Monster.com should hire Derek Kellog. The UMass Minutemen coach has done a pretty good job at building a resume for the postseason just two weeks into the hoop season. Considered a possible bubble team in the Atlantic 10 they had early games with potential bubble teams Boston College and LSU and a match up with Horizon League contender Youngstown State before taking part in the Charleston Classic.
They got off to a quick 2-0 start, beating BC by 13 and edging LSU at home by a bucket in the span of three days. They followed that up with a convincing 16-point win over Youngstown State. In the opening round of the Charleston Classic they out ran Nebraska 96-90 giving them a semifinal match up with #19 New Mexico who needed two buzzer beaters and two overtimes to beat Alabama-Birmingham the day before. With the game knotted at 61 with less than eight minutes to play the Minutemen went on a 14-0 run five-plus minutes to put the game out of reach on their way to an 81-65 upset and a trip to the title game. In the championship they faced off against Clemson and the Minutemen walked away with a 62-56 win and the Charleston Classic Championship.
Even with an already impressive non-conference slate UMass still have neutral-site games with BYU and Florida State (who knocked off #10 VCU handily) before A-10 play begins.
Leading the way for Derek Kellog’s crew is of course their sparkplug point guard Chaz Williams and his 18.4 points and 6.2 assists per game. What has really put the Minutemen over the top in the early going has been the increased production they have gotten from the frontcourt, namely Cady Lalanne, Sampson Carter and Raphiael Putney who have combined for 44.6 points and 21.6 rebounds for a team that is averaging 88 points and over 43 rebounds per game.
They obviously haven’t guaranteed themselves anything but a 6-0 start over some teams they may be compared to come selection is a good way to make sure your resume is put on top of the pile.