This story is updated as of Sunday. Check retriever.umbc.edu for an update on the Coppin State game.
The UMBC men’s basketball season looked promising early on despite a loss to Marquette on opening night. The Retrievers went on a four-game winning streak after that loss. It looked like they had found their rhythm and that things were going great for the team. But since then, they have struggled to find consistency, and as a result, they find themselves at 4-4 after a three-game losing streak.
The Retrievers fell to South Dakota in the last game of the Bimini Jam by a score of 58-52. Playing in their third game in four days, the team was missing a lot of shots off the front of the rim. They looked visibly tired, but the defense did not budge. However, with a 32.7 shooting percentage, the team was unable to get the points necessary to win the game.
Against American University, junior-forward Max Curran had an impressive game, scoring 20 points and 6 rebounds. Curran even had the game tying dunk with less than 30 seconds left in the half, before an American University player took a long three-point shot from the middle of the court and gave American University the lead with under 10 seconds left. After intentionally fouling, the Retrievers would fall to the Eagles 73-69.
UMBC started their game against Northern Kentucky on a 9-0 run, looking as if they may have shaken their offensive woes. The team looked to be clicking on all cylinders, but things quickly fell apart. The team shot only 34 percent from the field, and the Norse simply out-shot the Retrievers that evening. Kentucky would eventually win 78-60.
Much of UMBC’s problem thus far has been inconsistency on offense. The Retrievers rank 303rd in the country with a 40.6 field goal percentage. Though UMBC is a mid-major and would not be expected to have one of the highest percentages in the country, they rank last in the America East Conference in shooting percentage.
After the graduation of guards Jairus Lyles, KJ Maura and Jourdan Grant, the Retrievers have yet to find the same production from those positions as they did a year ago. Junior-guards KJ Jackson and Ricky Council II have yet to find their rhythm on offense, shooting 28.8 and 31.7 percent from the field respectively. The pair are both adjusting to the new offense with Jackson transferring in from junior college and Council transferring from Providence. Freshman-guard Jose Placer has also struggled on the season shooting 34.4 percent from the field. Over the three-game stretch, the trio of guards have shot only 24 percent from the field combined (13-53).
UMBC’s guards are very early in their careers. Jackson scored 25.8 points per game in junior college, Jose Placer averaged 11.5 points per game for team Puerto Rico over the summer and Council II had more than 28 points per game in prep school. All three players possess natural scoring ability and have demonstrated their ability to score at high levels, despite their current struggles. The three are good players and will likely be key offensive pieces once they adjust to playing at the Division I level.
Despite the Retrievers scoring trouble, the team’s defensive statistics have been outstanding thus far this season. The team currently ranks 18th in the nation, forcing 18.0 turnovers per game.
The Retrievers take on Coppin State on Dec. 3 (check retriever.umbc.edu for updates) before heading to Philadelphia on Saturday.