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March 21, 2014
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA
Tennessee Â– 86
UMass Â– 67
MODERATOR:Â We are now ready to begin the UMass portion of the press conference.Â Once again, I'd like to remind you, please turn off your cell phones.Â If you have a question, please raise your hand and wait for the microphone.
Coach Kellogg, could you please give us an opening statement?
COACH KELLOGG:Â First of all, I want to thank our seniors for what they were able to accomplish at UMass and help get us back to the NCAA tournament.Â The game didn't turn out the way we'd like, but these guys gave their heart and soul to the program.
It was a terrific season for these guys.Â Today, we ran into a Tennessee team that played very physical and tough around the rim and took us out of a lot of things we try to do.Â Offensively, especially, I thought we struggled mightily in the first half, turned the ball over ten times.Â It led to easy baskets.Â Then we were playing catchup from there on out.
I thought our guys fought in the second half, cut it to 10 or 12.Â A few bounce plays didn't go our way.Â We couldn't get over the hump.
Hats off to Tennessee.Â They outplayed us today.
MODERATOR:Â At this time, we'll open it up for questions to the student‑athletes.
Q.Â This is for either of the players, the execution, the results at the beginning obviously weren't what you wanted.Â Was the energy level what you would have expected of yourselves?
SAMPSON CARTER:Â Not really.Â Could have been a little higher.Â I guess we got on the ropes for a little bit and a couple people had a couple jitters and everything.Â It could have been a little higher.
Q.Â Chaz, especially early, did it seem any time you tried to go to the basket, there was a wall of orange waiting for you.Â Seemed like offensively, you guys weren't able to get the shots you're used to getting.
CHAZ WILLIAMS:Â I felt like we was getting whatever we wanted on the floor, honestly.Â We just weren't finishing baskets.Â Coach came to us at the end and said we had nine missed layups and we were down by 18 at the time.Â If you add all those, the game is tied.
With the exception of my three turnovers that I had early, I feel like it was more so us, you know, I turned the ball over early.Â I wasn't really making layups.Â There was nothing they really did.
Q.Â Sampson, can you, I guess, explain trying to guard Stokes down there?Â I mean, he's a big guy.Â He pushes guys around a little bit.Â What makes him tough to guard in a game like this?
SAMPSON CARTER:Â He has a big lower body.Â He has a strong upper body, but extremely big lower body so he stands with his arms up, so it's hard to get around.Â I mean, he does a good job out there.Â You can tell he's been taught well.
Q.Â Sampson, you hit those back‑to‑back threes to cut it to ten.Â Looked like the team was in position.Â You guys have come back so many times this year.Â What went wrong from that point?Â Did you guys feel like that would be a turning point?
SAMPSON CARTER:Â We definitely felt like it was going to be a turning point.Â I can't even tell you what went wrong.Â I definitely got in a groove after I hit those two 3‑pointers, though.
Q.Â For Chaz or Sampson, slow start seemed to be the pattern the last handful of games.Â What was the key at the beginning and what didn't go your way that got you into another early hole?
CHAZ WILLIAMS:Â Like Sampson mentioned earlier, I think it was mostly jitters than anything.Â We were so excited that we were too excited, I think.Â We were just moving too fast, wasn't in our positions where we needed to be on offense and defense.
So I think that kind of took away from what we wanted to do, because we had a couple of great practices these past couple of days.Â It felt like we were going to come out great.Â Once you get under the lights and the crowd starts roaring, you start second guessing.
MODERATOR:Â Any other questions for the student‑athletes?
Q.Â For either one of you guys, will you be able to step back, or when will you be able to step back and realize what you accomplished for UMass and for the program, as Coach Kellogg mentioned, helping get this program back in the NCAA tournament?
SAMPSON CARTER:Â I think it will take a couple days.Â Maybe get home and feel the fan support once again.Â Kind of set in for me after the game in Coach's closing speech and just 15 years have been a long time.Â You kind of get unappreciative during the season because you want more and want more.Â You get addicted to winning.
But it's been a bittersweet year, and we kind of bitter right now.Â But when you think about the past and the future, you appreciate everything.
