Posts Tagged ‘UMBC’

UMBC locks up two schollies

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

(Catonsville, MD) — The University of Maryland-Baltimore County has signed forward Devarick Houston, a 6’7” junior college transfer from Chattahoochee Tech, for the 2013-2014 season. A combo-forward with great length and athleticism, Houston averaged 12.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the floor over the past season.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Houston is regarded as a classic late-bloomer and has grown almost four inches since graduating high school while transitioning from the guard to forward positions, and is reportedly just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Houston will have two-years of eligibility at UMBC.

The scouting report on Houston (from several different recruiters and coaches) is that he has plus-athleticism and length and terrific energy and effort on the court. He will is reportedly already a DI impact-level defender and rebounder (“relentless” is a word used to describe him on the glass) who should make an immediate impact for the Retrievers in both areas of the game – if true, a huge get for a UMBC squad which struggled greatly defending and rebounding the ball.

Offensively, the word on Houston is that he is still very rough around the edges, but can shoot the ball from behind the arc and is a highlight-reel waiting to happen in transition. He has drawn comparisons on offense to Boston University Terrier Malik Thomas, but with more physical strength.

With Houston, along with incoming freshmen Will Darley and Charles Taylor Jr., and transfer Bryan Harris (who played four games at Wofford), UMBC head coach Aki Thomas has now signed four players to his first recruiting class. Darley is being billed as the replacement for graduating senior-shooter Brian Neller, while Taylor is another high-end athlete and Harris a scoring guard.

While UMBC lost more than could ever be summed up by mere statistics with the graduation of leading scorer and Second Team All-Conference guard Ryan Cook (the team’s hardest worker and heart and soul), with their incoming recruiting class and the return of 6’10” center Brett Roseboro from injury, UMBC should already be much longer and more athletic next season.

Thomas has also granted a scholarship to senior point guard Quinton Jones, who spent the previous two seasons as a walk-on point guard. Jones has established himself as a heady and steady player at the point guard position, solid on-ball defender, and top-end locker room presence.

With the four players signed as well as the addition of Jones as a scholarship player, Thomas still has two more scholarships to use.

Housecleaning in Catonsville

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
UMBC head coach Aki Thomas served as a master motivator during his first season at the helm at UMBC, now he must become a miracle worker rebuilding the roster (Photo by Sam Perkins)

UMBC head coach Aki Thomas served as a master motivator during his first season at the helm at UMBC, now he must become a miracle worker rebuilding the roster (Photo by Sam Perkins)

(Catonsville, MD) – When UMBC’s season came to an end in heartbreaking but heart-warming fashion in the America East Tournament, the real work began for head coach Aki Thomas and his staff: rebuilding his roster from the rubble of a devastated and dilapidated program.

Thomas’ burdensome load may have been lightened, slightly, by jettisoning weight in the form of early departures of four returning players; sophomores Will Wise, Nate Basalyga, Jarrel Lane and Jordan Wejnert have all left the team.

In his first season at the helm, after being named the interim head coach two days before the start of practice, Thomas injected life into a program that had barely been clinging to life support. Two days before the start of the conference tournament, Thomas was official named the head coach – dropping the interim tag – and rewarded with a contract extension.

Two days later, the same Retrievers squad that had spent the last three seasons giving up by the first media timeout, out-worked, out-hustled and out-fought third-seeded Hartford to pull off a 69-62 upset in the Quarterfinal. A day later, running on heart, the sixth-seeded Retrievers showed more grit and guts in their 85-72 semifinal loss to Vermont than they had during their previous three seasons combined.

The final horn of the semifinals marked the end of the careers of seniors Ryan Cook – the team’s heart and soul, leading scorer, best player and hardest worker all rolled into in one –Brian Neller – a long-range sniper who, along with Cook, comprised the teams lone true shooters – and forward Adrian Satchell – who enjoyed a renaissance in his one-season under Thomas.

