LIU Brooklyn basketball coach Derek Kellogg knows about resiliency.
The Springfield, Massachusetts, native landed his dream job in 2008 as head coach at UMass, where he played point guard under current Kentucky coach John Calipari in the early 1990s, only to get fired last spring. He was let go despite leading the Minutemen to the 2014 NCAA tournament and two consecutive NIT berths during his nine seasons in charge.
“It was tough,” Kellogg said. “I met my wife at UMass, and we really poured our heart and soul into the community there. We had some success. It just didn’t work out in the end.”
A lot of coaches, following such a career setback, would opt for a year (or more) of television work. But Kellogg, after “shuffling around the house a few days,” decided to get back into the fray. He interviewed for several college jobs before accepting the LIU position.
“Right away, I knew it was the perfect fit for me and my family,” Kellogg said. “A program with a rich tradition... A chance to live in the greatest place in the world… How could I turn that down?”
While Kellogg looks to “restart his career” in Brooklyn, he has a lot of work to do. Despite coming off a 20-win season, many of the players on the Blackbirds’ roster considered transferring last spring after the abrupt departure of former head coach Jack Perri (now an assistant at Boston University).
“Once I met with Coach Kellogg, I knew I wanted to stay,” said fifth-year senior guard Joel Hernandez. “He told me his plans for changing the program around, and I want to be a part of it.”
Kellogg’s first order of business was a full renovation of the locker rooms and improvements to the housing options offered to players at LIU’s urban campus. He’s also upgraded the Blackbirds’ schedule, adding road games at Tulane and Fordham as well as a trip to the Jamaica Classic in Montego Bay. The coach promises an “up-tempo” playing style, which has worked well in the past at LIU.
“I give the players a lot of credit: They’ve really embraced what we’re trying to do,” Kellogg said. “They’re a fun group, a hardworking group. I’m excited. I want to get this program to where it should be: contending for conference championships every year. I can’t wait to get started.”