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Women's Basketball to Raise America East Championship Banner Friday; Retrievers Host No. 13 George Washington in Season Opener
BALTIMORE--The defending America East champion UMBC women's basketball team opens its season Friday night when 13th-ranked George Washington visits the RAC Arena for a 7:35 tip-off. Before the game, the Retrievers will unveil their 2007 America East Championship banner in a ceremony beginning at approximately 7:20 p.m. Watch the game live on UMBC's new multimedia website, www.umbcretrievers.tv, or listen to play-by-play announcer Troy Green's call of the game at WVIE 1370 AM or www.v1370.com. As always, you can follow the action from your computer with LiveStats.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC enters the 2007-08 season with a number of question marks. The Retrievers return only two starters and five players from the 2006-07 America East championship squad. With the departures of forwards Sharri Rohde and Heather Luttrell, point guard Brittnie Hughes and center Amanda Robinson, the UMBC lost 64 percent of its offense from last season. Senior guard Kristin Drabyn is the Retrievers’ top returning scorer after averaging 9.6 ppg last season and drilling 68 3-point field goals. The Retrievers also welcome six new faces this season - five freshmen and one junior college transfer.
COLONIAL UPDATE: The George Washington Colonials are the unanimous preseason favorite to repeat as Atlantic 10 champions. GW has won six consecutive regular-season conference titles and is coming off a season in which it reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and matched the school record with 28 victories. Senior point guard Kimberly Beck was named a preseason Wooden Award Candidate. Beck and senior Jessica Adair earned preseason first team All-Conference accolades, while senior Sarah-Jo Lawrence was voted to the second team. The Colonials are ranked 13th in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
Who’s Up Next: The Retrievers host Rider on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 12 p.m. at the RAC Arena. The game will mark the seventh all-time meeting between the former East Coast Conference rivals. UMBC holds a 4-2 series advantage after last season’s 69-61 win in Lawrenceville, N.J.
Inside the Series: Friday night's game marks the seventh all-time meeting between UMBC and George Washington, and the Colonials hold a 6-0 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 18, 1978, a 78-38 victory for visiting GW.
In the last meeting, Nov. 10, 2006, the Colonials defeated the Retrievers, 72-58, at the Smith Center. The Retrievers held a 17-16 lead with 9:26 remaining in the first half, but the nationally ranked Colonials were too much for UMBC to handle. Senior guard Brittnie Hughes led the Retrievers with 13 points and six assists, while senior forward Sharri Rohde and junior guard Kristin Drabyn added 12 points apiece. Rohde also added a team-high nine rebounds and three blocks. George Washington’s Kenan Cole led all scorers with 14 points and also added eight rebounds. Five Colonials reached double figures for scoring. The Retrievers sunk 10 three-pointers in the game, including seven of 11 in the second half, and shot 58.8 percent from long distance. UMBC shot 43.8 percent from the floor, while the Colonials connected on 47.4 percent of their field goal attempts.
News and Notes...
For Starters: UMBC is 8-13 in season openers since 1986-87, its first season at the Division I level. Last year, the Retrievers fell to George Washington, 72, 58, at the Smith Center.
Banner Night: The Retrievers will raise their America East Championship banner tonight in a pregame ceremony that will feature the return of many departed players from the championship team.
Retrievers Picked Sixth: For the second straight year, the Retrievers were selected to finish sixth in the America East in a vote of the conference’s head coaches, equaling the program’s highest billing since joining the America East in 2003-04.
From Captain to Coach: Former UMBC standout Sharri Rohde joins the Retrievers on the bench this season as an assistant coach. UMBC’s all-time Iron Woman, who started all 117 games in her career, graduated in 2007 after becoming just the third player in UMBC history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in her career. Rohde was named to the America East All-Conference second team last season for the second year in a row.
Dearly Departed: The Retrievers lost four key players from the 2006-07 squad, including forward Sharri Rohde (13.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg), point guard Brittnie Hughes (11.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg), center Amanda Robinson (10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and forward Heather Luttrell (3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg). The quartet accounted for 64 percent of the team’s scoring and 53 percent of the team’s rebounding last season.
Bragging Rights: UMBC will take on six of the nine Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers have road games scheduled at Coppin State (Nov. 14), Loyola (Dec. 3), Navy (Dec. 5), Towson (Dec. 19) and Maryland (Dec. 30), and will host Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 24). UMBC also faces nearby George Washington (Nov. 9) and George Mason (Nov. 21) from the Washington, D.C. area.
Drabyn for Three: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn ranks sixth all-time at UMBC with 99 career 3-point field goals and third with a career .343 shooting percentage from long distance. Drabyn’s 68 trifectas last season ranked second among all-time Retriever juniors and are the fourth-highest single-season total in UMBC history.
Three’s Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 71 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005. Last season, guard Kristin Drabyn ranked second in the America East and 89th in the nation with 2.06 3-pointers made per game. Drabyn drilled nine of 18 triples in two games at the Battle at the Border Tournament, including a career-high six against Texas State on Dec. 29. It was the most 3-pointers made by a Retriever since Ana Goncharova connected on nine on Jan. 29, 2005. As a team, UMBC ranked second in the America East and 39th in the NCAA in 3-pointers made per game (5.58).
