Every sports team has endured some form of drama that could potentially lead to a downfall of its franchise. Take, for example, the outrage against former Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling, who was forced out of his position. For those who do not remember, Donald Sterling was caught in a incident where he used racial slurs against Earvin “Magic” Johnson in a recorded phone conversation with his then-wife. The message went on to talk about how much Sterling disliked having his wife bringing black people to the games with her.
While the Retrievers have never faced a situation of this magnitude, they have dealt with their own personal drama following the sudden resignation of their former women’s basketball head coach Phil Stern. Prior to his resignation the team was doing fairly well, sitting above .500 and going 6-5 before he was placed on administrative leave. Through the first six weeks the team dominated as the reached a school record of going 6-0. In the first two games of the season, the Retrievers took care of their opposition with little to no problem. The second game seemed to be the team’s coming out party. During their game against Eastern (Pa.), nearly every player on the team scored as they won in style, 81-42. The next four games seemed to prove that these Retrievers were not to be trifled with as they won by an average of 15 points.
After the historic 6-0 start things started to falter as UMBC would drop six of their last seven games. In the midst of this losing streak Stern was placed on administrative leave for reasons as of yet unknown. Active head coach Carlee Dewey took over the helm with hope that she could put the team back on track. Things started off well as the team was able to squeak by Morgan State to give Dewey her first victory as a head coach. This would be her last victory for over a month. As the Retrievers began losing games the hype surrounding the team plummeted and fans started missing games. It could be said that the team was finished for the year and nothing could get them out of their slump.
The Retrievers would return to the win column towards the end of January defeating conference-rival New Hampshire. They went on another losing streak, dropping their next seven and making their playoff ranking drop. There were only three games left to play in which the Retrievers would need to win two of the last three to secure a chance at the playoffs. All three of these games were in conference, which means rankings are that much more significant. The Retrievers returned home to face Albany and took care of business with a 69-60 victory. The following match-up against Stony Brook was less than pleasing as the team had no answers for this offensive powerhouse at home and loss by eleven points.
In the final game of the season UMBC would win, catapulting them into not only seventh place, but a chance to make the playoffs. The Retrievers got off to a rough start, only scoring 21 points in the first half. Luckily, New Hampshire struggled as well, leaving the door open for the Retrievers to take control of the game and move on to the playoffs. By the end of the third quarter, UMBC held New Hampshire to 7 points which was enough to get a victory as they beat New Hampshire 55-47. Now with the playoffs ahead and a fresh start among all the rumors and distractions, UMBC women’s basketball can focus on a strong playoff run that starts against Hartford. Maybe you can teach a dog new tricks, some that can possibly lead to some March Madness.