Amherst: UMass Officially Introduces Matt McCall as Next Men’s Basketball Head Coach

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To say the last three weeks have been tumultuous for the UMass Basketball team would be a bit of an understatement.

After relieving Derek Kellogg of his duties on March 9th, the university thought they had their replacement in Winthrop’s Pat Kelsey last week, only to be spurned last minute when he backed out of the job moments before being introduced.

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Matt McCall addresses the media

“We looked when we started this search for somebody who could take us to the mountain top,” UMass Athletic Director Ryan Bamford said. “Who could take us to the top of the A-10, a great league, a multi-bid league for NCAA participation. Somebody who could take us there, and keep us there.”

After interviewing a crop of candidates, most notably Boston Celtics’ assistant Micah Shrewsbury, UMass decided to go with the young and upcoming coach. McCall’s resume speaks for itself. The 35-year-old had coached the past two seasons at Chattanooga, posting an impressive 48-18 record, with a trip to the NCAA Tournament in the 2015-16 season in the mix. During his first season at Chattanooga, McCall led the Mocs to 29 wins, the most ever for a first time NCAA head coach.

In addition, McCall also shadowed now-NBA coach Billy Donovan during his time at the University of Florida for 11 seasons.

“You ask me the question what excites me the most, what excites me the most about this opportunity, its hard to pinpoint one thing,” McCall said.

“You could talk about the school’s rich tradition. You could talk about the unbelievable coaches that have come through here like (Jack) Leaman and (Rick) Pitino. You could talk about some of the great players who have played here, who have put on that jersey. Julius Erving, Marcus Camby, or coach John Calipari, and the tradition he created here. And the wins, the championships. You could talk about how its one of the best public institutions in the country. And all that stuff I knew before I even walked on campus. And that got me excited.”

McCall has had much success to this point, but knows that he will be faced with the task of bringing a Minutemen roster that went 15-18 this past season to the next level. Key players such as junior Rashaan Holloway said they wanted to keep the team together and work with McCall, despite the change in leadership.

“We go everywhere together,” Holloway said. “The process going through it was to just make sure we stick together. We stick together. We do everything together, so that way we don’t see us separating.”

AD Ryan Bamford introducing McCall in front of a full house

AD Ryan Bamford introducing McCall in front of a full house

 

McCall becomes the 22nd Men’s Basketball coach in UMass history.

As for next season? The coach said he has already started work.

“I think that one of the biggest things as a coach is that you’re always trying to learn, grow and get better everyday,” McCall said. “And I look at this opportunity, and looking back now at some things that I could have done differently right when I got that job (at Chattanooga), then maybe getting back to some things later on. Trying to look and evaluate those things is big. You’re always trying to learn, grow and get better. And any one time you think you’ve got something figured out, its time to move on to something else. Any time you take over a program, the first thing you need to do is start investing in the players.”

 

 


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About Brendan Connelly

Brendan Connelly, a lifetime native of Scituate, comes to WATD via the University of Massachusetts, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. During his time in Amherst, Brendan worked extensively with the University’s Radio Station WMUA 91.1 FM, in their sports department as a Broadcaster and Reporter. He also wrote for the Northampton-based periodical, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, in their Sports Department. Following his graduation in May 2014, Brendan applied at WATD, and was then hired a few weeks later as a Sales Executive. Shortly thereafter, he would gradually work his way into the Sports Department, becoming a weekly host on the Sports Exchange with Bill Wilhelm. One year later, Brendan officially took over the Morning Sports with Rob & Lisa, giving updates on Local High School Sports News Tuesdays through Fridays. Brendan still consistently sells advertising space as well for WATD, and helps Bill Wilhelm’s team at sporting events as a commentator. During his career with WATD, Brendan has had the opportunity to interview the likes of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, Zdeno Chara, and many more. Outside the station, Brendan also works as a Sports Writer for the Boston Herald, who hired his services one month following WATD. Brendan has also interned as a broadcaster for the Brockton Rox, which he completed during the summer of 2012.