The unprecedented journey of the Maryland Baltimore County men’s basketball team continued well after its last game in the NCAA tournament, with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and other state officials honoring the Retrievers first with a reception at the governor’s mansion followed by recognition on the senate floor.
The celebratory events Monday night in Annapolis came hours after the school announced Coach Ryan Odom had received “contract amendments” ensuring he would remain in Catonsville, Md., for the foreseeable future.
Terms of the new deal were not disclosed.
“UMBC has been so good to my family, and we’re so excited about the opportunity to continue to lead these guys,” Odom said. “It’s a special community, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
Odom became a hot commodity following a season in which he directed the most improbable upset in men’s NCAA tournament history, when the Retrievers became the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 with a 74-54 win against Virginia in the round of 64 on March 16 in Charlotte.
The Cavaliers were the No. 1 overall seed after losing just twice entering the NCAA tournament on the heels of a record-setting run through the ACC.
But UMBC locked down defensively against the ACC champions, limiting Virginia to 4 for 22 from three-point range. The Retrievers, meanwhile, made 12 of 24 from beyond the arc and got a game-high 28 points from Jairus Lyles, who played high school basketball at national power DeMatha, where Hogan also attended.
Hogan presented the team with a plaque recognizing its accomplishments and handed out a governor’s coin to each player.
The Retrievers lost in the round of 32 to No. 9 seed Kansas State, 50-43, but they remained firmly in the national spotlight for their remarkable achievement.
“It’s a surreal moment for us,” Lyles said of being honored at the government house as well as the State House.
Lyles led UMBC in scoring this past season will not be back after playing his final year of eligibility as a graduate student. Gone too is starting point guard K.J. Maura, the America East defensive player of the year.
Starting forward Joe Sherburne is perhaps the most high-profile player coming back next season, having scored 14 points and making 3 of 8 three-pointers, including scoring the first six points of the second half to provide UMBC a lead it would not relinquish when it played Virginia.
Sherburne, a native of Wisconsin, is UMBC’s first Division I first-team academic all-American and counts himself as the biggest Aaron Rodgers fan, so much so that after making a three-pointer, he occasionally mimics the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s championship belt gesture.
Sherburne is among 12 players set to come back next season as UMBC seeks to repeat at America East tournament champions.
“Right when he said it, I got a real big smile on my face,” Sherburne said of his reaction upon learning Odom would be coming back. “I did a single clap to look around to see what was going to happen, then we all started clapping, and I think we’re all really excited to build on what we already have, and we don’t have to start over with something new.”
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