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December 7, 2001

Men's Hoops Return to the RAC

For the second consecutive year, the UMBC men's basketball team made it pretty clear which team was "Baltimore's Best." Before a very pro-UMBC crowd at Loyola's Reitz Arena and a local (WMAR-TV) television audience, the Retrievers successfully defended their Battle of Baltimore title with convincing wins over the host Greyhounds (76-66) and the Towson Tigers (73-54). But unlike last season, when UMBC won the title at home, and followed up with home league wins over Robert Morris and St. Francis University, the Retrievers play the first four games of the season (and nine of the first thirteen) on the road, making the December home games with Quinnipiac (December 6), Central Connecticut (December 8) and Towson (December 22) critical to UMBC's early season success.“I think these home games are very significant in terms of the students coming to see the team and how well we can play,” says Head Coach Tom Sullivan.” I think that it may have been an advantage for us to play our first few games on the road. We have a young team and we're starting to get settled in on what makes this team good and how we play with each other. We'll come home and we'll show our fans that.”The elixir for UMBC's success in the Battle of Baltimore was defense. They held Loyola to 25% shooting in the first half, grabbed an eleven-point advantage and were not serious challenged in the second half. In the title game vs. Towson, UMBC jumped out a 21-6 lead, forced 25 Tiger turnovers and maintained a large gap throughout the game.“I thought we were ready defensively and I think that's a big thing this time of the year. Overall, I thought we responded very well,” adds Sullivan.The Retrievers featured many outstanding performances, including newcomer Malik Wallace (24 points in two games) and sophomore Ron Yates (21 points vs. Loyola), who both earned All Tournament Team honors. But sophomore Peter Mulligan was the “top dog,” earning Tournament Most Valuable Player honors with 35 points, 17 rebounds and eight steals in the two games.“Peter is one of those players that you really don't have to do much coaching with. His aggressive nature is something you don't see very often. He has a great deal of confidence and doesn't let any situation throw him off,” says Sullivan.Both team members and Retriever fans are eyeing those early December home games to create plenty of excitement at the RAC Arena.“The whole team is really looking forward to playing at home,” says junior guard Kareem Washington. “I hope we don't get too anxious, so we can go out and do what Coach (Sullivan) wants us to do. Some players get worked up at home, but I think we have guys, like Peter Mulligan, who really look forward to that type of experience.”Season ticket holder George Preisinger, director of transportation services, says, “I am eagerly looking forward to UMBC men's basketball games at the RAC Arena because, as I witnessed at an early exhibition, the blend of our now more mature returning players with some skilled newcomers has created an exciting team that's fun to watch. I anticipate a very successful year continuing into the conference tournament. Also, the spirit created by the Down and Dirty Dawg Band, Dance Team and re-energized student body makes an evening at the RAC quite entertaining.”Basketball fan Ellen Wiggins, special assistant to Vice President Mark Behm, agrees. “Our whole family loves basketball and the UMBC games are a fun, inexpensive family night out. Plus we are looking forward to seeing the exciting play of returning UMBC players like Yates, McClurkin and Mulligan and the several new promising freshmen.”

Posted by dwinds1 at December 7, 2001 12:00 AM