Basketball, Sports

M. bball hosts wounded Retrievers tonight

Last season, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County won the America East conference championship with a seven-man rotation. Concerns about possible fatigue never came to fruition and the Retrievers utilized the talents of two senior transfers in addition to their regular cast of players to garner the first conference championship in school history.

This year, UMBC (8-9, 2-3 AE) finds itself once again vying for the title with a seven-man rotation. Only this time, it’s not by choice. Injuries to the Retrievers’ already-depleted 10-man roster leave the team with seven healthy players entering Thursday night’s game against the Boston University men’s basketball team (7 p.m. at Case Gymnasium).

Senior Jay Greene, arguably the conference’s best point guard, is listed as day-to-day with a concussion and sophomore forward Rich Flemming will be evaluated Friday to see how severely his knee is injured, according to UMBC coach Randy Monroe. Greene (11.2 points per game, 6.8 assists per game) will most likely be a gametime decision, and Flemming (7.3 ppg) will not play.

‘It’s just something that happens throughout the course of the year that you have no control over,’ Monroe said of the injuries. ‘We don’t want to feel sorry for ourselves, and we don’t want anybody feeling sorry for us.’

The timing couldn’t be worse for the Retrievers, who enter Boston limping out of Patrick Gymnasium following a 76-42 loss to the University of Vermont, as they’ll face a Terrier squad aiming to tie its season-long winning streak with its third consecutive victory.

The Terriers lost twice to the Retrievers last season – once in embarrassing fashion at Case Gymnasium, a performance BU coach Dennis Wolff called ‘horrendous’ ‘-‘- and once in a nail-biting close contest at the RAC Center in Maryland.

While UMBC is depleted, Wolff and his coaching staff have taken the necessary precautions (no practice Tuesday, abbreviated practice Wednesday) to ensure his team doesn’t become fatigued during what is arguably its toughest stretch of the season. The Terriers (8-9, 3-2) will play their third game in six days and cap the stint off with a fourth in eight on Sunday against the University of Maine.

That stretch would be tiring for any team, let alone one coming off a quadruple overtime thriller against Stony Brook University in which multiple players logged over 50 minutes and whose bench had been shortened by injuries to two top scorers.

‘We’ve had to do it a couple times here before,’ Wolff said of battling fatigue. ‘I think the key is just being smart in regard to the kids’ bodies and how much they can physically sustain and mentally sustain.’

Though probably physically and mentally drained by the conclusion of the four overtime classic, both junior guard Corey Lowe and sophomore forward John Holland turned in historical performances and have been outstanding since conference play began.

Holland is averaging 25.3 points per game and six rebounds per game in five America East contests. Meanwhile, Lowe has readjusted almost instantly to running the point and is showing more of a propensity to attack the rim since the beginning of conference play.

‘The challenge for John right now is that we’ve all seen the level he can consistently play at, and he’s got to try and play at that level,’ Wolff said. ‘He’s been very focused and hasn’t been getting in foul trouble. He’s been shooting real well, playing off two feet when driving to the basket and never putting himself in bad positions. When he does that, he’s very tough to guard.’

If Greene doesn’t play, UMBC’s most talented athlete will be dynamic forward Darryl Proctor. Proctor, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, averages 19.2 ppg, has reached double digits in scoring every game this season and has recorded seven double-doubles.

To defend against Proctor and the rest of the Retrievers, Wolff will stick with the 3-2 zone he’s implemented since the start of conference play (much like the one UMBC will play against BU). But he’ll also show some man-to-man so as not to become too predictable.

‘I think we’re going to change things up a little bit,’ Wolff said. ‘It knocked [Stony Brook] out of their comfort level at that point in a game, and that’s what you look for as a coach. You don’t want a team to have any sort of comfort level against your defense, and that’s one of the dangers of playing zone. So we’re going to try to keep [UMBC] on their toes a little bit.’

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