Ex-UMass coach Derek Kellogg happy former players, coaches are joining him in NCAA Tournament

  • Former UMass head coach Derek Kellogg is back in the NCAA Tournament. Kellogg coaches at LIU-Brooklyn. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Former UMass head coach Derek Kellogg is back in the NCAA Tournament. Kellogg coaches at LIU-Brooklyn. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Former UMass and current Texas Southern guard Donte Clark will play in an NCAA Tournament play-in game Wednesday. AP

  • Former UMass and current Iona guard Zach Lewis will play Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Iona is a No. 15 seed. AP

Published: 3/12/2018 9:54:43 PM

Derek Kellogg made sure to pick a spot with a television Saturday as he, his wife and two family friends went out for dinner.

Now the coach of LIU-Brooklyn, Kellogg’s team had already clinched a bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Northeast Conference tournament last Tuesday.

But Texas Southern was playing in the SWAC final and Kellogg wanted to see if Donte Clark and Shyrone Chatman, who played and coached for him, respectively, a year ago, would earn a spot in the field.

Clark, Chatman and the Tigers held off Arkansas Pine-Bluff to earn a spot in the field. Clark, who averaged 18.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game this season, had 14 points and six assists in the final before fouling out.

For a while, Kellogg was worried he might have to coach against Texas Southern as both teams were certain to land in Dayton, Ohio, for the NCAA Tournament’s opening round games and the right to be No. 16 seeds.

To his relief they weren’t paired off. LIU will face Radford, Tuesday, for the chance to play Villanova. Texas Southern plays North Carolina Central, Wednesday, to earn a game against Xavier.

“I feel really fortunate that I’ve been able to get a team to the NCAA Tournament, but I’m happy that a lot of guys I spent a ton of time with are having success,” said Kellogg, who was fired after nine seasons coaching UMass. “I’ve been communicating with all of them to let them know how proud I am of all of them.”

It’s not just Texas Southern he’s been monitoring. Iona guard Zach Lewis, who played for him at UMass last year, was the most outstanding player of the MAAC Tournament in Albany, New York. Lewis averaged 9.2 points per game during the season but he averaged 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the MAAC tournament.

Adam Ginsburg, who was an assistant with the Minutemen for 12 seasons (three with Travis Ford and nine with Kellogg) is now an Iona assistant. The Gaels got a No. 15 seed and will play Duke, Thursday at 2:45 p.m.

Kellogg’s own staff and roster has some UMass flavor. Like Clark and Lewis, Zach Coleman took advantage of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule, allowing him to be eligible without sitting out because he’d already earned his degree.

“This has been a nice run for him. He’s become like a son for Nicole and I,” Kellogg said. “For him to be healthy and an important part of our team has been uplifting. He’s in a good place as a man and as a college student. The pinnacle of college basketball is to get to the NCAA Tournament. For Z-Lew and Z-Cole and Donte to re-invent themselves to have a happy ending is very good for them. For the coaches to end up in a good place, I’m very happy for them. ”

Kellogg’s staff includes former assistant coach Marlon Williamson and director of basketball operations Matt Vogel.

There’ll be another familiar face in Dayton. Former UMass associate athletic director Tim Kenney is now the AD at St. Bonaventure, which will play UCLA following LIU’s game.

“It’s nice to have all of us in the same region,” Kellogg said. “I hope we can spend a little time together.”

Just over a year since he was fired at UMass, Kellogg said he, his wife and son are happy with their next chapter.

“Nicole, Max and I have nestled in pretty good in New York City,” he said. “We’re around a good group of people and we’re happy. That’s the most important thing. This season has been a special ride for us.”

OTHER UMASS CONNECTIONS — Other teams with Minuteman connections in the NCAA Tournament field include:

Kentucky — Former UMass coach John Calipari is the coach.

Cincinnati — Former UMass assistant coach Antwon Jackson is an assistant coach.

Rhode Island — Former UMass football player and associate AD Thorr Bjorn is the athletic director.

Kansas — Former UMass reserve quarterback James Sosinski is a walk-on basketball player for the Jayhawks.

EX-MINUTEWOMEN IN THE FIELD — Former UMass guards Cierra Dillard and Bria Stallworth will both play in the NCAA women’s Tournament.

Now a junior at Buffalo, Dillard led the Bulls with 15.0 points and 5.3 assists per game They earned an No. 11 seed and will play South Florida, Saturday at 1 p.m.

Stallworth, a sophomore at Nebraska, averaged 3.4 points per game off the bench. The Huskers are No. 10 seed and face Arizona State, Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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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