UMass connections dot NCAA Tournament field, starting with a reunion in Dayton

  • Former UMass head coach Derek Kellogg led LIU-Brooklyn to the NCAA Tournament. Former UMass forward Zach Coleman plays for Kellogg. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Monday, March 12, 2018

There’ll be a reunion of former UMass basketball players, coaches and administrators in Dayton, Ohio.

The NCAA’s opening round games will feature two former UMass players, three former coaches and one former administrator.

Former UMass coach Derek Kellogg and his LIU-Brooklyn squad, which features former Minuteman forward Zach Coleman, play the first game of the tournament, Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. The Blackbirds (17-16) will face Radford for the right to be the No. 16 seed, which faces No. 1 Villanova.

Kellogg’s staff includes former assistant coach Marlon Williamson and director of basketball operations Matt Vogel.

LIU won the Northeast Conference Tournament when it upset top seed Wagner. Kellogg, who coached UMass for nine years, was fired after the 2016-17 season and hired in Brooklyn. Coleman, who used the fifth-year transfer rule, averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 31 games for LIU.

When that game concludes, St. Bonaventure, UMass’ Atlantic 10 rival, will face UCLA at 9:10 p.m. Former UMass associate athletic director Tim Kenney is the SBU athletic director.

On Wednesday, Texas Southern will face North Carolina Central for the right to be the No. 16 seed, which faces No. 1 Xavier. Texas Southern’s upset of top seed Arkansas Pine-Bluff in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament final Saturday meant an NCAA Tournament trip for Donte Clark and assistant coach Shyrone Chatman, both who were at UMass last year.

Clark, who averaged 18.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game this season, had 14 points and six assists in the final before fouling out. He took advantage of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule to join the Tigers after earning his UMass degree.

The Tigers are 15-19 overall, but that record is a little misleading. Texas Southern was winless against the nation’s toughest nonconference schedule, but went 12-6 in league play.

Iona won’t be joining the reunion in Dayton. It’s a No. 15 seed and will play No 2 Duke in Pittsburgh. The Gaels (20-13) have UMass connections as guard Zach Lewis and assistant coach Adam Ginsburg were both Minutemen last year.

Lewis, who played one season at UMass after transferring from Canisius, also utilized the graduate transfer rule. He averaged 9.2 points per game during the season but he averaged 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists to earn the conference tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honors.

Other teams with UMass connections in the NCAA Tournament field include:

Kentucky — Former UMass coach John Calipari is the coach.

Cincinnati — Former UMass assistant coach Antwon Jackson is an assistant coach.

Rhode Island — Former UMass football player and associate AD Thorr Bjorn is the athletic director.

Kansas — Former UMass reserve quarterback James Sosinski is a walk-on basketball player for the Jayhawks.

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