Let’s overlook most of the second half against Monday’s game against Marquette. Yes, the final score was pretty lopsided, and the Golden Eagles simply out-muscled the Retrievers in the last 16 minutes of the game, but in a guarantee game like this one, you really have to take a look at the positives, especially in the first half. To me, there were many, and two stood out, though they’re really hand-in-hand.
Let’s just completely ignore the final 16 minutes of the second half.
The first thing I noticed was that when the Retrievers have confidence, this can be a very dangerous team. This leads into another stat that UMBC has struggled in recent years. The rebounding in the first half was among one of the best I’ve seen in years. Both teams had 13 defensive rebounds in the first half, and only 4 separated the two on the offensive glass. They forced a top-100 team in three-pointers to go 1-8 in that category. Finally, their defense held Marquette to their lowest first half total this season at 28 points; this being a team that played Butler and USC. All around, the first half was a wonderful display of offense led by Chase Plummer’s 8 and Ryan Cook’s 6. Both finished the game with 12 and 9 respectively, with Cook nabbing 7 rebounds and tying in the assist category with point guard Aaron Morgan at 3.
There were some concerns throughout the entire game. Brett Roseboro, who was once a Golden Eagle, shot only 1 for 6 the entire night, before fouling out. Though he did manage to grab a respectable number of rebounds and a steal, his shooting choices were suspect, most notable at the 4:07 mark of the second half in which even the TV announcers were questioning why he didn’t shoot over a shorter guard before being rejected by 6’11″ center Chris Otule. The other glaring red flag was the multiple airballs by Brian Neller. It’s one thing to miss a three-pointer (you’re obviously not going to hit every shot if you’re tied for 123rd in the country for most three-point attempts), but his four airballs seemed to be more and more off. That’s something that Jay Greene has to help Neller work on.
Like I said, in a big-money game like this, you really have to look at the positives. In this game, there were multiple ones to look at, and going into Thursday’s game against Canisius, the team has to have some confidence.