Though the College of Maine males’s basketball workforce begins its season in lower than two months, its beginning 5 is much from established. However the Black Bears imagine this dilemma will propel them to new heights.
UMaine is coming off a 13-17 marketing campaign, its finest file because the 2010-11 season. It was alumnus Chris Markwood’s first yr as head coach of the Black Bears, who improved from a dismal 6-23 the yr prior.
Amongst Markwood’s inaugural recruiting class had been Kellen Tynes, the NCAA’s chief in steals final yr, Gedi Juozapaitis, a fifth-year switch who emerged as UMaine’s main scorer, and freshman guard Jaden Clayton, one other expert defender.
Below Markwood’s system, the brand new and improved Black Bears received 4 extra America East convention matchups and 7 video games general. However UMaine nonetheless misplaced numerous shut video games, requiring an excessive amount of out of some key gamers. With a second recruiting cycle beneath his belt, nevertheless, Markwood has considerably bolstered his squad, and preseason actions have turn into extra aggressive.
“We simply didn’t have sufficient depth to get us over the hump. For Kellen, Jaden and people guys to complete out video games at a excessive stage, their minutes want to return down,” Markwood mentioned. “This yr, there’s numerous depth prime to backside.”
Markwood has accentuated the workforce with one other versatile recruiting class, which options lanky 3-point marksmen Isaac Bonilla and Okay Djamgouz, in addition to 6-foot-10 ahead Adam Cisse, who will likely be a key presence down low.
“The fantastic thing about this roster will permit us to play numerous other ways, each on our personal accord, or if we’re attempting to match up with anyone else,” Markwood mentioned. “We predict all these guys are able to go.”
The Black Bears themselves echoed Markwood’s sentiments.
“You recognize, no knock to any guys final yr, however we’re simply much more gifted, rather a lot deeper this yr. We added numerous items that we had been lacking, and we’re a well-connected group early on,” Tynes mentioned.
“Truthfully, everybody’s impressed me,” five-year veteran Ja’Shonte Wright-McLeish added.
UMaine is returning six of its seven finest gamers from final season, however this yr’s recruiting class is shaking issues up. Other than Tynes and Clayton, Markwood and his employees are actually uncertain who their different go-to guys will likely be, however assume that this can give them an edge.
“It’s a superb factor we don’t know but,” Markwood mentioned about his potential beginning 5. “We introduced in numerous gifted items which can be going to battle for these spots. You possibly can’t compete for championships till you possibly can compete within the locker room; that wholesome competitors will drive all the pieces.”
Tynes, reigning America East Defensive Participant of the 12 months, and Clayton, Markwood’s first recruit as head coach, began all 30 video games for the Black Bears final season. The duo accounted for greater than half the workforce’s assists and steals, however had been below-average 3-point shooters.
The Black Bears will look to encompass Tynes and Clayton with versatile shooters in senior switch Djamgouz, returning junior Kristians Feierbergs and true freshman Bonilla, amongst others. Djamgouz was a 52 % 3-point shooter at Drake College final yr, whereas Feierbergs guarded all 5 positions and averaged 8.9 factors and 5.1 rebounds.
Markwood describes himself as a “gamers’ coach” and strongly believes in creating robust relationships along with his athletes. He and his teaching employees will proceed to foster a defense-first mentality, and attempt to lead UMaine to its first successful season in 14 years.
On this span, the Black Bears have had 5 totally different head coaches, and a mixed file of 103-270. UMaine has by no means certified for the NCAA males’s basketball event.