It was not that long ago – 2009, to be exact – when UMBC was winning the America East tournament championship and playing in the NCAA postseason. Since that time, however, the program has encountered harsher times.
The job of returning the Retrievers to relevancy belongs to new coach Ryan Moran, who knows a thing or two about winning after helping Maryland and then Loyola Maryland make four appearances in the NCAA tournament's Final Four in eight seasons. It may seem like a Herculean task considering that they have won just nine of 27 games in the last two years and failed to qualify for the conference tournament each time, but fans and alumni are hungry for success.
If Moran feels any pressure to revive UMBC, he said the pressure is generated by his own competitive nature.
"I want to win," he said. "We all do this to formulate relationships and have an opportunity to mentor kids in a positive way, but we also are very competitive. When we have our teams on the field, we want to win games. In some capacity, I've been somewhat spoiled by the places I've been at in terms of winning a lot. But I put pressure on myself because I think I'm a competitor as I would imagine most coaches do.
"I don't feel that pressure radiates through the staff. I think it's an internal pressure based on the standards that I hold myself to on a daily basis. I certainly don't feel any pressure from the athletic administration. Everyone here has been great, awesome, and really supportive."
But in this day and age, pressure to win on any athletic level and sports is intense. Coaches have been fired after just one season for a variety of shortcomings, but especially losing.
Still, athletic director Tim Hall pointed out that Moran and men's basketball coach Ryan Odom – who was hired after the 2015-16 campaign – were signed to seven-year contracts in a show of faith from the university.
"We knew it was going to take a little bit of time," Hall said. "[Microsoft founder] Bill Gates is the person who I think said life needs two things: time and money. … I'd like to see some noticeable progress in Year 3 and 4. I think you can really start telling what a coach is going to be able to do once they have a couple classes of their own kids and those kids become upperclassmen. So I think in Year 3 and Year 4, you kind of get a sense of where you need to be. That doesn't mean that we don't want to win now. But in terms of managing expectations, I would always rather under-promise and over-deliver."