UMass men's basketball healthy as practice begins
Massachusetts' head coach Derek Kellogg speaks to the media at the NCAA college basketball Atlantic 10 media day at the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Purchase photo reprints »
AMHERST — It will be neither midnight nor madness for the start of full University of Massachusetts men’s basketball practice, just a simple business-like workout at 5 p.m. for a team that hopes to have madness at the end of its season not the beginning.
NCAA rule changes have lessened the real impact to the annual start of practice on the second Friday in October. Coaches can conduct team workouts on a limited basis during the summer and the fall. So even teams that have Midnight Madness are really celebrating the increase in practice frequency more than the start of it. UMass coach Derek Kellogg said those workouts made his team much more ready for the start of full-time practice.
“I’ve been able to get a solid base in for the last month or so. Now we can really refine what’s been put in,” Kellogg said. “The kids have a good idea how we’re playing. Now it’s getting to a speed and pace that the older guys are accustomed to.”
Kellogg said the intensity of the workouts will increase.
“The guys are ready more than anything. We’ve done individual work and gone through stuff with no defense or not a lot of contact with some injuries,” Kellogg said. “But on Friday night it’s time to see where we’re at and where we need to get better and improve. I think we have some good pieces. My job as a coach and our job as a staff is to put those pieces together. ... I know our players better than I ever have because we’ve spent four years, even five with some of them. We have some good young kids that have come in. On a personal level I feel really good about our team. On a basketball level, they’ve proven some things, but I still feel like we have a really long way to go.”
With the exception of Javorn Farrell, who is expected to miss the entire season with a leg injury, the Minutemen will have their entire roster ready and available. Sophomore big man Cady Lalanne, junior guard Jesse Morgan and junior forward Sampson Carter are all cleared for full participation.
“They are all full-go,” Kellogg said. “Everything fell into place pretty good. It’ll be nice to have 12 guys available for practice.”
Three UMass freshmen will also be practicing full time for the first time as point guard Trey Davis and big men Tyler Bergantino and Izzy Freeman get set for their collegiate debuts. UMass will host Harvard in its season opener on Nov. 13.
While UMass got a lot of positive attention for last year’s run to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals, senior forward Terrell Vinson said the team didn’t accomplish what it set out to do.
“We fell short of our goal, which was to get to the NCAA tournament and make noise,” he said. “That’s our goal again this year.”
RECRUITS VISITING — UMass will have two targets on campus this weekend. Demetrius Dyson, a senior wing from the Memphis, Tenn. suburb of Brighton, and Edmond Sumner, a 5-foot-10 junior point guard from outside of Detroit, will spend time with the coaching staff and players.
Sumner played for The Family, the AAU program that new Minuteman assistant Marvin “Smoke” Williamson coached at before joining UMass.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.