Maryland men’s basketball finishes its nonconference slate with a home matchup against UMBC Thursday at 7 p.m. in College Park. In their final game of 2022, the Terps will look to improve to 10-3 with their nonconference schedule in the rearview and a difficult run of Big Ten competition on the horizon, starting with Michigan on the road.
But first, Maryland has to take care of local foe UMBC. Maryland should not have a problem taking care of a weaker opponent despite the Retrievers’ strong start to the season.
The biggest question coming into Thursday is the status of Julian Reese, who was out last game with a shoulder injury but is “day-by-day,” according to head coach Kevin Willard.
UMBC Retrievers (9-4, 0-0 America East)
Head coach Jim Ferry is in his second year as UMBC’s head man, stepping in to fill the shoes of Ryan Odom; Odom led the Retrievers to the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history in 2018, becoming the first No. 16 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed after taking down Virginia, before leaving for Utah State following the 2020-21 season. Maryland fans are familiar with Ferry, who was Penn State’s interim head coach for the 2020-21 season, a year where the Nittany Lions beat the Terps twice.
The Retrievers are off a strong start this season but have not beaten a team ranked in the top 250 at KenPom.com. Still, UMBC is riding a six-game winning streak, with its latest victory coming via a 78-62 home triumph over William & Mary on Dec. 18. The Retrievers should be fresh heading into their penultimate nonconference game against their toughest opponent of the season.
Players to know
Colton Lawrence, graduate guard, six-foot-three, No. 2 — After spending five seasons at Bentley — a Division II program — this season marks Lawrence’s first at the Division I level. Despite the rise in competition level, Lawrence has exceeded as a Retriever, leading UMBC with 14.5 points per game while shooting 44.9% from the field and 40% from three. Despite his six-foot-three frame, Lawrence has played 45% of UMBC’s minutes at small forward and 25% of its minutes at power forward over the past five games, according to KenPom.
Jacob Boonyasith, senior guard, six-foot-three, No. 41 — A third-year Retriever and an American University transfer, Boonyasith is UMBC’s second-leading scorer at 12.3 points per game. Playing primarily point guard and starting all 13 games this season, Boonyasith is UMBC’s best free-throw shooter (89.5%) and has the most free-throw attempts (38) on the team.
Jarvis Doles, graduate forward, six-foot-eight, No. 1 — The Baltimore native is in his sixth year of college basketball at his third school, having played the last two at Albany and the previous three at Drexel. At six-foot-eight, Doles is the tallest contributing player in UMBC’s lineup; junior forward Anyang Garang is the tallest player on the roster at six-foot-nine but has played just 31 minutes this season. UMBC’s starting center averages 9.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Three-point shooting. The Retrievers have hit 37.54% of their 3-pointers, the 52nd-best mark in Division I. UMBC isn’t afraid to jack them up either, as it attempts 26.8 triples per game, tied for the 28th-most in the nation. Maryland has the 27th-best perimeter defense in the country, according to KenPom, so something will have to give.
Perimeter defense. UMBC has one of the worst 3-point defenses in the nation. According to KenPom, the Retrievers allow their opponents to convert on 40.8% of their threes, the sixth-worst mark of 363 Division I teams.
Three things to watch
1. Will Julian Reese play? After exiting Maryland’s loss to UCLA with a right shoulder injury and missing the Terps’ most recent game against St. Peter’s on Jan. 22, Julian Reese’s status remains in question for Thursday’s game against UMBC. While there is no official word, Willard said last week Reese is “day-by-day.” Leading up to the St. Peter’s game, Reese had yet to participate in a practice with the team since the UCLA game. The Terps had a few days off for the holidays but returned to the practice court this week, but it’s unclear whether Reese participated. It would likely be wise for Willard to rest Reese against a weak UMBC team to provide him extra time off before the Big Ten gauntlet.
2. Can Maryland improve its rebounding? The biggest area of concern in the absence of Julian Reese is Maryland’s ability to rebound. With Reese in the lineup, Maryland is already a small team, but without him, and Patrick Emilien playing the center position, the Terps are tiny. Willard’s group struggled mightily to rebound against St. Peter’s. If that continues against UMBC and into Big Ten play, the Terps will be in trouble.
3. What will the starting lineup look like? Reese wasn't the only notable absence from the starting lineup against St. Peter’s. Ian Martinez earned his first start of the season, replacing Don Carey, who came off the bench. Carey’s 3-point shooting has been abysmal this season, particularly at home, and that continued in a reserve role last game, shooting 1-for-6 from three. Whether that was a permanent change or not remains to be seen, but it will be noteworthy how Willard tinkers with the lineup moving forward.