ORONO, Maine — The 2012 portion of the schedule was a bear for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.
The Black Bears played 11 of their first 13 games, including the last eight, outside of Orono, culminating with a grueling stretch of four games in nine days from Dec. 28 to Jan. 5.
On Saturday, coach Richard Barron’s team wrapped up its road swing with a loss at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“It’s great to be back, but I wish I would have cleaned my room,” quipped sophomore Courtney Anderson of Greene who said, in all seriousness, the hardest part of the trip was the lack of results on the court.
“I think it was beneficial and we had a lot of fun, but it’s disappointing to come out with no wins off a trip like that, that’s for sure,” Anderson said.
Wednesday night, UMaine (1-13) plays its first game on campus since Nov. 24 when it takes on Hartford in a 7:30 p.m. America East contest at Alfond Arena.
“I’m so excited to play here again,” said sophomore Danielle Walczak. “I’m excited to play home games. I miss Alfond, our friends group and all our fans. It’ll be nice to be in a place where people are really supporting us.”
The Black Bears have lost 10 games in a row dating back to a Nov. 17 victory over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Minneapolis.
Barron said the way the nonleague schedule evolved, it was necessary to stay on the road after the players returned from Christmas break and met Dec. 26 in Washington, D.C.
“It’s the longest trip that I’ve ever been on that wasn’t a [recruiting] trip to Europe or something like that,” Barron said.
“Those are the only games we could get on our schedule and we had to play them all on one trip because we couldn’t afford to fly back and forth,” he explained.
The UMaine coaching staff tried to keep the players busy when they weren’t practicing or playing. Anderson said the team visited historic Williamsburg, Va., and did some sightseeing in the Capitol, where the Bears met Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
The Bears also went to see a Richmond-Air Force men’s basketball game. However, the team moved from place to place with no training room and an ever-changing practice schedule.
“I got enough sleep and I felt rested, but I didn’t know where I was half the time,” Walczak said. “I was always waking up in another hotel room.”
Barron said being on the road also means reduced on-court practice time and individual player skill work.
With the players back on more of a regular eating, practicing and sleeping schedule this week, UMaine hopes to get a fresh start Wednesday, in spite of facing another talented opponent.
“I think everyone’s excited to be back in the Alfond,” Anderson said.
The Bears will climb back on the bus Friday for Saturday’s AE game at Albany.