Baltimore, Md. – In conjunction with the America East Conference's Men's and Women's Basketball Media Day, the UMBC Retrievers men's and women's programs held a local Media Day as both team's open their 2004-05 slate the weekend of Nov. 19-21. The UMBC men will host Navy on Friday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. and the Women's will host Coppin State in the 4 p.m. game of the 2004 UMBC Retriever Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday Nov. 20.
Both Head Men's Basketball Coach Randy Monroe and Head Women's Basketball Coach Phil Stern spoke with local and national media via the America East Conference Call and with media members attending today's festivities.
In addition the America East Conference released the 2004-05 Coach's Poll and preseason all-conference teams. The UMBC men were projected 10th with Vermont tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the America East Conference. The UMBC Women were all projected 10th with defending America East Champion Maine selected as the preseason favorite.
Media Day Quotes from Head Men's Basketball Coach Randy Monroe
On the opportunity of being the head coach:
"What I am excited about is having the opportunity to work with these young man who come into this gym every single day and give everything they have. I am a firm believer that the harder you work than good things will happen."
On transition from assistant to head coach:
"You get a lot paper work, that's what happens making that transition. Obviously you make a lot of decisions from A-to-Z. This is something, as an assistant coach, which I've been doing this for 18 years now, you live for. I think every assistant coach, no matter at what collegiate level, if he is not looking to be a head coach at some point in his life time, than there is something wrong with that. I would say the decision making process is one that you are always making decisions from A-to-Z."
On what the fans will notice differently about this year's team:
"Our kids will be looking to play a little up tempo. As I have often said we will be looking to press a little bit, it won't be 40-minutes of hell like the Arkansas Razorbacks, but we will be looking to play up tempo, looking to score in some transition and looking to press."
On returning players that have been in the system for a few years:
"I am really pleased with the guys overall work ethic. I think they have come in everyday and given 100-percent whether we have practiced for two hours, two and half hours or three hours. The guys have really been intuitive and they have done everything our coaching staff has asked of them."
On winning on the road and burden of road travel:
"It is a bear to win on the road in this league when you go on the road and you are playing in some of the hostile environments. I know Vermont for example has a tremendous fan base and I remember playing that game up there in February and Tom Brennan comes out with his staff and the whole arena stood up and started clapping for him and that was quite an experience in itself and quite an experience for our young men in the program. It was great and we loved the atmosphere and it's only going to make our team better. In terms of the travel I thought it was going to be a tremendous burden on our guys but I thought we did a tremendous job of holding up, which is not easy when you take some of the trips that we take. I thought the travel was going to be more of a burden than it was but they were resilient."
On the team's three freshman newcomers:
"I am excited about our three guys. I think they come from very good backgrounds, they love to play basketball, and they are very intense. I love being around them everyday coming to practice. I think Rashad Bilal is a hawk on defense. I think he can be one of our best defensive players once he learns not to gamble for the basketball and just play hard-nose defense. I think he has a good shot and plays extremely hard. He is a very intense player. Michael Knight we are experimenting with him at both guard positions. He has a very good shot, very competitive young man and we are looking forward to him contributing to our program this year. Brian Hodges, who is a local product from Bishop McNamara High School, can flat out shoot the basketball. We tease him sometimes that he has never met a shot he didn't like. I love his aggressiveness, he spots up really well for his shot and has a very good understanding of the game. He is a mentally tough young man and plays much bigger than what he is."
Media Day Quotes From Head Women's Basektball Coach Phil Stern
On UMBC's second year in the America East Conference:
"Obviously we have been through the league once now and we know the travel situation and are a little more accustomed to the bigger and faster players that we saw in the America East. Certainly last year was a learning year for us and we knew we would have a difficult season and the one plus for us at the end of last year was we were playing a lot better at the end of the year than at the beginning."
On players to watch heading into the season:
"We have a core of sophomores coming back that were my first recruiting class but were recruited for the Northeast Conference and they did an admirable job of playing at the level of the America East last year after being put in a very difficult situation. We will rely heavily on our sophomores and than our five freshmen we brought in we think will make an impact. Unfortunately Zuzana Kaszanová, a 6'2" post player, will not be with us, she tore her ACL and will be out for the year. We also brought in three very nice guards and a post player that will make an impact for us."
On the Retrievers three freshmen guards:
"We brought in Morgan Hatten, a 5'10" guard from Potomac, Md., who has actually won two out of the last three state championships in our gym. She is a very versatile guard, a bigger guard which is what we need for this conference. She can play a little point, play on the wing little bit, a very adept three-point shooter. We also brought in two shooters from Indiana, Kristin Drabyn and Jen Ferguson, who we think know the game real well and will understand our system pretty quickly."
On the difference between playing in the Northeast Conference and the America East Conference:
"There is a tremendous difference in the conferences. We felt we could have won the Northeast Conference last year and we won four games in the America East. Players are bigger and stronger and the travel is obviously difficult on us but we should be able to play through that. Every night is a battle and we feel we have made some strides to catch up and be a little more competitive night in and night out."
Quotes From UMBC Tri-Captain and Junior Erin Voss
On how the team is molding together:
"Right now we are a lot further along than we were at this time last year. Everybody from the freshman to seniors are meshing as a team and we as a whole are understanding the offense and system better. We are also putting more emphasis on our defense and the team is really coming together."
On the team's newcomers:
"Our freshmen this season have a lot of potential to contribute. Morgan (Hatten) is a huge lift. She is a strong guard and is someone we can look to score. Kristin Drabyn and Jen Ferguson shoot the ball really well and can handle to the ball as well. Amanda (Robinson) is helping out in the post which is something we needed with the bigger size in this conference."
Quotes from Junior Matea Pender
On her second year back from an ACL injury:
"This year I have a much better approach to the game compared to last year. In the off-season got myself into the right shape and that has really helped. Last year I was a little scared and timid on my knee and of making contact but this year I feel much better. I still need to work on some things but I am really happy with my approach to the season."
On the newcomers to the team, both freshman and coaches:
"I am happy with the freshman. They are hard workers and are picking up the concepts really well. Our two new assistant coaches, Coach Macy and Coach Cornwell, are a great addition and are working with us on our defense which will help our offense out in getting us more scoring opportunities."