CHAZ WILLIAMS:Â Yeah, just like pretty much what Sampson said.Â It still hasn't hit me yet and probably won't because we just lost and it probably will never hit me until the NCAA is over, because I feel like we're supposed to be playing until April 7th.Â But unfortunately, just like Sampson said, Coach gave a great closing speech in the locker room and he made us all feel what we did here as a group on the court.Â And everything we did, seems like it's all downhill now after this loss.Â This is a tough one.
Q.Â You said Coach had a great speech in the locker room.Â What did he tell you?
CHAZ WILLIAMS:Â Just talking about our success this year, how far we came from when we first got on campus.Â I wasn't here when Sampson and Putney first got here, but I understood what they were going through at the time, once I got here, because I was filled in and these guys told me.Â So I felt like I was there with them.
Coach just let us know that we fought through everything.Â We fought through everything and life is about to get real for us, so we've got to keep fighting.
MODERATOR:Â Any other questions for the student‑athletes?Â Gentlemen, thank you very much.
CHAZ WILLIAMS:Â God bless.
MODERATOR:Â We'll now open it up for Coach Kellogg.
Q.Â Derek, your starting lineup for the game, was that to counteract what you thought could happen as far as their size inside?
COACH KELLOGG:Â I thought Maxie played so well in the A‑10 tournament.Â Put (Putney) and I had a meeting and discussed it and we thought maybe him coming off the bench with his scoring and Maxie's energy to start the game would potentially be a good way for us to do it.Â So I thought I would go with it.Â And it kind of, he subbed in pretty quickly thereafter so it wasn't a huge deal.
I was hoping that would get our press going a little bit more, but we didn't score enough to get into our press, honestly.
Q.Â Derek, it seemed after that first game, it kind of sucked a lot of energy out of the building, the Mercer and Duke.Â And then with the put‑backs missing, did that all snowball together to make a very odd start where things weren't‑‑ just didn't get off on the right foot?
COACH KELLOGG:Â Odd is a nice way to put it.Â We've talked all year and worked on it in September and I think I've talked about it with you guys quite a bit that we have to make our one‑footers and layups.Â We're an energy team off some of our makes.
We missed, I'd say, close to nine in the first half.Â When we do that, we're not allowed to set up our press and get the tempo of the game going.Â I didn't think we could beat Tennessee in the half‑court with their size and brawn inside.Â I thought we had to turn into a track meet.Â It only became a track meet for probably about seven, eight minutes of the game, which we cut it to ten.
Then I think Derrick Gordon might have got his layup blocked on the break around that time, which I thought was a big turning point in the game.
Q.Â Derek, you mentioned trying to have Maxie's energy give you guys a boost at the beginning.Â Do you feel like the team came out with that type of energy that he instills in your team all the time?
COACH KELLOGG:Â I thought we had good energy.Â Whether it was nervous energy or jitters, whatever Chaz and those guys want to call it, I thought we were so energized, we missed easy bunny after bunny after bunny to start the game.
And then we turned it over a few times that led to easy baskets for them.Â That's been kind of something that's plagued us at different times throughout the season, not taking care of the ball or missing easy ones.Â That hurt us tonight, honestly.Â They played a great game.Â They had a good game plan of packing the paint and being big.Â We didn't take advantage of it.
Q.Â Do you think that there was a benefit to Tennessee playing the other day?Â You hadn't played in a while and those jitters, maybe from not playing?
COACH KELLOGG:Â Well, that's kind of‑‑ I'd say because we lost, yes.Â If we won, maybe no.Â It's kind of‑‑ I do think there is some benefit to playing and not having a week off, a full week off and kind of working out the jitters in the first game.
But I just thought they outplayed us tonight.Â I'm not sure if it was because they played or not.
Q.Â Derek to seek clarification, did Raphiael come to you and suggest the lineup change?
COACH KELLOGG:Â We had a meeting.Â I met with most of the guys individually and we spoke about it.
Q.Â Secondly, what concerned you most about Tennessee prior to the game that ended up hurting you?
COACH KELLOGG:Â The 37 and 25 by the two big guys.Â Those guys on tape, especially down the stretch, Tennessee had played really well over the last two, two and a half weeks.Â That's really what concerned me the most, their size and strength in the post and that they've played their best basketball over the last couple weeks.
I'd say the combination of those two things.
Q.Â Derek, you guys hadn't been here before, but it seemed because the veteran presence you guys have that you've played with a been here, done that type of attitude.Â Is the fact that both Sampson and Chaz said there were guys with jitters, is that surprising to you?
