"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, August 17, 2018

UMBC Preview

Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers
November 6, fiserv.forum

Coach: Ryan Odom (46-24 record at UMBC)
3-Year RPI Average: 204.7
3-Year kenpom Average: 233.7
2018-19 T-Rank Projection: 242
Projected Starters: PG Kaelin Jackson (6'2" Jr), SG Arkel Lamar (6'5" Jr), SF Joe Sherburne (6'6" Sr), PF Daniel Akin (6'9" So), C Nolan Gerrity (6'10" Sr)

First off, the backcourt duo of Jairus Lyles & KJ Maura that led the Retrievers to the stunning first-ever 16-over-1 upset of Virginia last year has graduated. That has led T-Rank to drop them 70 spots from last year in preseason projections, but there's still a lot to like about Marquette's 2018-19 season opening opponent. First, they return two of the top four scorers from last year's team, Lamar & Whitefish Bay native Sherburne. They also have depth up front. Akin seems likely to start, but along with Gerrity there are a pair of other bigs with experience to help man the frontcourt.

The biggest question mark is at the point, where JUCO transfer Jackson seems like the favorite to start ahead of a transfer (see below) & a pair of 2-star freshmen. Jackson was an all-conference player at Temple College where he put up over 25 ppg & 4 apg. If Jackson can fit in seamlessly, UMBC will likely outperform their preseason predictions.

As far as style of play, we got a good look at it in the NCAA Tournament. The Retrievers like to play fast, create turnovers, & shoot threes. Sherburne & Lamar both shot over 40% from deep last year & should be the top two offensive options. If their big man rotation isn't working, don't be surprised to see UMBC go small. Lamar could man the middle in stretches. He's well-built for 6'5" & hits the glass hard.

One thing that stands out is Odom's success. His gaudy record & win over Virginia aren't the only things to hang his hat on. In his first season at UMBC, he improved their season-opening rating in Pomeroy from 311 to 201. Last year, they improved from 207 to 166. The RPI & kenpom averages above are severely dragged down by the last season of Aki Thomas; Odom's respective 2-year numbers are 138.0 & 183.5, respectively. While the Retrievers are projected by T-Rank to be 243rd in the country, they are predicted to be 3rd in their own conference, which means even a down season from Odom's first two should result in a solid opponent for RPI purposes.

Marquette Connection: One surprising name on the UMBC roster is PG Ricky Council II. The North Carolina native picked Providence over Steve Wojciechowski & Marquette in 2015. Council struggled to crack the roster with the Friars & sat out last season as a transfer. He was a scoring machine who shot 45% from three as a prep senior. If Council settles into the low-major level, he could be a quality pickup that helps UMBC's already impressive three-point shooting while challenging Jackson & Lamar for minutes in the backcourt.

No comments: