The UMaine Men’s Basketball program who has never,ever made it to the D1 NCAA March Madnesses “Big Dance” got closer to the event in at least publicity wise, but was it positive or negative publicity.
But as a famous politician once said, “Bad publicity is better than no publicity at all”.
Maines team has been a topic of some media areas and even nationally, when ESPN’s Dick Vitale asked nationally on TV, how did Florida Gulf Coast ever lose to Maine.
Former Maine coach Dr. Joh Gianinni who left the UMaine job 9 years ago after two consecutive 20 win seasons and went to LaSalle in Phildaelphia has brought some positive attention to Maine..
However, it took Dr. J 9 years to get to the big dance at Laalle, but when he did, all he has done is have to win a playin 13 seed playin game against 13 ranked Boise State and then beat No. 12 ranked Mississsippi 76-74.
They now move on to meet 9th seeded Witcita State who knocked off the number one ranked team in the country, Gonzaga and the one seed in the West Region thids coming Thursday, the time TBA.
Now move on to Florida Gulf Coast the 15th seed knocking off number 2 ranked Georgetown in the first round in the South Region and then won their second round game upsetting number 7 South Region Ranked San Digeo State University 81-71.
Now the Maine connection. Maine beat Florida Gulf Course at Home in Early December 84-78 so even Dick Vitale mentioned Maine as I said before.
Then there is another Maine connection that many people are overlooking and that is Albany who went into the America East Conference as the 4th ranked team at 9-7 in the regular season standings and drew Maine the 5th seed at 6-10 (Because Maine actually finished 6th in the league standings, but because BU was not allowed in the tourney Albany moved from 5th to fourth and Maine moved from 6th to 5th.
The Albany coach said and I am paraphrasing now, as “the team he feared the most in the AE Tourney was Maine” and Albany got them in the opening quarter-final round. Maine had beaten Albany at Maine and lost to them in a very close game at Albany where the AE tournament was going to be held.
The Albany Coach was right as they just edged out Maine by 1 point to move onto the quarter-finals and then beat the top team in the America East Conferenece, Stonybrook in the semi-finals by 2 points and then had to go to Vermont for the final and beat the Catamounts on their home court by 5.
Now here comes the big kicker. Albany ranked 15th in the NCAA D1 Tourney in the Mid-West Regional played Duke the number 2 seed in the Mid-West Region and lost by 12 points and was within 8 points with 4 minutes to go.
Now these are the positives that helped give Maine some national “Big Dance” attention and media publicity.
However, here is the big negative which over comes the positives. It just showed what many have thought all along that Maine really underachieved again this year finishing 6-10 in the conference. losing in the opening round again for thr 8 consecutive season and finishing with an 11-19 record, which included one win over a D3-NAIA2 Fiascher College out of Boston.
So Maine must have had enough talent to beat the team that beat Georgetown and they beat Albany a team that gave Duke a run for their money in the opening round game.
Remember, Maine had one first team offensive all AE Conference selection in big 6’9″ junior Ali Fraser, a first team all-defensive selection in 6’9″ senior Mike Allison,and aAll AE Rookie of the Year Team selection in 6’3″ sophomore Justin Edwards all returning for this past season.
Which is hard to explain their underachiving again as they have season after season and not being able to win a tournament game for 8 consecutive seasons. The only time Maine won an AE Toiurnament game was when it was the first year after Coach J left for LaSalle and Maine had quite a bit coming back and they did win their only tournament game that year in 9 seasons..
Also, the America East Conference was the 22nd ranked D1 NCAA Conference out of the 32 Conferences ranked by the realtimerpi.coms ranked.
Also how did a first team all offensive selection drop to the second team this year and how did the conferences leading regular season scorer only make the second all conference offensive team?
There is only one thing that this program has in common for the last 9 consecutive basketball seasons. Care to guess?