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Rodney Elliott starred for UMBC as a freshman. Now, he and his sophomore class look to take another step forward.
Rodney Elliott starred for UMBC as a freshman. Now, he and his sophomore class look to take another step forward. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun)

UMBC's sophomores are a year older and may be a year wiser, which will be key for a team that plans to lean on its young backcourt.

Last season, the freshman class accounted for 44.3 percent of the team's points, 43.5 percent of the assists, and 30.7 percent of the rebounds. This year, the expectations may be even weightier.

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"We've gotten stronger and faster and wiser on and off the court from being together all the time," sophomore guard Rodney Elliott said.

The school's first America East Rookie of the Year, Elliott will be counted on to set the pace. The Baltimore resident and John Carroll graduate — and son of the former Maryland star by the same name — averaged 15 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists in his first collegiate season.

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UMBC will also rely on sophomore guards Charles Taylor (5 points, 2.8 rebounds) and Will Darley (2.8 points, 1.4 rebounds).

"We're young, but we definitely have experience, and I think that will help going forward into the season," said Darley, a Timonium resident and Dulaney graduate.

Retrievers coach Aki Thomas said he has seen the sophomores improve from last season.

"When you're starting a new program, you have some turnover and you have to play some young guys, and you do that so that they can get older and wiser and faster and really get those game legs under them," he said. "You want to get them that game experience as fast as you can, and that's what we did."

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