BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (7-2) puts its five-game winning streak on the line Thursday evening when it takes on a tough James Madison (3-4) team at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC sits atop the America East at 7-2 on the season - matching the best start in the program's Division I history - after last Monday's 76-63 victory over cross-town rival Coppin State. The team has not played since that contest because of final exams. The Retrievers' five-game winning streak is the longest since a six-gamer from Jan. 26-Feb. 12, 2006. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy scored a game-high 28 points and has tallied at least 20 points in eight of the Retrievers' nine contests this season. She leads the conference and ranks third in the nation in scoring at 24.9 ppg. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is the two-time reigning America East Rookie of the Week after posting 20 points and five rebounds against the Eagles. UMBC ranks 11th in the nation in scoring at 78.4 ppg and leads the conference in 10 categories.
DUKE UPDATE: James Madison is 3-4 on the season after Sunday's 72-70 overtime loss at Virginia Tech. The Dukes are led by the nation's second-leading scorer, guard Dawn Evans, who is averaging 25.9 ppg this season. No other player is averaging in double figures. The Dukes were picked to finish third in the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Poll, and Evans was selected to the Preseason All-CAA First Team. Last season, JMU reached its third consecutive postseason and advanced to the third round of the WNIT.
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers return home to face cross-town rival Loyola at 2 p.m. on Dec. 21. UMBC is 12-19 all-time against the Greyhounds and has won just once in the teams' last 10 meetings dating to 1991.
Inside the Series...
Tonight's game marks the sixth all-time meeting between UMBC and James Madison, and the Dukes hold a 5-0 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Dec. 3, 1977, an 88-22 victory for James Madison at the Salisbury State Tournament. Last season, the Dukes defeated the Retrievers, 74-61, at the RAC Arena, in the teams' first meeting since 1999. Guard Melissa Book scored a career-high 14 points and went 4-for-4 from three-point range. UMBC trailed by just four points, 31-27, at halftime, but a 15-5 James Madison run to open the second period and a 17-4 spurt midway through the half put the game out of reach for the Retrievers. Kisha Stokes led the Dukes with a game-high 16 points.
News and Notes...
For Starters: At 7-2, UMBC has matched its best nine-game start in the program's Division I history. The 2005-06 also started the season 7-2. The 1985-86 team was 8-1 after nine games at the Division II level.
Twice as Nice: Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski was named America East Rookie of the Week for the second week in a row on Monday. She scored 20 points and added a team-high five rebounds in UMBC's only game last week, a 76-63 victory over Coppin State. UMBC freshmen have won four straight Rookie of the Week awards and six of the last seven 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.
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 32 points against Navy on Dec. 3 were the most by a Retriever since Ana Goncharova tallied 33 against New Hampshire on Jan. 29, 2005, and are tied for the seventh-highest single-game total in school history. With her 31-point performance in the season opener at George Washington, Cassidy also became just the third Retriever to score 30 points twice in the same season, joining Tammy McCarthy (1984-85, 1985-86) and Shalayna Johnson (2002-03). It was the first 30-point performance by a Retriever 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.
20/20: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored 20 points or more in eight of UMBC's first nine games of the season. She opened the year with five straight 20-point performances, but her streak was snapped on Nov. 30 with 18 points against UMES. 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 24.3 ppg this season. The Retrievers have recorded 15 20-point performances as a team this season, with seven from Cassidy, four by freshman guard Michelle Kurowski, two by freshman guard Katie Brooks and one by freshman forward Erin Brown. Last year, UMBC had 15 20-point efforts, with eight from Cassidy, the most by a Retriever since Johnson did it 12 times in 2002-03.
The Report is In: UMBC is ranked 128th in College Basketball News' most recent RPI report (Dec. 15). Last season at this time, the Retrievers were ranked 271st, representing the largest improvement in the America East this season. UMBC is one of just two schools in the conference with a win against a team in the RPI top 100 (Towson, 22). The America East ranks 21st out of 32 leagues and 10th among non-FBS conferences.
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 53 percent (377 of 706 points) of UMBC's total offense and 49 percent (169 of 345) of its total rebounds, led by guards Katie Brooks (12.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Michelle Kurowski (17.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg). Kurowski and forward Erin Brown (7.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) have started all nine games this season. As a class, the freshmen have played more than half (924) of the Retrievers' 1,800 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.
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 tied for sixth all-time at UMBC with 125 career triples, while her .334 career three-point percentage ranks fourth. In addition, she ranks second in the America East and 16th in the NCAA with 3.0 three-pointers made per game.
Three's Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 110 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005, and they have made at least four in 55 games in a row dating to Jan. 17, 2007, at Hartford. The Retrievers lead the America East and rank 24th in the NCAA with 7.1 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.
Double Your Pleasure: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored in double figures in 16 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 16-game streak is the longest by a Retriever since Shalayna Johnson's 23-gamer during the 2002-03 campaign. Five Retrievers have posted 29 double-digit perforances this season, including freshman guard Michelle Kurowski, who has reached double figures in all but one game this season, including the last five.
