NEW YORK — The journey that has brought the UMass Minutemen back into the NCAA Tournament after a lengthy absence didn’t start with three fifth-year seniors, or a beefed-up nonconference schedule, or a blistering 16-1 start, or even frustratingly close Dance calls the past two seasons that became motivation.
All those things helped, certainly, but let’s go back a number of years. Before Derek Kellogg became the program’s 21st coach on April 23, 2008. Before he participated, as a player and team captain, during the golden era of UMass basketball in the mid-1990s, a time flush with NCAA Tournament appearances and deep runs. Before he was a 1,000-point scorer at Cathedral High School in his native Springfield, Mass.