It has been a slow start for the University of Maine men’s basketball team.
The Black Bears have played only three games thus far, but now are gearing up for a busy stretch during which their skill and depth will be tested.
Coach Ted Woodward’s team (2-1), coming off Sunday’s 72-60 win over Holy Cross at Alfond Arena, faces the prospect of playing four more nonconference games in a span of 11 days. That stretch begins Wednesday night with a contest at Eastern Illinois.
UMaine then returns to Orono briefly before heading back on the road for games Dec. 4 at Rhode Island, Dec. 8 at Notre Dame and Dec. 10 at San Diego. After that, the Bears get a break from games during semester exams and don’t play again until a Dec. 19 home game against Utah Valley.
“It’s just a little bit of a bizarre schedule this year,” said Woodward, who pointed out UMaine always has difficulty scheduling nonleague home games.
“Now we’ve got a bunch of games in a row here. It’s decently spread out, but four of them are a long way away,” he said.
The Eastern Illinois trip should prove an adventure as UMaine departs Tuesday at 2 p.m. and arrives in St. Louis around 9 p.m. The Bears must then bus two hours to Charleston, Ill.
The UMaine contingent must get up bright and early Thursday to catch a 7 a.m. flight out of Indianapolis that will have the Bears back in Orono by 11 a.m.
“That’s a tough one,” Woodward said.
The logistics were put in place to help minimize lost class time for the student-athletes, as the NCAA has stringent guidelines for that.
The Eastern Illinois game is part of a home-and-home series as the Panthers make a return trip to Orono for a Dec. 21 game at Memorial Gym.
Lack of depth is likely to continue to be a concern for the UMaine men in their upcoming stretch of games.
The Black Bears are thin in the front court, where sophomore Alasdair Fraser, freshman Kilian Cato and senior Svetoslav Chetinov are holding down the fort.
Junior Mike Allison and senior Travon Wilcher are likely to miss several more weeks with a broken hand and a broken foot, respectively, while freshman Ethan Mackey is out for the season after undergoing preseason knee surgery.
Senior guard Raheem Singleton played 17 minutes Sunday after missing the previous week of practice with an ankle injury, which has meant classmate Andrew Rogers has averaged 33.3 minutes per game. Freshman Noam Laish is expected to remain on the shelf for an extended period with a hip injury, which means freshman Xavier Pollard may be called on to contribute.