May 22, 2018
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UMaine men’s basketball team has some fixable problems

By Bob Cimbollek, Special to the BDN


This is by far my most difficult assignment to date.

The UMaine men’s basketball  team was on track to win the America East regular-season title with a chance to host the AE tourney final after starting with an 8-1 conference record. However, then the team struggled, finishing 9-7 in the league, and losing in the league’s tourney quarterfinal round.

There are certainly some identifiable problems in the program.

After talking with some basketball people who I highly respect, and who see most of the home games and some of the road games, some things need to improved

First and foremost are the actual game coaching adjustments. This is evident as the Bears seem to start strong and then finish poorly as the season progressed, both individually and as a team.

The question that was asked the most about the program was why doesn’t head coach Ted Woodard strengthen his coaching staff by pulling a coach Joanne P. McCallie strategy and hiring an older veteran coach as she did, when she lured away a number one assistant from a top five women’s team and took him to Michigan State and then on to Duke.

This proved very successful for McCallie and this is done some in the NBA and at some successful DI programs.

The second most-asked question pertaining to game adjustments was when things were going well, why substitute and break up what wasn’t broken and  break up what was going well. If  Maine had a lead with a certain combination on the floor, many times the substitutions would lose the lead.

It seems that when Maine’s league opponents played the Bears the second time, they made adjustments in game preparation, and this may have been the difference in Maine’s late-season slump, including the playoff loss to Hartford.

Also, people seem to be in agreement that the next important improvement needed to be made is to return all of Maine’s home games to Memorial Gym, the Pit. This would give Maine an immediate home-court advantage like there used to be when it played  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire in the old Yankee Conference. The old Yankee Conference was a lot tougher than the current America East conference, which has never been rated in the top 20 conferences in the country out of the 32 DI conferences.

The next needed area would be to lessen Maine’ reliance on the 3-point shot

If the Bears went inside-out more with entry passes and kickouts, and dribble penetration and kickouts, they would be more successful in getting open looks from 3-point land.

The second half of conference play saw Maine give up way too many successful open 3s. This might have been remedied if it played more 1-3-1 zone which covers the wings and point instead of the 2-3 zone that it played.

The 1-3-1 zone channels the ball to the open spots of the 1-3-1 which are the low percentage areas of the corners  where usually 90 percent of the misses go to the opposite side of the basket. Plus, if the offense brings its post players to the ball side, then they are taken out of the offense when the ball is shot from the corner as they are not in position to rebound the misses on the other side of the basket line.

When people offer positive or negative criticism about any subject then they should be willing to give some positive suggestions to help correct their criticism. I hope  that my suggestions are taken this way. Any of the identified problems have been answered with some possible positive solutions.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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