Colleges

Joe Sullivan | College Basketball

Firing Derek Kellogg will only delay progress at UMass

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 21: Head coach Derek Kellogg of the Massachusetts Minutemen reacts in the first half while taking on the Tennessee Volunteers in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 21, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Derek Kellogg was 155-137 in his nine-year tenure at UMass.

UMass fired coach Derek Kellogg Thursday, and I’m not sure that’s the right way to go. Kellogg was 155-137 in nine years, and although the Minutemen were 15-18 overall and 4-14 in the Atlantic 10 this season, their group of young players seems to hint at a nice future.

It will not include Kellogg, who loyally served his alma mater, and in this volatile world of transferring, no doubt some of those young players will leave along with him. That means starting over with a new coach, and unless all the young players remain at UMass, there will be more rocky seasons.

Part of the problem is that the Mullins Center was like a funeral home for most games. The program lives in the shadow of the John Calipari era, which will never be repeated.

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Here’s what I think UMass should do: Forget football and pour all that money into men’s and women’s basketball and hockey. The Mullins Center is a nice facility, and it would be full with fans if those teams are winning. It’s much easier to accomplish in basketball and hockey than it is in football.

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I will consider likely replacements at a later date.

The award goes to . . .

At one time, Frank Mason was going to play for Towson State in Maryland. He never went to the school just north of Baltimore and instead took a postgraduate year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va.

Everything changed for him in a matter of months, and he ended up at Kansas. Over his four seasons, there have been critics who said Kansas had a mid-major point guard. If it was ever true, it isn’t any longer.

Mason has had a phenomenal career, and his senior season was his best, as he averaged 20.8 points, 5.1 assists, and even 4.1 rebounds per game. He plays 36 minutes per game and has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2-1.

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As far as Sully’s Court is concerned, he’s the best player on the team favored to win the national championship. That pretty much makes him the National Player of the Year.

The rest of the All-American team:

 Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Can’t believe the big bruiser isn’t projected to be in the NBA lottery.

 Josh Hart, Villanova: The key to Villanova’s success.

 Lonzo Ball, UCLA: He makes every one of his teammates better. He’s also the Freshman of the Year.

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 Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga: He has improved as the season went on and has a great inside-out game.

Joe Sullivan can be reached at joseph.sullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan