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UMass coach Derek Kellogg looking ahead to 2013-14

  • University of Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg
  • University of Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg

University of Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg spent a fair amount of Thursday and Friday watching teams that his team beat, win games in the NCAA tournament.

He was already planning how to make next year better in hopes of taking part in the NCAA tournament himself.

“A lot of teams in our league as well as Harvard and Miami have really played well,” Kellogg said. “It really puts in perspective how good the league and even our out of conference schedule ended up being. Hopefully if the teams in our league continue to do well and play well, we’ll earn even more respect from the tournament committee” next year.

Kellogg hoped that the frustration of missing the tournament would serve as a motivator for his players in the offseason.

“We didn’t end the season in our last game the way I would have liked, but the body of work for the season and prospects for the future moving forward are in a decent place. The biggest thing will be for our guys to make sure they’re ready from day one. That they work hard in this spring and summer because we were that close,” he said. “I think the guys realized how close you can be and yet how far you can be. It can go back to one play in a whole season that can win or lose you a game. I’m hoping they took it as a motivating factor that they don’t want to be in that position again.”

On paper the Minutemen figure to be in contention to be among the best teams in the Atlantic 10 again, while chasing an NCAA tournament bid.

Here’s a look at UMass’ roster going forward:

Losses: The Minutemen will lose Terrell Vinson and Freddie Riley to graduation.

There’s a possibility that another player will be departing as well. The Minutemen have more players committed to scholarships for 2013-14 than available slots.

Either someone who was part of the program this season will leave or someone who’s expected to come will not arrive.

Among currant players, the most likely to depart are Javorn Farrell and Izzy Freeman.

Farrell, who sat out this season with an ankle injury, could take advantage of the NCAA fifth-year transfer rule, which would allow him to transfer without sitting out because he has already graduated. Kellogg expected to talk to Farrell next week.

Freeman, a freshman center who rarely saw action before becoming academically eligible at midseason, will have to be successful academically to stay on scholarship. He could also choose to move on if he doesn’t see a path to consistent playing time soon.

Despite a tendency to get into foul trouble that didn’t really wane as he got older, Vinson will not be easy to replace. He’s been a constant in the program over the past four seasons and provided leadership and quite a few clutch shots over the past two years.

Riley finished what had been a frustrating career on a high note with a strong senior season, especially in the second half when he replaced injured guard Jesse Morgan. He averaged 11.4 points per game and shot 40.6 percent from 3-point range in conference games. He was a big part of the reason the Minutemen stayed in NCAA tournament contention.

Staying: The Minutemen bring back starters Chaz Williams, Cady Lalanne and Sampson Carter as well as reserves Raphiael Putney, Maxie Esho, Trey Davis and Tyler Bergantino.

Barring injury, UMass can pencil in Chaz Williams for 35-40 minutes a game again at point guard.

Lalanne showed signs at times of star potential at center. His first full, healthy offseason could go a long way toward helping him fulfill that potential. Improvement or not, he’s the starting center to begin the year.

“He’s committed to working and he hasn’t had an offseason since he’s been here,” Kellogg said.

Carter, who missed the 2011-12 season, responded nicely as a junior and got better as the year progressed. He’s played all three frontcourt positions and will certainly have a role again next year depending on what the team needs.

Neither Esho, nor Putney took the step forward the Minutemen had expected this past season. Putney, who looked poised for a breakout after his sophomore year, struggled as a junior. He and Kellogg spoke after UMass’ NIT loss Wednesday.

“I told him I expect him to make the biggest jump of anybody on our team,” Kellogg said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. The intangibles that he has, means he could make a huge jump for us next year.”

Throughout Bergantino’s freshman season, Kellogg praised the Florida native’s development despite only using him in limited stints. A good offseason could help him earn minutes. How many could depend on whether Kellogg is comfortable playing him and Lalanne together.

Davis got better as the season went on and didn’t wither in big moments. He’ll certainly start the year as Williams’ backup but could see expanded minutes in a three-guard lineup.

“We need everybody to shoot the ball better and handle the ball better,” Kellogg said. “I’m going to focused on a lot of individual attention and making sure guys are better so when we get our team together, the parts will be better which will make the group even better.”

Coming back: Assuming he recovers from his torn knee ligaments, Morgan’s return will help offset the loss of Riley.

“It seems like Jesse is doing a good job with his treatment and his mobility seems ahead of schedule,” Kellogg said. “But with those types of injuries, you have to wait and see. But he’s a tough kid that has a desire to get back.”

Farrell will give the team another ball handler and someone who can guard anyone from point guards to undersized power forwards.

Freeman’s potential for impact will depend on his development on the court and in the classroom.

Arriving: The Minutemen will have four new players headlined by Derrick Gordon, who led Western Kentucky in scoring as a freshman before transferring to UMass. The Minutemen are hoping Gordon, who practiced with the team all season, will provide another scorer who can create his own shot as well as a strong ball handler and perimeter defender.

“I’ll be curious to see if he can make a quick impact the way Chaz was able to do,” Kellogg said. “Based on what I’ve seen in practice and his competitive nature, I think that he will.”

Kellogg showed an affection for playing three guards in 2012-13. It’s a lineup he could use regularly to get Williams, Morgan and Gordon on the floor together as well as find more minutes for Trey Davis.

Gordon will be joined by three incoming freshman forwards — Clyde Santee, Zach Coleman and Seth Berger.

Santee sat out this season as an academic nonqualifier, so rust could be a factor, but he arrives with a reputation as a strong shooter and will likely play on the wing. Berger and Coleman could potentially play either forward spot depending on where minutes are available.

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

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