Friday, November 13, 2009

Season opener tonight

Black Bears (0-0) at Fordham (0-0)
Rose Hill Gym, Bronx, N.Y., 8 p.m.

This tilt features programs mired at the bottom of their respective leagues (America East/Atlantic 10) and trying to make a leap up the standings.

Fordham went 3-25 a season ago and 1-15 in the A-10. The Rams won their final pre-season tuneup with a blowout of Mercy College. Freshman Christ Gaston (a 6-7 forward out of high school powerhouse St. Anthony and New Hampton Prep) put up a double-double of 27 points, 17 rebounds. Coach Dereck Whittenberg, of NC State fame, is reportedly on the hot seat as the season begins. Rose Hill Gym is the oldest on-campus D1 facility in the country. Fordham is also one of the early head coaching stops of one Richard "Digger" Phelps.

Maine will attempt to turn its fortunes of the past several years with a new cast surrounding returnees Sean McNally, Troy Barnies, Junior Bernal and Gerald McLemore. McLemore made the All-America East freshman team last year and is Maine's top returning scorer. Much of the focus will be on junior college products Jerrell Boswell (an outside threat) and Terrance Mitchell and how much and how quickly they can mesh with their new squad.

The Black Bears non-conference schedule - except for guarantee games against Syracuse, Boston College and UConn - looks somewhat less than daunting. There aren't many home dates, but the docket is littered with programs in the bottom third of the Division 1 RPI ratings.

The journey to Hartford and the America East Conference tournament begins tonight. Good luck and let's get this ship headed in the right direction.

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