The University of Maine women’s basketball team has been beset by injuries this season.
With only 10 available players, some of whom are limited by nagging ailments, it is sometimes impossible to conduct 5-on-5 drills during practice.
For that reason, the coaching staff this week has put out the call on the Orono campus, and on its Twitter account, looking for a few good men.
UMaine is looking for male students to serve as players on the scout team, which tries to simulate game situations, in particular those showing opponents’ strategies and tendencies.
While the practice isn’t new to the Black Bears, or at other Division I programs, the urgency is greater at the moment.
“We had a scout team the first semester but our practice times didn’t work with their [availability] so we’re looking for some new ones,” UMaine head coach Amy Vachon said.
Vachon would like to have more than five guys because not all of them are always able to attend practices.
“We need an even bigger pool,” she said.
Part of UMaine’s dilemma is that the healthy players are five post players and five guards, which means they’re imbalanced in terms of putting five players against teammates who play the same position.
“Having guys practicing with us is very useful,” Vachon said. “We don’t change our practice at all, they play against us.”
Practices are held weekday mornings, between 9 a.m. and noon, which is a busy time for students’ class schedules.
Vachon and assistant coach Tom Biskup hope to put together a scout team as soon as possible.
Junior point guard Dor Saar said practicing against guys who are usually bigger, stronger and quicker is extremely beneficial.
“We can improve so much more. It will especially help us do a better job containing dribble-penetration,” Saar said.
That was an issue Saturday in the Black Bears’ 74-54 America East loss to University of Maryland Baltimore County.
The two-time defending America East champion Black Bears are now down to seven players who are capable of playing significant minutes.
Although UMaine could seek emergency player help among the general student population, Vachon said she has never considered having an open tryout to help fill out the roster.
“We don’t need any more on our team,” Vachon said.
UMaine (8-14 overall, 4-4 America East) has eight league games remaining beginning with Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at Hartford (0-20, 0-7 AE).