GAZETTE FILE PHOTO University of Massachusetts freshmen Demetrius Dyson has stepped up and filled a role for the undefeated men's basketball team.
AMHERST — Demetrius Dyson said he wasn’t nervous when Derek Kellogg sent him into the game with 9 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half of Sunday’s win over Youngstown State.
The University of Massachusetts freshman immediately drew the assignment of guarding Kendrick Perry, the Penguins’ leading scorer.
Seven minutes later, Dyson came out of the game. He wasn’t perfect. He missed two 3-pointers and cut the wrong way leading to a Chaz Williams turnover. But Perry didn’t score during that stretch.
“I’m trying to come in and play defense. I wasn’t focused on scoring, I was just focused making sure he didn’t score and hurt us,” Dyson said. “I knew Chaz and Cady (Lalanne) were having great games. I wasn’t coming in trying to be a superstar, just to fulfill my role and lock this person down.”
With a veteran roster, Kellogg isn’t relying on big numbers or even big minutes from rookies Dyson, Seth Berger and Clyde Santee (Zach Coleman is injured). He’s looking for guys to be ready to play a role when called upon that won’t slow the veterans down. So far Dyson has proved most ready.
“I don’t feel like offense is something that I have to do. Maybe in the future, then I’ll be the one that has to contribute on the offensive end,” Dyson said. “Right now I try to come in, lock down the one and do whatever it takes to win. That’s all I’m focused on. We just want to keep this undefeated record going.”
Kellogg praised Dyson’s maturity and steadiness in preseason practices and the team’s closed scrimmage against Harvard. Kellogg has shown reluctance to play freshman in recent years, especially early in the season, but he didn’t hesitate to put Dyson in, in a big spot.
“I feel like I’m ready to take my role — come in and bring some energy and make a difference when I come on the court,” Dyson said. “I’m starting to adjust and I think I’m getting better. It’s an easy group to come in with. I feel like I can compete with them and help them out as well. I just want to step in and not seem like I’m a freshman on the floor.”
Kellogg said while Dyson isn’t focused on offense, he expects him to eventually provide some.
“He makes shots in practice. He better start knocking down some 3s in games,” Kellogg said laughing. “He’s solid. He doesn’t really get in the way out there and they have to respect that he can shoot.”
With the Minutemen about to play three games in four days at the Charleston Classic, Dyson figures to see more action. He said he’s ready.
“I feel like that (Youngstown) game is going to help me prepare for these three games coming up. I know I’m going to be called on a lot,” Dyson said. “People might get in foul trouble or get tired. From this game I got a little experience under my belt so I know what to expect.”