The UMBC men’s basketball team has not started the season off they way they would like. They have yet to win a game and have a four game road stretch ahead of them.
But in the last two games they have shown tremendous improvement. Against Rider the team was without 7’0″ center Robbie Jackson, and had an injured Chauncey Gilliam coming off the bench.
With those injuries the lineup saw quite a bit of change. Starting in their places were freshmen Shawn Grant and Nick Groce. While Grant struggled to get his offense going as he only scored three points, Groce had eight points, played solid defense, and made very well timed passes.
With so much being shaken up on the team, fifth-year senior Matt Spadafora stepped up and had his best game of his career with 16 points and a career high nine rebounds. It is great to see Spadafora did well, but as that fifth-year senior captain, he has to do that every game. He has to be that guy willing to take those big shots when the team needs, and he has to be the guy going up and grabbing those key rebounds.
Other Retrievers in double figured were Chris De La Rosa who scored 11 points, and Adrian Satchell, who scored 10 points and was on his way to a great game until he was strapped with fouls and was limited to just 17 minutes.
While Gilliam only saw a few minutes off the bench because of an ankle injury, Bakari Smith, Brian Neller, and Jake Wasco saw an increase in time. Neller and Wasco each scored six points and Smith totalled four. As the only available forward on the team, Wasco stepped up and played well. He was not afraid to take the ball to the basket and he played solid individual defense inside.
But the team defense still needs improvement. While UMBC shot 50% from the floor, so did Rider. Missing Jackson is obviously a big hit on their defense, but until they stop allowing 70 points per game the much improved offense is going to have to find a way to score even more points.