ORONO, Maine — With the University of Maine men’s basketball team having lost five of its top eight players from last season, fans might have expected a bit of a rebuilding period during 2011-12.
Instead, coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears are off to a solid 8-5 start, including a 2-0 mark in America East play.
The departed players accounted for more than half of UMaine’s scoring, rebounding and blocked shots and 40 percent of its assists.
However, this season’s seniors have set a strong tone, other returnees have excelled in expanded roles and some of the newcomers have worked their way into the lineup. The latest example was Saturday’s 89-70 victory over Maryland Baltimore County at Alfond Arena.
“I thought we had a lot of good [individual] performances and we were able to offset some of the foul trouble and really do a great job on the defensive end, which allowed us to play some offense aggressively,” Woodward said.
UMaine has developed effective on-court chemistry with gritty defense, balanced offense and solid depth across the board.
The Bears have plenty of perimeter scoring threats, led by senior Gerald McLemore. He is averaging 20.5 points per game while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range.
He has been complemented on the perimeter by versatile freshman guard Justin Edwards, who is second on the team in scoring (15.6 ppg), rebounding (6.2 rpg) and assists (3.1 apg) and leads the Bears in steals (1.9 spg).
Senior guards Raheem Singleton (8.0 ppg) and Andrew Rogers (4.2) and freshman forward Kilian Cato (5.7 ppg) have been able to score outside and inside.
Rugged sophomore center Alasdair Fraser has taken over the paint for UMaine, providing 14.2 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds to go with 1.3 blocked shots per contest. Junior Mike Allison (5.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has made his presence felt inside as has senior Svetoslav Chetinov, who missed Saturday’s game with an injury.
Freshman guard Xavier Pollard continues to earn playing time, while junior Jon McAllian of Bangor contributed valuable minutes off the bench against the Retrievers.
“We’ve been getting a lot of great contributions from a lot of different people,” Woodward said.
Against UMBC on Saturday, interior foul trouble incurred by Allison and Cato, along with the injury to Chetinov, meant the Bears needed help from their bench.
McAllian provided a defensive presence in the post and wound up with six points on two 3-pointers and two rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Pollard also chipped in.
“That’s huge for us,” Woodward said. “Those guys stepping up and helping us out in that situation is what team is all about.”
UMaine expects to be tested Wednesday night when it entertains Boston University (5-11, 1-1 AE) in a 7 p.m. game at Alfond Arena. The Bears are 5-0 at home this season, including three victories at Memorial Gym.
Barron ‘Time Out’ luncheon set Tuesday
UMaine women’s basketball coach Richard Barron on Tuesday will hold the second of his four “Time Out” luncheons at the Epic Buffet at Hollywood Slots on Main Street in Bangor.
Black Bear fans and others interested in learning about the program are encouraged to attend the luncheon, which runs from noon until 1:30 p.m. The cost is $15.
Barron will share the latest team news and answer questions about the Bears.
Patrons are encouraged to enter through the hotel lobby.
Roussel named Thomas AD
Calais native David Roussel will return to his college alma mater later this winter when he takes over as the athletic director at Thomas College in Waterville.
The 1993 Thomas graduate, who is serving as an associate dean at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, assumes the new post March 15. Roussel replaces Terry Parlin, who has been Thomas’ interim AD since August.
Roussel will take 18 years of experience to Thomas, where he was an all-league, all-district and All-New England soccer player as a senior in 1992. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business education in 1993 and later gained a master’s in business administration from Southern New Hampshire (1999).
At Saint Joseph’s, Roussel has served in numerous capacities, including head men’s soccer coach, academic records, public safety and residential life positions. In all, he coached the men’s team for five seasons and headed the women’s program for five years.
Roussel was named the AD in 2002 and held the job for four years, helping Saint Joseph’s transition to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. After a stint as the college’s institutional research officer, he was named associate dean in 2007.
Roussel, a graduate of Calais High School, also was an assistant basketball coach for the Blue Devils in the early 1990s.