Thursday, September 8, 2011

National team cuts Burnatowski

Former Black Bears forward Murphy Burnatowski recently was one of two final cuts from Canada's national team. He spent six weeks competing for a roster spot with the Canadians, who are making an attempt to qualify for the Olympics.

Former Syracuse star Leo Rautins is coach of the national team. The Canadian roster includes two NBA players, Joel Anthony (Miami) and Cory Joseph (San Antonio).

Burnatowski transferred to Colgate and will redshirt the 2011-12 season.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


The Black Bears reportedly received a verbal commitment from Barry Webster, a 6-10 frontcourt prospect from England.

Monday, August 1, 2011

America East OOC

List is updated as games are discovered.

Nov. 11: at Rhode Island
Nov. 17: at Connecticut
Nov. 30: at Eastern Illinois
Dec. 8: at Notre Dame
Dec. 19: Utah Valley
Dec. 21: Eastern Illinois
Dec. 29: at Florida Gulf Coast


Nov. 11 at Pitt
Nov. 14: vs. Brown (NIT Season Tip-Off)

Nov. 15: vs. Manhatton or Syracuse (NIT Season Tip-Off)
Nov. 21: TBD (NIT Season Tip-Off)
Nov. 22: TBD (NIT Season Tip-Off)
Nov. 25: Navy
Nov. 27: Fairleigh Dickinson
Dec. 5: at Siena
Dec. 7: Colgate
Dec. 17: at Cornell

Dec. 19: at St. Francis (N.Y.)

Dec. 23: Dartmouth
Dec. 28: at Maryland

Dec. 31 at Mount St. Mary's

Nov. 12: Colgate
Nov. 14: at Cornell
Nov. 18: at Fordham
Nov. 20: at St. Peter's
Nov. 27: at Missouri
Dec. 3: Army
Dec. 6: Bucknell
Dec. 17: at Hofstra
Dec. 19: Morehead State
Dec. 22: Drexel
Dec. 28: at Canisius
Dec. 30: Manhattan

Boston University

Nov. 13: at Texas (Legends Classic)
Nov. 20: at Cornell
Nov. 30: at Delaware
Dec. 10: Harvard
Dec. 29: at LaSalle
Dec. 31: at Quinnipiac

Nov. 11: vs. Sacred Heart (Connecticut 6 Classic)
Nov. 12: at Penn State
Nov. 29: Yale
Dec. 6: Quinnipiac
Dec. 31: at LaSalle

Maryland-Baltimore County
Nov. 28: at Rutgers
Dec. 1: at American
Dec. 17: Rider

New Hampshire
Dec. 30: vs. Sacred Heart

Stony Brook
Nov. 11: at Indiana
Nov. 13: Mount Ida
Nov. 15: at Sacred Heart
Nov. 18: at Wagner
Nov. 22: Columbia
Nov. 25: at Northwestern
Dec. 3: at Eastern Illinois
Dec. 7: Fairleigh Dickinson
Dec. 11: at Boston College
Dec. 17: vs. Rutgers (Garden Holiday Festival)
Dec. 28: Cornell
Dec. 30: Rider
Feb. 17-19: Bracket Buster

Nov. 12: at South Florida (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 16: at Dartmouth
Nov. 19: vs. Marist (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 20: vs. Long Island or Radford (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 23: at Old Dominion (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 26: Siena
Dec. 1: Harvard
Dec. 3: at Yale
Dec. 7: at St. Louis
Dec. 11: Quinnipiac
Dec. 17: Iona
Dec. 21: at Fairleigh Dickinson
Dec. 23: at Towson
Dec. 30: Northeastern

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rams for opener

The Black Bears will open the season Nov. 11 at Rhode Island.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

America East non-conference dates

List is updated as games are discovered.

