After a slow start to the season, which saw the UMBC Retrievers open 1-5, head coach Phil Stern and his team seem to have found their rhythm on both ends of the court. The Retrievers have won four of their last six games, with the only two losses coming to Maryland and Virginia. Perhaps the most important factor behind the recent run of strong play is the consistent performances from the trio of Michelle Kurowski, Erin Brown and Topé Obajolu.
“Our junior class is playing great basketball right now,” emphasized Stern. “We knew when we recruited them that they would make a major impact on our program. I think this is the first year that they’re all playing really well at one time.”
Since stepping foot on the UMBC campus, Kurowski has shown the ability to be an elite scorer for the Retrievers. Barring some sort of injury, the junior guard is on pace to score the 1,000th point of her career later this season. Kurowski gives the Retrievers a reliable scorer on the perimeter, as evidenced by her team-high 13.9 points per game, and a player that can get her team baskets when the offense breaks down.
Joining Kurowski on the perimeter is Brown. While the junior guard is an excellent scorer, averaging 12.6 points per game, it’s her ability to mix things up in the paint that makes her so valuable to this team. Brown provides the Retrievers with an excellent defensive rebounder on the perimeter, as she is averaging a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game. Brown is also the leading three-point shooter for UMBC, having made a team-high 21 shots from behind the arc and also brings a rare consistency to the table, having scored in double-figures in all but two games this season.
Few players have improved more over the past two seasons then Obajolu. Due to an excellent work ethic and constantly-improving offensive game, Obajolu has emerged as one of the elite post options in the America East. Obajolu is averaging 10.5 points per game and is hitting over 47 percent of her shots. She also provides a strong defensive presence in the paint, as she has blocked a team-high 21 shots this season.
With the leadership and consistency that this trio of juniors brings to the table, it appears that UMBC will be a tough matchup during America East play. With players like senior guard/forward Meghan Colabella and sophomore guard Kristin Coles providing key contributions along with the steady play of Kurowski, Brown and Obajolu, this is a deep UMBC team that can win in a variety of ways.