Let’s Go Dancing: The Retrievers will face five teams that advanced to post-season play last season. George Washington (Nov. 9), James Madison (Nov. 16) and Maryland (Dec. 30) all competed in the NCAA Tournament after being ranked in the top 25 at some point during the season, while Hartford and Coppin State both participated in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
Fresh Faces: Six newcomers join the Retrievers this season, including five freshmen and one junior college transfer. The group makes up the largest recruiting class in head coach Phil Stern’s tenure and includes two conference players of the year, a junior college all-region honoree and a member of the Swedish National Team.
Hatten’s Many Hats: Senior guard Morgan Hatten has proved to be the most versatile player on the Retrievers’ roster, as she has played nearly every position in her first three years in a UMBC uniform. Hatten is the team’s top returning rebounder and assister, as she averaged 4.4 rpg and 2.2 apg last season. Hatten also ranked second in the America East with a 1.64 assist-to-turnover ratio last season.
Be a Good Sport: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn was the 2007 female recipient of the prestigious America East Sportsmanship Award. Viewed as the best teammate who always has a positive attitude, Drabyn excels on the court as well as in the classroom, as she maintains a 3.36 grade-point average (GPA) while majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a focus in communication and exercise physiology. The president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Drabyn is also extremely active in the community, mentoring local elementary school students twice a week, and she and three teammates spent Spring Break 2006 in New Orleans helping Habitat for Humanity with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
Playing Favorites: The Retrievers will face four teams that were picked to finish first in their respective conferences in 2007 preseason polls. George Washington was a unanimous selection in the Atlantic 10, as was Hartford in the America East. Coppin State (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) and Maryland (Atlantic Coast Conference) are also preseason favorites. The Colonials have won six consecutive A-10 titles, while the Eagles have won three MEAC crowns in a row and the Hawks have taken two straight in the America East. In addition, the Retrievers will take on four preseason conference players of the year in Rashida Suber of Coppin State (MEAC), Tamera Young of James Madison (CAA), Crystal Langhorne of Maryland (ACC) and Danielle Hood of Hartford (America East).
Aye-Aye, Captain: Seniors Kristin Drabyn and Morgan Hatten and junior Melissa Book have been named team captains for the 2007-08 season. Book is the first underclassman to serve as a team captain since Sharri Rohde and Heather Luttrell shared the honor as juniors in 2005-06.
Against the A-10: UMBC has not had much success against Atlantic 10 Conference opponents in the past. The Retrievers are just 2-17 all-time against the league’s member institutions. UMBC’s two wins came against Richmond in 1992 and Temple in 1994. The Retrievers face two A-10 teams this season: George Washington (Nov. 9) and Richmond (Dec. 28).
Cinderella Gets Her Slipper: UMBC earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth with a 48-46 victory over top-seeded Hartford in the America East title game. The Retrievers upset second-seeded Stony Brook, 67-64, in the America East Tournament quarterfinals, then took down No. 3 Vermont, 67-56, in the semifinals before shocking two-time defending champ and top-seeded Hartford for the program’s first-ever conference title. UMBC is the first team in America East history to defeat the top three seeds in the league tournament. The Retrievers were just the third No. 7 seed to reach the America East championship game and the lowest ever to win the conference title. UMBC had never won an America East Tournament contest since joining the league in 2003-04, and made only its second-ever title game appearance, as first-year head coach Phil Stern led the Retrievers to the Northeast Conference finals in 2003, its last in the league.
Robinson Named MOP: Forward Amanda Robinson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the America East Championships after averaging a tournament-best 15.3 points per game. Forward Sharri Rohde (12.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and guard Carlee Cassidy (14 pts, 4 3FGs in final) were also named to the All-Tournament team.
Sweet 16: With 16 victories last season, the Retrievers posted the fourth-most wins in program history and the second-most in the Division-I era.
Seeing Double: Three Retrievers - forward Sharri Rohde (13.6), point guard Brittnie Hughes (11.5) and forward Amanda Robinson (10.3) - averaged double figures in scoring last season. UMBC was the only team in the America East with four players ranking in the league’s top 20 in scoring (Kristin Drabyn).
Protecting the Ball: UMBC finished the season ranking 12th in the nation with just 14.2 turnovers per game, and the Retrievers forced an average of 3.12 more turnovers per game than they committed, the third-best margin in the conference. They led the league in America East games with a turnover margin of +4.63 tpg. UMBC committed a season-low six turnovers in the America East title game against Hartford. The Retrievers also ranked 31st in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.98).
Coaching Milestones: UMBC head coach Phil Stern picked up his 150th career win with the Retrievers’ America East Tournament semifinal victory over Vermont. Earlier in the season, he won his 50th game as the Retriever leader when UMBC defeated Binghamton on Jan. 13.
America East Recognition: Two Retrievers earned America East Player of the Week honors. Senior forward Sharri Rohde earned the award for the third time in her career on Dec. 3 after averaging a double-double the previous week, while junior guard Kristin Drabyn won it for the first time on Jan. 2 after averaging 19.0 ppg and shooting 56.5 percent (13-for-23) from the field, including 50 percent (9-for-18) from long distance at the Battle at the Border Tournament.