Black Bears head north again

Posted Jan. 05, 2009, at 8:42 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 25, 2010, at 10:51 a.m.

The University of Maine men’s basketball team has landed another recruit north of the border in 6-foot-9, 205-pound forward-center Mike Allison.

The Hamilton, Ontario, native is a teammate of Murphy Burnatowski, another Canadian player who verbally committed to the Black Bears last week, on Canada’s National Elite Development Academy team.

“Yeah, Murphy and I have been playing together on the NEDA team for the last two years and before that on another team, so I’m looking forward to continuing to play together,” the 18-year-old Allison said.

The son of Wayne and Eileen Allison verbally committed Saturday during his second visit to the Orono campus.

“I wanted my parents to see it. They liked the campus and got a good vibe from the coaches,” Allison said. “They basically echoed what I thought.”

The MVP for the Ontario Basketball Association championship team in 2008 was also recruited by Monmouth, Sacred Heart and Montana State. He plans to study kinesiology at UMaine.

He said he considers his strengths to lie on defense, especially shot-blocking, and is looking for a chance to grab some significant playing time early with the Black Bears.

“I like the team. I thought they were really good guys and I thought I’d fit in really well,” he said. “I think the team’s pretty good, but I think I can make an impact my first year.”

UMaine women open league play

Tonight marks a new beginning, of sorts, for the UMaine women’s basketball team.

Coach Cindy Blodgett’s 2-11 Black Bears open the America East portion of their schedule with a 7 p.m. road game against rival New Hampshire.

Often, coaches attempt to build up conference play as an entity unto itself. That’s because winning the league championship provides that team a spot in the NCAA tournament — regardless of what had happened during nonconference play.

Blodgett isn’t looking at things that way this season for her UMaine squad.

“I don’t really care who we play. To me, it doesn’t have any other significance,” she said of the Bears’ moving into their conference schedule.

“We’ve played 13 games at this point and we have 16 games ahead of us,” she added. “The previous 13 are just as important as these [America East contests.”

Still in the early stages of trying to rebuild the UMaine program, Blodgett continues to evaluate the Bears’ play as part of a larger picture.

“We just need to continue to get better and [against Holy Cross, a 68-63 loss], there’s no question we got better.”

Blodgett seems to believe there is no point in getting overly excited about what might happen during conference play. UMaine still appears to be a long way from challenging for the America East title, based on its performance so far.

The Bears, who have lost seven consecutive games, rank 320th out of 341 schools in the most recent Rating Percentage Index rankings compiled by CollegeRPI.com.

Blodgett hopes her team can continue to build while making the long climb back to status as an America East contender.

“We certainly work very hard,” UMaine junior forward Brittany Boser said. “Now what we need to start focusing on is playing smart and not making the same mistakes over and over again and not letting our lack of offensive execution affect our defense.”

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