Recommendations for improving the UMaine men’s and Bangor High boys basketball programs

I posed some questions for you last week concerning the University of Maine men’s and the Bangor High School boys basketball programs. I have now come up with answers, along with my recommendations.

The answers to the Maine questions are based on watching all of Maine’s games streamed online, team’s statistics, BDN stories, posts, posts, personal interviews along with my many years of basketball experience and years of being a Maine fan.

— Why is the roster overloaded with guards and why aren’t more big players recruited.? Ten of 18 players are guards. Of 11 players recruited by the current staff, eight are guards and seven are 6 feet or under. It seems that the recruiting philosophy is to bring in two point guards a year. The strategy seems to go quick, press full-court, up-tempo, and let players dictate the offense. Evidently, the staff feels no need for big men to be successful or haven’t been successful recruiting any. Without them, rebounding remains a big weakness.

— Are four new recruits better basketball players than Maine’s best high school/prep players and are efforts being made to recruit Maine players? It could be that Maine’s best weren’t good enough, didn’t fit the philosophy, or possibly weren’t recruited properly.

— Are preferred walk-ons promised future scholarships? It’s unlikely that promises are made, but an understanding is likely that a scholarship could be earned if a player proves himself on the court.

— Which player leaves program next? Based on minutes played and injuries, possibly Erik Nissen, Stefan Micovic or Marko Pirovic.

— How can a team have a solid inside game without effective post players? It can’t and it’s 3-point success will be limited because of an ineffective inside-outside game.

— Will pressing full-court and letting players dictate offense get Maine to the middle of the  conference? No. That philosophy may be successful in Division III but not in Division I.

— Could the state’s best talent, plus better big players, do better than two years of a combined record of 9-50 and two first-round tourney losses? They certainly wouldn’t do any worse and history shows most of Maine’s successful seasons were when Mainers were used.

Here are my recommendations for the program: It should recruit big post players and Maine’s best players. The assistant coach hired should be a Mainer to recruit Maine’s best and have the ability to develop post players with offensive production. A great scheduling move would be to play Division II Bentley, which has many standout Maine natives on its roster.

Looking at the Bangor High boys basketball program, my answers are based on being a player, coach and athletic director at the school as well as a lifelong Bangor basketball fan.

— Who will be the next coach and who makes the recommendation to the superintendent and school board? I’m unsure of the leading candidates, but my hope is that the next coach will have experience at immediate rebuilding. High school administrators will make the recommendation.

— Is the program on downward cycle, can it be rebuilt quickly or built from ground up? It can be rebuilt quickly with the right coach.

— Has losing the Bangor Y gym and travel programs hurt the program? Both yes, but these are factors the new coach can’t control.

— Has reducing middle school schedules hurt the program? Yes and it may be hard to change given budget constraints.

— How are participation numbers throughout program? Bangor Recreation Travel and inhouse programs for seventh-eighth graders are down, but kindergarten through sixth are excellent. Numbers at both middle schools numbers are a little below normal.

— Will the Maine Principals’ Association new Class AA in the five-class format hurt the program? Yes, because the schedule will be tougher with potentially four games with longer trips.

— Will Bangor hire from within, like football or go outside the system? To turn the program around immediately, it will have to look outside.

Here are my recommendations for the program: The new coach must revamp the summer program and an inhouse program should be developed that works on fundamental skills and team play. There should be just one team at each middle school as this would make for better rebuilding. The new coach should be able to hire the middle school, freshman and junior varsity coaches. Motor coach buses, not regular school buses, should be used for the longer trips for safety and health reasons. The Bangor Recreation Department’s gym should be utilized more by players.

I’m heading to the sidelines until next season. I hope you’ve enjoyed the blogs as  much as I have writing them.