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Tyler Bergantino misses practice; UMass to play Elon at MassMutual Center

“He’ll be OK,” said UMass coach Derek Kellogg, who expected Bergantino to be available for Tuesday’s season opener against Harvard at 10 a.m. at the Mullins Center. “He’ll need a couple days off to ice it to get it back to normal. He should be good by Friday’s practice because we’ll take Thursday off. By game time I’d assume he’ll be 80-90 percent. He should be all right to help us.”

Bergantino, a 6-foot-9 center, had one point and five rebounds in 16 minutes in Saturday’s exhibition win over American International College. He’s competing for minutes off the bench with fellow freshman Izzy Freeman. Kellogg is hoping to avoid playing sophomore Maxie Esho at center if he can avoid it.

“They’re both going to have an opportunity to play because my preference would be to play Maxie more at that four spot and let those guys backup Cady (Lalanne) at some point,” Kellogg said.

STARTERS — While Kellogg would rather not play Esho at center, he’s considering starting him there. He thought Esho had played well enough to earn a starting job somewhere and center was the only available spot as four starters from last year — Chaz Williams, Jesse Morgan, Terrell Vinson and Raphiael Putney — return.

“Maxie has earned the accolades that come with starting, but I’m trying to figure out what’s best for the team: having Maxie come off the bench with his energy or to have Cady come off with his size,” Kellogg said. “We’d probably have a better rotation with Cady starting, but Maxie has done enough to be a starter. He’s had good energy and high enthusiasm throughout the preseason.”

Kellogg said that senior Freddie Riley pushed Morgan for a starting role.

“Both of those guys competed at a high level,” Kellogg said. “Freddie’s done a pretty good job as a senior leader bringing energy to practice and playing good defense. I’m not against playing those guys together this season because of the offensive firepower they bring.”

ELON IN SPRINGFIELD — UMass officially announced that its Dec. 15 game against Elon will be played at the MassMutual Center at noon.

The Minutemen have played a game every year in Kellogg’s hometown since he was hired in 2008.

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

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