UMass basketball notebook: Donte Clark eager to start season



Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2015

AMHERST — There were moments last year when then-freshman Donte Clark flashed star potential.

His 25 points against Florida Gulf Coast, 23 vs. La Salle twice and 15 vs. Florida State made UMass fans excited about what he might eventually become.

Before the first official practice of the season Monday, the sophomore wing said the 2014-15 season was just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.

“I feel like I can take my game to another level this year. Toward the end of last season, I started to adjust. I felt like the game was getting a little easier,” Clark said. “I think this year is going to be another good year for me. I watched games from last year to see what I could have done better. I think I’m going to add depth to my game. Now I know what to do to make sure I’m playing the same way.”

UMass coach Derek Kellogg shared his expectations.

“I’m going to stay positive with him and keep pushing him to be one of our best players. He’s a gifted offensive play that can score in bunches,” Kellogg said. “I’m going to get him to commit defensively to play at a high level all the time. I think he’s capable of being one of, it not the, most improved player in our conference.”

Clark said he can do more, but thinks people are underestimating the rest of the roster.

“I think I can bring more to the table, but I think we added some good pieces and we still have some good pieces from last year,” he said. “I think we’ll be good as far as scoring goes.”

BUILDING OFF EUROPE — With just under six weeks until the season opener (vs. Howard, Nov. 14), Kellogg hoped his team would be more advanced because of the Minutemen’s August trip to Europe.

“I’m hoping we’re ahead of where we were offensively cause that’s what we really worked on over in Europe. We did a lot of shooting, a lot of stuff to prepare how we like to play on the offensive end,” Kellogg said. “It’ll be interesting to see how they pick up the defensive intensity and things I like to do on the defensive end. They’ll get it and they’ll get it pretty quick and we’ll go from there.”

The Minutemen officially started practice Monday at the new John Francis Kennedy Champions Center, the practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“The guys are ready. They’re tired of doing individual work and strength training and things of that nature,” Kellogg said. “It’s going to be interesting to see where we’re at, at this stage with so many new faces and different guys filling different spots.”

HEALTH UPDATES — The Minutemen pushed their first full practice from Saturday to Monday to have more of their players available. Freshman big man Malik Hines injured his knee at an individual workout Friday, but was back at practice Monday.

Seth Berger, who sustained an undisclosed injury in a pickup game last week, took part in some practice drills, but won’t be at full-go until next week.

Sophomore forward Zach Coleman, who missed the trip to Europe following offseason knee surgery, practiced, but Kellogg planned to monitor him early.

“Zach is ready and committed mentally,” he said. “Physically I just want to make sure he can get through a practice.”

PIPKINS ‘IN LIMBO’ — Kellogg said there was no update on Luwane Pipkins’ eligibility status with the NCAA’s clearinghouse. The freshman guard isn’t allowed to practice while the NCAA reviews his case, forcing him to work out on his own and wait.

“He hasn’t been deemed anything yet by the NCAA,” Kellogg said. “He’s in limbo to a certain extent. He’s been running the hills of Amherst on his own and doing some things to stay in shape while we wait on his outcome.

WOJEWODZIC OUT — Senior walk-on guard Mike Wojewodzic, who was arrested last month for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, is no longer on the roster.

“Mike Wojewodzic is no longer with the UMass men’s basketball team as he is dealing with University sanctions. We won’t comment further,” UMass spokesman Molly O’Mara said.

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


 


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