UMass gets an early start against Harvard

Thursday July 12, 2012

AMHERST -- It will be "Breakfast at the Bill" on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

That's the day the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team will have to set their collective alarm clocks pretty early. The Minutemen have agreed to play Harvard at 10 a.m. that morning, as part of ESPN's fifth annual "College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon."

"It's great exposure for our program to play an in-state team like Harvard, who was an NCAA Tournament team last year, and I feel should be this year," UMass coach Derek Kellogg said in a statement.

For the past four years, ESPN has kicked off the college basketball season with a marathon of games.

The first game that will be broadcast on ESPN will begin at midnight EDT, when West Virginia plays at Gonzaga. The tip-off in Spokane, Wash., is 9 p.m. on Nov. 12.

The UMass-Harvard game will be the breakfast sandwich between Northern Illinois-Valparaiso at 8 a.m. and Temple-Kent State at noon.

"To be on national television this early in the season piggybacks on the exposure we received during the NIT last year," Kellogg said. "Any time we can play that level of game in the Mullins Center is a welcome addition to our schedule."

It is the first ESPN visit to the Mullins Center since UMass hosted Charlotte in 2010.

The two national highlight games in the marathon start at 7 p.m. Michigan State plays Kansas, followed by Duke-Kentucky.

Kellogg's Minutemen are coming off a 25-12 record and a trip to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Harvard was 26-5 and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Kellogg and his team will have to have their bags packed that day. After playing Harvard, the Minutemen will head to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament Nov. 15-18.

The bracket for that tournament has not been unveiled. It could be possible to see an early-round matchup between Kellogg's Minutemen and former UMass coach Travis Ford's Oklahoma State Cowboys. Penn State and Providence are also part of the field in Puerto Rico.

Currently, Kellogg and his staff are on the road recruiting. July is a month in which college coaches can watch AAU tournaments and recruit players.

The UMass coach isn't looking for additional bodies for the coming year, as the four-player class of recruits has been on campus working with the coaches and returning players.

"We filled a lot of needs [and] added size in the frontcourt with good length and athleticism," Kellogg said. "We brought in good backcourt depth, which allows us to keep things at the current level and improve for the future."

Tyler Bergantino, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Springhill, Fla.; 7-foot center Isaac Freeman of South Kent (Conn.) School and Manassas, Va.; and 6-foot guard Trey Davis of Dallas, and Vermont Academy will all be eligible to play this winter.

A fourth player is guard Derrick Gordon, who transferred from Western Kentucky. Gordon, who grew up in Plainfield, N.J., will have to sit out this year as per NCAA transfer regulations.

To reach Howard Herman:,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.


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