BANGOR — Jay Uhrin has always been hard on himself when it comes to his basketball performance.
There were numerous times when a few missed shots may have thrown off his focus and affected his play.
This season, as a senior at Husson University, the talented guard from Winterport has established enough confidence and poise to work through any minor setbacks.
Uhrin has excelled, earning all-league first-team recognition while helping propel coach Warren Caruso’s Eagles to the No. 1 seed in the North Atlantic Conference Final Four, which will be played Friday and Saturday at Newman Gym.
“He’s had a tremendous senior year,” said Caruso, the NAC co-coach of the year.
“He has a great intensity about him. He expects the guys around him to be playing at a certain level and I think we’ve played at a very high level this year,” he added.
The 6-foot-3 shooting guard has been the perfect complement to fellow co-captain Josh Jones, the NAC Player of the Year. Uhrin is averaging 18.4 points per game, shooting 49 percent overall and 41 percent from 3-point range heading into Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinal against No. 4 Lyndon State.
Uhrin has made 74 percent of his free throws.
The former Hampden Academy standout, who last weekend reached the 1,000-point career mark, said he has been motivated by the desire to be an effective leader for Husson.
“Being comfortable with the coach, the system, the players on the team, really helped me out this year,” Uhrin said.
“He’s found a good balance of communication, performance and day-to-day work,” Caruso said. “That’s what really good leaders do.”
Uhrin is dangerous playing on the wing, where he can either shoot the 3-pointer, the pull-up jumper or drive to the basket.
His efforts in the weight room have helped him carve out a rugged physique and become a more formidable presence in the paint, but his outside shooting also has improved. Uhrin said he has worked hard to have a balanced offensive game.
“It’s something I pride myself on,” he said. “I haven’t always been the best shooter, but I put a lot of time and effort into it.”
Caruso said Uhrin also has conquered the psychological aspect of shooting.
“There were times in the previous two years where he could get down on himself and we often had to remind him that the next shot was going in,” Caruso explained. “(This season) he’s had the confidence, even when the first couple of shots don’t fall for him, to bounce back and be ready to take the next shot and step up.”
Uhrin might have gone through college without even playing basketball.
He left Hampden Academy having helped coach Russ Bartlett’s Broncos win back-to-back Eastern Maine Class A titles and the 2005 state championship. Uhrin enrolled at the University of Maine with no intention of playing basketball.
However, he was asked to walk on and spent two seasons with coach Ted Woodward’s program. He appeared in five games as a redshirt freshman in 2007-08, before deciding to transfer.
Uhrin chose Husson, where he had attended summer camps as a youngster.
“It was a good experience, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I’m really happy with the choice I made to come here,” Uhrin said.
He made a smooth transition, going from sixth man as a sophomore to a two-year starter for Eagles. Uhrin credited Caruso with helping him settle in and maximize his student-athlete experience.
“I’ve grown here with the help of coach Caruso, kind of seeing the big picture,” Urhrin said.
Yet prior to the 2009-10 season, he had again contemplated giving up the game.
“I would have regretted not playing,” explained the business management major, who may pursue a career in finance.
“Now I can look back and say I had a great three years at Husson, I played at Maine,” he added. “It’s something I really cherish.”