BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (7-4) closes out the 2008 portion of its schedule at the University of Virginia's Marriott Cavalier Classic Dec. 28-29 in Charlottesville, Va. The Retrievers will face a storied Lousiana Tech program (6-5) on Sunday at 2 p.m. and will take on either Rider (2-7) or 15th-ranked Virginia (9-2) on Monday at 4:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on Sunday's results.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is coming off a heartbreaking 80-76 loss to cross-town rival Loyola on Dec. 21 and has dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy tallied a career-high 33 points against the Greyhounds, marking the third time this season that she has reached the 30-point plateau. Cassidy has scored at least 20 points in 10 of the Retrievers' first 11 games this season and ranks third in the nation with 24.9 ppg. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski has been named America East Rookie of the Week for the last three weeks and ranks second in the league in scoring behind Cassidy at 16.3 ppg. UMBC ranks 14th in the nation in scoring.
LADY TECHSTER UPDATE: Louisiana Tech is 6-5 on the season after defeating Arkansas-Little Rock, 77-61, on Dec. 22, and has won four of its last five games. Forward Shanavia Dowdell leads the Lady Techsters and the WAC with 17.4 ppg, 2.6 bpg and a .543 shooting percentage and ranks second in the league with 9.5 rpg.
BRONC UPDATE: Rider is 2-7 on the season after falling at La Salle, 63-47, on Dec. 21 and has dropped six straight games. Guard Tammy Myers leads the Broncs with 15.0 ppg, while forward Shaunice Parker is tops with 8.2 rpg.
CAVALIER UPDATE: Virginia is 9-2 on the season and ranked 15th in the country after defeating Mount St. Mary's, 65-55, on Dec. 21. The Cavaliers have won four in a row. Guard Monica Wright leads the ACC with 22.8 ppg, while center Aisha Mohammed is tops in the league with 9.9 rpg.
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers begin America East play on Jan. 7, when they take on league favorite Vermont in Burlington, Vt. UMBC is 4-7 all-time against the Catamounts, including 1-4 in Patrick Gym.
Inside the Series...
Sunday's game marks the first-ever meeting between UMBC and Louisiana Tech, and should the Retrievers face Virginia on Monday, it would be their first-ever meeting with the Cavaliers. However, UMBC and Rider have seven previous matchups, including each of the last two seasons, both Retriever wins. UMBC won the first three meetings between the two teams before the Broncs took the next two. Last season, the Retrievers defeated Rider, 58-53, at RAC Arena behind 14 points from guard Chantay Frazier. Rider guard Janelle Henderson led all scorers with 19 points.
News and Notes...
For Starters: At 7-4, UMBC is off to its second-best 11-game start in the program's Division I history. The 2005-06 started the season 8-3, then dropped its 12th game en route to finishing 15-13 on the year. The 1985-86 team was 10-1 after 11 games at the Division II level.
Threepeat: Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski was named America East Rookie of the Week for the third week in a row on Monday. In two games last week, she averaged 11 points, five rebounds and 2.5 steals. UMBC freshmen have won five straight Rookie of the Week awards and seven of the last eight dating to last season, as guard Katie Brooks earned the honor in weeks two and three, while forward Meghan Colabella was selected in each of the last two weeks of the 2007-08 campaign. Kurowski is the first America East freshman to win three straight Rookie of the Week awards since Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis did it five weeks in a row from Dec. 24, 2006-Jan. 22, 2007. Kurowski and Colabella are the only Retrievers ever to be named the top rookie three times.
20/20: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored 20 points or more in 10 of UMBC's first 11 games of the season. Her season-opening five-game streak of 20-point performances was snapped on Nov. 30 with 18 points against UMES, but she is currently riding a new five-game streak dating to Dec. 3 against Navy. She is the first Retriever to score at least 20 points in at least five consecutive games since Shalayna Johnson accomplished the feat in six straight games from Jan. 11-30, 2003. Cassidy leads the America East and ranks third in the nation with 24.9 ppg this season. The Retrievers have recorded 17 20-point performances as a team this season, already surpassing last year's total of 15 during the entire 2007-08 campaign, while Cassidy has surpassed her total of eight from last season, as well. In addition to Cassidy's 10 20-point performances, freshman guard Michelle Kurowski has posted four, freshman guard Katie Brooks has tallied two and freshman forward Erin Brown has added one.
