Boy, basketball at the UMaine is certainly in a slump. Is it season long?
Is it last year all over again?
When the men were 6-5 against non-conference foes many were saying that this was their year to get to the big dance for the first time in the program’s history, because they were getting ready to go into weak conference play.
Yeah, right. The America East Conference, one of the lowest rated of the 32 D1 conferences in the country. Maine after going 2-0 in conference play, with wins over lowly UMBC and winless Binghamton and now on a 4 game losing skid losing to BU, Vermont, Albany and Hartford. with BU and Hartford being at home.
The only thing they have going right now if they don’t improve, is that they get an automatic spot in the conference tourney as all 9 AE Teams make the conference tourney.
Last year they were 8-1 in conference play and then the wheels came off and they ended up in third place and lost to New Hampshire who they had beaten twice in the regular season.
Hopefully, they can get back on the right track and finish in the top 3 with 10 conference games left. However, if they don’t and they end up like last year or worse then there still will be no head coaching change because the current head coach received a three year extension when they were going well at 6-5 early in the season.
Bad move giving that extension until the season was over, seeing that Cindy Blodgett was fired at the end of the season with a season to go on her contract last season.
Unless there was a buyout clause or the contract wasn’t a guaranteed 3 year extension, then there will be no head coaching change if things don’t get better. Better would be winning one conference tournament game, something Maine has not done under current head coach.
Why did Maine slump last year and why are they in a tailspin now?
Well last year Burnakowski took the heat and was benched late in the season. It wasn’t his fault last year and this year as he is not playing at Maine so it can’t be his fault again. Looks like he was smart to move on..
There are two starters back from last year. One is McLemore and maybe he is the common dominator. He is a player that many possessions thinks shoot first and pass second, is a poor rebounder and a poor defender and his shot selection is really questionable at times.. Rogers/Singleton shared the point guard last year and both have improved this year.
The other common dominator is that 3 of the 4 coaches are back from last year and this is a team that has no inside game this year just like they didn’t last year.
This is a team that many games “lives by the 3 and dies by the three”. This is a team that has shown it cannot defend the 3. In their 4 straight losses teams have gotten open looks for threes on just dribble penetration and kickouts.
Looks like they do not know how to cheat the dribble penetration so that they can recover to close out the 3 point shooters.
Their so called 3-2 match zone is no more then a regular 3-2 or 1-2-2 jug zone and their man to man defense leaves alot to be desired.
Offensively they have been very good in scoring as they had been averaging in the mid 70’s until their loss to Hartford 63-49.
In the loss to Hartford at home at “The Pit”, Maine did not look like they had good team chemistry. Did not get the ball inside to Fraser, who has really improved, was 3 for 13 from Teaserland and allowed Hartford to go 8-20 from 3 point land with many excellent open looks.
Stonybrook, tied for first with BU at 5-1 is at Maine on Saturday Afternoon.
Good chance to bounce back against one of the leaders of the pack. But, it will take better team play, getting the ball inside to Fraser, go inside-outside for their 3’s to get better open 3 looks and certainly defending the 3 point arc better than they have in their past 4 losses.
Let’s hope the Bears can get back on track. However, if they don’t and they finish in the bottom half of the conference, if they can upset a higher seeded team in the opening round of the Conference Tournament then that could make up for the potentially poor regular season.
It is not what you do in the regular season in the AE Conference because the only automatic bid is the Conference Tournament Winner not the regular season champ.
The time to peak and playing your best basketball is at Tourney Time.
Maybe, that has been the problem last year and this year, THEY JUST PLAIN “.PEAKED TO EARLY”.