UMass basketball notebook: Minutemen planning overseas trip to Spain or Caribbean

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-18-2023 5:24 PM

AMHERST – A summer getaway could lead to winter success. The UMass men’s basketball team is planning an overseas trip that programs can take once every four years in the summer before the season. The destination is down to Spain, the No. 1 choice, and potentially the Caribbean.

“Prices are so expensive,” UMass coach Frank Martin said. “We’re getting close to having to make a decision.”

Martin has planned two foreign trips previously: he was going to take Kansas State to Brazil but left the Wildcats for South Carolina in the offseason before the trip. New coach Bruce Webber and the team that Martin and his staff left behind bonded in Brazil and won the Big 12.

South Carolina resisted a foreign trip for years before it finally acquiesced in 2016. The Gamecocks went to the Final Four the next spring.

Going on the trip allows the team to host 10 full practices and play exhibition games rather than the four hours per week they get during the summer normally.

“I’m not predicting that because we take a foreign tour we’re going to win the A-10, but it’s a huge advantage. You get to know each other better. You get to see what players are like in a game situation. You get to actually run practice,” Martin said.

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MARK YOUR CALENDARDS – UMass’ non conference schedule is nearly put together. Martin has two games left to fill after a game that was supposed to be played in Amherst was pushed back a year per the opponent’s request. UMass is also locked into some home and homes from the previous season. The Minutemen are trying to fill one more buy game.

“We’re close. It shouldn’t be like last year where, heck, last year we ended up only playing 12 (non league games),” Martin said. “We played one less than were allowed because we couldn’t find an opponent to fit the schedule.”

The game against West Virginia has been announced along with UMass’ participation in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii during Christmas week. Martin was an assistant under Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins at both Cincinnati and Kansas State. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted Huggins in 2022.

“I don’t like playing against him. I’ve been behind the scenes with them so I know how they handle losing and so if we happen to win, I know how they feel. I don’t like losing so if they win, I’m miserable, so I’m miserable either way,” Martin said. “But it’s two-fold, an old conference opponent in Springfield, a school that’s basically in the NCAA Tournament every single year from a Power 5 league, it makes too much sense.”

The Diamond Head Classic trip was in place before Martin took over, but he reacted simply when he found out: “Good.”

“That’s a heck of a tournament,” Martin said. “The field is really good this year.”

THANKS FOR THE ASSIST – About the only thing left for Martin to nail down is UMass’ final assistant coaching spot after Derek Kellogg left for Creighton. Martin said the job has been offered. Trilly Donovan reported on Twitter that the candidate is former Holy Cross coach Brett Nelson.

“I’d be surprised if that job’s not taken here in the next two to three days,” Martin said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>