Umass Q + A

By Mike Weber 
Discuss on Yuku  Can't Post? Here's How

I recently participated in a Q/A Session with a UMASS Blogger.  His website can be found here.  See below for some very interesting information from UMASS.  Also it appears like UMASS could be missing Freddie Riley AND Sean Carter.  The Daily Hampshire Gazette has the story.

This game could present the opportunity for our Dukes to get back up off the mat after a heartbreaker at SBU and a tough loss to a very good Xavier team. This could especially be the case if the injury situation is what it appears to be for the Minutemen.

The entire Q/A takes place after the jump below.

1 - Massachusetts started off the season 7-0 and has since gone 6-10, including 5-5 in the A10.  Why have they struggled after the first 7 and in particular, the past 3? 

            Part of it is playing better opponents but it’s mostly the offense. UMass is shooting just over 40% a game and it doesn’t even seem that high. We miss an insane number of layups that just kills us. You’ll see what I mean tomorrow night. Sometimes two, three in a row. It’s almost comical. I think our dribble drive offense plays a role in our lack of success as well but that’s not a belief widely held by the fanbase and Kellogg has said many times he’s sticking with it.
2 - Anthony Gurley is really coming on strong in terms of PPG this season, averaging 19.3(up from 13.6 last year).  Where has he improved his game and what can we expect to see from him?
            Gurley has improved every aspect of his game this year. He’s showing a lot more patience and finding his shot through head fakes, dekes, etc. Last season, he’d get the ball and shoot. I think entering the NBA Draft last Spring (and subsequently working out with NBA teams) played a major part in his improvement by teaching him what he needs to do to get better. One of the more overlooked parts of Gurley’s game this season is him passing the ball around. Last year he’d get the ball and either shot or drive it. We needed him to be the leader of the team this season and he has delivered.
Not sure what you will see from him tonight because he has struggled as of late. His only scored ten against St. Joe’s and failed to reach double digits for the first time in our last game against George Washington.
3 - Derek Kellogg has a career mark of 37-48 in his time at UMASS.  Are fans/administration getting restless yet, or is he still on the "honeymoon" status?
            Uh, the heat is definitely being turned up. I personally am a big “DK” backer but a lot of fans are starting to get fed up with 12 win seasons and no NCAA Tournament appearances since 1998. He’s brought some incredible talent to Amherst but it hasn’t translated to the court yet. He was signed for six years and the administration will give him all six to figure things out.
4 - UMASS football is mulling over a possible move to D1(or at least they were last time I checked).  Can you walk us through how this move to the MAC could possibly affect the basketball team as Temple is in a similar set-up?  Would they have to schedule a certain amount of MAC teams for Basketball?  Might the MAC want to get them for all sports, etc?
            We are division one right now (1-AA or “FCS” to be exact). UMass is still looking at moving up, however news/rumors have slowed down considerably since news first broke about the administration exploring a move to the MAC. I’ve heard it could become official soon, I’ve heard we might go C-USA, I’ve heard some crazy stuff about how we could end up in the Big East, and I’ve heard it might not happen all together. The very latest (and again, none of this is official) is that our move may hinge on what Temple decides to do. As I type this, I’m hearing the Owls are making a big announcement Thursday regarding football. We just have to wait and see.
            From what I’ve been able to gather, a move to the MAC would be football-only. More than likely we would have to schedule some MAC teams like you said but we’d remain A-10 like Temple. I’m sure the MAC would want us for all sports but I don’t see that happening.
5 - I'm hearing rumblings that 6-5 forward Freddie Riley may not appear in this one.  Can you confirm or deny the reason and whether he will play?
            I would bank on Freddie not playing. He did something to his ankle in the first half of the GW game and came out of the tunnel with crutches for the second half.
6 - Duquesne turns teams over at an alarming rate.  Their offense is predicated solely on this as they really struggle to get anything going in the half-court.  Do you think UMASS can handle Duquesne's pressure defense or sustain a 40 minute track meet?  or...might they try to slow the game down in terms of tempo and try for a win that way?
            Can UMass sustain a track meet? Yes. Can they handle Duquesne’s pressure defense? Probably not. Full court presses have caused UMass a lot of problems this season and I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of it from other teams. GW pressured us in the final minutes of the game and we could barely get the ball over the half-court line in the ten second time limit. I don’t see UMass slowing the game down but we played an ugly, slow game against Dayton and won. I think that was caused more by Dayton’s play then our game plan. DK is dedicated to the DDM.
7 - UMASS is averaging 11.1 APG which ranks them 304th in the nation.  With Kellogg being a PG himself (and a good one), why has this been an area of concern for the Minutemen?
            Because we can’t seem to get a damn point guard. Last year Ricky Harris (a natural SG) filled the role. This year we have Gary Correia who is a good guy and a good player but he just doesn’t fit the DDM offense. Freshman PG Daryl Traynham played in ten games before being suspended indefinitely and ultimately reaching a “mutual decision” to leave the team. Correia is backed up by guards Javorn Farrell and Freddie Riley.
            Next season Hofstra transfer Chaz Williams will be our point guard and there are high hopes for him. But that’s next year.
8 - For those Dukes fans making the trek from Pittsburgh, can you advise the best way to get to Amherst, MA, where it is and maybe 1-2 local watering holes that might be "happening" before and after the game?  Is it best to fly to Boston and rent a car or what?
            I’m from Eastern PA (Lehigh Valley) so I can only go by what they say on Google maps. Amherst is in the Western part of Massachusetts – 30 minutes north of Springfield. The best place to go before the game is The Hangar (bar/wings place) which is located right off of campus, near the football stadium. They have the best wings in the world and are a big sponsor of UMass. From what I’ve heard, flying to Hartford and driving is your best option if you want to go the airline route. Hartford is only an hour from campus.
            Don’t worry about tickets because there will be plenty available. There is not a lot of interest in UMass basketball right now, especially among the students. Actually, there’s no interest among UMass students.
9 - If you had to pin-point one reason as to why UMass has lost 10 games, what would it be?
            The offense. UMass is tough on D and on the boards but there are some nights where we can’t seem to make a basket. Like I said above, we miss shots that anyone over the age of 15 could make. It’s frustrating because we are getting the shots and not making them. Keep in mind four of those 10 losses included Seton Hall, Boston College, Xavier, and Richmond. All very good teams.
10 - Prediction for Wednesday Night??...
            Duquesne wins by less than ten.
Discuss on Yuku  Can't Post? Here's How