It’s the holiday season and the University of Maine athletic department is joining in the spirit of giving and sharing.
Sunday is two-for-one day at Alfond Arena in Orono when the Black Bear men’s and women’s basketball teams play a matinee double feature.
Coach Ted Woodward’s UMaine men face Harvard in a 1 p.m. nonconference contest, while coach Cindy Blodgett’s Black Bear women follow with a 3:30 p.m. nonleague game against Fairfield.
“I think it’s nice for the fans to be able to come out and watch both teams,” said Blodgett, who pointed out the women are generally on the road when the men are playing at home and vice versa.
Sharing a home date is another opportunity for the men’s and women’s squads to “hang out” together. During times such as the semester break, the two teams often are among the few people in and around the Memorial Gym complex.
“We support the women’s program,” Woodward said. “They’re friends of ours and we’re with them a lot. Our programs are very close.”
“Having our teams play back to back is a great experience for all of us,” Woodward said. “I think it’s a great opportunity, especially over the holidays, where there are no students here.”
As a special treat for children in attendance Sunday, Santa Claus will visit Alfond Arena between games.
“It’s a nice way for the University of Maine to give back to the community and the fans for supporting the teams,” Blodgett said of the doubleheader deal.
UMaine also is offering a special ticket promotion from now through Jan. 10. During that period, basketball fans may purchase five tickets for $25 for any future men’s or women’s game.
Fans will have the option of spreading the tickets over multiple events, or they can utilize all five tickets for the same game.
With general admission tickets normally priced at $8, fans will save $15 by taking advantage of the promotion.
For more information, contact the Black Bear ticket office at 581-2327 or 1-800-756-8326. The office is closed Dec. 24-26 and Jan. 1.
Fans trying to finish off their holiday shopping also may take advantage of a sale at Bear Necessities. Nike adult UMaine hockey jerseys are 20 percent off, while all basketball merchandise will be offered at a 20 percent savings during Sunday’s doubleheader.
In the women’s game, Blodgett said her team is still searching for more consistency heading into the new year.
Some of that will come with the continued improvement and comfort level of the first-year players. While Samantha Baranowski and Samantha Wheeler have established themselves in the rotation, there are two other freshmen.
“Jasmine [Rush] has had a good week and a half of practice,” Blodgett said of the combination guard from Houston. “She’s starting to really understand a little bit more of what we need her to do and is getting more comfortable in the systems.”
Blodgett said point guard Brittany Williams is among the hardest workers on the team, day in and day out, and is making strides.
“Now it’s just her really being comfortable,” Blodgett said. “There is definitely progress with Brit.”