Dec. 15, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. -
On Monday, the Atlantic 10 Conference began holding its weekly teleconference where all the men's basketball head coaches are interviewed and answer questions about what the team did the prior week and preview upcoming games. With UMass and Temple both upsetting ranked opponents over the weekend, there was plenty to talk about. Here is Derek Kellogg's portion of the teleconference.
His thoughts on beating Kansas:
I was very happy for my team, the fans, and all the people that have been so supportive of me taking over as the head coach. Also, our team had kind of a tough stretch and they were very supportive around campus and the surrounding area. It was a great gift to give them around the holiday season.
On the six-game losing streak:
I'm the kind of person that I'm not going to get too high after a big win like Kansas and I try not to get too low after a tough stretch. The one thing I told our team when we got to 1-6 and desperately needed a win, I thought we were the best 1-6 team in the country. After we beat Holy Cross, I told them the same thing. We are a good ball club and we have good guys. It's a testament to the kids because they came in with a great attitude, even though the outcomes weren't what we were looking for. Being upbeat with the guys and trying to keep them together through that tough stretch was a pretty tough task, but on the same token, because we had good guys we all had the same goal in mind which was to work hard, compete, and try to win basketball games. We broke through at home against Holy Cross and then played a good game on Saturday at Kansas.
On what caused the losing streak:
If Tony Gaffney's play has exceeded his expectations:
There was a combination of things but the biggest thing was a new coach taking over a program and trying to get them to do things the exact way that I want them done. Then it was them figuring out ways to win basketball games at the end. I think that's still a learning process because we're using so much time on the building blocks of what we're trying to do that we haven't been able to spend as much time on things like a sideline out of bounds play late or a situation where you are up by four with 19 seconds left. Those are the type of things that during the winter session break we can devote more time to and get our team even more prepared for the Atlantic 10 regular season and conference tournament.
Way, way, way beyond what I expected. Taking over, I looked back at last year's stats and game film and Tony was kind of a role player and bit player. For him to be able to accomplish what he's done this early in the season has been amazing. Truly one of best early season runs and turnarounds by a kid of his stature that I've seen in a long time. The reason is he works so hard. He comes to work in practice everyday and I don't think there has been one game this season that he's been outworked in and to get 15 points, 18 rebounds and xx blocks in a game from a 6-7 kid who probably weighs 220 pounds is a testament to just how hard he works and his attitude. He's one of the nicest, best kinds you will ever meet to be around and everywhere you go the just bubble because he's such a great kid to be around and know.
On the expected return of Luke Bonner from injury:
He gives us one more option up front, a big guy that can go in there and play physical. I'm happy with the maturation of Tyrell Lynch and Matt Glass. Now I know I have two more guys I can count on to play. Luke gives us one more thing that we haven't had and one of the reasons why our record is what it is, he's another senior leader. He knows where to be on the court, on the defensive end and offensive end. He's just such a positive influence to have around. I'm not sure if our record is 3-6 if a guy with his positive demeanor, senior leadership and just a little bit of the toughness he brings to the table had been around. I'm excited to have him back, as much for having one more guy who knows what he's supposed to do, knows where to be on the court, and is such a good person to be around. I'm just really excited to have him back with us on a fulltime basis, starting tomorrow in practice.
On what its been like to come back and coach at UMass:
It's been great. I tell our guys everyday, that UMass shirt that they put on means a little bit more to me than just any coach that has probably been here in awhile. I've received great support an encouragement from everyone. It's nice when after a bog win like Kansas you have over 70 text and voice messages on your phone waiting for you.