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Men's Basketball Opens Three-Game America East Homestand vs. Vermont on Wednesday at RAC Arena
Cavell Johnson tied his season high with 22 points in Sunday's win at UNH.
The UMBC men’s basketball team (10-5, 2-0 America East) opens a three-game homestand this week as they host 2007 regular season champion Vermont (6-8, 1-1) on Wednesday at the RAC Arena. The Retrievers’ 10-5 start ties is best 15-game mark in the school’s 22-year Division I history, but UMBC must try to reverse a trend against the Catamounts.
*** UMBC earned eight non-conference wins, its most ever since entering conference play at the Division I level in 1990. Their 10-5 record through 15 games ties its best (1988-89) in the school’s 22-year Division I history. The Retrievers went 3-0 vs. La Salle, Richmond and George Washington, all members of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
*** UMBC is averaging 77.4 points per game in its first 15 games, compared to the 60.5 ppg the Retrievers averaged in the 2006-07 campaign. The Retrievers scored 70 or more points in its first seven games, also setting a new school Division I mark.
*** UMBC was selected to finish fifth in the coaches’ pre-season poll. The Retrievers tied for fourth (7-9) place in the 2006-07 season and advanced to the league semifinals. Boston University, winner of a conference-best five America East Championships, is the preseason choice of the coaches to win the league title in 2007-08.
***Ray Barbosa, Brian Hodges, Darryl Proctor and Cavell Johnson are amongst the top 10 scorers in the America East Conference.
*** Barbosa earned America East Player of the Week honors for his efforts vs. Saint Peter’s, while Johnson made it back-to-back for the Retrievers by earning the honor on Nov. 19. Jay Greene was feted on Dec. 3, Johnson earned his second award on Dec. 23 and Proctor just earned the honor on Monday.
*** Hodges (1,333 points) has moved into sixth place on UMBC’s all-time scoring list. He hit a career-best seven 3-pt. field goals in the win over George Washington and will just played in his 100th career game at Ohio State.
UMBC Basketball at a Glance: The Retrievers are competing in their 40th season of intercollegiate basketball and 22nd at the NCAA Division-I level (1986-87). UMBC has played 1,070 games, winning 444 and dropping 626 (.415) and are 251-357 (.413) since 1986-87. The Retrievers enter their fifth season in the America East Conference, after stints as an independent (1986-90), the East Coast Conference (1990-92), the Big South Conference (1992-98) and the Northeast Conference (1998-2003). The Retrievers’ last winning campaign occurred in the 2001-02 season, when they went 20-9.
Giant Killers: UMBC’s 89-79 win over George Washington came over a program which has been to the NCAA Tournament for the past three seasons. The last time UMBC defeated a non-league opponent that had been to the NCAA’s the previous year occured in the 1991-92 campaign, when UMBC defeated Towson. The Tigers went to “the dance” in the 1990-91 season.
Charting the Dogs: The Retrievers entered the week second nationally in turnovers per game (10.5) 25th in free throw percentage (74.5%), 7th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.47), and 20th in three-point field goal percentage (41.1%).
Next Man Up?: The Retrievers’ only dressed seven scholarship players and eight total student-athletes at. Ohio State. Uwem Eshietedoho, a six-foot-eight junior forward, will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a fractured right tibia in the second half of the game against West Virginia on Saturday, Dec. 15, while Justin Fry, a six-nine sophomore forward, suffered a sprained left ankle in the first half vs. the Mountaineers and missed a pair of games before playing 19 minutes at Stony Brook.
Situationally Speaking: UMBC has trailed at halftime of six of the last nine game and eight of 15 on the season. They have been outscored by 2 points in the first half, but are a +92 in the second half in ‘07-‘08. After winning seven straight games decided by five points or less (dating back to last season), UMBC has lost the last two (Lafayette, Central Conn. State) in that situation.
Home Cookin’: With the 83-65 win over Hampton, UMBC has now won seven straight games at the RAC Arena and ten of its last 11.
Road Woes Halted: UMBC had dropped four straight road contests and six straight America East road games until the win over Stony Brook on Thursday. The win at Lundholm Gym on Sunday snapped a three-game Retriever losing streak at UNH.
It’s Early, But...: Only one Retriever (Brian Hodges, 14.7 ppg) averaged in double figures last season and to date, four Retrievers are averaging double-digit scoring through the first two months weeks of the campaign. Through the first 15 games last season, there were only five 20+ point nights by a UMBC player. Through 15 games this season, there have been 17. The loss at Central Connecticut was UMBC’s first game this season without a 20-point scorer and the win over Hampton was UMBC’s first victory without a 20-point scorer.
Guys, It’s Not Duke:! UMBC has played the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils 29 times since both teams went to Division I competition in 1986. CCSU is UMBC’s most-frequent foe in 22 year of Division I competition. UMBC won 10 of the first 14 contests, but Central has won 11 of the last 15, including six straight. CCSU held UMBC to 54 points, 22 fewer than the Retrievers’ season average and 14 points lower than their previous low (68 at Wichita State). UMBC also registered season lows in field goal percentage (31.3%), and free throws made and attempted (8/12). The Retrievers scored only 52 points in last season’s 66-52 home setback vs. Central. UMBC was also below 40 percent field goal shooting at WVU.