Now Thomas and assistant coaches (and former UMBC players) Jay Greene and John Zito were faced with the daunting task of trying to overhaul an undermanned – and drastically under talented – roster. (more…)

Catamounts Get Knocked Down: Come Right Back, Swinging

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
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Vermont forwards Clancy Rugg (31) and Ethan O’Day (32) impede New Hampshire forward Ferg Myrick’s path to the hoop in the Catamounts 61-42 win in the America East Tournament quarterfinals (Photo by Sam Perkins

(Albany, New York) – In basketball, as in life, at some point, everyone and every team gets knocked down – It’s what happens after the fall that counts.

The Vermont Catamounts have tripped, slipped and been flat-out floored several times this season.

Multiple times, the Catamounts have been knocked down for an eight count: There were the back-to-back December losses – on the road to a bad Rhode Island team and at home to Towson; a season-sweep on a pair of lackluster performances to arch-rival BU; a beat-down at the hands of first-place Stony Brook on the heels of their second loss to the Terriers; and an inexplicable no-show on their home court in their season finale against Hartford (a team with which they share no love-loss).

But every time Vermont has fallen, the Catamounts have picked themselves back up off the mat and come back fighting harder than before.

And that’s why, when the dust of the America East Tournament settled and top-seeded Stony Brook – the regular season runaway champion – and three-seed Hartford – the Tournament “dark horse” in the eyes of many – had been felled, the Catamounts were still standing. (more…)

Refuse to Lose

Sunday, March 10th, 2013
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UMBC head coach and the Retrievers bench exploded when senior guard Brian Neller drilled a dagger-three with 1:16 remaining to seal sixth-seeded UMBC’s upset win over three-seed Hartford (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Albany, New York) – With 1:13 remaining, UMBC head coach Aki Thomas knelt on the edge of the court, pumped both his fists and let out a mighty roar that rose above the din of the crowd and ricocheted off the far walls of SEFCU Arena.

For the better part of a decade, emotional outbursts – tantrums, tirades and all manner of explosions – emanating from the Retrievers head coach have been common place on the UMBC sidelines.

But nothing like this.

Two days earlier, Thomas had been signed to a one-year contract and named the Retriever’s head coach, after spending the previous season – his first at the helm in Catonsville – wearing the “interim” tag. Now, he watched from the sidelines as senior sniper Brian Neller’s sixth three pointer of the night, a back-breaker from the right corner, found nothing but the bottom of the net, sealing the sixth-seeded Retrievers 69-62 upset of third-seed Hartford in the America East Tournament Quarterfinals.

What followed was a moment of pure euphoria and unadulterated joy. The Retrievers bench – downtrodden and defeated for the previous three seasons – followed their coach’s lead, leaping in excitement, embracing one another and bellowing towards the rafters.

“It’s never really been too much about me, it’s always been about the players and I always knew I was going to be okay. It’s always been for them – they’re the one that have been doing three tough seasons,” said Thomas after the game.

UMBC senior guards Ryan Cook and Brian Neller flat-out refused to watch their careers end on Saturday afternoon, willing the Retrievers to their first America East Tournament victory in four years. Playing in what could have been the final game of their careers, the duo put their team on their backs and combined for 44 points on 15-of-26 shooting.

Cook, who began his college career as a Division II walk-on before walking-on to his home-town team as a junior, was everywhere, pouring in a game-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting while playing frenetic defense. The 6’2” senior scored from everywhere on the court – step back jumpers, dizzying drives to the bucket, post-up hoops in the paint, while making one hustle play after the next. Cook single-handedly rattled off a 12-0 second half run, turning an eight-point deficit into a four-point lead. (more…)

All-Out Shootout

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Sponsored by Alex Lauritson-Lada and Liberty Concepts.

Founded in 2000, Liberty Concepts is a full service digital communications agency that specializes in helping create brands and develop online communities around them. A full service shop, Liberty Concepts has helped clients from discovery through execution.

UMBC forward Adrian Satchell (30) and guard Ryan Cook (12) battle with Boston University forward Dom Morris (15), Travis Robinson (24) and Nate Dieudonne (right foreground) as Terrier guard Zach Chionuma looks on (3) (Photo by Sam Perkins).