Nov. 11: at Rhode Island
Nov. 17: at Connecticut

Nov. 14 or 15: vs. Brown (at Syracuse – NIT Season Tip-Off)
Nov. 15 or 16: vs. Manhattan or Syracuse (at Syracuse) – NIT Season Tip-Off

Dec. 5: at Siena

Nov. 20: at St. Peter's
Dec. 17: at Hofstra

Boston University

Nov. 13: at Texas (Legends Classic)
Nov. 30: at Delaware
Dec. 29: at LaSalle
Dec. 31: at Quinnipiac

Nov. 11: vs. Sacred Heart (Connecticut 6 Classic)
Nov. 12: at Penn State
Nov. 29: Yale
Dec. 6: Quinnipiac
Dec. 31: at LaSalle

Maryland-Baltimore County
Dec. 1: at American
Dec. 17: Morgan State

New Hampshire
Dec. 30: vs. Sacred Heart

Stony Brook
Nov. 15: at Sacred Heart
Dec. 17: vs. Rutgers (Garden Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden). Not a tournament; one-day neutral site doubleheader. Other game is St. John's vs. Fordham.

Nov. 12: at South Florida (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 19: vs. Marist (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 20: vs. Long Island or Radford (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 23: at Old Dominion (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 26: Siena
Dec. 3: at Yale
Dec. 11: Quinnipiac

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Non-conference games

Nov. 13
Boston University at Texas (Legends Classic)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Black Bears vs. Sled Dogs

The Black Bears are scheduled to take on defending national champion Connecticut on Nov. 17.

Non-conference schedules

Couple more dates to add to the list:

Dec. 17 at Hofstra

Stony Brook
Dec. 17 vs. Rutgers (Garden Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden). Not a tournament; one-day neutral-site doubleheader. Other game is St. John's vs. Fordham.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011-2012 schedules

America East non-conference dates are beginning to surface. Check back often for updates.

Nov. 11 vs. Sacred Heart (Connecticut 6 Classic)
New Hampshire
Dec. 30 vs. Sacred Heart
Stony Brook
Nov. 15 at Sacred Heart
Nov. 12 at South Florida (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 19 vs. Marist (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 20 vs. Long Island or Radford (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 23 @ Old Dominion (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Green Mountain Markwood?

Rumors are floating around that assistant coach Chris Markwood is leaving UMaine and will join the Vermont coaching staff.

The Catamounts recently named John Becker to replace Mike Lonergan, who was hired by the A-10's George Washington.

Markwood, as a few ardent Black Bears fans recall, is best known for his last-second shot that defeated Boston University in the quarterfinals of the 2005 America East tournament. UMaine has not won a tournament game since that long-ago night in Vestal, N.Y.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zarko eval

Here's ESPN college basketball scouting profile of Zarko. Note the "Bottom Line" portion of the evaluation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


How good is the UMaine recruiting class?

Impossible to say.

We'll find out only when the bell rings. College players are always fantastic on the day they sign with a program. Then reality sets in when the competition begins.

I don't put much stock in who is supposedly recruiting whom. There are myriad reasons why a high D1 might show some interest in a mid-major talent. Let's hope the UMaine recruiting class of 2011-2012 is productive.

If 60 percent of a program's recruits turn out as good as projected, 25 percent turn out better and 15 percent worse ... the talent scouts are hitting for a pretty good average.

What we do know is that the Black Bears need two of these five guys to be better than expected and two of them to be productive right away. That's reality.

Melting pot

UMaine's 2011-2012 recruiting class

Justin Edwards, 6-2 guard, Canada
Zarko Valjarevic, 6-4 guard/forward, Serbia
Killian Cato, 6-8 forward, Finland
Xavier Pollard, 6-2 guard, Winchendon Prep
Noam Laish, 6-1 guard, Israel

Recruits sign

It's official. UMaine just announced it has signed letters of intent from Zarko Valjarevic and Justin Edwards.

UMaine to host tourney?

Apparently, the Black Bears plan to host a four-team tournament the weekend of Nov. 18. A listing is up on looking for schools to fill a non-exempt tournament at UMaine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Canadian pipeline still flowing

The Black Bears went north of the border for another commitment, apparently landing 6-2 wing player Justin Edwards. Edwards is from the Toronto area. He'll join fellow Canadian Mike Allison in Orono.

