Derek Kellogg focused on future with UMass

Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2014
University of Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg isn’t going to be the coach at South Florida and never seriously considered pursuing the opening.

Kellogg was rumored to be a candidate at the American Athletic Conference school, which hired Orlando Antigua Monday. Kellogg said he’s putting his energy into building on UMass’ success in 2013-14.

“Anytime people are interested, it’s because our team and our program have done well,” Kellogg said. “I’m focused on keeping things going well here. I’m ready to get to work with our team and get them ready for next year. We set a good bar here. We’ve built the program where we can try to make a run, every single season.”

Kellogg was glad to see the job go Antigua, a friend of his who spent the last five years as an assistant with John Calipari at Kentucky and Memphis. Antigua and Kellogg weren’t on a staff together, but know each other well through their Calipari connections.

“I do like that somebody from Cal’s (coaching) tree is getting another job,” Kellogg said. “I’m excited for Orlando. He’s ready for a head coaching job. That’s a great first job for somebody.”

Antigua, who’ll stay with Kentucky through the Final Four, is the 10th former John Calipari assistant to be hired as a head coach joining Kellogg (UMass), Bruiser Flint (UMass, Drexel), Tony Barbee (UTEP, Auburn), Bill Bayno (UNLV), John Robic (Youngstown State), Josh Pastner (Memphis), Steve Roccaforte (Lamar), Ed Schilling (Wright State) and Chuck Martin (Marist).

Antigua’s hiring opens a spot on Calipari’s staff that could go to Barbee, who was fired at Auburn after the season, if he doesn’t get hired somewhere else.

Kellogg and his staff, like most Division I head and assistant coaches, will be in Dallas this weekend for the Final Four, which features a coaching convention in addition to the games. Most coaches stay for the semifinal games, but are home before the championship. Kellogg said if Kentucky makes the Monday night final, he plans to stay in Texas to support Calipari and his friends on the Wildcat staff.

“Cal usually leaves one ticket for his former coaches behind the bench,” Kellogg said. “I’ll be there cheering like a mad man.”

Kentucky’s run to the Final Four as a No. 8 seed has earned Calipari considerable praise for his coaching performance.

“I think it’s tough for some people to give him the respect he deserves,” Kellogg said. “If you look at his record and what he’s been able to accomplish, when you get to the NCAA tournament, he’s up there with the top guys in the country. If you watch his teams play, his coaching ability and getting guys to play hard and to play together and to compete at a high level is something that makes him special.”

SCHEDULE OPENINGS — Without the contractually required four Mid-American Conference games, the Minutemen have three openings in their schedule. The fourth game makes up for a previously overfilled schedule.

Kellogg would like all three to be at home.

“I think we need three home games. One high-level game, one in the middle and one where we could be favored in,” Kellogg said. “That’s one thing I’ll do at the Final Four, needling people trying to see where their scheduling is.”

As it stands now, UMass will have plenty of road games. It plays at Harvard, Louisiana State, Brigham Young, Providence and will play Boston College at the TD Garden again. The Minutemen will also play four games in the Hall of Fame Tipoff: Manhattan and Northeastern at the Mullins Center and Notre Dame and Florida State at Mohegan Sun. The event isn’t a true tournament, but more of an exempted collection of games.

UMass also has a home game against Siena.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage