Where and how can the 6 new recruits (5 international and 1 USA Player) for new head coach Richard Barron’s Blackbears help the most?
With 5 of the new recruits having experience already at the college level this is a very positive thing. Only time will tell how much they will help the Maine team immediately. But adding international play to their college JUCO and D-1 experiences (6’4″ El Darwich and 6’7″ N. Priijovic) and JUCO for the 6’5″M. Yagodin, “6’7″ V. Larsson and 6’7″ S. Iluyomade it gives you players that are taller, older and more mature physically, socially and mentally then average high school recruits coming in directly from high school because they have played against tougher competition overall in their careers so far be it international and college ball.
However, Maine’s only freshmen high school recruit 5’11” Terion Moss from Portland High School is not your average high school recruit from Maine, far from it. He has been the main stay, point guard team leader of 2 State Class AA championship teams, Maine’s 2018 Mr. Basketball and the 2017 and 2018 Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year. He is a very smart and mature player. He just needs experience at the college level to make the needed adjustments and he will be a big plus for Maine.
Moss and Sergio El Darwich gives you two point guards with matching skills except that Darwich is 6’4″ and has more size. but Darwich with his size could easily move to wing point when Moss is ready to start at point guard. This would give Maine 2 point guards on the floor at the same time with the same positive abilities to create of the dribble for their teammates.
Maine lost 67% of their 66.8 points per game average from last season in losing 2 seniors and the 5 transfers and also lost 69% 154 of 225 of their three point shots made.
Maine’s biggest need from the new recruits next year is scoring as only Isaiah White averaged double figures 11.1 of the players that are returning. This means a couple of the new recruits have to become 40% 3 point shooters as Maine only returns two players from last years team that shot over 30% for 3’s. The 5 players that transferred all shot over 30% for threes, but still as a team Maine only shot 30.2% for threes on 225 of 745 while taking 745 3 point attempts out of 1873 field goal attempts which meant they took 39.8% of their field goal attempts as threes.
6’6″ shooting guard Isaiah White was 35-98 for 35.7% and 6’7″ Power Forward Ilija S. who shot 13-35 for 37.1%. By their individual highlight videos the two best and most consistent incoming 3 point shooters are probably the 2 point guards Moss and Darwich. This means that some other new recruits have got to step up and show their 3 point shooting skills.
Maine has improved their size overall, however, they do not have a true BIG man 6’10” or over but have 3 players at 6’7″ and 4 at 6’8″. So without a true BIG one or two of those new 6’8″ 6’7″ players have got to help with the post up game on the block to help out returnees 6’8″ freshmen Mik Antoms and 6’8″ red shirt sophomore Vincent Eze who did not play last year because of hip surgery so there is little experience as far as true post up players are concerned as last year with freshmen Antoms not getting many minutes, forcing a couple of the other Mainers to have to play out of position in the post when they were really face the basket players. It is tough enough to play Division 1 basketball at your regular position let alone having to play out of position which they did to help the team in that needed area. Hopefully, some of the new recruits can help out in that area. Maine certainly has more depth in size overall then they had last year as none of the transfers were post players as they were all guards that shot over 30% for 3’s.
So the new recruits give Maine more experienced players, more size, more maturity then the usual freshmen that come directly from high school to D-1 so they have a greater chance to help out immediately and make a bigger impact.
The biggest questions for the new coaches, returning and new players are can they overcome the biggest weaknesses that Maine has had the past 4 years.
1. No inside game on the block to force teams to have to double down and down team the post player which resulted in no inside-outside game to get open catch and shoot threes from kick out passes from the block.
2. Very little dribble penetration used for kick out passes to get the open catch and shoot 3’s. This I think has been taken care of in Darwich and Moss as point guards.
3. Using way too many players double figure minutes especially when it came to conference play
4.Allowing the players to determine who shoots, when they shoot and where they shoot from (too much living and dying by the 3)
I believe Coach Barron and his staff have done the best job that they could under the circumstances in recruiting older more experienced players as they were not able to follow the high school careers of other D-1 players to determine if they could play at the D-1 level. I think the only thing that they were not able to do was to recruit a true BIG although in the America East Conference there are not that many BIGs to worry about. In fact of the other 8 teams, Stonybrook 2, Albany 1, Hartford 1, UMBC 1, UMLowell and Vermont 1 for a total of 7 players that were 6’10” or over. Albany and Vermont each have 1 verbal commit at 6’11”.
Only other concern for the new recruits except for Moss is that they overall did not get more playing time minutes this past season so it is hard to determine their true scoring and 3 points shooting abilities as the highlight videos only show you the positives not any negatives. Only time and patience which neither come in a bottle even at a pharmacy) is going to determine if the new coaching staff, returning players and the new recruits can overcome the weaknesses posted above and start to turn the program around so they can be where Coach Barron had the women’s program at Maine by his third year.
Here’s an information run down of the 6 new recruits:
*Transfer has to sit out a year because of transfer rule
JUCO players and high school players immediately eligible to play
PG=Point Guard SG=Shooting Guard PF=Power Forward