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New and improved men’s basketball team hopes to defy expectations

Despite an appearance in the America East quarterfinals last season, not much is expected out of the Retrievers men’s basketball team. Unfortunately, the Retrievers have earned these low expectations due in part to a 34-146 overall record since 2009. However, the Retrievers look to bite back at all doubters with the return of a renowned coach and the addition of much needed depth.

Even though the Retrievers did qualify for the conference tournament last season, they entered with a lowly 4-26 overall record and 2-14 conference record. They were immediately eliminated in a one-sided matchup against the University of Vermont, losing 66-39.

In the traditional America East preseason coaches’ poll, the coaches of the conference ranked UMBC seventh out of the nine teams. UMBC also failed to acquire any of the nine first place votes. Stony Brook University received seven first place votes and is ranked first in the poll, while defending America East champions University of Albany received two first place votes and is ranked second.

CBS Sports also recently released a complete ranking of all the division one men’s basketball teams and ranked UMBC 338th out of the 351 teams. In the rankings, compiled by their college basketball staff, CBS Sports predicted that UMBC would be the worst team in the America East, and said, “the bottom of the barrel in this league is usually among the 20 worst teams in the sport.”

It should also be noted that despite calling UMBC the worst team in the America East, another team from the conference was ranked below them. The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is ranked the sixth worst team in the country, according to CBS Sports.

The Retrievers will embrace their underdog status with the return of legendary Coach Frankie Allen as an assistant coach. Allen formerly served as a member of the Retrievers coaching staff from 2006-2008. During the 2007-2008 season, Allen was a key part to the team earning their only America East title and NCAA tournament berth.

They also boast an impressive freshmen class this season that will add much needed depth to a team severely lacking it the previous season. All five members of the freshmen class have earned a variety of accolades during their high school careers, including two who possess All-American honors.

Freshman Joel Wincowski was named a 2014 Max Preps All-American, while his new teammate, freshman Daquon Ervin was named a 2015 McDonald’s All-American nominee. Fellow freshman Nolan Gerrity earned most valuable player honors in his high school team’s conference.

UMBC enters the season on a high-note after beating Frostburg State University in an exhibition match, 92-76. They play their first game of the season again Wake Forest University in the opening round of the Jim Maui Invitational.