Some changes could benefit UMaine women’s basketball team with tourney looming

Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan (right) reaches out to block a shot by Maine guard Tanesha Sutton during their game in Starkville, Miss., on Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo by Rogelio V. Solis)

The University of Maine women’s basketball team is currently in second place in America East with a 6-2 record and 13-8 overall mark.

The team is ranked 73rd in’s team RPI with a strength of schedule ranking of 59.

Both are strong rankings but the Black Bears do have some weaknesses to address as the conference tourney looms.

The first is an inconsistent 3-point game and another is lack of overall size, which makes it tough to defend other team’s frontcourt players and to have a rim protector.

It also doesn’t allow for an effective inside offensive game to have inside-outside or dribble penetration games to get open 3-point shots.

The Black Bears have a tendency to live and die by the 3-pointer and are only shooting 31.4 percent. They are taking 41.5 percent of their field goal attempts as 3-pointers which is too many for not shooting at least 33.3 percent.

In their eight losses. they’re only shooting 25.5 percent for 3-pointers and taking 46.5 percent of field goal attempts as 3-pointers. In their 13 wins, they’re making 32.4 percent of 3-pointers and taking 38.2 percent of field goal attempts as 3-pointers.

The Bears would benefit by developing something other than the current offensive set they are running to get 3-point looks. It’s the same set the UMaine men use to get 3-points shots by using back-door cuts first and to get their 3-point attempts second.

The UMaine women’s team is also lacking good overall size from starters 6-foot-1 guard Blanca Millan, 5-8 guard Julie Brosseau, 5-10 guard Tanesha Sutton, 5-5 point guard Dorr Saar and 6-1 forward Fanny Wadling along with key subs 5-8 guard Parise Rossignol and 6-2 forward Kris Johnson. If opponents can take advantage of mismatches, then Maine could be in trouble defensively and probably have to play more zone during the America East tourney. During the regular season, the team has overcome its lack of size and the defense has been strong, allowing 57.2 points per game.

The team has also shown using primarily seven players is an asset as their best players get the minutes they need to perform at their best with three players averaging double figures points per game — Millan (17.5), Brosseau (11.8) and Sutton (10.8).

The team could benefit from more development of its two big freshmen, 6-5 Kat Williams and 6-3 Kira Barra. Williams has only played in six of  21 games, averaging just 5.2 minutes and Barra has played in 17 games, averaging 6.9 minutes.

Sundays’ game was a perfect chance for them to get more minutes as Maine led Maryland Baltimore County by 20 to 30 points for most of the second half but Williams and Barra only played for the final 1:23.

More depth from these players and their size could again help during the America East tourney when Maine will be gambling to win three straight games based mostly on its 3-point shooting. One cold shooting night could unfortunately end a season that has the potential to last longer.