30 Rock: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (32) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (30) became the first pair of UMBC teammates to tally 30 or more points in the same game on Dec. 3 against Navy. It is believed to be the fifth time in Division I history that that two teammates scored at least 30 points in the same game and the first time since Prudue's Shereka Wright (34) and Katie Geralds (32) did at at Iowa on Feb. 10, 2004.
30 Rock, Part II: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy's 33 points against Loyola on Dec. 21 were the most by a Retriever since Ana Goncharova also tallied 33 against New Hampshire on Jan. 29, 2005, and are tied for the sixth-highest single-game total in school history. With her 31-point performance in the season opener at George Washington and her 32 points against Navy on Dec. 3, Cassidy also became just the second Retriever to score 30 points three times in the same season, joining Tammy McCarthy in 1985-86. Shalayna Johnson (2002-03) is the only other Retriever to tally 30 points twice in a season. Prior to the GW game, no Retriever had scored 30 points since Goncharova in 2005. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is just the third Retriever rookie to score as many as 30 points in a game, joining McCarthy and Jami Lange.
Cleaning the Glass: Sophomore forward Meghan Colabella grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds on Dec. 21 against Loyola, the most boards by a Retriever since Monica Logan pulled down 16 at St. Francis (Pa.) on Feb. 8, 1999. The Retrievers grabbed 44 rebounds against the Greyhounds, marking the fifth time this season they have recorded at least 40 boards in a season after doing it just three times all last year. UMBC posted a season-high 48 against UMES on Nov. 30.
Double-Double: Freshman forward Erin Brown posted career highs with 22 points and 11 rebounds against UMES on Nov. 30. One game later, sophomore forward Meghan Colabella notched her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds against Navy on Dec. 3, and the next game Brown posted another with 10 points and 10 boards against Towson. Colabella then added another with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds against Loyola on Dec. 21. However, prior to the UMES game, no Retriever had recorded a double-double since Sharri Rohde tallied 27 points and 10 rebounds on Feb. 20, 2007, at Vermont, a stretch of 41 straight games.
Cassidy for Three: The second of junior guard Carlee Cassidy's career-high six 3-pointers in the season opener at George Washington was the 100th of her career, making her just the seventh player in UMBC history to reach that milestone. In addition, she is the third-fastest Retriever ever to hit the century mark, as she did it in her 60th career game. Jami Lange (39 games) and Ana Goncharova (56 games) are the only other Retrievers to need less than 70 contests to achieve the mark. Cassidy is now tied for fourth all-time at UMBC with 131 career triples, while her .335 career three-point percentage ranks fourth. In addition, she ranks second in the America East and 12th in the NCAA with 3.0 three-pointers made per game.
Three's Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 112 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005, and they have made at least four in 57 games in a row dating to Jan. 17, 2007, at Hartford. The Retrievers lead the America East and rank 32nd in the NCAA with 6.8 three-pointers per game this season. The Retrievers' 223 three-pointers as a team last year broke the school and America East Conference record; it was just the second time in school history that a team has reached the 200 plateau and the first time ever for the conference (the Retrievers were in the Northeast Conference when they made 217 three-pointers in 2002-03). Each of the top six season totals have occurred during head coach Phil Stern's tenure.
New Kids on the Block: Nine newcomers join the Retrievers this season, including eight freshmen and one junior college transfer. The group makes up the largest recruiting class in head coach Phil Stern's tenure, surpassing the six new players from 2007-08. Among the group are two 2,000-point scorers and two 1,000-point scorers, as well as a junior college Honorable Mention All-American. Based on responses from sports information directors throughout the country, the freshman class is tied with Northeastern for the second-largest in the nation. Only Elon (9) has more freshmen on its current roster.
