Sports psychologist Joe Carr sits down with UMass men’s basketball team
Ahead by 15 points with one minute left to play in their win against Eastern Michigan, University of Massachusetts players Terrell Vinson, from left, Cady Lalanne, Freddie Riley, Maxie Esho, Sampson Carter and Chaz Williams react on the bench Saturday at the Mullins Center. Purchase photo reprints »
University of Massachusetts Head Coach Derek Kellogg shouts instructions during his team's win against Eastern Michigan Saturday at the Mullins Center. Purchase photo reprints »
AMHERST — With the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team still smarting from its loss to George Washington Saturday and still coping with the loss of injured junior guard Jesse Morgan, a visit from Dr. Joe Carr couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Carr is a sports psychologist who has worked with the Minutemen during the past two seasons, as well as several other college and professional teams. He met with UMass in the preseason and makes periodic visits during the season, including one on Sunday and Monday.
“Doc Carr was in for a couple of days. It worked out somewhat nicely to have him here coming off a tough loss at home and Jesse getting hurt,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “Whether we had won or lost the game on Saturday, it was a needed boost.”
Carr has focused on building team chemistry with the Minutemen, who have embraced his presence.
“It was a perfect time since we lost a close game against G-Dub,” said junior forward Sampson Carter. “It was a perfect time for him to help us come piece things back together and see what we need to do, what we need to work on. He has helped tremendously on and off the court.”
Freshman guard Trey Davis agreed.
“After that meeting, we got closer as a team and realized and visualized things we didn’t see. I’m glad he came. Everybody got a better understanding of each other. We’re all for one right now,” said Davis, who was originally skeptical of working with a sports psychologist.
“When I had the first meeting with Dr. Carr, I got in trouble because I wasn’t taking it seriously. But after I got used to it, I liked it and enjoyed it. It helped me a lot,” Davis said. “We’re in a circle talking about each other’s lives and how basketball can help us in our lives. It’s very important. Once you know somebody’s background, it’s like they’re letting you into their life. Once they do that, they become your bother and when somebody’s your brother, they’re going to have your back no matter what, on or off the court.”
GOOD DAYS TO WORK HARD — From the moment Morgan went down with a season-ending knee injury against Saint Louis on Jan. 10, Kellogg looked at this week as a valuable one for his team. With no midweek game it could use the time to improve and adapt to playing without Morgan.
“It’s always a good opportunity in the middle of the season to have a week off to get refreshed,” Kellogg said. “We start classes this week so it will be good for them to have a few days where they can get acclimated back to class and there’s some things we’ve got to work on.
“Our half-court defense has to improve so we have to work on that. Our press has to get better as does our press recovery. When we press and we don’t get a steal we have to be able to recover and get into a half-court defense,” Kellogg continued. “We have to work on our transition offense. Those three things work hand in hand for UMass basketball. We’ve done those good in spurts but not for a full game yet. That’s what we’re working toward, being able to play 40 minutes of UMass basketball.”
The players welcomed the practice time.
“This is a perfect week to realign things,” Davis said. “We can get some good sets in and get a feel for our offense and defense. We’ve had to adapt on the fly a lot because we haven’t had much time to practice. Now coach can show us where we need to be without having to do it in a game. I think it’s a good opportunity.”
“Losing Jesse was a shock to everybody. We had to put it together and roll with the punches until this week came,” he said. “Now we can practice without him and get rhythm without him. It’s going to be a big week for us.”
MILLER TRYING OUT AT FENWAY — George Miller, who has been the Mullins Center public address voice for men’s basketball for the past seven seasons, has been invited to audition for that role at Fenway Park. After longtime Red Sox voice Carl Beane died of a heart attack in May, the Sox used guest announcers for the remainder of the season. The club is holding auditions at the park Wednesday and Saturday for a permanent replacement.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.