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UMBC alumni return for The Basketball Tournament. Photo from Retriever archive

Hilltop Dawgs return for second year

In 2018, UMBC made magic in the NCAA tournament. Now, they are looking to do it again. While the team was unable to make the tournament this year, they still have a shot at doing something that could make everyone remember just how special they really are. A few UMBC students, including The Retriever’s very own Zac McCord, are gathering players, graduates and alumni, to participate in the 6th annual TBT, better known as The Basketball Tournament. This tournament is comprised of 64 teams that come from all over the world. This year’s Hilltop Dawgs will be represented by basketball alumni Joe Sherburne, Sam Schweitz, K.J Maura, Nolan Gerrity and four other former players.

Last year, the team participated in the Richmond Regional where they were one and done, having only five players available to play. The team has three managers with McCord, Jeff Kee and Nick Lorenzen, each of whom brings a different style to the table. Lorenzen is a high school intern for the athletic department who also runs the UMBC fan page. Kee, on the other hand, has been involved in numerous UMBC programs, including being the head of SGA at one point.

Kee became the head general manager last year after having talks with UMBC basketball alumni Ray Barbosa and Andrew Feely. Together they decided on Kee becoming a general manager considering his illustrious background with the school and the sport of basketball. I was able to catch up with Kee who talked more in-depth about the team. “We created the Hilltop Dawgs as a way to showcase the most accomplished talents who have played for the program,” Kee explained. “A lot of people think we’re a one-hit-wonder program, but this tournament will showcase the fact that we’ve had a lot of extremely talented players represent our team,” said Kee.

Those words are very accurate as the program has had a strong boast of players, including Jairus Lyles who is making a name for himself in the G-League as a member of the Salt Lake Stars. The final co-manager McCord has been a beat writer for the men’s basketball team for three years and has seen how much the team has improved since his first year here. He also believes the management is something special. “This is a good mix of experiences from the fan page to journalist to basketball lifer, we’ll mix our skills together and try to get this team some dubs,” said McCord.

In order for the team to qualify for the tournament, they must be one of the top voted teams. If they are able to qualify they would have a chance to win 1.8 million dollars in prize money. This tournament could open the doors for many players and may even lead to an overseas contract. Everyone should go out and vote and give the Hilltop Dawgs a fighting chance to make the tournament and honor our school proudly.