Keeping with its theme of playing high-caliber, nonconference opponents, the University of Maine men’s basketball team announced Friday that defending national champion Connecticut headlines the list of teams on its 2011-12 schedule.
Coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears travel to Hartford for a Nov. 17 game against coach Jim Calhoun’s Huskies.
“They’ll clearly be a team that’s a favorite for the Final Four, if not the national championship, so it’s a heck of a challenge,” Woodward said.
Besides its game against UConn, UMaine also has lined up financial guarantee games against Notre Dame, Rhode Island and San Diego, in addition to a home-and-home series with Eastern Illinois.
UMaine will play nonleague home games against the University of Maine-Machias, Holy Cross, Utah Valley State and Eastern Illinois. The other contests are at Rhode Island, Brown and Florida Gulf Coast.
The UMaine women’s team, led by first-year head coach Richard Barron, also released its schedule Friday.
The Black Bear women are set to compete in a tournament at Navy against George Washington and the Midshipmen, and will face the likes of James Madison, Duquesne and Siena.
The UMaine women will host the Dead River Co. Classic Nov. 25-26 at Alfond Arena, with Brown, Evansville and Troy. The early part of the nonleague schedule has a New England flavor, as the Bears face Central Connecticut and Rhode Island (and assistant coach Cindy Blodgett) on the road and play host to Bryant.
The women’s team also plays in a December tourney at the University of Florida and faces Duquesne in the first round. Charleston Southern and Florida also will compete.
Massachusetts, Siena and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine also are on the Bears’ slate. They have six nonleague home games.
Barron, who inherited the schedule when he became the UMaine coach, knows it will be challenging.
“We need to try to find a schedule that’s competitive,” Barron said. “Hopefully, we’ve go that with this schedule, a chance to challenge ourselves and still at the same time have a chance to win some games.”
Woodward believes the men’s nonleague schedule will challenge and season his team.
“Hopefully, it’ll prepare us well for our conference,” Woodward said. “I know we’re on the road a lot, early in particular.”
The Bears play only four home games among their first 12 contests, through their Jan. 2 American East opener at Binghamton. He explained the home-and-home against Eastern Illinois (Nov. 30 away, Dec. 21 home) is a dynamic that is becoming more common as mid-major teams try to schedule nonconference home games.
“We’re always challenged a little bit on having an unbalanced home and away schedule,” Woodward said.
Maine last played UConn on Dec. 22, 2009, and held a slim lead in the second half before falling 71-54.
MCMILLIAN COURT CASE CLARIFIED
The BDN recently published an incorrect report about the adjudication of the court case involving UMaine football player Jerron McMillian.
The senior safety was suspended for one game by athletic director Steve Abbott for his involvement in a Dec. 4, 2010, incident at Curva Ultra Lounge in Orono. McMillian was charged by Orono police with disorderly conduct, assault and failure to submit to arrest.
According to Penobscot County District Attorney Christopher Almy, McMillan later reached a plea agreement with the state. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and had the other charges dropped.
McMillian was fined $500, with $250 suspended.
Since McMillian had fulfilled a community service requirement under the UMaine Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, Abbott lifted the suspension and allowed him to play last week.
UMAINE OFFERS FREE HOOP CLINIC
UMaine head basketball coaches Woodward and Barron are teaming up to conduct a free basketball clinic for area youth.
The clinic is scheduled Sept. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium on the Orono campus. The event is open to boys and girls in grades 1-8.
Barron and Woodward, along with their respective coaching staffs, will be on hand to teach fundamental skills.
Anyone interested in attending should notify women’s assistant coach Amy Vachon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UM WOMEN’S GOLF TOURNEY SET
A handful of openings remain for the 17th annual Friends of Maine Women’s Basketball Golf Tournament, which will be held Sept. 19 at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono.
Registration for the four-person scramble begins at 11 a.m. and the shotgun start is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The tourney will be followed by a dinner, raffle and auction.
The cost is $125 per person, which includes greens fees, cart and dinner. Those who wish to attend the dinner and auction may do so for $25.
For more information or to sign up, contact Tracy Guerrette at email@example.com or at 207-581-1075.