Serbian signs with Bears

According to New England Recruiting Report, Notre Dame Prep’s Zarko Valjarevic has made a commitment to play at UMaine beginning in the fall.

Valjarevic is a Serbian native. He's 6-foot-4 and reportedly a solid outside shooter.

His coach at Notre Dame, Ryan Hurd, said he was happy Valjarevic found a program where he'd be "expected to be a factor from day one."

According to NERR, he is the eighth player from Notre Dame's 2011 class to commit to a D1 program, joining Khem Birch (Pittsburgh), Todd Mayo (Marquette), Angel Nunez (Louisville), Jamir Hanner (Marshall), Jeff Short (Fordham), Devon McMillan (Fordham), and Tyler Strange (Gardner Webb).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Murphy moves on

From America East all-rookie team to playing for Leo Rautins on the Canadian National team; from starting 46 of 56 games at UMaine to leading the Black Bears in scoring against Maryland and Penn State to riding the bench the final four games of his sophomore season ...

The Murphy Burnatowski era at UMaine is over. And most likely, Black Bear fans will never know why.

Best wishes to Murphy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

NABC honors

Congratulations to Troy Barnies and Gerald McLemore, named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches 2011 Division 1 All-District 1 team.

Barnies, a 6-7 senior forward from Auburn, Maine, and McLemore, a 6-2 junior guard from San Diego, were selected to the second team.

NABC Division 1 All-District 1

First Team
Ryan Rossiter, Siena; Mike Glover, Iona; Derek Needham, Fairfield; John Holland, Boston University; and Justin Robinson, Rider.
Second Team
Evan Fjeld, Vermont; Scott Machado, Iona; Barnies, Maine; Wesley Jenkins, St. Peter's; Anthony Nelson, Niagara; and McLemore, Maine.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Opportunity wasted

As a once promising season quickly melted down, we were haunted by the prospect of a lost opportunity.

That feeling has been cemented with Stony Brook's 22-point dismantling of regular season champion Vermont in the America East semifinals. Without checking, it just might be the worst loss ever for a No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Shocking? No, not really. America East this season was there for the taking. The top tier of the league was as unimpressive as we have ever seen it.

This doesn't take anything away from Vermont and the season it put together. But it does point out that UMaine, after deservedly establishing itself as the midway-point favorite in the league, absolutely flushed a golden opportunity to get into the championship game again and quite possibly win it.

Instead, the Black Bears entered the tournament with a whimper and went down for the second straight year against the No. 6 seed. Opportunities like this don't come around often and when they do, teams have to grab it by the shoulders and hold on tight.

The Black Bears appeared to completely disregard the opportunity before them. How else do you explain a 1-8 finish? How else do you explain defensive performances that would make the old Loyola-Marymount teams blush.

UMaine had the talent, the depth and the versatility to play with and defeat anybody in America East this season. Yet, the team was barely functioning by the time February and March rolled around.

What happened to the Black Bears is a puzzle that needs to be solved in Orono.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sad ending

For the sixth straight season, the Black Bears were eliminated in their first game of the America East tournament.

Sixth-seeded Hartford upset the third-seeded Black Bears 66-63 Saturday night.

UMaine finished the season at 15-15 after having a 14-7 record midway through the league season. The Black Bears lost in familiar fashion, unable to hold a lead and giving up too many easy baskets in critical situations.

The Black Bears have not won an America East tournament game since 2005. UMaine has lost as the No. 3 seed for two straight years.

Genesis Maciel scored a career high 19 points for Hartford. He hit five 3-pointers, the biggest coming late in the game with Hartford clinging to a 1-point lead. The Hawks called timeout and set up a play for Maciel to get a shot on the right wing. He got open and nailed it to give Hartford a 4-point lead.

Hartford entered the game 341st in the country in field goal shooting at 38 percent. Only six teams in all of NCAA Division 1 have a worse team shooting percentage. The Hawks shot 50 percent against the Black Bears.

