UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette has been adamant that he would like to build his program from the ground up.
However, after finishing in fifth place in the America East during his first season and welcoming eight freshmen to the program, now was the perfect time to find a graduate transfer to help lead the way. It was also convenient that Northeastern transfer Marco Banegas-Flores, who Duquette worked with as an assistant at the school before taking the UMass Lowell job, was available.
“I want to build this thing from the ground up with four-year players, but I think if you find the right transfer to help compliment that approach then I think it can be real helpful,” Duquette said. “In this case I had a prior relationship with Marco, so I know exactly the type of person he is, and I knew that he would provide just a little more leadership and experience for a really young team.”
Banegas-Flores started eight games last season. He averaged 2.9 ppg and appeared in 77 games with the Huskies. Duquette said that his familiarity with the 6’1″ guard helped convince him to bring Banegas-Flores onboard.
“I also knew it was equally important for me to know that he would blend really well with our current upperclassmen and he’s done all that,” Duquette said. “I think he’s going to be a really good piece for this year.”
The River Hawks graduate transfer joins a group of three other seniors who will be tasked with leading UMass Lowell in year two of their four-year transition into Division I. Banegas-Flores will join Chad Holley, who is the team’s returning leading scorer with 10.3 ppg and redshirt senior Kerry Weldon who led the team with 150 rebounds last season.
“I think Chad Holley has made as much progress during the last year as anybody I’ve coached,” Duquette said. “It’s great to have Kerry back, a fifth-year senior up front, who works his tail off and you know what you are going to get every night with Kerry.”
Duquette knows that his seniors will have to carry the way, but that freshmen will have to fill out the rotation and roles have yet to be determined.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the America East conference, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.