When the UMBC men’s team opened up play this season against Frostburg St. University, they gave the UMBC faithful a reason to be hopeful.
Although Frostburg St. proved to be a much less formidable opponent, any observer would still have gotten excited at what they saw: an improvement in fundamentals.
The passes were crisp; the ball movement never stale or stagnant; and the Retrievers played at a pace for 40 minutes that any division one team would have had to work to keep up with.
And yes, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Frostburg is a division three team. But just one year ago a team of the same caliber took the Retrievers into overtime. Proving that the over 30 point drubbing they put on Frostburg meant we had made improvements.
Then came a loss to Akron. Not a bad loss — the Retrievers were beat by double-digits ,but by the number one team in their conference and at their house. There’s no need to panic.
Then came a loss to local rival Loyola. Once again, there’s no need to lose hope, considering both teams struggled tremendously from the field that night. UMBC shot 26.4 percent and Loyola shot 29.4 percent. It’s not crazy to say the home court advantage is responsible for the meager seven-point victory for Loyola that night.
But after these two losses the ball seemed to be rolling in the wrong direction, and it appeared to have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
A loss to Howard, a loss to Towson, a loss to UMES, all culminating to a 0-9 start. A five-point win against Longwood University stopped the bleeding, but only briefly, as UMBC would lose another eight out of nine.
As this article goes to print the Retrievers have a record of 3–17, 1–6 in the America East Conference. What could be the cause of this rough first half of the season?
The largest looming reason seems to be the loss of their point-guard and best player.
Sophomore Rodney Elliot came in after a stellar America East All-Conference Rookie season ready to lead his team to a turnaround season, only to have his season cut short by a devastating shoulder injury that put him out for the season.
Transfers Cody Joyce, a red-shirt junior, and Wayne Sparrow, a senior, have picked up much of the slack. Freshman Jourdan Grant has played well also, but it seems to not be enough to get them over the hump.
At this point, the Retrievers need some solutions. They showed some promise when they beat Lehigh University, who always puts a strong team on the floor, but they cannot seem to string together a consecutive grouping of wins to gain confidence.
At the midpoint in the conference season, hopefully the Retrievers can get the solutions they need to make the second half something to hang their hats on at the end of the season, instead of something to forget.