Maine men should look to Vermont’s success, how it was obtained.

Sometimes the solutions to problems are right under our noses. It’s like not seeing the “forest for the trees”,  that could well be the situation for the UMaine Men’s Basketball Team.

Many of the critics of the Program  just complain and do not offer solutions, . When I offer  suggestions in my evaluation of the program I have always tried to offer the solutions.

Last year some reasons and suggestions were written in this column when the Maine Men slumped after an 8-1 America East Conference start to finish 9-7 and lose in the quarter-finals to 6th seeded Hartford.

This year the slump started after 11 games as Maine started 6-5 in non conference games against some quality teams and things looked very positive going into conference play. However, the slump started after 11 games not like after 20 games last year.

Maine has now gone 7 consecutive years without winning a play in or quarter-final America East Tournament Game. It is really time to make some changes in coaching techniques and strategies.

The biggest problem is that you cannot continue to do the same things every season over and over again and expect different results. What does Webster’s Dictionary describe that as?

The following changes should be made::

1. Get the ball inside to Fraser in the half-court and put in a rule that Fraser or a player on the low block has to touch the ball at the low block once before you shoot a shot unless it is a layup or the ball has to get to the paint with an entry pass or dribble penetration before you attempt a 3 pointer.

2. Do not substitute without a reason. Only substitute when a player needs a rest, is in foul trouble, injured, ill or is not doing what is asked of the player. “If things are not broken, don’t fix them”. When things are going well don;’t interrupt by substituting.

3. Utilize a man to man offensive setup which makes it hard for the defense to double down and double team the low block without giving up an open 3 or a layup

4. Reduce 1 on 1 off the dribble play to get shots off the dribble, unless it is dribble penetration for kickouts or dump offs for open shots

5.  Get a better  assists to turnovers ratio

6.  Develop better basketball decision-making skills

7. Go to a 1-3-1 zone instead of a 2-3 zone when playing zone because the openings for open looks are in the corners where it is the lowest shooting percentage on the court for 3 pointers

8. Must defend the 3 point line better. Learn how to cheat on the 3 point shooters off dribble penetration and kickouts when playing man to man defense.

9. Do not rely on the athletic skills of the players, rely their basketball skills.. basketball IQ’s,  good basketball decisions, reduce 1 on 1 play, rely on the pass to get shots .and  more team play.

10. Get the tapes of the Vermont-Lamar game and the 3 games of the Vermont-Maine series this year and study those. Then implement some of  what you see on these tapes. The first year head Vermont coach was correct when he said before the Maine-Vermont quarter-final America East Tourney game, that Maine has as much talent as anybody in the conference, especially offensively. He was right on  about especially offensively as Maine averaged 75 points a game

Supporting Becker’s statement that Maine had as much talent as any team in the conference the official America East All-Conference Teams had 4 Maine Players make all conference teams and College Sports Madness Basketball Magazine had Fraser and Edwards lst team, McLemore 2nd team and Allison third team. which means Maine had 4 out of the 15 players on the first, second and third teams and had Edwards as rookie of the year.

I  have a good knowledgeable basketball friend who saw all the America East Teams at least once this season and he told me Vermont was by far  the Best coached team in America East, although they did not have the athletic talent that BU,  Stony Brook, Albany, Hartford or Maine..

They are the best coached team that I have seen this year at any level.

Is it odd  they used some of the above mentioned suggestions?

With many being upset with the timing of the head coaches contract extension, I have no problem with that if  the needed changes are made and they play like Vermont does….Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Becker’s coaching experiences  has taught him what it takes to make Vermont such a competitive leader in the America East Conference as they have been to the big dance 5 of the past 10 years.

He continued their success in winning the America East Conference Automatic qualifier by winning the conference tournament in his first year. He then went on and won the play-in game with Lamar, showing what a well coached team using basketball players playing basketball being able to defeat  team of athletes playing basketball.

A wise old owl once said :that when we don’t think we have to make needed changes, then usually we are not going to be as successful as we could be”..

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