The UMBC men’s basketball team makes its first-ever journey to Arizona State and opens the 2013-14 campaign in Tempe, Ariz. on Nov. 8. Tip-off time is set for 6:00 p.m. (MST). Paul Mittermeier has all the play-by-play action on Q1370/www.q1370.com starting with the pre-game show at 7:55 p.m. (EST). The game will be televised by the PAC-12 Networks with Jason Knapp and Ernie Kent on the call.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC (8-23 a year ago) returns six letterwinners and three starters from a team that closed the gap dramatically against America East competition in Aki Thomas’ first year as head coach. UMBC upset third-seeded Hartford in the league championship quarterfinals. Six of seven newcomers are Maryland natives and a majority of expected to contribute in 2013-14. SR F Chase Plummer (11.8, 6.4) is the team’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark in three seasons.
SUN DEVIL UPDATE: The Sun Devils, under eighth-year head coach Herb Sendek, notched their fourth 20-win season (22-13) in his seven years in 2012-13. The Sun Devils have a roster that includes the 2012-13 Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year (Jahii Carson, 18.5 ppg, 5.1 apg) and the top-single season shot blocker in Pac-12 annals (Jordan Bachynski, 120 rejections). No Pac-12 player made more three-pointers than Jon Gilling last year, as he pumped in 84, fourth-most by a Sun Devil in school history. The junior averaged 9.7 points per game last year in his sophomore season.
WHO’S UP NEXT: UMBC opens the home schedule on Monday, Nov. 11 when they host Eastern (Pa.) University at the RAC Arena. That contest is the back-end of a hoops doubleheader and will tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
THE BENCH BOSS: Aki Thomas enters his second year as head coach of the UMBC men’s basketball program, earning the title on the eve of the 2013 America East Tournament. Thomas served as acting head coach since Oct. 10, 2012 after five previous seasons as a Retrievers’ assistant coach.
Despite the loss of three post players due to injury, Coach Thomas led UMBC to more victories (8) since the 2008-09 campaign. The cohesive Retrievers knocked off third-seeded Hartford in the quarterfinals of the league championships, and led Vermont for much of the first 32 minutes of play before bowing in the semis. Thomas and his staff bolstered the hopes for the future by bringing in a strong, locally-based recruiting class for the 2013-14 campaign.
Thomas, age 34, was the 11th-youngest NCAA Division I head coach in the nation in 2012-13. He was a standout for Howard in 2000-01, when he averaged almost 12 points and eight rebounds per game en route to being named to the All-MEAC second team. Before Howard, Thomas played for three seasons at the University of Colorado. The Manhattan, N.Y. native was a two-time league rebounding champion in the Venezuelan LPB League (2003-04) and earned the same title during a stint in the Colombian Federation Cup League (2004).
At 34 years of age, Aki Thomas is currently the 11th-youngest Division I head coach in the country. At 33 years and nearly six months of age, Thomas was only five months younger when he coached his first official game (at Penn on Nov. 9) than UMBC’s first Division I coach, Jeff Bzedelik (now the head coach at Wake Forest) was when he coached his first game for the Retrievers at Northwestern in November of 1986.
AND THE REST: The 2013-14 coaching staff has an average age of just over 28 years. A pair of Coach Thomas’ staff members- fifth-year assistant coach John Zito (‘06) and third-year assist Jay Greene (‘09) are UMBC alums and played together on the 2005-06 Retriever squad.
A LOOK (WAY) BACK: The trip to Tempe to open the 2013-14 season is UMBC’s longest since competing at San Diego State/Long Beach State in the 2005-06 campaign.
The meeting with the Sun Devils will be just the second time that the Retrievers have faced a Pac-12 opponent. UMBC played a Jason Kidd-led Cal squad in Berkeley early in the 1993-94 campaign.
This will be the second time the UMBC basketball program has competed in Arizona. In their third year of NCAA Division I competition (1988-89), the Retrievers opened the campaign with a 61-47 victory at Northern Arizona.
47 YEARS: The Retrievers are competing in their 47th season of intercollegiate basketball, the 28th at the NCAA Division-I level (1986-87) and the 11th as members of the America East Conference. UMBC has won 494 and dropped 747 (.398) and are 301-478 (.386) since 1986-87. The Retrievers enter their 11th 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 America East Conference and SEFCU, the largest credit union in New York’s Capital Region, announced a presenting sponsorship agreement for the 2013 and 2014 America East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, which will be held at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena March 7-9, 2014. This is the second time SEFCU has been the presenting sponsor for an America East Championship. The 2009 men’s basketball championship, which was also held at Albany, was presented by SEFCU.
HEART OF CHAMPIONS: UMBC has an 9-9 all-time America East Tournament record. The Retrievers went five consecutive years with at least one victory in post-season play before a quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Vermont in 2009-10. The Retrievers snapped a four-game losing streak with a quarterfinal victory over Hartford in 2012-13.