COACH KELLOGG:Â Yes and no.Â I'd say it's surprising if you're a senior and you have jitters.Â But maybe for some of the younger guys, potentially yes.
I thought the jitters‑‑ I'm not sure if that's the right word across the board.Â We missed some easy ones.Â You can call it jitters.Â You can call it yips in golf or whatever you want.
But that had something to do with it, I would assume.
Q.Â Derek, were you trying to get Chaz a curtain call from the crowd at the end?Â And can you wrap up what it's been like coaching him for the last three years?
COACH KELLOGG:Â I was looking for a curtain call.Â It never worked out.Â I'd say for a couple of the guys that were in there.Â They fought hard and competed for the last couple minutes.Â I thought he was deserving, as were Sampson and Putney, of maybe a cheer from the folks.Â I thought UMass did a great job of how they organized this and the fans being around.Â We had a pep rally last night.Â They had a couple curtain calls, which I thought was great for the players.
Coaching Chaz specifically has really been great for me.Â I thanked those guys in the locker room for the ride they've put my family, the university, the team and all the people involved on this past season.Â But also last two years, last three years, I should say.Â We won 20‑something games every year and I think Chaz has been a guy that's been able to change the culture of our program with the way he plays, his charisma, his speed up and down the floor.Â He's been fun to watch, fun to coach and we'll have to figure out how to replace him and keep UMass on the plateau that we're on right now.
Q.Â Coach, you mentioned the aspect that hurt you the most were the two bigs.Â You look at the box score, you see Jarnell's numbers jump out.Â I wonder if you could talk about Jeronne and how they complement each other in the post?
COACH KELLOGG:Â It's hard to double Stokes, because Maymon is kind of on the other side, just ready to steal you if you go double or help out.Â They play off each other really well.Â Stokes got a bunch of points in transition against our press that I wasn't expecting.Â He made a lot of good moves and handled the ball pretty good.
I'd say the three‑headed kind of group of him with McRae.Â Those two are a good one, two, three combination.Â Their complementary players also know their roles and play really well.Â They're playing really well right now.
McRae was about as confident as I've seen a guy coming off those pindowns, which I would consider good shots for us at times, because if you miss, we can run.Â He made just about every one tonight and they made their plays when they had to.
Q.Â I know it's soon afterwards, but have you had a chance to think of the big picture, what it means to be back in the NCAA tournament for the program?
COACH KELLOGG:Â I think about it frequently of UMass being back in the NCAA tournament and how long it's taken us to get there.Â Not only myself but over the last years of kind of building the program and making sure that we do it the right way, which takes some time.Â And I think the whole university, the campus and all the people were really appreciative of what we've been able to accomplish this season and I'm hoping it's a spring board that we can at least be in the conversation every year to be one of those teams.Â So I'm happy with obviously the way the season played out and getting here.Â But also, it's kind of bittersweet because I would have liked to have been playing on Sunday.
Q.Â Derek, Mercer upsets Duke in the first game and I know you're thinking about this game.Â But did even for a second, did you allow a thought to go through your head about wow, that changes things or that opens the door?
COACH KELLOGG:Â When I heard Mercer in the locker room next to us celebrating, that definitely gets you thinking about if you win, you might be playing them instead of Duke.Â But that team was really good.Â I watched some tape on them and seen them play a little bit.Â They were really good also.
So I think our guys knew that if we won, we'd be playing Mercer instead of Duke.Â But I'm not sure if that had much of an effect.
Q.Â Derek, next year, Maxie's role figures to change from that of an energy guy to that of a real team leader coming back.Â Took the blow to the head against St.Joe's, had three to four rough weeks after that.Â Talk about how he's picked it up over these last few games, especially in A‑10 tournament and today.
COACH KELLOGG:Â One thing that's happened, we've had to press a little bit more because we're in some holes to a certain extent.Â Maxie, when we press and run, is one of the most effective guys on our team.Â His energy and attitude have been fantastic throughout the season.Â He's matured, improved and got even better.
One thing for him, now that I see him thrust into a new role, will probably be pressing a lot more and running a lot more next year and kind of using a lot more bodies.Â That's how I envision it, kind of like we did the first year, we had success going to the Final Four of the NIT.Â That's how I see it.
MODERATOR:Â Any other questions?Â Coach, thank you very much.
COACH KELLOGG:Â Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports