It’s been a wild month of March for UMass basketball with way more downs then ups. You’ve probably wondered where the UMBR has been and I understand if you haven’t been able to navigate through the bad news without our patented scorching hot takes, baseless speculation and all around poor journalism.
Well fear not, I’m here to retroactively guide the faithful UMBR reader through the events of the past few weeks.
Atlantic 10 Tournament Bust
The Atlantic 10 Tournament started on March 8th in everybody’s favorite city, Pittsburgh! But honestly, what a tragedy that the A10 got booted out of the Barclay’s Center because watching the conference tournament in Brooklyn was always one of the highlights of the season. It’s a lot easier to make the trek to Brooklyn, only a few hours down the road, than it is the traverse the entire state of Pennsylvania just to watch the Minutemen lose.
The week started off on a high note with an opening round win over St. Joe’s. A win is a win, but the Hawks were just about the only team in the A10 that the Minutemen could beat this year. No loss was surprising this season, but I think UMass fans would have been shocked if they dropped this one. Coach Kellogg leaned on the veterans heavily and the strategy paid off. Lewis, Anderson and Clark all played significant minutes but were able to pull of the win with strong contributions from the freshmen (notably 13 pts from Pipkins who finally was hitting from three). Zach Lewis has to be the MVP of the second half of the season. It’s a shame he couldn’t have played to his potential every game.
Just when UMass fans were feeling the smallest sliver of hope, the Minutemen ran into the brick wall of St. Bonaventure. The Minutemen were never in this game and the 73-60 score doesn’t convey how much of a beat down they took. Some low lights:
- Luwane Pipkins shot 4-11 from three. Not so bad in itself, but no player should be allowed to shoot 11 threes in a game and still see so much playing time! Pipkins has the ability to get into the lane but his habit of pulling up for three makes him a worse player
- The team was 8/18 from the free throw line. That’s an abysmal 44%.
Deeky looked like the player we need him to be (if he sticks around Amherst for a few more seasons), but against St. Bonaventure it was too little too late.
Coach Kellogg Fired
How many A10 tournament wins would it have taken for DK to keep his job? Apparently the answer was more than one because Bamford axed Coach Kellogg shortly after then end of the St. Bonaventure loss. The UMBR has had conflicting opinions about Coach Kellogg’s performance over the years. On one hand, he brought the Minutemen to the NCAA Tournament, generated a lot of excitement in the program and brought some great players to Amherst.
However, he always seemed to under perform considering the tools he had at his disposal. UMass fans were constantly frustrated with his inability to win close games, play with a lead or have effective offense against any sort of zone. In the end, it was time for Derek Kellogg to move on. The Amherst area hair gel salesman might go out of business, but other than that, only good things can come from DK’s departure.
Will they stay or will they go?
The biggest question surrounding DK’s firing is what will happen to his recruits. Nobody would blame Rashaan Holloway, Malik Hines or anybody from this year’s group of freshman if they decided to explore their options. Usually when a coach leaves, at least a couple of his players transfer. Bamford clearly made a calculated move that either the stars would stick around or their loss would be balanced out by long term success. As of now, it seems like his gamble paid off. Coach Kellogg is gone, but his players have not indicated that they’ll be leaving Amherst. Although clearly many of them had a close relationship with their coach – a testament to his ability as a recruiter and leader (though maybe not the best in game coach).
I just wanna say thank you for all you done for me. The relationship we developed is like no other, love you coach. Until we meet again..? pic.twitter.com/0CrUlGSdYu
— Deeky Jarreau.. (@LaDeeky) March 10, 2017
Thank you Coach DK for not being like everyone else and actually caring for each individual on your team❣️
— Brison J Gresham (@Bmo_lv) March 10, 2017
Pat Kelsey Hired
When it was announced the Pat Kelsey was hired to coach the Minutemen, it was probably the most excited I’ve been about this program since watching Chaz Williams play his first game. It was a great hire – a guy who has proven that he can recruit, coach and win. It was exactly what the Minutemen needed. There’s not much to write about in this section, because he literally lasted three days…
Get ready for some hot takes, because Kelsey quitting 15 minutes before his introductory presser is one of the most outrageous moves I’ve ever seen. Maybe he got his first taste of “spring” in Massachusetts and decided he wanted to go back to the south or maybe he wanted to leave UMass as the only undefeated coach in school history. Here are some conspiracy theories…
- Bamford explained the schedule to him and he realized that he would have to travel to both Rhode Island and Olean, New York twice a year. What a nightmare!
- He found out that there isn’t any Chic Fil A, Bojangles, Cookout or Sonic anywhere near Amherst
- He got dirty looks riding around in his pickup with the confederate flag on the back window
All jokes aside, this was a scum bag move that puts UMass in a tough position. The coaching carousel continues and the pressure is on Bamford to find a worthy candidate as quickly as possible. I’ll let Malik Hines sum things up:
This ain’t a joke… it’s ppl careers! Some of us come from nothing at all. Careers are being juggled!
— Malik Hines (@jucity_leek) March 23, 2017
What will the future hold for this team? Who knows, but the UMBR will be inconsistently and potentially inaccurately reporting throughout the process so stick around!