Injuries, suspension have forced UMBC men's basketball to play short-handed

UMBC men's basketball dressed just eight players in Sunday's loss to New Hampshire.

UMBC has dressed just seven players in two of its last three games as injuries and a suspension have sapped the team’s depth.

The Retrievers (2-13 overall and 0-2 in the America East) dressed eight players in Sunday’s 63-60 loss against America East Conference opponent New Hampshire, but the eighth player was a walk-on who did not enter the game.

“It’s definitely not an ideal situation for a coach, but it’s something we’re working through,” UMBC coach Aki Thomas said Monday. “It’s a short rotation. So we have to do a lot of things differently in practice and obviously with games. But we’re working through it.”

Thomas said in an effort to avoid tiring the healthy players, practices have been adjusted to avoid strenuous physical strain, and the players have been good about resting when possible.

UMBC has missed swingman Will Darley, who has averaged 5.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 12 games, including nine starts. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound sophomore sprained his knee in the first half of the team’s 58-55 loss against Lehigh on Dec. 28 and is not expected to return until later this month.

“Will was playing very well before he went down,” Thomas said. “He was doing a lot of different things on both ends of the floor for us. He’s definitely a huge loss for us, but now he gives somebody an opportunity to step up and figure some things out in his absence.”

The Retrievers are also dealing with a team-imposed suspension of guard Aaron Morgan, who had averaged 5.0 points in 10 games, including eight starts. The 5-11, 185-pound junior is serving an indefinite suspension for violating a team rule.

Thomas said the feeling of being short-handed won’t pass until UMBC is back to full strength, but it’s something to which the players have grown accustomed.

“At this point, we’ve been doing it for almost a month now,” he said. “So at this point, it’s kind of our makeup. Maybe a month ago, if you had asked me that question, I would have said, ‘Yeah, I do.’ But this is the team I’m coaching. We’re working with it.”

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