Maeve Carroll (right) of the University of Maine guards Albany's during their America East semifinal at Memorial Gym in Orono on March 11, 2021. Carroll is one of just two UMaine starters returning for the 2021-22 season. Credit: Courtesy of Jon Petrie

A green University of Maine women’s basketball team opens its season at the University of Nebraska at 1 p.m. Tuesday after narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Black Bears return two starters from last year’s team, but the rest of the roster has little experience. UMaine won the America East regular season championship behind a 17-3 record but was upset by Stony Brook in the tournament title game at the Memorial Gym in Orono.

Two-time America East Coach of the Year Amy Vachon, who is in her fifth full season at the helm, has two All-America East performers in junior guard Anne Simon and graduate student forward Maeve Carroll. Simon was a first team selection last season and a former second teamer and Rookie of the Year, and Carroll was a second team pick for the second time.

Question marks abound behind them, with sophomore guard Alba Orois the only other returnee who averaged more than nine minutes per game at 16 minutes. But the Black Bears are still promising, having been picked second in the America East coaches preseason poll.

Vachon, who has compiled a record of 94-42 including a 62-16 record in America East, said her team had a particularly good preseason on the offensive end and has proven coachable so far.

“We want to get a little better every day,” she said.

Vachon said it will be a different kind of season in that instead of having a regular starting lineup, her lineups and player rotations are likely to change because there are so many young players with different strengths and weaknesses.

“Turnovers are something we talk about every day. We have to limit them,” she said. “But the team has played well together offensively and defensively.”

Simon, a slashing guard who can also hit the outside jumper, shot 45.4 percent from the floor while averaging 12.5 points per game. She also averaged 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals. She was the second-leading scorer behind Blanca Millan, a star guard who left UMaine after last season and is now playing professionally in her native Spain.

Carroll is an inside scorer and rebounder who has also proven to be a good distributor. She averaged 10.7 points and was second in rebounds (6.1 per game). She also averaged 3.2 assists, second most behind Dor Saar’s 4.8 apg. She also shot 47.1 percent from the floor.

Orois appears to be UMaine’s heir apparent to Saar in the point guard role. She averaged 3.6 points per game in her 16 minutes of playing time per game and is quick.

Junior forward Abbe Laurence filled in nicely while Carroll was nursing an injury early last season and the 6-foot-2 New Hampshire native could be ready for a more prominent role this season.

Freshman guard Sera Hodgson, also from New Hampshire, has impressed and could be in Tuesday’s starting lineup as could sophomore forward-guard Caroline Bornemann from Denmark, who averaged 3.9 minutes of playing time a year ago.

Vermont guard Olivia Rockwood, Maryland guard-forward Katie White and Wilton guard Lexi Mittelstadt are sophomores who will have an opportunity to increase their playing time and the freshman class includes Hodgson, Kansas guard Bailey Wilborn, Spanish guard Paula Gallego, Montreal forward Penelope Castillo and Virginia forward Adrianna Smith.

Vachon said she is “really excited” to see how her players fare against Nebraska, which was 13-13 a year ago, reached the Final 16 of the WNIT and return all but one player this season.

“We want to play well and we want to win,” Vachon said. “We have a really tough non-conference schedule that will get us ready for conference play.”