UMaine teams may find more success inside the arc

Dor Saar (left) of the University of Maine dribbles past University of Hartford defender Alexia Douglas during the America East women’s basketball championship game on March 9 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Pete Warner | BDN

The University of Maine men’s and women’s basketball teams have similar problems so far this season.

The problems center around shooting and lack of adequate big post players.

When comparing team shooting percentages, the men are shooting 41.2 percent from the floor and the women are at 41.9 while the women are hitting 31.9 percent of 3-point shots and the men 26.6.

At the foul line, the women are making 66.7 percent of their shots while the men are at a dismal 57.3.

All of the shooting percentages are below average for what Division I college teams should be at but the women have still compiled a 5-2 record while the men are off to another poor start at 0-8.

The main reason for the difference in their records is the women are only giving up 60.4 points per game while the men are surrendering 72.6 ppg.

Both teams shooting percentages have been affected by taking too many 3-point shots as 39.9 percent of the men’s field goal attempts are 3-pointers with 48.7 for the women. That’s too many 3-point attempts, especially given their low shooting percentages for 3-pointers.

Because both teams don’t have an adequate postup player on the block consistently and effectively, they don’t have a strong low post inside game that forces double downs on the post player on the block.

They also do not have an inside-outside kick-out game to get open 3-point looks for better 3-point shooting percentages. Neither have much of a dribble penetration attack to get kick-outs to open wing shooters for more open 3-point looks.

Doing so would increase their 3-point percentages.

Most of their 3-point looks come from perimeter passes or from players coming off screens.

The foul shooting for both teams should be above 75 percent but neither team gets to the foul line enough as the men are averaging 10.4 attempts and the women 10.3 attempts.

This is caused by not going to an inside game enough or by not taking the ball to the basket enough on dribble penetration.

The men need to improve their defense and slow the pace to keep the game in the 50s in order to be in games with a chance to win.

Both teams seem to be using the 2-3 matchup zone that men’s coach Richard Barron installed when he was coaching the women’s team. The women are going into their sixth season with it while the men are adjusting to playing it in their first season.

Both teams had their best shooting percentage games in their last games. The men shot 35.7 percent for 3-pointers in their overtime loss to St. Peter’s on Saturday and the women hit 48.5 percent in their big win over North Carolina on Sunday, tying a team record of making 16 3-pointers in a game.

If teams lose a few games by living and dying by the 3-pointer during nonconference contests or even conference games it isn’t as big a deal as doing so in one-and-done tournament games.

When the Maine women won their three America East tournament games last season, they shot only 4 of 15 on 3-pointers in the quarterfinal, 4 of 14 in the semifinal and 6 of 17 in their championship.

In their 83-54 loss to Texas in an NCAA Tourney first-round game, they shot just 3 of 19 from beyond the arc.

The Maine women shot just 26.2 percent for 3-pointers in those one-and-done games which may have been caused to facing better defenses or the pressure of winning or having the season end on a loss.

The Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets showed that in their Game 7 conference championship losses last season when they shot a combined 14 of 74 from 3-point land (18.9 percent).

That theme resonates for basketball teams at all levels, from middle school to the NBA and the Maine teams would be wise to take note because more success for the women and some victories for the men could result from less reliance of 3-point shooting.