UMBC announced Thursday afternoon that standout point guard Rodney Elliott will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the 2014-15 season.
The 6-foot, 190-pound sophomore, who hails from Baltimore and graduated from John Carroll, tore the labrum in his left shoulder in the team's season opener at Akron on Nov. 14 and had not played in the past five games. He was named the America East Rookie of the Year last season after averaging 15.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
"As it dragged on and he saw more and more doctors, we started to prepare for the worst, and it turns out the worst is here, and he had to have surgery," Retrievers coach Aki Thomas said. "So he'll redshirt this year, and we'll get him back next year."
UMBC is off to an 0-6 start, but Thomas declined to attribute the team's struggles to Elliott's absence. He did, however, acknowledge that news of Elliott's injury had an impact on the other players.
"These guys really rally behind Rodney and believe in Rodney," Thomas said. "So I would be naïve to say that they weren't impacted by him not being available this year. But they're definitely a strong group and emotionally tough to where they know that everybody just has to step it up and turn it up a notch in order for us to be competitive. I do have that kind of group, and that's the vibe we've had in practice. We've had a tough start, but the energy and vibe has been such that we're capable as a team. We have talent, and we have players that can step up and fill the huge void that Rodney leaves."
The hole in the starting lineup has been filled by Aaron Morgan. The 5-11, 185-pound junior has averaged 7.8 points and 1.6 steals in his five starts.
"He's one of my better defenders on the ball," Thomas said of Morgan. "He's a vocal leader. Aaron's a guy that can make open shots. Everybody's role will change slightly, and Aaron's will, too, but at the same time, the things that he is strong at are what we expect him to do.
"By no stretch of the imagination would we want anybody to try and fill Rodney's role. That's why it was his role. It wasn't anybody else's. So we just look for Aaron to continue to do what he does for us."
In addition to Elliott, the team also announced that freshman Lamell Washington will sit out the season after undergoing knee surgery last month. The 6-6, 205-pound forward had not played in a game this season.
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"He's been having some nagging issues with the knee, and we got things checked out, and it turned out that he needed knee surgery," Thomas said. "It's unexpected, but it's what we needed to do to get him prepared for his career moving forward."