On Nov. 5, the UMBC men’s basketball team kicked off their season against the Valley Forge Patriots. The Retrievers steamrolled past the Patriots 134-46, setting school history for most points scored in a half (68) and in a single game (134). Coming off a 21-13 season, the Retrievers look to lead the America East Conference this year.
The Retrievers set the tone early on in the game, pushing the ball in transition from defense to offense that lead to a total of 27 fast-break points. Throughout the game, UMBC stayed in their man-to-man defense which forced Valley Forge to make numerous contested shots and enabled the Retrievers to snag a total of 43 defensive rebounds.
The Retrievers were in sync as soon as they hit the court. As a team, UMBC worked to move the ball around the perimeter and down low in the paint, the colored area under the basket that an offensive player can only remain in for three seconds. They scored 72 points in the paint and had a total of 33 assists.
Overall, the Retrievers played a good game. The team’s field goal percentage was 68.9%, shooting at a total of 51-74. Their defense forced seven steals and four blocks. The bench players also impacted the game significantly by scoring a total of 69 points.
Nine out of the ten players that played scored double-digit points. Junior Forward Dimitrije Spasojevic led the way with 20 points, shooting 10-12 from the field goal. He also grabbed eight rebounds, leading the Retrievers to even more shooting opportunities. This was Spasojevic’s first time in a UMBC uniform; he is a transfer student-athlete from East Carolina University.
When David Castellanos, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications, asked Spasojevic about how he felt being in a UMBC uniform for the first time, he responded “It feels good to be in this uniform. It feels like a family here but now, we are focused on the next game.”
Head Coach Ryan Odom was very happy with how the team played in their first game, but he is not getting comfortable. When asked if pushing the ball in transition was something the team worked on prior to the game, Odom responded, “That is just how the game unfolded. I wanted us to be aggressive and keep the pressure up on Valley Forge so I was happy with that, but we obviously still have a lot of work to do.”
Another player that took the game by storm was junior point guard Darnell Rogers. He had a double-double- when a player accumulates 10 or more in two of the five statistical categories (points, assists, rebounds, steals, or blocks)- with 14 points and 10 assists. The five-foot and two-inch point guard played like he had something to prove. He kept the pressure on Valley Forge’s defense by pushing the ball up the court and turning it over to the offense.
The Retrievers’ next game is today at Florida Gulf Coast University. It will be interesting to see how their season will unfold and what other skills they will bring to their next games.