UMBC forward Adrian Satchell (30) and guard Ryan Cook (12) battle with Boston University forward Dom Morris (15), Travis Robinson (24) and Nate Dieudonne (right foreground) as Terrier guard Zach Chionuma looks on (3) (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Boston, MA) – Forwards Dom Morris and Chase Plummer did their best Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo impressions on a wind-swept winter afternoon in Boston. Case Gymnasium stood in for the O.K. Corral and the Wild West deserts of Tombstone, Arizona, as and the Boston University Terriers and University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers engaged in an all-out shootout on Saturday.

Morris led six Terriers in double-figures, scoring a career-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting while pulling down a team-high eight rebounds to lead the Terriers to an 81-75 win.

“I think we were doing a really good job offensively – for the most part – getting what we wanted but we just weren’t able to get stops in the second half,” said UMBC interim head coach Aki Thomas.

“We’re trying to get our guys to understand the importance of playing their best night in and night out and tonight we just didn’t have it,” said Terriers second year head coach Joe Jones. “The silver lining is that we won the game and we made the plays that it took down the stretch to win the game.”

Boston University head coach Joe Jones was unhappy with the Terriers' lack of intensity and energy in Monday's 81-75 win (Photo by Sam Perkins)

Boston University head coach Joe Jones was unhappy with the Terriers’ lack of intensity and energy in Monday’s 81-75 win (Photo by Sam Perkins)

Boston University freshman point guard Maurice Watson Jr. scored 10 points while dishing out six assists to just one turnover, forward Malik Thomas scored 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds and freshman forward Nate Dieudonne scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in just 14 minutes off the bench. Guard D.J. Irving added 13 points and freshman gunner John Papale chipped in 11.

Plummer was brilliant for the Retrievers, shrugging off swarming double-teams to pour in 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, burying three triples and ripping down a game-high 11 rebounds.

“He’s quick: Once he gets the ball he’s turning. I know what he’s doing but by the time you react to it the ball is already in the air,” said Morris, a rival and nemesis of Plummer’s since their high school and AAU days.

Guard Ryan Cook added 15 points, six rebounds and three assists to just one turnover, hitting 6-of-9 shots and swishing all three of his three-point attempts. Senior guard Brian Neller scored 12 points, burying four bombs from long range and forward Adrian Satchell added 11 points and six rebounds.

Boston University shot a red-hot 51.7 percent from the floor (31-of-60), while UMBC shot an even hotter 52.5 percent from the floor (31-of-59) and a scorching 54.5 percent from behind the arc (12-of-22). The Retrievers dished out 17 assists to the Terriers 15. But the Terriers outscored the Retrievers 46-26 in the paint, committed just five turnovers on the day while forcing 12 Retrievers fumbles, and hit 15-of-20 free throws while UMBC attempted just two all game.

“There’s no need to talk about the free-throws because we didn’t guard anybody,” said Jones.

Fresh of an 85-80 overtime road win at Albany on Wednesday which saw Irving score six points in the final nine seconds of regulation, the Terriers appeared to be suffering from a hangover after Wednesday’s emotional high. After Cook opened the game with a lay-up, Thomas threw the ensuing unpressured inbounds away, leading to a Satchell lay-up. After Morris missed a bunny for the Terriers, Plummer drilled a three and UMBC led 7-0.

“The first possession, we go to take the ball out after they score – when that happens you’re just not ready to go,” said Jones. “Whether the Albany game – the overtime win, the emotional win – had anything to do with it, who knows, but the bottom line: We did not come out with the energy that it takes to be a great team. And that’s what we’re striving for.”

The Retrievers were selfless with the ball and stifling defending the perimeter, pushing their lead to 25-15 on a pull-up three by Cook with 7:09 left in the first.

UMBC freshman point guard Aaron Morgan pushes the ball in transition Saturday (Photo by Sam Perkins).

UMBC freshman point guard Aaron Morgan pushes the ball in transition Saturday (Photo by Sam Perkins).

