Bench to play key role for UMass against Fordham
Coach Derek Kellogg and the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team will face Fordham Sunday at 1 p.m. Purchase photo reprints »
Point guard guard Chaz Williams, center, will lead the University of Massachusetts against Fordham at 1 p.m. Sunday. Purchase photo reprints »
Senior Freddie Riley and freshman Trey Davis were eager to do their part to help the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team when it plays at Fordham at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The pair will likely see the biggest increase in playing time as a result of Jesse Morgan’s knee injury suffered in Thursday’s loss to Saint Louis.
There’s no timetable yet on a return for Morgan, who suffered a right knee sprain.
“I really don’t know,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “We’ll have a better idea when we get back to Amherst.”
Because of UMass’ versatility, every player on the roster could see an increase in minutes. But Riley, who’ll replace Morgan in the starting lineup, and Davis can expect to see more time in the backcourt.
“It’s tough. Jesse is a really good player,” Riley said shortly after the Minutemen landed at LaGuardia Airport in New York. “The whole team has to pick it up. I’ve been playing better lately. I’m ready to do whatever the team needs me to do to help us win.”
When Davis and point guard Chaz Williams are playing at the same time, Kellogg said Williams would slide over to shooting guard.
“It gives Chaz an opportunity to get off the ball a little,” Kellogg said.
Davis liked the arrangement.
“I feel confident. I’ve had a lot of work in practice,” Davis said. “I think we can be even quicker when we’re both in the game together. Whichever one of us is closer can get the ball and everyone can get up the floor.”
Kellogg said guards weren’t the only ones who could see more minutes.
“This is the hand we’ve been dealt. Everybody has to come out and play well,” Kellogg said. “It can be an opportunity for a guy like Tyler Bergantino too if we slide some guys down.”
By slide players down, Kellogg meant that Raphiael Putney would move to the backcourt, opening minutes for Bergantino inside.
The Minutemen (10-4, 0-1 Atlantic 10) will try to salvage a split on this two-game conference opening road trip against an improving Rams squad.
Fordham (5-11) has momentum after opening Atlantic 10 play with an 82-75 win over Duquesne Wednesday in the Bronx, N.Y. The Rams, who started the season 1-8, are 4-3 over their last seven with wins over Princeton, Siena and Monmouth, in addition to Duquesne.
The improvement has coincided with the return of senior forward Chris Gaston, who missed six games with a knee injury. He’s averaging 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
The point guard battle will pit a pair of Brooklyn, N.Y., natives against each other in Williams and Fordham junior Branden Frazier, who leads the Rams in scoring with 15.8 points per game to go with his 5.6 assists.
“They’re playing pretty well right now. They’ve won their last four at home,” Kellogg said. “Frazier has been playing well for them and having Gaston back gives them another guy they can really go to.”
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.