Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Blackbirds have new set of feathers with hiring of Derek Kellogg

Derek Kellogg addresses media for first time as head coach of LIU Brooklyn, replacing Jack Perri. (Photo by Jonathan Reyes/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Jonathan Reyes (@werdynerdy)

BROOKLYN -- When a basketball program can have Kentucky head coach John Calipari quoted in a press release and have the Hall of Fame coach tweet about its new hire at the head coaching position, it’s doing something right.

Such was the case Tuesday morning, when LIU Brooklyn introduced its 14th head coach in Derek Kellogg before a contingent of local media inside Barclays Center.

“Coach Kellogg has a proven track record as one of the nation’s top recruiters who understands player development and how to build a winning program,” Calipari; who coached Kellogg at the University of Massachusetts and brought him onto his staff at Memphis, said in the release. “The future is bright for LIU with Derek Kellogg at the helm. I have witnessed firsthand his heart and love of the game as a player and a coach.”

Calipari also tweeted the following after the press conference concluded:

It was a fast turnaround for Kellogg to be back in the role of head coach at another college basketball program, especially after nine seasons at UMass and being fired March 9. A little over a month passed before he resurfaced, even to his own surprise.

“I didn’t think I’d be getting back in this quickly,” he said during the press conference.

Flanked by Julius van Sauers (left) and Julian Batts (right), Derek Kellogg is intent on maintaining status quo of success at LIU Brooklyn. (Photo by Jonathan Reyes/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

The same way he found a new opportunity for him and his family is the same way he’s going to have to build his own Blackbirds brand and identity almost right away, most notably since he’s losing players such as Jerome Frink and Iverson Fleming to graduation, and Nura Zanna as a transfer to Houston. Kellogg will also have to try to keep Jashaun Agosto, the Blackbirds' freshman point guard who declared for the NBA Draft, but did not hire an agent, leaving the door open for his return.

During Kellogg’s introduction, he briefly mentioned how his team would dive on the floor for the loose ball. When asked again, he said he needs to spend some time with his new players and go recruit.

“We’ll come up with that identity as we go,” he said. “But I’d like for fans that come watch us play or for people who come into practice to say that we’re one of the hardest working teams that they’ve seen in the country, that we’re going to make it very difficult to play against. And that when teams see LIU Brooklyn, they’re not going to want to compete against us; they’re going to just get on the bus and go home because of how hard we play and the style that we play, and it’ll be a different style.”

Kellogg added the team needs to work through some things before it can separate itself. To help in doing so, he’d like to have two to three players who are perennial first or second-team all-conference players.

“When I go on the recruiting trail, we’re looking for guys that fit my style, No. 1, and No. 2, can become all-conference players in the NEC,” he said. “I’ve played against teams in this conference, whether it’s LIU, Wagner or Central Connecticut; this is a good college basketball league, and so we have to get good players that want to compete at the highest level.”

Aside from recruitment, he wants to schedule heavyweight programs to face off against his Blackbirds as a way to “see where we are and where we’re going.”

In all of Kellogg’s years at UMass as both player and coach, he worked with names from the likes of the aforementioned Calipari to Indiana Pacers assistant coach Bill Bayno, Bruiser Flint, now an assistant coach at Indiana University after serving as head coach at both UMass and Drexel; and John Robic, one of Calipari's assistants at Kentucky. Each, in Kellogg’s own words, are “high-level college coaches and even into the NBA.” The one thing he took away and learned from them was how to coach, of course, but how to relate to players too.

“Watching them work and how they interacted with the kids, it was a profession I thought I could excel at being a personable person with good hard work and really enjoy being around other people,” Kellogg said. “Over the years, you just learn to get better as you turn into an adult. Being a father and having a son of your own helps you relate to kids even more.”

Another thing that kids relate to is winning, and the unsurprisingly energetic Kellogg made a bold statement during his introductory speech that will surely fire up his players.

“We’re going to make noise immediately,” he declared.

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