But the Terriers woke up, rattling off 10 straight points over the next four minutes to tie the game, with Morris and Papale providing four points apiece during that stretch.

The Retrievers responded with brilliant ball movement, as Plummer threaded the needle with a left handed hook pass from the paint past three defenders to Neller, who banged a three. Point guard Quinton Jones found Neller again with a nifty no-look pass out of a loose ball scramble for another deep three with 56 seconds remaining and the Retreivers went into the half leading 32-31. (more…)

Terriers top Retrievers 81-75

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Sponsored by Alex Lauritson-Lada and Liberty Concepts. Founded in 2000, Liberty Concepts is a full service digital communications agency that specializes in helping create brands and develop online communities around them. A full service shop, Liberty Concepts has helped clients from discovery through execution.

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Boston University point guard Maurice Watson Jr., corrals a second-half pass with UMBC point guard Quinton Jones in hot pursuit (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Boston, MA) – Offense was at a premium and defense hard to find on Saturday as the Boston University Terriers out-dueled the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers 81-75 in an all-out shootout between two run-and-gun offenses.

“We came out with no energy right from the start,” said BU head coach Joe Jones. “The silver lining is that we won the game and we made the plays that it took down the stretch to win the game.”

“Bottom line, we give up 50 points in the second half and that’s pretty much the tale of the game,” said UMBC interim head coach Aki Thomas.

Dom Morris led six Terriers in double figures, scoring a career-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting while pulling down a team-high eight rebounds. Point guard Maurice Watson Jr. scored 10 points and dished out six assists to just one turnover, forward Malik Thomas scored 10 points to go with eight rebounds, freshman forward Nate Dieudonne scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, guard D.J. Irving added 13 points and guard John Papale chipped in 11.

Chase Plummer scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds and was generally the best player on the floor. Guard Ryan Cook scored 15 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-3 from behind the arc, and added six rebounds and three assists to just one turnover. Senior guard Brian Neller scored 12 points, on 4-of-9 shooting from downtown and forward Adrian Satchell added 11 points and six rebounds.

The game was played at a run-and-gun break-neck pace, with both team’s shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and posting a positive assist to turnover ratio. The game featured 10 ties and seven lead changes. (more…)

The Coaches Preseason Predictions – Sam Perkins responds.

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Today was Media Day in the America East. Coaches and athletic personnel from every team converged on SEFCU Arena in Albany for the league luncheon, meet-and-greet, and lots and lots of press conferences to kick off the 2012-2013 season.

It was on Albany’s home court – the site of the 2013 America East Tournament – that the official Preseason Coaches’ Poll was unveiled, revealing the predicted standings of the nine America East schools as voted on by the league coaches, as well as the preseason All-Conference selections.

There is always some gamesmanship that goes into the picks (acknowledging upperclassmen, nods of respect coaches – both accomplished and on the hot seat – and even some general ribbing), so they should be taken with a grain of salt (just take a look at the number of years in a row that BU was tabbed first).

Without revealing OBW’s own preseason predictions, which will be published in the near future, here is Sam Perkins’ breakdown of the nine America East teams in ascending order of how the coaches’ selected them. (more…)

Chandler Thomas leaves UMBC

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

(Baltimore, MD) – Freshman forward Chandler Thomas has left the University of Maryland-Baltimore County basketball team and plans to transfer elsewhere, as confirmed by multiple sources.

Thomas, a 6’6” forward from Indianapolis, Indiana, averaged 6 points and 3.4 rebounds in a little over 17 minutes per game during his first season of college ball.

Thomas showed brief flashes of brilliance, and solid upside as the kind of high-energy undersized four-man that plays well in the America East. In just the fourth game of his career, Thomas scored 23 points on 8-12 shooting against VMI, and also added 19 points against America East rival Albany on February first.

But Thomas’ playing time became increasingly sporadic as the season wore on; and he seemed to spend more and more time in head coach Randy Monroe’s doghouse, coinciding with a sharp drop-off in confidence on the low blocks and increasingly tentative play in the post.

