With Ted Woodward out as the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Maine, speculation is rampant about a possible successor.
Woodward had been a fixture in the Black Bears program, having served eight years as an assistant and the last 10 as the head coach. With the program having slumped of late, UMaine is looking for a new leader.
There is a vast pool of potential candidates to fill the position. Names that have been mentioned among fans include UMaine associate head coach Doug Leichner, University of Vermont assistant Chris Markwood and Brown University associate head coach T.J. Sorrentine.
In the Division I ranks alone, there are former head coaches and many upwardly mobile assistants in search of their next job. That doesn’t even take into account talented coaches at the Division II or Division III levels who might make a good fit at UMaine.
UMaine athletics director Karlton Creech explained the university will conduct a national search to identify its next coach. He hopes the successful candidate will have energy and recruiting connections in high-profile areas with Northeast knowledge a plus.
Creech said the next coach also should be able to interact effectively with the community, place a high value on UMaine’s academic integrity and come from a background that includes compliance with NCAA rules.
Leichner is finishing up his ninth season at UMaine, his fifth as associate head coach. He has in-depth knowledge of the program, head coaching experience and extensive recruiting contacts.
He confirmed Wednesday that he is interested in the UMaine job.
Leichner’s first stint coincided with Woodward’s first four seasons (2004-2008) at UMaine. He then spent 2008-2009 as the head coach of the UCC Demons in the Irish Professional SuperLeague.
Leichner guided the squad to a 22-1-1 record en route to conference, Irish National Cup and SuperLeague championships.
Leichner, who returned to UMaine in 2009, most recently was named the head coach of Great Britain’s Under-20 squad and directed it to a runner-up finish, its best ever, at the European Championship in Romania.
One of his most notable contributions to the program has been his recruiting prowess. Leichner has been instrumental in bringing in players from Europe and Canada, including all-conference standouts Alasdair Fraser and Justin Edwards.
His duties with the Black Bears include recruitment coordinator, game scheduling, scouting of opponents, equipment ordering and purchasing, fundraising, practice organization and on-floor coaching as well as academic monitoring, advising and mentoring.
Leichner, a Connecticut native, is a 1992 graduate of Central Connecticut State and earned a master’s in history from Western Connecticut State in 1995.
He was an assistant at Naugatuck Valley Community Technical College and Stonehill for one season each, then spent seven seasons as a high school head coach in Florida.
Markwood and Sorrentine appear to fall into the “up-and-comers” category in the Division I men’s ranks.
Markwood could be an attractive candidate, given his state and UMaine ties.
The South Portland native is winding up his third season as the No. 1 assistant at the University of Vermont, one of UMaine’s America East rivals. Prior to taking that position, he served as an assistant under Woodward for five seasons at UMaine.
While at Vermont, the Catamounts have compiled a combined record of 67-35 (39-3 AE) with a league championship in 2012, a runner-up finish in 2013 and a regular-season title last winter, when they lost in the semifinals.
The 2000 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year scored 1,083 points at South Portland before attending Notre Dame. He appeared in 24 games over two seasons before transferring to UMaine.
With the Black Bears, Markwood appeared in 45 games over two seasons and finished his career as a team captain and assists leader (3.7 per game) during 2004-2005.
Sorrentine is six years into his coaching career, having spent all of it at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
The former Vermont star joined the staff in 2008 after completing a three-year professional career in Europe. The native of Pawtucket, R.I., served as the Bears’ interim head coach for three months in 2012, then was appointed as associate head coach after Mike Martin was hired as the head coach.
Brown has gone 28-29 the last two seasons but is 67-108 in the last six years.
While at Vermont, Sorrentine spearheaded the Catamounts two league titles and NCAA tournament appearances in 2004 and 2005. He was named America East’s Kevin Roberson Player of the Year in 2002 and was the Rookie of the Year in 2001 and was a three-time, first-team all-star.