Three consecutive seasons of single-digit wins might damper a coach's enthusiasm. But heading into the 2012-13 campaign, UMBC coach Randy Monroe is "confident and optimistic" about this Retrievers squad.
Monroe returns the top three scorers off last season's 4-26 team in junior forward Chase Plummer, senior guard Ryan Cook (Pallotti) and senior guard Brian Neller. Other returning Retrievers are sophomore guard Joey Getz, junior guard Quentin Jones (Mount St. Joseph), senior forward Adrian Satchell, junior guard Jamar Wertz, sophomore guard Jarrel Lane, sophomore forward Will Wise, junior center Nate Basalyga and sophomore guard Jordan Wejnert.
UMBC also welcomes three new players to Catonsville: Brett Roseboro, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound junior center who sat out last season as a transfer from St. Bonaventure; Malik Garner, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward from Philadelphia; and Aaron Morgan, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound guard from Washington, Pa.
Monroe spoke to The Sun this week about his incoming class, what went wrong last season, how much progress can be expected this year and much more.
Let's start with the freshmen. What can you tell us about Malik Garner?
Malik Garner, 6-5, can play a couple different positions. He’s just a rangy, athletic, 6-5 wing. He has played some point and the off-guard position, [and he] can get the ball into the basket. He’s respectable outside, with a 15-, 16-foot jump shot. He’s a good defender, he closes out well and he does a good job of contesting shots.
Aaron Morgan is the other freshman. What do you like about him?
Aaron Morgan, who’s a combo guard, plays both point and the off-guard position. He does a really good job of getting to the basket and finishing. He can shoot the ball from 3-point range. He makes good decisions with the basketball. He had a successful career at Council Rock North. I’m very, very excited that he’s with us.
Do you see one or both of these freshmen contributing right away?
Well, I think they’re both certainly capable. But as freshmen, they have to come in and learn how to play on this level. But I think both of these guys are certainly capable of contributing and helping us out. It’s a matter of them adjusting and how quick guys can catch on to things. It’s no secret to this game. It’s just a matter of freshmen making that transition from high school to college. It’s all about how quick they can do it. But I’m certainly high on both of them. I think both of them can really contribute to the success of the program.
The other newcomer is Brett Roseboro, who sat out last year after transferring. What have you seen from him?
Well I think Brett has got really good skills on the interior. He’s a very skilled post player who can also step out and shoot the ball from 17, 18 feet. He’s got a mean streak in him, which I really like. He can rebound the basketball. He’s a good athlete, a big guy who can run the floor and plays hard. He’s really dedicated to the game. I think he can be a very good player for us.
You had a premature departure in freshman forward Chandler Thomas. What happened there?
He just got homesick as a freshman. I just think that he kind of started out playing well, but then as the season went along, I think once again, you talk about the season being a grind. In high school, your season ends in early February. In college, your games go into March and even the middle or end of March. You’re constantly playing. So that additional month is tacked on to what high school players used to play. I think with Chase playing as well as he did, that took away from [Thomas'] minutes. Obviously, players want to play. But at the same time, everybody can’t play. There are a certain number of guys for about 200 minutes. Those minutes are determined, pretty much, by the players more than the coaches. So I saw Chandler seeing that, as well as being a little homesick and having a hard time making that time adjustment. He’s a terrific young man and a good student. I think he’ll do well as he moves on to his next school.
[Editor's note: Thomas landed at Grambling State, roughly 800 miles from his Indianapolis home.]
Are there any returners that you expect to make the leap?
Well I think Adrian Satchell would have a good year for us. I think that he’s had a couple injuries, a couple nagging injuries that set him back a little bit for a couple years. But I think he’s a senior who can really come out and really do a lot of the little things for us that we need, from taking charges to defending to running the floor to getting some easy putbacks in transition to making a key pass. He’s that kind of player. I expect some really good things from him this year.
When you talk about seniors, Ryan Cook is another young man who I would say is a success story in and of itself. Ryan came to us as a walk-on, has done a really good job and earned a scholarship. So he was our second-leading scorer on the team last year at 12.6 points a game, which is quite impressive. He’s really one of our best athletes. He’s terrific at having what I consider to be [a short-term] memory playing this game. If he makes a mistake, it doesn’t devastate him. He’ll realize it, and then try to make up for it on the other end by playing hard and with effort. So I really think he’ll have a good year as a senior.
Brian Neller, who was our third-leading scorer on the team, I think he can have another good year for us. I think he’s one of the best shooters in the conference. The expectation of Brian last year will be the same this year. He’ll do whatever we need him to do, and that’s shoot the ball, but take better shots – knowing when he has a good shot, and knowing when he doesn’t have a good shot and passing it. [We’ll need him to] use screens effectively and just be able to knock down those shots. If he can do that and defend, he’s really going to make a major contribution to the program by doing those things.
You're bringing your top player back in Chase Plummer. What do you expect from him as a junior?