When playing an inferior opponent, sometimes the best strategy is to apply pressure and let the other team beat itself.
Last night at the Palestra, the men’s basketball team did exactly that, thanks to a full court press and stingy half-court defense that left UMBC (0-6) out of sync and frustrated.
When it was all said and done, the Quakers emerged with a 71-59 victory, keeping the Retrievers winless on the young season.
The full court pressure was implemented early and often by head coach Jerome Allen, who aimed primarily to slow down UMBC point guard and second leading scorer, Chris De La Rosa.
“We wanted to try to stop De La Rosa as soon as we could because he’s very good at getting into the paint [and] creating opportunities for his teammates,” Allen said. “So I know the sooner we picked him up, the better for us.”
That pressure, in addition to junior Rob Belcore’s individual defensive effort, limited the speedy point guard to just nine points on 1-for-7 shooting.
In addition to slowing down De La Ros, Penn (3-3) swarmed on defense and disrupted any offensive rhythm the Retrievers tried to establish. In the second half, UMBC shot just 8-for-23 from the field — a 34.8 percent clip.
While UMBC coach Randy Monroe complimented Penn’s press, he felt that most of his team’s offensive futility was due to poor spacing and movement.
“I just think we had the tendency to stand around a little bit, and usually that’s kind of what the press wants you to do … but we had some opportunities too,” Monroe said. “We just didn’t cash in on them.”
Monroe also said his team was trying to play too fast.
“We just have to settle down a little bit from an offensive standpoint. Everything doesn’t have to be at a hundred-mile-an-hour pace.”
Whether Monroe wants to admit it or not, though, the defensive pressure by Penn was a major reason why UMBC was forced to speed the game up.
It’s telling that even when Monroe’s team was able to break the press, the Retrievers coughed up a number of unforced turnovers on passes that went sailing out of bounds.
Putting all this together, it’s no surprise that a UMBC team still looking for its first win showed signs of frustration for the better part of the game.
Forward Chase Plummer — who entered the game averaging 9.8 points but was held to only two last night — was visibly upset, throwing his towel and yelling at himself.
“That’s growing pains,” Monroe explained. “You have a young man like Chase who’s come from a very successful high-school program [St. Patrick’s in Elizabeth, New Jersey]. He’s used to being successful.”
In the end, though, Plummer’s frustration and limited offensive output was indicative of not just growing pains but also Penn’s all-out defensive pressure that put the Retrievers in a bind they just could not shake.Comments powered by Disqus
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