New Kids on the Block, Part II: UMBC's eight freshmen have accounted for 52.9 percent (447 of 845 points) of UMBC's total offense and 47.8 percent (202 of 423) of its total rebounds, led by guards Michelle Kurowski (16.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Katie Brooks (11.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg). Kurowski and forward Erin Brown (7.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) have started all 11 games this season, and Brown ranks second on the team with 30.0 mpg. As a class, the freshmen have played more than half (1,129) of the Retrievers' 2,200 total minutes.
Fresh Faces: With a roster that includes eight freshmen and five sophomores, UMBC also boasts the second-most underclassmen (13) of any Division I school in the country. Only Brigham Young (14) has more. In addition, with just eight years of returning Division I experience (based on a formula in which seniors represent a value of 3, juniors 2 and sophomores 1), UMBC is the sixth-least-experienced team in the country.
Double Your Pleasure: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored in double figures in 18 straight games dating to Feb. 9, 2008, against Maine, surpassing her 13-game streak of last season, when she reached double digits in 25 out of 28 games. Cassidy's 17-game streak is the longest by a Retriever since Shalayna Johnson's 23-gamer during the 2002-03 campaign. Five Retrievers have posted 35 double-digit perforances this season, including freshman guard Michelle Kurowski, who has reached double figures in all but two games this season, but had her six-game streak snapped against Loyola on Dec. 21.
Top Dawgs: UMBC is the only team in the America East to boast three players among the conference's top 11 scoring leaders. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy leads the league with 24.9 ppg, while freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (16.3 ppg) ranks second and freshman guard Katie Brooks (11.5 ppg) is 11th.
Hot Shot: The America East's top shooting team at 41.8 percent, UMBC boasts three players among the conference's top 10 in field goal percentage. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (.452) ranks fourth, followed by junior guard Carlee Cassidy (5th, .439) and freshman guard Katie Brooks (7th, .419). Players must average three field goals per game to qualify.
High-Soaring, High-Scoring: UMBC leads the America East and ranks 14th in the nation in scoring at 76.8 points per game. The Retrievers rank ahead of some of the nation's elite teams, including No. 8 Stanford, No. 11 Duke and No. 16 Maryland. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy leads the America East and ranks third in the NCAA with 24.9 ppg.
New York, New York: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville), both natives of New York, are providing a stellar one-two punch for the Retrievers, as they are the America East's top two leading scorers. Cassidy and Kurowski each scored more than 2,000 points in their prep careers, ranking among the best all-time in the state of New York. This season they have each tallied 20 or more points in the same game four times, including a pair of 30-point performances against Navy on Dec. 3. The pair has accounted for 53.6 percent of UMBC's total offense this season (453 of 845 points).
Honor Roll: Retrievers have taken home a number of America East weekly awards this season. In addition to freshman guard Michelle Kurowski earning Rookie of the Week in each of the last three weeks, junior guard Carlee Cassidy was tabbed Player of the Week for on Dec. 8, making it a clean sweep for UMBC in Week 4. It was Cassidy's fourth career Player of the Week honor. Freshman guard Katie Brooks earned top rookie honors in the two weeks prior to Kurowski's run.
Honor Roll, Part II: While freshman guard Katie Brooks was named MVP, junior guard Carlee Cassidy and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski both earned All-Tournament Team honors at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic. Brooks averaged 18.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 5.0 apg and shot 56.5 percent. Cassidy scored a tournament-high 19.5 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting and added 3.0 apg and 2.0 spg. Kurowski posted 16.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg while shooting 50 percent from the floor. A week earlier, Cassidy and Brooks were both selected to the Seton Hall Basketball Classic All-Tournament Team. Cassidy averaged 22.0 ppg and shot 41.4 percent in two games, while Brooks averaged 21.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg and 2.0 spg while shooting 50.0 percent.
Climbing the Ranks: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has moved into UMBC's all-time top-20 scoring list, as she currently ranks 18th with 889 career points. She is on pace to become the 16th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau on Jan. 13 at Hartford.
Great 80: UMBC has scored at least 80 points in five of its seven wins this season. Prior to this year, the Retrievers had not scored 80 points in a game since Feb. 20, 2007, at Vermont and had not posted back-to-back 80-point performances since Feb. 14-17, 1990. The five 80-point performances are the most in a season since UMBC tallied at least 80 points six times in 1989-90.
