By Jonah Bronstein
Tyrell Lynch found himself in the middle of the deep end in his first season of college basketball.
“I had to just jump in the pool and start swimming,” the 2006 Niagara Falls High School graduate said this past week.
Two games into his freshman season at the University of Massachusetts, Lynch was thrust into the starting lineup for a game against defending national runner-up Memphis. An injury to senior starter Luke Bonner gave Lynch a chance to play right away — albeit, somewhat out of position.
“In our offense, the dribble-drive motion, its basically four guys out, and one guy in the middle holding it down,” said Lynch, who is listed at 6-foot-8, and 230 pounds. “Last year, I had to play that spot because I was one of the biggest, strongest guys on the team.”
Lynch started five games for the Minutemen as a freshman, and averaged 16.4 minutes, 3.7 points, and 3.6 rebounds on the season.
“I felt like it took me a little bit of time to adapt to the speed of the game at the college level,” he said. “But I learned a lot, and I learned quickly.”
Lynch looked leaner when he visited high school teammate Rob Garrison last week at Niagara University than he did during the season and he said he’s preparing to play a bigger role for UMass next season.
“I didn’t lose weight, but I cut fat and added muscle,” he said. “I’ve been lifting weights four days a week, sometimes five. I feel totally different playing pickup. I think I’ve transformed my game. I’m in the best shape of my life. Running faster than I ever did, jumping higher.”
“... This year, they’ve moved me to my more natural spot, which is forward. Basically on the perimeter, setting up the offense, getting in the passing lanes, blocking shots, playing defense. Kind of like Paul (Harris). Do-it-all Paul.”
In comments posted on the Minutemen Web site, coach Derek Kellogg said he has high hopes for Lynch, who enrolled at UMass a year early to make himself academically eligible.
“Man, is he talented,” Kellogg said. “He has a chance with hard work and enthusiasm and intensity to be a great player here.”