If the changes implemented last year are taking hold:
Well with the turnover we've had, it's almost like starting over with a whole new team. We really have nine new guys and two guys who played a lot of minutes in the system. It's been a rebuilding process from the ground up, even this year. I think the guys who are out there have a little bit of feel for what's going on out there and what I expect out of them. In the process, I'm starting two freshmen, two sophomores, one of them David Gibbs playing sparingly last year and really not a lot of point guarding, and then I'm starting Ricky Harris. So out of my starting line-up I really have four brand new guys and at times it looks that way.
On Gibbs' play:
Yes he's getting better. I liken it to when I was playing here. I didn't play much as a freshman and then came back as a starter my sophomore year. To be honest, I really had not a great clue of what was going on out there, but I was learning by the process of playing more games and getting more comfortable. I think David's getting more comfortable every day. We probably won't see the best out of him until the middle of the season or maybe even towards the end of the year. But Gary Correia has done a nice job of coming off the bench and kind of bringing us some stability. He's a junior who's been through the wars a little bit and he's done a nice job of backing David Gibbs up and doing a good job there. Like I said, it's a work in progress, but we're playing harder every day out, getting a better feel of what I'm looking for on both ends of the floor. Now, it's play harder, play smarter, play tougher, and do all that stuff every time out.
Rutgers head coach Fred Hill on playing UMass:
Derek Kellogg is going to do a great job with the UMass program and comes from the program at Memphis and John Calipari and is now being a part of that great program at UMass. When John took them to the Final Four, I really like the feel, I think it's going to be great for the fans. It's great for us down in South Jersey and give our fans down there the opportunity to see us play against a tough competition, so we're really excited about it.