Coming off their 10th loss of the season against D-1 competition along with just 1 win the UMaine men’s hoop team had lost to Central Connecticut State 84-59 as they were just 6 for 31 from the 3 point line for just 19.4% and shot just 18 of 66 for 27.3% The same thing continued in the first half of their game Friday night..
After a miserable first half in their game against olde Yankee Conference rival foe the University of Massachusetts Minutemen who were the 147th ranked Pomeroy RPI ranked team in the country by trailing 40-15 after they went a terrible 1 for 15 from the 3 point line for 6.7% and a woeful 6 for 28 from the floor for 21.5%. This meant they were 5 for 13 for 2 pointers for 39%.
It looked like it was going to more of the same a big time loss that they sufferred against Central Connecticut 2 days before.
But after half-time Maine came out and played very smart basketball as they made above average basketball decisions that resulted in looking for their teammates first and their own shot second, made few turnovers and committed few personal fouls for the 2nd half.
They could have easily folded their tent and got hammered like they did in their last game against in only had 4 assists on 18 field goals, but they didn’t. Instead they slowed the pace of the game down offensively which really bothered the rhythm of the Minutemen who played like hour men not Minutemen in the second half because Maine slowed the pace of the game by only taking 6 three pointers of which they made 4 for 66.7% and .of 26 second half FGA’s.
In the first half the 15 of 28 3 point FGA’s for 53% of their shots being threes to just 6 of 26 which was only 23% in the 2nd half.. This allowed them to go 12 for 20 for 60% for 2’s as they only missed 8 second half shots, 2 threes and 6 2’s.
Maine only committed 12 turnovers for the game and only allowed UMass 7 foul shots for the entire game. Maine outscored UMass in the paint 34 to 22.
Granted Maine lost to UMass 74-63, but by outscoring UMass 48 to 34 after being out scored 40 to 15 in the first half and hanging in there in a very embarrassing situation at the half. It looked like that they came out changed their game plan altogether for the first time this season after 13 games and really played well all around in the second half.
Nobody quit, including the coaching staff who really were positive and encouraged their players as they went about making a good situation out of a very bad and tough situation of being down 25 on the road after playing so poorly in the first half.
Now if Maine can play the way they did in the second half against UMass the next game against Ivy League Columbia in their last non-conference game before conference play starting at Stonybrook on Wednesday, January 3 they can be very competitive in the currently 30th ranked D-1 America East conference out of the 32 D-1 conferences in the country.
Remember, UMass was ranked 147 in RPI to Maine’s 338 in the Pomeroy RPI team rankings out of 351 D-1 teams going into the game and they had a decided size advantage over Maine..
If the coaching staff picks out all the good things their team did in the second half against UMass and then show the players the second half game tape and they all buy into making the offensive changes of.cutting down on the use of the 3, slow the pace and tempo of the game, go inside-outside to get their 3’s along with dribble penetration and kick out passes for 3’s instead of just launching the first available 3 that they have done in the past. If they make good basketball decisions that lead to the good shot selection, reduced turnovers (ony 12 against UMass) and fouls (only allowed UMass 7 foul shots) and look pass first to open teammates and their own shot selection and the coaching staff uses just the 8 best players then they have the talent to finish 4th in conference play to get a home game in the conference tourney and even win a tournament game.
After watching UMaine in their first two exhibition games in lte October nd early November agaist Husson and St. Joe’s I thought they had enough talent if used correctly to finish in the top half of the conference regular season standings to get that home wuarter-final tourney game and like I aid even win it.
After watching the 14 games so far this season either online or in person I would start the following:
F 6’7″ Fleming..30m..F 6’6″ Er..30m,, C 6”10″ Antoms.30m..PG 6’5″ Evans..30m.. SG 6’0″..30m Calixe. Subs F/C 6’7 Ililja S…G/F 6’6″ White..G/F 6’6″ Lowndes all 15 minutes. Only sub when unhappy with players play. “If it ain’t broke there is no need to fix it”.
No need to rest the players as the college game has a 4 minute break each half at th 16-12–8-4 minute marks and that does not even take into considertion that each team has 5 timeouts oer game so there are few times the breaks even ever get to 4 minutes without a team time out.
By doing this it allows the players to let the game come to them instead of taking themselves to the game and which is what they did in the second half versus UMass.
I just hope the Coaching staff can see the Maine forest (overuse of 3 pointers) for the trees (going inside-outside to get open threes along with dribble penetration and kick out passes) and that they can get the players to play like they did in their best half of the season so far of the 24 halves they have played this season against D-1 competition.
UMass is a very good team that plays in the 10th RPI ranked D-1 conference in the country a team which Maine completely out played on Friday, December 22nd in the second half.
So let’s see if Maine players and staff can build on this very positive happening.
However, this is just my basketball opinion, but being a Maine men’s basketball fan since the 1949-50 season I hope Maine makes the needed changes and adjustments that will give them the chance to finish 4th in the regular season conference standings to get a home tournament game in the quarter-finals and even have a good chance to win the game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor come March.