There is no word on Thomas’ transfer destination (although it would seem likely that he would head go the “D2” route), but what is certain is that he is getting the heck out of dodge.

Outside of Thomas, the rest UMBC’s returning roster will be back in uniform next year. Thomas’ scholarship will be going to walk-on guard Ryan Cook, who finished second on the team in scoring at 12.5 points per game despite playing in his first season at the Division I level.

2012 America East Tournament in Microcosm — Moment 3, 3/3/12: Walking-Tall

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of America East Athletic Communications

(West Hartford, CT) — Third-year Binghamton head coach Mark Macon’s press conferences are already the stuff of legend: The outspoken coach has been known to offer thoughts, insights, jokes, commentary, and stream-of-conscious detours about any and all topics related to the game played, the sport of basketball, and life in general.

Needless to say, when Macon talks, you fasten your seat-belt and enjoy the ride.

Following the two-win Bearcats all-heart, near-herculean effort in a narrow loss to top-seeded Stony Brook in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament, Macon was effusive in his praise of his team’s effort and guts. He also spent time praising the tremendous talents of freshman forward Ben Dickinson – a potential star in the making — who followed up a 21 point performance in Binghamton’s win over UMBC on the opening night of the America East tournament with 20 points in the near-upset.

But it was the smallest – and perhaps the least known — player on the Bearcats roster who drew the biggest praise, and most airtime, from Macon: walk-on Mike Horn. Macon spent more time talking about the scrappy and diminutive guard than any other topic in the entire press conference.

After praising the Bearcats’ collective group of walk-ons — Javon Ralling, Jabrille Williams, Jimmy Gray (who earned a partial scholarship this year) and Horn — for their impressive contributions during the season.

“They just give you everyting, said Macon. “They fight for this family, and I can’t be more proud of those guys They do yeoman’s work.

Macon singled out Horn specifically for his contributions.

“Let me tell you a story about Mike,” said Macon. “He is THE hardest worker on that floor every night and every practice – he gives you everything he’s got.”

That Mike Horn ever set foot on the floor at the division I level is perhaps equal parts fate and luck; cosmic karma and random chance; persistence and perseverance; and one kid’s immense love for the game of basketball. (more…)

2012 America East Tournamet in Microcosm — Moment 1, 3/1/12: One final moment in uniform

Friday, March 9th, 2012

They say to know where you are going you need to know where you have been. With the America East Championship in the morning, here’s a look back at how we got here. This is the first of a multi-part series capturing some of the unseen moments that embodied the America East Tournament, and the essence of the conference as a whole.

UMBC forward Jake Wasco battles Ben Dickinson and Jabrille Williams for a rebound (courtesy of America East Athletic Communications)

(West Hartford, CT) — In the waning moments of the America East Play-in-Game between eight-seeded UMBC and ninth-seeded Binghamton, the ball found its way into the hands of Retrievers’ senior forward Jake Wasco.

In front of a crowd that couldn’t have numbered much more than 150 spectators, as the squeak of sneakers and leather slapping against hardwood echoed off of empty seats, previously one-wind Bearcats had gutted out a 73-67 overtime win against the four-win Retrievers.

It was fitting that the ball found its way into Wasco’s hands in the games final seconds.

Jake Wasco spent his entire career in anonymity, toiling in obscurity on a downright bad team.

An end of the bench player for a bottom of the barrel squad for virtually all of his time in uniform, Wasco was never known by the mainstream college basketball world – and will be soon forgotten by even the most ardent America East fans.

An all-effort player who was long on heart but short on effort, Wasco was a spare part and practice player for one of the worst teams in the league. Toiling deep within the shadows of a tiny conference, he played out a forgettable career during a four-year span that UMBC fans wish could be wiped from their record books.

As the ball reached Wasco’s hands, the game clock flipped to seven-seconds, rapidly descending towards the triple-zeros that would mark the end of his career. As Wasco caught the pass, he paused for a moment, scanning around the arena – as if taking it all in for one last time. (more…)