UMaine shot 52 percent for the game and had five players in double figures, but missed free throws and leaky defense were costly. That and allowing Maciel to have a career night.

As the game ended, Hartford students stormed the floor, pouring salt into the Black Bears' wounds.

Ready to roll

Spent the morning visiting with Black Bear and America East fans in the hotel lobby. As is customary at the tournament, everybody's a little on edge waiting for the tipoff.

Vermont's on edge regarding the injuries to star players Evan Fjeld and Brendan Bald. Word circulating around the arena Thursday was the Boston University star and America East player of the year John Holland was not responding to ankle treatments as well as hoped.

Maine has its own issues with Terrance Mitchell's ankle injury. It sounds as if he may give it a go, but it's unclear how it will impact his play.

Bigger question for the Black Bears is which team is going to the show up. The one that zipped to an 8-1 start in America East play or the team that finished 1-7?

The consensus among America East fans gathered in Hartford is that this bunch of Black Bears have the ability and the pieces to pull it off. We shall see.

Will be heading over to the arena for the Albany/Stony Brook game shortly.

It's a great time of the year. Let's hope we can join in the fun and celebrate a victory tonight at the hotel. It's been a long time. Six years since a small gathering of us partied late into the Binghamton night after Chris Markwood's shot that beat Boston University.

Barnies named first team

Congratulations to Troy Barnies and Gerald McLemore who picked up America East all-conference honors.

Barnies, a senior forward, was named to the first team. He's averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds a game. McLemore, a junior guard averaging 13 points per game, was selected to the second team.

Joining Barnies on the first team were John Holland, Boston University; Darryl Partin, Boston University; Tim Ambrose, Albany; and Evan Fjeld, Vermont.

Holland was named player of the year. Vermont's Bryan Voelkel was rookie of the year. League champion Vermont also picked up the defensive player of the year (Brendan Bald) and coach of the year (Mike Lonergan).

Friday, March 4, 2011


Hello from beautiful Hartford, Conn.

Looks like Terrance Mitchell will be a game-day decision for the Black Bears. Let's hope he can make a go of it.

Arrived late Thursday afternoon and immediately met up with some America East friends before heading over to the play-in games.

UMaine women appeared dead in the water, stuck in mud, running in quicksand ... just pick a cliche ... and were never really in the game against Stony Brook.

Binghamton set a new single-game tournament record with 17 3-pointers in a 91-65 win over UMBC. The two teams combined for 23 trifectas, also a new America East record.

Word around the hotel lobby is that Vermont studs Brendan Bald and Evan Fjeld are also facing game-day decisions with their injuries.

Steve's and Doria's picks

Steve picks for this weekend's America East tournament

Binghamton over UMBC

Albany over Stony Brook
Vermont over Binghamton
Boston U. over New Hampshire
Maine over Hartford

Vermont over Albany
Boston U. over Maine

Boston U. over Vermont

Doria (my daughter), also weighed in:

Binghamton over UMBC

Albany over Stony Brook
Vermont over Binghamton
Boston U. over New Hampshire
Maine over Hartford

Albany over Vermont
Maine over Boston U.

Maine over Albany

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tourney picks

First Round

Binghamton vs. UMBC

Retrievers haven't been the same since they scored 51 points in the second half and rallied to beat the Black Bears in Orono. Bearcats have Greer Wright and Mahamoud Jabbi.
Pick: Binghamton


Albany vs. Stony Brook

Albany may be playing as well as anybody in America East down the stretch. Stony Brook won't back down. Stony Brook star guard Bryan Dougher faces a tough afternoon with Great Danes backcourt of Mike Black and Tim Ambrose.
Pick: Albany

Vermont vs. Binghamton

Catamounts should cruise past Binghamton. A couple years ago, Binghamton had speed to burn. Vermont won't be confused with those title-winning Bearcats, but they get the job done with efficiency on offense and defense.
Pick: Vermont

Boston University vs. New Hampshire

If you were asked to pick a possible blowout in the quarterfinals, this is the game most folks would look at. Boston U. has the talent to win the tournament. UNH has fought its way through injuries and whatnot to remain competitive.
Pick: Boston U.

