Monday, January 12, 2009

Exam time is here

Academically speaking, the University of Maine is finished with its exam period. As far as the America East basketball schedule, however, we think final exams have arrived in the form of the next four games.

Beginning with Wednesday night's tilt at Hartford and then the ensuing three-game homestand, it's not a stretch to think the final grade for the Black Bears' season might be traceable to this stretch of games.

Hartford, coming off its first-ever appearance in the league championship game. recently lost emotional leader Joe Zeglinski for the season. The Hawks are still dangerous, as evidenced by their 10-point dusting of Albany (who responded with wins over Boston U. and at Vermont). It would appear the Hawks and Black Bears match up well.

Get a win at Hartford, and the Black Bears would return to Alfond with a 2-2 America East mark and a chance to line itself up for a marked improvement over a year ago.

Then again, the reason this stretch of games is so important is because of what the Black Bears have not been able to do at home ... namely, win. The Alfond confines have been anything but friendly as the Black Bears have lost nine straight league games at home.

After a disappointing loss to Binghamton at home to open the America East season, UMaine went down to Long Island and put together maybe its best wire-to-wire performance of the season. The Black Bears followed that up with a gutty-but-mistake-filled nailbiting loss at defending champion Maryland-Baltimore County.

So just who are the Black Bears? The club that opened the season with three straight wins, won at Stony Brook and pushed UMBC to the limit? Or the Black Bears that are 1-4 at home, including losses to Quinnipiac, Canisius and Harvard?

Mid-term exams begin Wednesday at Hartford and continue with Alfond testing periods against Albany (Jan. 17), New Hampshire (Jan. 19) and Boston University (Jan. 25).

It's time for UMaine to bone up and make the grade.

1 comment:

MattT said...

If Ted Woodward is reading this, I am begging you...please do not zone Hartford. We have witnessed on numerous occasions this season (Harvard and Binghamton) hot shooting teams can and will burn Maine's zone. Even without Joe Zeglinski, who has killed Maine over the years, Hartford has plenty of guys who can stroke the 3 ball. If Maine wants to win this game, take my advice, play tight man to man and stay on Sabia, Turner and Von Rosenberg. I would not suggest pressing (they have too many ball-handlers and Maine's bench is too thin). Play solid half court defense with plenty of pressure from 25 feet and in. Hartford may be a tad quicker than Maine but they do not have a super athletic team full of dribble-drive guys and they have a very weak interior game. Maine needs to play in the face of their shooters and on the other end work the ball in to McNally and Barnies. There is no reason they can't have big games. Let's carry some momentum into a big game against Albany this weekend.