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Courtesy of UMBC Athletics.

Chattin’ With: Arkel Lamar of Men’s Basketball

Ahead of the new basketball season, expectations are high as the fans look to the team to improve on their semi-final finish in the CIT tournament. To that end, I got to speak with sophomore power forward and sociology major, Arkel Lamar. He just had a great first season with the Retrievers where he was awarded the team’s Most Improved Player, and also named to the America East All-Rookie Team.

Lamar averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds last season. In his down time, Lamar likes to play Madden and NBA 2K. He is a big fan of the the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Oakland Raiders.  An avid mac and cheese man, he describes himself as reserved and hopes to master the Spanish language in the near future.

How would you rate your performance in your first year?

“I would rate it decent. It could have been a lot better.”

What things from your experiences can you pass on to the incoming freshmen?

“[My advice would be] always play as hard as possible. Even if you mess up a play, or make the wrong decision in the game, just keep playing your hardest and give it your all.”

What things would you want to change or keep the same for the new season?

“Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything. What I would keep the same is [men’s coach Ryan] Odom’s style of play. Up and down, fast paced. It really fits our guys.”

How did it feel to be in the All-Rookie team of the year?

“It felt great to be a part of that. I battled a bunch of injuries going through the season so I know I could have performed a lot better but even just making the team … it was an honor.”

What are your personal goals for this season?

“My goals are to lead the team in rebounds and make All-Defensive team, if not defensive player of the year.”

How would you rate the Retrievers’ chances, because you made it to the semi-finals of the CIT tournament last year, and UMBC was voted to finish third this year in the Conference pre-season poll?

“I’m very confident in how we are going to play this season. I think we’re going to make it far … we are going to win the conference championship and get to the NCAAs. [About UMBC finishing third]: We will see soon enough!”

What can you say about teammates graduate guard Jairus Lyles, who led the league in scoring last year, senior guard K.J Maura, who made the All-Defensive team, and how the team can replace the players who have moved on?

“I wouldn’t say we [need to] replace them, but we can try our best to pick up where they left off. As a person, Jairus is great, he is always engaged on campus. On the court, he is amazing. He scores the ball at a high level; it is amazing watching him play and I love him as a teammate. K.J is our amazing point guard. It is actually a sight to see the way he distributes the ball, it’s crazy! I would like to see him shoot the ball more.”

Which players are you expecting big things from this season?

“I am expecting big things from [sophomore forward] Max Curran, [junior forward] Max Portmann and [freshman guard] David Park once he gets healthy.”

Any message for the fans?

“Just come up and support us. We will put on a show for you guys.”

The Retrievers open up their season against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs on Friday November 10. Lamar and the team will be looking for a victory in order to live up to fans’ expectations as he tries to make good on his prediction that UMBC will win the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland Tournament.