McCall introduced at UMass

  • UMass men’s basketball coach Matt McCall walks to the stage at the start of a press conference held to welcome him Thursday at the Champions Center in Amherst. daily hampshire gazette/Jerrey roberts

  • UMass men's basketball coach Matt McCall signals his children, Brooklyn, 3, and Kylie, 18 months, to be quiet during a press conference held to welcome him Thursday at the Champions Center.

  • UMass men's basketball coach Matt McCall speaks during a press conference held towelcome him Thursday at the Champions Center. Daily hampshire gazette/jerrey roberts

  • UMass men's basketball coach Matt McCall holds his daughter Brooklyn, 3, as his wife, Allison, holds Kylie, 18 months, after a press conference held to welcome him Thursday at the Champions Center.

For The Recorder
Thursday, March 30, 2017

AMHERST — Chattanooga coach Matt McCall was on the road recruiting players when UMass reached out to him Monday night with a question: Could he be in Boston Tuesday morning to meet with Minuteman athletic director Ryan Bamford to interview for the vacant men’s basketball coaching job?

He caught a flight and after that a long search process went fast.

Tuesday night he was on campus. Wednesday morning he was negotiating terms of his five-year, $750,000 per year contract while waiting for his family to arrive. Later that night, he’d been officially hired. The whirlwind climaxed at Thursday’s introductory press conference.

“I am so appreciative, I’m humbled and extremely honored to be the basketball coach of this great university and to have the opportunity to work with and impact these young men every single day,” he said standing at a podium at the far end of the gym at UMass’ Champions Center practice facility. “It’s truly a blessing and an honor and I can’t be more excited about this opportunity, as we embark on this journey going forward.”

McCall replaced Derek Kellogg, who was fired after the team’s Atlantic 10 Tournament loss earlier this month, ending a nine-year stint. The hire ends a search that drew national interest when Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey accepted the job and then changed his mind 30 minutes before the press conference a week ago.

Bamford said he was impressed with McCall right away.

“He had a way of explaining to us what it meant to be a championship program and how that could translate to success here,” Bamford said. “After the hours we spent together (in Boston), we took a breather and I invited him back to campus. It was good because we got a chance to know each other even more coming back here.”

McCall said his wife Allison, a Long Island native who sat in the front row with daughters Brooklyn and Kylie, was eager to return to the her Northeast roots.

“If you think I’m excited for this opportunity, she’s probably more excited than I am because she’s now three hours from her hometown.” McCall said. “I think Allison has already started packing boxes to get back up here to the Northeast.”

McCall promised to be a fun team to watch and compared his style to the one used by his mentor Billy Donovan when he was at Florida.

“After all those years with Coach Donovan, we want to run. We pressed a little more than we pressed with Florida. In my first year at Chattanooga we were the second or third most pressing team in the country,” he said. “We want to press and create turnovers. I’m a huge fan of the 3-point line. I think it’s the greatest equalizer in college basketball.

“If we can get a wide open look or a paint touch in the first 6 seconds of the shot clock we’ll take that,” he continued. “When we get into the half court we’re going to execute with a pro-style offense with an enormous amount of spread pick and rolls.”

In his first year at Chattanooga, McCall won the 2015-16 Southern Conference title with an inherited roster. He thought UMass could be good quickly as well.

“There’s no question there’s an enormous amount of talent here,” McCall said. “I’m really looking forward to getting on the floor with some of these guys.”

He set long-term goals as well.

“The standard is winning championships. We understand that, that’s the goal. The goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament, the goal is to win championships and continue to hang banners like it has been done here,” he said. “Our focus will continue to be on the process that is getting better every single day. That process starts with these players. That process starts with us having a huge impact with them both on and off the floor.”