Maine vs. Hartford

Nobody's played worse in America East down the stretch than the Black Bears, who have dropped 7 of 8 after leading the league at 8-1. UMaine has every reason in the world to enter this one with its eyes wide open. Hartford swept the season series and the game is on the Hawks' home floor. Big question is will Black Bears show up and play defense. If not, it's going to another quick exit because Hartford has some weapons. Black Bears can't possibly lose a sixth straight opening game in the tournament, can they?
Pick: Maine


Albany vs. Vermont

A victory here wouldn't be as shocking as the one the Great Danes pulled off a couple years ago in Albany. That team had no business toppling the Catamounts. Vermont's got a great record this year, but their margin for error is a lot smaller than some of the vintage Catamounts teams.
Pick: Albany

Boston U. vs. Maine

Hard to envision a Black Bears win here. UMaine's defense in the second half has been downright criminal. You see better defense in Sunday evening open gyms. Make no mistake, a win here by the Black Bears would have to be considered a huge upset ... that's how far the UMaine stock has fallen since midway through the America East season. But one thing we've learned about the Black Bears in recent years, they rarely play the way you expect.
Pick: Maine


Albany at Maine

Great Danes make a return trip to Orono two weeks after their overtime conquest of the Black Bears. But Black Bears will be ready this time. The school may even allow the team to put the basketball floor over the ice and get a work out on their home court prior to the championship game. Go crazy, folks. Go crazy. UMaine and its loyal following set an NCAA standard for the least-celebrated NCAA tournament berth in history.
Pick: Maine 77, Albany 76 (3 overtimes)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Overtime blues

Albany overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and defeated the Black Bears 81-77 in overtime. The Danes and Black Bears finished in a third-place tie in the final America East standings.

UMaine wins the tiebreaker by virtue of its win at Vermont and will enter the America East tournament as the No. 3 seed.

The Black Bears will play tournament host Hartford Saturday in the final quarterfinal round game. The Hawks swept the season series from the Black Bears.

That's the bad news. The good news? The game is on the road.

UMaine was 6-7 (4-4 America East) at home this year in Division 1 games and went 8-7 (5-3) on the road.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Holland hurt

Boston University star John Holland spent the second half of Thursday night's game at Binghamton on the bench with an ice pack on an injured ankle.

Holland was injured with about 2 minutes left in the first half of a 53-51 Terrier victory.

Holland joins a long list of top-shelf America East players that have been injured this season.

The list and their current status:

Sean McNally, Maine: Injured during preseason and missed about a month of games early. Looked like the McNally of old at UNH Tuesday.

Jake O'Brien, Boston U.: Injured in late December. Out for the season.

Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook: Injured before start of season. Out for the year.

Greer Wright, Binghamton: Missed a bunch of games in the middle of the season. Playing again.

Morgan Sabia, Hartford: Missed several games during the season. Playing again.

New Hampshire: Alvin Abreu and Ferg Myrick. Both out for the season.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BU is No. 2

Boston University held on for a 53-51 win at Binghamton Thursday night, clinching the No. 2 seed for the America East tournament.

The only remaining seeds to be determined are Nos. 6 and 7.

The winner of Sunday's New Hampshire at Hartford contest will claim the No. 6 spot opposite the No. 3 Black Bears. The loser will play No. 2 Boston U.

Tourney slots

Albany and Stony Brook will tangle March 5 in the opening quarterfinal game of the 2011 America East tournament. The Great Danes and Seawolves secured their seeds with victories last night.

Vermont is the other school that has clinched its seed. The No. 1 Catamounts will face the winner of the 8-9 game following the Albany-Stony Brook contest.

Wondering which of the two teams would have the best chance of an upset over Vermont?
Vermont beat Albany by 12 and 9 points. The Catamounts knocked off Stony Brook by 6 and 23 points.

All knowing

For what it's worth, a website called Omni Rankings projects results of college basketball games.