Back to the Bright Side: Morgan State had been allowing only 59.4 points per game and had allowed a season high of 69 points to U. Conn prior to the 84-76 loss to the Retrievers. American had been allowing 58.9 points per game before UMBC dropped 83 on the Eagles. Ohio State was allowing 58.1 points per game, before UMBC scored an opponent season high of 83 vs. the Buckeyes. Stony Brook was permitting 66 .1 ppg, before UMBC exceeded that by ten points on Thursday. The Retrievers had never scored more than 65 points in a regular season game vs. UNH, before amassing 86 last Sunday.
Straight Shooters: The Retrievers were ranked 42nd in the nation last season in free throw percentage. Despite the efficiency and the fact that the Retrievers played a school record-high 31 games, UMBC’s 445 free throw attempts for the season (14.4 attempts per game) was an all-time school Division I low. Brian Hodges led UMBC with 92 attempts in 2006-07; Darryl Proctor attempted 167 in the 2004-05 season and 168 the following year.
UMBC opened the campaign, but hitting 27 of 37 attempts from the free throw line. The 27 free throws and 37 attempted were the most for a UMBC team since hitting 30 of 40 vs. Robert Morris on Feb. 9, 2002. The Retrievers followed up with a 25 of 28 effort at La Salle, including a 17-of-17 performance in the second half. UMBC made all 22 of its free throws in the second halves in week No. 2.
In UMBC’s ten wins, they have made an average of 17.4 free throws per game, while they have made just 11.2 per contest in the five losses. The Retrievers have made 80 of 99 free throw attempts (80.8%) in the final five minutes of games this season. However, UMBC has struggled in the last two games, hitting just 32 of 54 attempts from the line (59.3%).
Comfort Zone: The 45-point margin of victory over Goucher was UMBC’s largest since entering Division I, surpassing the 40-point win recorded over Shenandoah (109-69) in the 1989-90 season… the 37 points allowed by UMBC was the fewest in a 40-minute game in the school’s Division I history and tied the all-time low set in a 47-37 win over Saint Thomas Acquinas in the 1979-80 season.
Comeback Kids: UMBC won just once when trailing at halftime in the 2005-06 campaign. Last season, they improved that to five victories (5-13) and the Retrievers opened the 2007-08 campaign with two come-from-behind victories. They also have two December halftime rallies, overcoming American and Hampton. UMBC’s largest come-from-behind win last year was overcoming a 26-14 second half deficit to vanquish UNH, 45-44 at the RAC Arena on Jan. 25 and they matched that 12-point comeback vs. Saint Peter’s.
Extra Time: UMBC’s 45-minute affair at Lafayette was just the Retrievers’ third overtime game in the last four-plus seasons of basketball. They did not play an overtime game in the 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons and won their lone 2005-06 overtime contest vs. Boston University. The overtime game at Lafayette was UMBC’s first in 50 contests.
Raining Threes: The Retrievers came within one 3-pt. field goal of tying a school record when they buried 12 (of 25) vs. George Washington. UMBC then hit 13 three-point field goals (13/23) vs. Goucher. The last time a Retriever squad hit 13 was on Dec. 30, 1994 at LSU. UMBC smashed the record with 17 three-pointers (breaking a Value City Arena record) at Ohio State and tied a school record for attempts in a game with 35.
However: UMBC, which had a penchant for giving up quite a few three-balls in America East play, has allowed double-digit trifecats (10 at Ohio State, 13 at UNH) in two of its last three games.
Season High: UMBC’s 55 percent from the floor (33/60) at UNH is a season-best and the first time this year they went over the 50-percent mark. The Retrievers committed one second half turnover in a 49-point second half.
Gotta Love the ‘80’s: UMBC has scored 80 or more points nine times through the first 15 games of the season. Only the 1992-93 team (ten times) has bettered that mark. The team’s 1,161 points through 15 games is the third-most in 22 years of Division I play. The 2001-02 team scored 1,204, while the 1992-93 team tallied 1,228.
League Leaders: Entering the week, UMBC led the America East Conference in offense (77.4 ppg), scoring margin (+5.7) free throw percentage (74.5%), 3-pt. field goal percentage (41.1%), assists (15.47pg), turnover margin (+2.87), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.47).
Early Bird, um Dawg: Bakari Smith has signed a national letter-of-intent and will attend the university in the fall of 2008. Smith is a 6-foot-3, 185-lb. “combo”-guard who will have three years of eligibility at UMBC. He attended Baltimore City Community College in 2006-07 and averaged 12 points, five assists and five rebounds per game for the Panthers. He was named the school’s Athlete of the Year and was a member of BCCC’s Granville T. Woods Scholars program.
Schedule Notes: UMBC has the most hectic league schedule to start America East play, as they are the only conference team to play seven games in the first 20 days (Jan. 3-Jan. 22) of competition…the Retrievers then play just four times in a 25-day span, before finishing the season with five games in 15 days.
For Openers: UMBC is now 4-1 in America East openers and 3-0 when opening on the road. The Retrievers also opened the 2006-07 season with two road games and went 2-0 before losing the final six AEC roadies last year. However, the Retrievers are just 1-3 in their first conference home games of the year, with the lone triumph occuring vs. Stony Brook two seasons ago.
Cats and Dogs: UMBC has their poorest America East Conference record vs. the Catamounts, with just one win in 10 games. Vermont swept UMBC last year, including a 72-63 triumph in the league semifinals. The Retrievers’ lone win did occur at the RAC Arena, an 86-73 win on Feb. 11, 2006. Vermont outrebounded UMBC by an average of 10.0 caroms per game in last season’s 3-0 sweep.