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.