The site gives UMaine a 67 percent chance of reaching the America East semifinals, a 28 percent chance of reaching the title game and a 9 percent chance of winning the championship.

No. 1 seed Vermont's numbers are, 87 percent, 71 percent and 56 percent.

Final home game

Sunday's Alfond date with Albany will give UMaine fans a better indication of whether the club is on the track that led it to an 8-1 start in the America East season.

Tuesday's dusting of New Hampshire down at Durham was a good start toward regaining some momentum, but Albany will visit on a solid roll. The Danes have won 7 of their last 10 games and have moved to fourth place after a rough start.

Watch that Binghamton-Boston U. result tonight. It could set up a scenario Sunday where the Black Bears have a shot at getting to the No. 2 seed.

If BU loses tonight, it'll travel to Vermont for a 1 p.m. game Sunday possibly needing a win to stay in second place. Meanwhile, the UMaine-Albany contest Sunday begins at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tourney times

No. 1-seeded Vermont will play the winner of Binghamton/UMBC in the second game of the first session on March 5. Game time is approximately 2:15 p.m., following the No. 4 vs. No. 5 game.

For the second straight season, the Black Bears appear headed for the final quarterfinal game as No. 3 meets No. 6 at approximately 8:15 p.m. The March 5 evening session begins with the No. 2 vs. No. 7 game at 6:05 p.m.

Now that's a homestand

When Hartford takes to the floor for its quarterfinal game in the America East tournament, the host-school Hawks should be well rested. The Hawks will have had two full weeks since they traveled to UMBC for a Feb. 19 contest.

The Hawks, currently 6-8 and in sixth-place, close the regular season with home games against Stony Brook and New Hampshire. As of today, UMaine and the Hawks would meet in the quarterfinals.

UMaine is currently No. 3 with a small chance of moving to No. 2. For the Black Bears to move up, Boston University must lose its final two games and both are on the road. The Terriers close with Binghamton and Vermont.

If Binghamton were to knock off the Terriers Thursday, it would set up some scoreboard monitoring Sunday at Alfond Arena (where the Black Bears host Albany) and Patrick Gym (where BU and Vermont tangle).

UMaine split with BU, but holds the tiebreak advantage because of the win at Vermont.

Remaining games:

BU: at Binghamton, at Vermont
Maine: Albany
Albany: at Maine
Stony Brook: at Hartford, Binghamton
Hartford: Stony Brook, New Hampshire
New Hampshire: at Hartford

We're No. 3

UMaine clinched no worse than the No. 3 seed for the upcoming America East tournament with its 70-53 thrashing of New Hampshire in Durham last night.

The win snapped a six-game slide (five of them AE games) that saw the Black Bears tumble from solo first place.

UMaine seemed to regain its defensive bearings a little last night and never trailed the Wildcats in front of the largest crowd I've ever seen at Lundholm Gym. And I've been going to games in Durham for quite a few years now.

After a couple early tie scores, 10-10 and 12-12 if I recall correctly, UMaine took the big crowd out of the game and sent many of the Wildcat faithful home early.

There's a chance the Black Bears could climb to No. 2 spot in the conference standings. For that to happen, Boston U. would have to lose its final two games. Right now, it appears as if it'll be the No. 3 seed for the second consecutive year.

If the tournament started today, UMaine would open with host school Hartford. The Black Bears were swept by the Hawks in the regular season.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Seed wars

Just to be clear, the Black Bears could finish third, fourth or, even, fifth in the final America East standings.

Third place
Black Bears defeat UNH and/or Albany.
Albany loses to UMBC.
Fourth place
Black Bears lose at UNH
Albany defeats UMBC and Black Bears.
Fifth place
UMaine loses at UNH.
Albany defeats UMBC and UMaine.
Hartford defeats Stony Brook and UNH.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Danes inch closer

Albany moved a step closer to setting up a third-place showdown with the Black Bears in the regular-season finale Feb. 27 at Alfond Arena.

The Danes won 57-54 at Binghamton Sunday to move to 7-7 in America East, one game behind UMaine (8-6).

