A little momentum can carry a team a long way.
The University of Maine men’s basketball team is hoping to continue building on the positive feelings generated by a two-game winning streak as it returns to action this weekend.
Coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears (4-5) have a chance to concentrate on basketball for a few weeks now after completing semester final exams this week.
UMaine returns to action Sunday after a seven-day layoff when it faces Colgate University in a 2 p.m. contest at Alfond Arena in Orono.
The Bears’ focus recently had been on the very short term as it played four games in nine days.
“It’s really the first time in a while we’ve had a week to work on things,” Woodward said Friday. “We’re trying to expand a little bit on things we want to do throughout the course of the season.”
UMaine took Monday off and only did weight training Tuesday before returning to the court Wednesday. Woodward praised the players’ efforts in balancing their final exam schedule and their basketball responsibilities.
“We want to continue to find out more about our team and how our guys fit together,” he said.
He explained the Bears must maintain their intensity and focus against Colgate which, despite its 0-8 record, will present plenty of challenges.
The Raiders have taken on national powerhouses Duke and Syracuse while playing six of their games on the road heading into Sunday.
“This is going to be a time where we really want to continue to carry the momentum that we’ve had from the last couple of games and hopefully continue to play good defense and hit the boards,” Woodward said.
UMaine has outrebounded its last three opponents — Delaware State, Massachusetts and Norfolk State.
McNally still slowed by bad ankle
The Bears are hoping a healthier Sean McNally will help them be a more effective team during the second semester.
The senior co-captain from Gardiner injured his right ankle during an exhibition game against Cape Breton and hasn’t been the same since. He sat out the first two games, but has started all seven since.
“He definitely has been hobbled some,” Woodward said. “He’s working himself back and working himself into great shape which is definitely key for us.”
McNally is averaging 4.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots but has played fewer than 17 minutes per game.
His effectiveness has been hampered by the injury, but Woodward has seen continued progress.
“This has been a good week for him,” Woodward said. “He’s been able to do some extra work to get him back and continue to work on game shape.”
While McNally’s quickness, explosiveness and agility may have been affected, he continues to be a key because of his experience and his presence.
“His leadership is incredibly valuable for us,” Woodward said. “He’s not a guy who complains about anything. His goal is to go out there and do everything he can to help the team win.”