Cindy Blodgett wants every available player in uniform when the UMaine women’s basketball team opens its season Nov. 13 at home against Harvard.
For that reason, the Black Bears’ fourth-year coach has canceled the annual Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage.
Coach Ted Woodward’s men’s squad will play its scrimmage Sunday at 2 p.m., but the women’s team will not take the Alfond Arena court because of lingering injury concerns.
“We’re just at the point where we could play five-on-five, but there’s maybe one of those kids that I don’t really feel comfortable throwing them out there for the entire time and I’d hate for something to happen,” Blodgett said.
UMaine has 14 players on its roster this season, but five are at different stages of injury recovery or rehabilitation from surgery.
Blodgett said there is no benefit to risking players’ health in a scrimmage if they’re not ready.
“It’s unfortunate,” she said. “I love that because it gives them game-like experience one more time, but we’ll just move forward.”
While Blodgett would not discuss injury details, she is hopeful most or all of the injured team members will be able to contribute this season, barring setbacks.
“We’re trying to get some of the injuries that we have right now healthy,” she said.
Tanna Ross of Newburgh, the Bears’ only senior, has been slowed by injuries during her career. She had surgery last spring after appearing in only nine games last winter because of a broken left foot suffered during a preseason track workout.
Ross also underwent knee surgery during her junior season at Hampden Academy and again after the 2007-08 campaign at UMaine.
Redshirt freshman Rachele Burns of Gorham continues on the comeback trail after having a third reconstructive surgery on her right knee last season. The point guard reinjured the knee during last year’s Blue-White game.
Classmate Shareka Maner, a forward, underwent shoulder surgery last season and had worked her way back when she encountered a knee issue that required minor surgery recently.
Freshman post player Jaymie Druding and junior college transfer Sheay Longstaff, also have been dealing with knee issues.
Druding was hurt during her senior season at Orchard Park (N.Y.) High School. She did not have surgery, but has been rehabbing ever since. Longstaff had a knee procedure after playing in four games during the Bears’ exhibition tour of Canada in August.
UMaine has begun its third week of full-squad practices and has its sights set on a Halloween afternoon exhibition game against Husson University of Bangor at Alfond Arena.
Blodgett said rather than focusing on injuries, she hopes fans will also consider the players who are healthy.
That group includes junior forwards Samantha Wheeler and Samantha Baranowski, junior guard Brittany Williams, sophomore center Corinne Wellington and sophomore guard Katelyn Vanderhoff. Redshirt freshman guard Amber Smith and first-year players Ashleigh Roberts, Ali Nalivaika and Greer Babbe also have been practicing.
“I feel good about the players that are healthy and are trying to get ready for the season,” Blodgett said. “I think that’s what gets lost (with the injury talk).”
UMaine football must regroup
The UMaine football team is back on the practice field this week after Saturday’s 48-18 loss to sixth-ranked Villanova.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s Bears (2-5 overall, 1-3 Colonial Athletic Association) were unable to slow down a Wildcats offense that amassed 559 total yards, including 336 through the air.
UMaine ranks ninth among 10 CAA teams in passing defense, surrendering 250.3 yards per game and a league-high 12 touchdowns. The Bears also are ninth in total defense 369.4 ypg.
“We didn’t get the stops we needed to, defensively,” Cosgrove said of the Villanova game. “You’ve got to get off the field defensively and force those punt situations.”
The Wildcats were the fourth straight top-14 opponent for the Bears, who also lost to No. 8 William & Mary, beat No. 14 New Hampshire and lost to No. 2 Delaware in the previous three weeks.
“We’ve been through a run here of very physical football games and four straight what I would consider top-10 teams in the country,” Cosgrove said.
Despite the disappointment of having almost certainly fallen out of NCAA playoff picture and losing four of its last five, the Bears are motivated to get things turned around.
“We can’t pack it in. We’ve got to have more of a sense of urgency now,” said junior quarterback Warren Smith. “We’ve got to keep going. We can’t hang our heads over the record right now, over the tough loss we just had. We’ve just got to keep growing as a unit.”
What Smith seems to be saying is that UMaine has to keep looking forward rather than get stuck on its recent struggles.
“We’ve just got to stick together as a team,” he said.