Head coach Ryan Odom’s first year with the Retrievers came to an end on March 1 after a road loss in the playoffs against the University of New Hampshire. The season ends as the Retriever’s first winning season since 2008, and only the fourth season with 18 or more wins in the school’s history.
Men’s basketball started the game slowly and lost control through the first half, with uncharacteristically bad shooting leading to a deficit of seven in the half. Though the Retrievers were tight defensively and did not have any excessive turnovers, they struggled to get points on the board against a taut New Hampshire defense.
The second half spiraled away from the Retrievers before the deficit became as large as 13 points. UMBC then managed to find the grit through junior Jairus Lyles (who’s 17 points led the team) to rally back to a one point deficit with about a quarter of the game remaining.
The rest of the game was a series of runs, with the Retrievers fighting their way back into it before New Hampshire killed UMBC’s momentum. With a minute and a half left and a seven point deficit, Lyles managed to create a vivacious play that would try to spark the Retrievers, but it would be the final surge for the away side. New Hampshire junior guard Jaleen Smith converted a game leading shot and one in return, and the Retrievers would fail to put points up for the rest of the night as New Hampshire put the game away with free throws.
Coach Odom’s management in his first season proved to be a revitalization of how the program approached the game. High press defense, ambitious shooting, exciting ball movement, and endurance in big moments were all trademarks in the Retrievers play this season. The team was definitely one of the most improved in the nation from last year, and is sure to continue to grow.
Senior guard Will Darley had a breakout season for his final year in the black and yellow. During the regular season he shot an astronomical 48 percent from the field, with an equally impressive 45 percent from beyond the arc. Darley certainly grew and found his style under coach Odom and showed continual improvement through the season.
For the UMBC basketball program, the goal in 2017-2018 will certainly be to expand upon the progress that was made during this last season. With most of the starters staying and an eager and hungry supporting cast to fill the holes, it is definitely an exciting season to come for the UMBC faithful.