For the past month, every night I have been jolted awake by an impending sense of doom and the dark, dark realization that Tyler Bergantino will be the starting center for the Minutemen next season. Well, starting now I can rest (sort of) easy. After a few weeks of speculation, Antwan Space of Texas A&M has confirmed that he will indeed be transferring to UMass for his grad season and is eligible to play immediately.
Effect on the UMass Front Court
There was a huge hole in the front court from the graduation of Cady Lalanne and Maxie Esho and Space will fill that hole. Tyler Bergantino will continue to be a good role player who can play solid defense for a stretch, but he won’t be asked to shoulder the load of the offense. This will also allow Hines and Holloway to mature as bench players for their freshman season.
Unfortunately, the addition of Space will not replace the offensive production of both Lalanne and Esho, who each averaged over 11 points per game last season. In each of his past three seasons, Space did not come close to that kind of offensive production. Guys like Seth Berger and Zach Coleman will need to contribute more on both sides of the ball
Effect on the Rest of the Team
For the guards, this means that they will have a big body with somewhat of an offensive game that can take pressure off of them. He will be able to create space (see what i did there!) for the guards that Tyler Bergantino probably could not have.
Last season we saw a lot of the offense go through Cady Lalanne where it seemed that every other play was “pass it to Cady!” and many times he bailed them out with a clutch offensive rebound. With Space, they won’t have the same luxury and will need to be better at creating their own shots. I would like to see Donte Clark continue to play one-on-one with his defender as he has proven he can get to the basket that way. Also, if Pipkins proves ready it would be possible to see him handling the point while allowing Trey Davis to get free for outside shots.
A Win for Derek Kellogg
If DK had failed to pick up a reliable big man this season it would have been a huge black mark on his record. With such a disappointing result last season, he desperately needs to show a strong turnaround come November. If Space turns out to be the player UMass needs him to be, Kellogg might be able to (temporarily) silence some of his haters. Although, it does seem that Trey Davis did all of the heavy lifting; Space grew up with Davis in Texas (source).