Albany must finish 9-7 to claim the the No. 3 seed.

The Black Bears travel to New Hampshire Tuesday with the knowledge a win secures third place. Albany hosts UMBC on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bracket busted

Another defensive meltdown and UMaine dropped its sixth straight game, losing to Siena 71-60 in a Bracket Buster game at Albany, N.Y.

The Black Bears led by five at halftime, but gave up 43 points in the second half to the Saints.

Siena entered the game on a four-game losing streak and was 10-16 overall.

UMaine returns to America East play Tuesday at New Hampshire. UMaine needs one win in its final two games to secure the No. 3 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

Forward Murphy Burnatowski did not play against Siena.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Treble trouble

If history serves as teacher, the lesson plan for America East is clear: You must be a top three seed to have any hope of winning three games in the conference tournament.

With this in mind, the Black Bears embark on the final two-games of the America East season. Having played their way out of the the No. 1 or No. 2 spot, the Bears must reach deep and hold on to third place.

UMaine is now part of a five-team scramble for the 3 through 7 slots. One victory by UMaine would make it impossible for Hartford to overtake the Black Bears ... crucial because the Hawks are the only team that holds the first tie-breaker advantage, having swept UMaine. If UMaine ties with Albany, Stony Brook or New Hampshire, the win over Vermont gives the Bears the tiebreaker.

Analysis: One win in final two games and Bears will be No. 3. Can't be passed by anyone even if Albany finishes 9-7. ... Even if Bears finish in an 8-8 tie with Stony, Albany and UNH, they hold the tiebreaker over them. ... Hartford's loss to Binghamton was big for Black Bears. A tie with Hartford looks highly unlikely at this point and that's the one they would have lost. ... So, No. 3 is likely, No. 4 at worst. They need to fight to stay at No. 3.

Here's a look at the teams fighting for those five seed positions in order of predicted finish:

No. 3

Albany (6-7)

Remaining schedule: at Binghamton, UMBC, at Maine.
Best AE win: Stony Brook.
Prediction: 3-0 to finish 9-7.

No. 4

UMaine (8-6)

Remaining schedule: at UNH, Albany.
Best AE win: Vermont.
Prediction: 0-2 to finish 8-8.
Tiebreaker: Victory over Vermont gives Bears tiebreaker over everyone except Hartford.

No. 5

Stony Brook (6-8)

Remaining schedule: at Hartford, Binghamton.
Best AE win: UNH.
Prediction: 2-0 to finish 8-8.

No. 6

UNH (6-8)

Remaining schedule: Maine, at Hartford.
Best AE win: Boston U.
Prediction: 2-0 to finish 8-8.

No. 7

Hartford (5-8)

Remaining schedule: at UMBC, Stony Brook, UNH.
Best AE win: Boston U.
Prediction: 1-2 to finish 6-10.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Skid grows to 5

UMaine's 16-point loss to Vermont Wednesday puts the Black Bears on the brink of falling to fourth or fifth place. The Bears were 8-1 and in first place in America East one game into the second half of the league season.

America East statisticians must be scrambling to find the last time a first place team, that late in the season, fell to fourth or fifth by the time the conference tournament rolled around. UMaine is on the brink of pulling it off.

Albany and Hartford are challenging UMaine for the third spot. Albany is one game behind UMaine in the loss column and Hartford two. The Black Bears would lose the tiebreaker with Hartford.

The regular-season finale at home against Albany may decide who finishes in third place.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

3 to get 2

OK, well, now it's down to trying to hang on to the No. 3 seed for the Black Bears. Saturday's overtime loss at Stony Brook dropped UMaine to third in the league standings with Hartford sneaking up in the rearview mirror.

The Black Bears must win two of their final three games to ensure holding on to the No. 3 spot; critical for any hopes of winning the conference tournament. The odds of winning the conference tourney begin and end at No. 3.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bears need wins

The Black Bears now must turn their sights to protecting the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament. There is no overstating the importance of finishing as high as possible in the league standings.