Top Dawgs: UMBC is the only team in the America East to boast three players among the conference's top 10 scoring leaders. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy leads the league with 24.3 ppg, while freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (17.4 ppg) ranks second and freshman guard Katie Brooks (12.3 ppg) is ninth.
Hot Shot: The America East's top shooting team at 42.5 percent, UMBC boasts four players among the conference's top 10 in field goal percentage, led by freshman forward Erin Brown, who ranks third at .482. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (.474) ranks fourth, followed by junior guard Carlee Cassidy (6th, .444) and freshman guard Katie Brooks (8th, .418). Players must average three field goals per game to qualify.
High-Soaring, High-Scoring: UMBC leads the America East and ranks 11th in the nation in scoring at 78.4 points per game. The Retrievers rank ahead of some of the nation's elite teams, including No. 7 Notre Dame, No. 8 Baylor, No. 12 Duke, No. 13 Tennessee and No. 16 Maryland. In addition, junior guard Carlee Cassidy leads the America East and ranks third in the NCAA with 24.3 ppg. She will go head-to-head with the nation's second-leading scorer, James Madison's Dawn Evans, tonight.
New York, New York: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville), both natives of New York, are providing an outstanding 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 percent of UMBC's total offense this season (376 of 706 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 two 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 but first since January. 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 from the floor.
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 lead the America East with a +7.8 scoring margin, winning their seven victories 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).
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 a career-high 11 rebounds against Navy on Dec. 3, and the next game Brown posted another with 10 points and 10 boards against Towson. However, prior to the UMES game, no Retriever had recorded a double-double since current assistant coach Sharri Rohde tallied 27 points and 10 rebounds on Feb. 20, 2007, at Vermont, a stretch of 41 straight games.
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 helpers by a Retriever since Brittnie Hughes recorded nine on Jan. 20, 2007, against 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 sixth in the America East with 3.6 apg, while sophomore guard Michele Brokans is tied for seventh (3.2 apg). As a team, UMBC ranks second (13.6 apg). For the second year in a row, Brokans is proving it is better to give than to receive, as her 29 assists are more than twice her total field goal attempts on the season (13). Brokans also leads the league and ranks fifth in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.22), while Brooks ranks third in the conference (1.68).
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). UMBC leads the America East with a .737 free throw percentage on the season. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy's .841 mark also leads the league, while freshman guard Michelle Kurowski's .800 is tied for third. Cassidy's career .803 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.
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.
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.
Against the CAA: UMBC is 27-72 all-time against current Colonial Athletic Association opponents, including 2-0 this season after defeating George Mason on Nov. 19 and Towson on Dec. 6. The Retrievers have a winning record against Hofstra (4-2), with the most wins (12) and losses (31) coming against crosstown rival Towson. UMBC has never faced Georgia State or Old Dominion, and the Retrievers have never beaten James Madison or UNC-Wilmington.
Cleaning the Glass: The Retrievers pulled down a season-high 48 rebounds against UMES on Nov. 30, marking the fourth time this season they have grabbed at least 40 rebounds in a game after doing it just three times all last season. Freshman forward Erin Brown's 11 boards against the Hawks were the most by a Retriever since Morgan Hatten grabbed 15 caroms against Rider on Nov. 11, 2007. Sophomore forward Meghan Colabella matched Brown's mark with 11 against Navy a game later.
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.
Bragging Rights: UMBC will take on five of the nine Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers will host Navy (Dec. 3), Towson (Dec. 6), Coppin State (Dec. 8) and Loyola (Dec. 21) and will face UMES at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic (Nov. 30). UMBC also faces nearby George Washington (Nov. 15) and George Mason (Nov. 19) from the Washington, D.C., area. So far the Retrievers are 5-1 against those teams, with the only loss coming in the season opener at GW. 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 last season. George Washington (Nov. 15), Coppin State (Dec. 8), Virginia (potential opponent Dec. 29) and Hartford (Jan. 13/Feb. 18) all competed in the NCAA Tournament, while James Madison (Dec. 18) and Vermont (Jan. 7/Feb. 11) both participated in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
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 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists 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 points and 5.1 rebounds last 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.
High Water Marks: A number of Retrievers have achieved top single-game marks in the America East this season. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy's 27 field goal attempts, six three-pointers and 15 three-point attempts against George Washington, her .900 free throw percentage against Northern Illinois and her 32 points against Navy are all conference bests. In addition, both Cassidy (at GW) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (vs. Navy) have drained a league-high 11 field goals this season. Finally, freshman guard Katie Brooks' 16 free throws and 22 attempts against Northern Illinois are league bests, as well. As a team, UMBC's 41 free throws and 53 attempts against Northern Illinois and its 92 points and 25 assists against UMES are all tops in the league as well.
First Time for Everything: Guard Carlee Cassidy was named to the America East All-Conference First Team in 2007-08, while guard Kristin Drabyn was selected to the Third Team and forward Meghan Colabella earned All-Rookie Team honors. Cassidy was the first Retriever ever to earn first-team honors in UMBC's five years in the America East; Colabella was also the first Retriever to garner All-Rookie nods in the league; and Drabyn gave UMBC two all-conference players for the first time since joining the America East in 2003-04.
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.