BATTLE-TESTED: Over the last six seasons, UMBC is 34-22 (.607) in games decided by five points or less. The Retrievers were 4-8 in games decided by eight points or less in 2012-13. UMBC led seven of those 11 contests with ten minutes remaining on the clock.
EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!: UMBC is 7-4 in extra time vs. America East opponents and 0-7 vs. non-conference opponents in since joining America East in 2003-04. The Retrievers have now lost eight consecutive extra session affairs (the most recent to American on Dec. 6) to non-conference foes since a win over Quinnipiac in the 2001-02 season. The overtime loss at UNH on Feb. 13 drops UMBC to 0-3 in OT this season.
LOCATION, LOCATION: Towson is the first program that UMBC has acheived 20 victories against, followed by Loyola (19) and Mount St. Mary’s (18). The Retrievers will play all three of those local squads this season. In addition, the Retrievers will face Coppin State, GW, American, UMES and play a home-and-home series versus Navy.
BUY!: With eight victories in 2012-13, UMBC collected its most wins since amassing 15 in the 2008-09 season.
* In 2012-13, UMBC allowed 71.5 points per contest, 5.6 points lower than the previous season.
* UMBC excelled from behind the arc, offensively and defensively in league play. The Retrievers finished third in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (34.7) and made treys (7.2) per game and second in 3-point defense (28.9%).
* UMBC’s second-half ﬁeld goal percentage of 78.9% was the second-best ever for a half (in quarterfinals vs. Hartford) in America East Championship history. The Retrievers also hold the best mark, hitting 18 of 21 (85.7%) vs. Stony Brook on in a 2005-06 ﬁrst round game.
* UMBC was 21-of-39 (53.8%, 10.5 made per game) from behind the arc in the two America East games.
* UMBC’s opponents made only five fewer free throws (515) than the Retrievers attempted (520) last season. The Retrievers’ season 63.1% free throw percentage was just .5% better than a school-record low of 62.6% in 2003-04.
PLAYERS, PAST AND PRESENT
Seniors Ryan Cook and Brian Neller both competed their senior campaigns in fine fashion. Cook finished the 2012-13 season with 478 points, the ninth-most in school history. Neller, who set the UMBC single-season record for treys, completed his four-year run with 261 three-point field goals, second-most in school history.
Cook has signed a professional contract with OKK Sloboda Tuzla in the Bosnian Liga I in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He excelled at the June 2013 First Team All iBall Pro Combine, which was scouted by a group of former and current NBA and overseas players. He averaged 16.0 points per game during the combine, which ranked second amongst the 43 players that were invited. OKK Sloboda Tuzla was the runner-up in both the regular season and the championships of Liga I in 2012-13.
Senior Chase Plummer became the 17th player in school history to reach the 1,000 point plateau with 1,017 after three seasons. He is just the eighth Retriever to score 1,000 points in three or fewer seasons and is the leading active scorer in the America East Confernce.
Plummer corralled 199 rebounds, the sixth-best figure for a UMBC Division I junior and he has accumulated 524 career caroms, now 17th in school history.
Plummer also recorded 54 steals, the sixth-most in a single season in school history and his 150 career thefts are also sixth in UMBC’s basketball history. He placed second in the conference with 1.7 steals per outing.
Junior Joey Getz hit 31-of-54 field goal attempts (57.4%) in the months of February and March and led the team with a 50.4 field goal percentage for the campaign.
Senior Quentin Jones ranked tenth in America East in assists (2.7) per game during league play. The former walk-on earned a scholarship for his senior season and he has also earned the title of co-captain.
Senior Brett Roseboro suﬀered an on-court injury during an altercation in practice on Jan. 25 and did not dress for the final 12 games of the season. He was ranked in the top ten in America East in rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots until falling below the 75% mark in games played for 2012-13.
The Retriever coaching staff brought in seven newcomers to complement the six returners for the 2013-14 squad. All six of the incoming freshmen have Maryland connections. The seven players who list a Maryland town as their hometown on the roster are the most for a Retriever men’s basketball team since having an all-time high of eight on the 1992-93 squad.
O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
UMBC Head Men’s Basketball Coach Aki Thomas has tabbed senior guard Quentin Jones and sophomore forward Malik Garner as Retriever co-captains for the 2013-14 season.
“Q is very mature beyond his years and is consistent on and off of the court,” said Thomas. ” He is a true leader by example and a good teammate. As a coach, it is a luxury to have a player with these qualities at the point guard position.”
“Malik’s attention to detail, commitment, and character are his best attributes. He works extremely hard in the classroom and on the court, making him a perfect fit for this role on our team,” said Thomas.