ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s basketball team will look to dent the win column for the first time this season, and snapping out of its shooting woes could hold the key when the Black Bears play their home opener against Brown University on Saturday night at Alfond Arena. Game time is 7.
Maine is 0-2, with losses to Dartmouth (67-54) and Holy Cross (57-54). Brown is 1-1, courtesy of a 58-49 victory at Binghamton and an 86-71 loss at Central Connecticut on Thursday night.
The Black Bears have shot just 32.2 percent from the floor (38-for-118) and a dismal 12.5 percent from the 3-point arc.
“We’ve definitely been getting good shots. We just need to make them,” said sophomore guard Justin Edwards. “We’re a better shooting team than we’ve shown. We’ve got to keep locking up on defense because the offense will eventually come.”
Edwards, who averaged 13.9 points per game a year ago en route to a berth on the America East All-Rookie team, had a nightmarish 1-for-16 shooting night against Holy Cross but is anxious to bounce back from that performance.
“It was just one of those nights. I was overthinking, and I tried to do too much,” said Edwards. “I’m happy it happened early in the season, rather than late.
“I can’t wait to show people what I can do. I know there are doubters out there, but I’m hoping to come out and show them.”
He said the home opener is always “very special.”
“I’m really excited for this one. We definitely had some tough games on the road. But it’s wonderful to come home and play in front of the home crowd,” said Edwards.
For senior center-forward Mike Allison, it will be his final home opener.
“But I’m not nervous. We’ve already had two regular-season games,” said Allison. “Home openers are always nice. It’s a good time of the year. My dad [Wayne] is coming down [from Ontario]. It’ll be fun and, hopefully, we’ll get our first win.”
Like Edwards, Allison expects the team to get untracked offensively.
“We lost Gerald [McLemore], who was an awesome shooter, but I think we can score in other ways as long as we keep the floor stretched. If we can get the ball in to [Alasdair Fraser] or attack from the wings, we should be OK,” said Allison.
“I have confidence in our guys,” said Maine coach Ted Woodward. “They just haven’t shot the ball well in a couple of games. Some of them have been very good shots [that haven’t fallen]. At the same time, we’ve got to continue to work on our offense. We’ve got to find the balance between offense and defense.”
“We’ve been working hard at it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get ourselves in a rhythm. We’ll get comfortable in our half-court game and in transition, and we’ll get better shooting percentages,” added Woodward.
Brown sophomore center Rafael Maia will return to the Pine Tree State after playing his prep school basketball at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. Maia is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and is averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds through his first two games.
Brown is under first-year coach Mike Martin.