Not Even Close: UMBC's first six games of the season were decided by at least 11 points with an average margin of 18 points before an eight-point victory over Navy on Dec. 3. The Retrievers' seven victories have come by an average of 15.7 points. UMBC defeated George Mason by 29 points (89-60) on Nov. 19, its largest margin of victory since Nov. 23, 2004, an 87-52 win over Morgan State (+35).
Lights Out: Freshman forward Erin Brown was lights out from the floor against UMES on Nov. 30, shooting 81.8 percent (9-for-11), and she was a perfect 7-for-7 in the first half. The Retrievers shot 70 percent in the first half (21-for-30) and a season-high 55 percent in the game (33-for-60). In addition, UMBC made 58.8 percent of its three-point attempts (10-for-17), including all seven shots in the first period.
So Close: Freshman guard Katie Brooks was just shy of a triple-double against UMES on Nov. 30. She finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.
Helping Hand: Freshman guard Katie Brooks dished out nine assists against UMES on Nov. 30, the most by a Retriever since Brittnie Hughes recorded nine on Jan. 20, 2007, at New Hampshire. In addition, the Retrievers had 25 assists in the game, the most since posting 26 on Dec. 2, 2006, at Fairleigh Dickinson. Brooks ranks seventh in the America East with 3.2 apg, while sophomore guard Michele Brokans is eighth (3.1 apg). As a team, UMBC ranks second (12.6 apg). For the second year in a row, Brokans is proving it is better to give than to receive, as her 35 assists are more than twice her total field goal attempts on the season (16). Brokans also leads the league and ranks sixth in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.69), while Brooks ranks third in the league (1.6).
Nifty 90: With 92 points against UMES on Nov. 30, the Retrievers reached the 90-point plateau for the first time since a 91-89 overtime victory over Charleston Southern on Jan. 16, 1993. In addition, the 92 points are the most UMBC has scored in a game since Jan. 12, 1991, a 94-61 win over Salisbury State.
Tale of Two Halves: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy did not score in the first half against Western Michigan on Nov. 29, but she tallied 21 points in the second period to keep both her 20-point streak and her double-figure scoring streak alive. However, it was not the best-scoring half by a Retriever this season, as Cassidy posted 23 points in the first period in the season opener at George Washington en route to 31 points in the game. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is the only other Retriever to score 20 points in a half this season, as she tallied exactly 20 against Navy on Dec. 3 en route to a career-high 30 points in the game.
Foul Frenzy: UMBC and Northern Illinois combined to commit an NCAA record 64 fouls on the first day of the Seton Hall Basketball Classic Nov. 21. The previous record of 57 was set by IPFW and Detroit on Jan. 9, 2008. The Retrievers and Huskies combined to go 59-for-81 from the foul line. The Retrievers scored 49 points in the second half but made just nine field goals, as they made 28 free throws in the period.
Charity Case: The Retrievers made a school-record 41 free throws on Nov. 21 against Northern Illinois and shot 77.4 percent from the line in the game (41-for-53). The previous record of 35 was set on Feb. 1, 1988, against Coppin State. Freshman guard Katie Brooks also set a school record by making 16 (of 22) foul shots. The previous mark of 13 was set twice, by Kori Kindbom (March 1, 1985) and Tammy McCarthy (Jan. 7, 1986). Junior guard Carlee Cassidy ranks second in the America East with an .821 free throw percentage, while freshman guard Michelle Kurowski's .780 ranks sixth. Cassidy's career .798 free throw percentage ranks second all-time at UMBC. The Retrievers finished last season with a school-record .757 shooting percentage from the charity stripe, which ranked second in the America East and 24th in the NCAA.
Against the WAC: UMBC has only faced one current Western Athletic Conference member, falling to New Mexico State on Dec. 6, 1991, at the Aggies' Tournament.
Against the MAAC: UMBC is 22-31 against current Metro Atlantic Athletic Association opponents. The Retrievers have a winning record against Rider (5-2), with the most wins (12) and losses (20) against crosstown rival Loyola.
