Saturday, September 12, 2009

Scripps stud

Just a reminder, Tate Forcier, the freshman quarterback for Michigan (who is lighting up Notre Dame as this is written), attended the same high school (Scripps Ranch in San Diego) as Black Bears guard Gerald McLemore.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Looking for a lineup

Now that the Black Bears roster has been published, it's fair game for some good old speculation.

Any discussion of the UMaine lineup has to begin with the trio of Sean McNally, Junior Bernal and Gerald McLemore. They form a solid -- but not spectacular -- core to build a unit around. You know when the season opener rolls around, those guys will be ready and in the lineup.

Competing for playing time up front will be returnees Malachi Peay, Troy Barnies and Svetoslav Chetinov along with newcomers Travon Wilcher, Mike Allison and Murphy Burnatowski. Wilcher is expected to lend much-needed shot-blocking and rebounding support when December rolls around. It's harder to guage how much of an impact Allison and Burnatowski may have, although they've seemingly had decent success with the Canadian National junior team. Peay had some moments last season, but injuries slowed him down. Consistency is needed from him.

Andrew Rogers last year, as a freshman, played some decent minutes at point guard ... at times. But it's hard to see him playing the point for major minutes. That could change if he establishes himself as more of an offensive threat.

There's little question junior college guards Terrance Mitchell and Jerrell Boswell will be needed to come in and contribute some offensive firepower from the get-go. The Black Bears last year, very rarely, scored the ball easily. In other words, everything on offense seemed to be a struggle. If they can get 10 points a game outside of the offense, from sheer offensive ability, it would help quite a bit.

Here's my guess at a starting lineup:

F - McNally, 6-7: Hands down, Maine's best, most consistent performer last year; must continue to raise his game.
F - Peay, 6-6: A slasher who can worm his way to the hoop for buckets; needs to show improvement; defend and rebound better.
G - McLemore, 6-3: One of the top freshman in America East last year. League defenses will key on him. Must improve his ballhandling and defense, but indications are he should be a top level AE player for his career.
G - Mitchell, 6-3: Advance pub says he can score and rebound. Let's hope so. Black Bears need it.
G - Bernal, 6-5: He'll attempt anything the coaching staff asks him to do and he does it with great effort. His limitations are well documented, but his ability to defend and lead with shouldn't be dismissed.

In the rotation:
F - Barnies, 6-7: He's working hard to become the type of player successful programs at the AE level always seem to have ... effort guys who don't care about stats. If he rebounds and defends, he may be in the starting lineup. I've got a feeling he'll find some offensive sea legs this year. He's a decent shooter.
G - Rogers, 5-9: Had a few moments last year. Big question, can he force teams to respect his shot.
G - Boswell, 6-0: A scorer and deep range threat in junior college. Will it carry over to D1? Black Bears banking on it.
F - Wilcher, 6-7: Starting lineup looks a little rebounding-challenged. Reportedly, Wilcher can help there.

Question marks:
C - Chetinov, 6-9: Now the tallest player on the roster (along with Mike Allison); but is Chet ready to help?
F - Allison, 6-9: Has experience playing world competition as a member of Canada's national junior team.
F - Burnatowski, 6-6: His mom's a Maine native; otherwise, see above. Going to be interesting to see what he and Allison bring to the Orono table. History says, don't count too much on freshman. UMaine needs history to take a year off.
G - Jon McAlian, 6-6: Red-shirt freshman with a year in the program.
G - Ryan Martin, 5-9: He can shoot it, that much we know. But can he do the other things that earn floor time?

What's new ... Black Bears enter another season with loads of question marks. Certainly more question marks than answers. The positive, however, is that the roster isn't the same one that fizzled badly last year.

Where's Jacob?

UMaine updated its roster on the school's athletic website,, and conspicuous by its absence was Jacob McLemore, younger brother of All-America East Freshman team member Gerald McLemore.

Jacob, who attended Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego just like Gerald, was an early signee, but his name is not listed. No word yet on what has transpired. Maybe he's been steered to prep school? Maybe he changed his mind?

Also missing from the roster is sophomore guard Doran Mitchell of Connecticut. Mitchell saw little playing time as a freshman.

Maine's roster will once again have a fresh flavor with no less than five first-year players (Travon Wilcher, Mike Allison, Murphy Burnatowski, Terrance Mitchell and Jerrell Boswell).

Also gone from the roster are center Jordan Cook, who has been dealing with some health issues, and guard Mark Socoby, who will attend UMaine this year and then finish his collegiate eligibility at an NAIA school near Los Angeles next year.