By Jeff Goodman
It was the brainchild of Boston University's Scott Ellis. All six Massachusetts D-1 men's basketball programs together for a media day.
Since I already went by Boston College last week and wrote a story on Steve Donahue's young Eagles, I will try and touch on the other five schools in the area over the next couple of days.
We'll start with Derek Kellogg's UMass Minutemen:
BOSTON - Derek Kellogg knows better than most how difficult a challenge it is to win without a point guard.
The UMass coach - and former Minuteman point guard - hasn't had one over the past couple of seasons and it's been a key for why the team has struggled.
But now he has one in Hofstra transfer Chaz Williams.
"He's a typical New York point guard," Kellogg said. "He'll be our guy."
The first season Kellogg took over he inherited Chris Lowe, who had difficulty making the transition from Travis Ford's system. Then it was Ricky Harris, who was essentially a two-guard forced to run the team - and last season it was supposed to be Darryl Traynham, who was kicked off the team midway through the year.
"It's been a tough situation for us," Kellogg said.
But Kellogg expects Williams to finally solidify the position.
"He's done it at the college level," he said. "And he's already established himself as a leader. He's got plenty of charisma."
The 5-foot-9 Williams averaged 7.1 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman at Hofstra before transferring to UMass following a coaching change.
"I'm working with him to pick his spots," Kellogg said. "He can score, but I need him to make life easier for his teammates."
Kellogg said he's seen signs of maturity from a group that came in two years ago as freshmen. With their experience, he said he'll press more this season and also play more up-tempo, use more ball screens and utilize less of assistant coach Vance Walberg's Dribble Drive.
"We have older guys now and have depth," Kellogg said. "We have long, athletic guys and a fast point guard."
One of the players that Kellogg expects more from is extremely long and talented 6-foot-9, 175-pound redshirt sophomore Raphiael Putney.
Putney redshirted his freshman season and averaged 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.7 minutes last season.
"His body's still not there," Kellogg said. "But mentally he's stronger and tougher. He plays with a little bit of an edge now."
- Kellogg also said that 6-foot-9, 245-pound Cady Lalanne broke his foot, but should be back on the court in about 10 days. Lalanne is a former Georgia signee who didn't qualify to play for the Bulldogs.