Against the ACC: UMBC has never beaten any current Atlantic Coast Conference member in 15 tries, with the most games (9) coming against in-state rival Maryland.
Double Duty: Freshman forward Sarah Hill joined the Retrievers during the last week in November. Hill, 6-3, spent the fall season with UMBC's volleyball team and averaged 1.79 kills and 1.01 blocks per game as a middle blocker and outside hitter. She is the second volleyball player to join the women's basketball roster this season, as 6-3 freshman center Iman Kennedy will also pull double duty. Kennedy is a middle blocker who averaged 1.32 kpg and 0.97 bpg this season.
Bragging Rights: UMBC took on five of the nine Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers hosted Navy (Dec. 3), Towson (Dec. 6), Coppin State (Dec. 8) and Loyola (Dec. 21) and faced UMES at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic (Nov. 30). UMBC also faced nearby George Washington (Nov. 15) and George Mason (Nov. 19) from the Washington, D.C., area. The Retrievers went 5-2 against those teams. UMBC defeated Towson for the first time since 2002, Coppin State for the first time since 1989 and George Mason for the first time ever.
Speed it Up: In his first six years at the helm, head coach Phil Stern has employed the Princeton Offense, a strategy which emphasizes tempo control, passing and backdoor cuts. However, Stern decided it was time for a change in 2008-09, and the Retrievers will now play up-tempo.
Shall We Dance: The Retrievers could face up to six teams that advanced to post-season play in 2008. George Washington (Nov. 15), Coppin State (Dec. 8), Virginia (potential opponent Dec. 29) and Hartford (Jan. 13/Feb. 18) competed in the NCAA Tournament, while James Madison (Dec. 18) and Vermont (Jan. 7/Feb. 11) participated in the Women's National Invitational Tournament.
Retrievers Picked Fifth: The Retrievers were selected to finish fifth in the America East in a vote of the conference's nine head coaches. The billing is the Retrievers' highest since joining the America East in 2003, eclipsing the sixth-place predictions for each of the last two seasons.
Another Honor for Cassidy: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy was selected to the America East Preseason All-Conference Team by the league's nine head coaches. She is the first Retriever ever to receive the honor in UMBC's six seasons in the America East. Last year, Cassidy became UMBC's first-ever All-Conference First Team selection since joining the league in 2003 after she led the league in scoring with 17.0 ppg.
Retrievers Ink Two: Two players have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Retrievers for the 2009-10 season. Shamika Williams is a 5-8 guard from nearby Catonsville High School who was named the Baltimore County Player of the Year after averaging 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 4.5 apg as a junior. Kim Browning is a 6-2 guard/forward from Hanover High School in Mechanicsville, Va., who was named one of the top 50 seniors in Virginia by Virginia Preps after averaging 10.5 ppg and 5.1 rpg last season.
Frazier Leaves Team: Senior guard Chantay Frazier has left the women's basketball team and withdrawn from the university to tend to family matters in her hometown of Carthage, Miss. Frazier averaged 10.8 ppg and 4.2 rpg in 30 games last season, including 15 starts. The lone senior on the Retrievers' 2008-09 roster, Frazier did not appear in any games this season.
Aye-Aye, Captain: Juniors Melissa Book and Carlee Cassidy and sophomore Michele Brokans have been named team captains for the 2008-09 season. Book is the first Retriever to repeat as team captain since Sharri Rohde and Heather Luttrell served as catpains in 2005-06 and 2006-07, while Brokans is the first sophomore in the position since Rohde in 2004-05.
Retrievers All-Access: All of the Retrievers' home games will be video streamed through UMBC's multimedia website, www.UMBCRetrievers.tv. An All-Access Pass, available for $59.95, gives fans the opportunity to watch not only all the live coverage of various UMBC home athletic events, but also premium content not available to view without the All-Access Pass. The premium content includes any and all UMBC player and coaches interviews, highlights and an in-depth archive section of all video available on UMBCretrievers.TV. Single game subscriptions for all live events will be available throughout the season for $4.95. In addition, all Retriever home games and select road contests will be broadcast live via UMBCRetrievers.com.