Here's a rundown of what's left for the contenders at the top of the America East standings:

Vermont (11-2)
Thanks in large part to UMaine's free fall, all the Catamounts must do is go 2-1 in their final three games to secure first place and the top seed for the tournament.
Remaining schedule:
at Maine
Boston University
Prediction: 3-0 for a 14-2 AE mark. Regular season champions.

Maine (8-4)
The Black Bears' defensive swoon couldn't have come at a worse time as they have moved from the driver's seat to shotgun in record time. UMaine must turn it around or face the prospect of becoming a backseat driver. BU and Hartford are ready to pounce on the wounded and limping Bears. The only way for the Black Bears to win the title and the top seed is to win their final four games and hope Vermont stumbles against either Binghamton or Boston U. Going 3-1 in the final four would most likely secure the No. 2 seed. An even 2-2 gets a little dicier and 1-3 pratfall makes No. 4 a possibility.
Remaining schedule:
at Stony Brook
at UNH
Prediction: 1-3 for a 9-7 AE mark; No. 4 seed.

Boston University (8-4)
The Terriers moved into a tie for second place with UMaine, but the Black Bears hold the tiebreaker right now by virture of their win over first-place Vermont. BU, however, ends the season with a game at Vermont that could decide UMaine's tourney seed. If the Terriers sweep their final four games, book them as the No. 2 seed; 3-1 might still get the job done for BU as it tries to overtake the Black Bears for second place.
Remaining schedule:
at Binghamton
at Vermont
Prediction: 3-1 for an 11-5 AE mark; No. 2 seed.

Hartford (5-6)
The Hawks have a chance to get to the No. 3 seed for the tournament, which they will host at Chase Family Arena in West Hartford. If UMaine stumbles to a 2-2 or 1-3 finish, that brings a possible tie for third with the Hawks into play. And UHart holds the tiebreaker as it swept the season series from UMaine.
Remaining schedule:
at Boston U.
Stony Brook
Prediction: 4-1 for a 9-7 AE mark; No. 3 seed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Slip, slidin' away

Hartford, the lowest scoring team in America East, sent the Black Bears to their third straight loss tonight.

UMaine is now in second place and has dropped two games behind Vermont in the loss column. Boston U. moved into a second-place tie with the Black Bears with a win over Albany last night. Next week's home game against Vermont, which loomed large a few days ago, has now been rendered virtually meaningless.

The Black Bears once stout defense was carved up for the fourth-straight game. Unless there's a dramatic turnaround and sequence of events, UMaine's hopes for a regular season league title have evaporated in the span of little over a week.

For the Black Bears to reach first place again, Vermont needs to lose two games (the best chances would be to the Black Bears and at home against Boston U.) and UMaine would have to win its final four games.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ouch, that hurts

Sunday's loss at home to eighth-place UMBC hurts. Real bad.

Only a week ago, the Black Bears were riding high, a game up on Vermont, in first place with a win over the Catamounts in hand.

After Sunday's meltdown in which UMaine gave up a 17-point lead and surrendered 51 points in the second half, the Black Bears are a game behind Vermont in the loss column. Quite simply, UMaine cannot afford a stumble prior to the Feb. 16 home date with Vermont.

If the Black Bears don't take care of business against Hartford and Stony Brook on the road this week, the Vermont game becames irrelevant. Wow, how fast the outlook can change.

More worrisome than the standings, however, is UMaine's once stout defense. In three straight games, the Black Bears have given up 74, 88 and 84 points. And two of those games were agaist the eighth- and ninth-place teams in America East.

Maine needs to rediscover its defensive mindset. Preferably Thursday at Hartford.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hyland leaves Burlington

The Keegan Hyland train has left Burlington. After spending the fall semester at Gonzaga, the South Portland native sought his release from the Zags.

He apparently considered Maine and Vermont before choosing Phish over baked potatoes. For two weeks he practiced with the Catamounts before deciding the chance to "do something special" in the Green Mountain State wasn't so special after all.

There's speculation that he was recruited as a walk-on by both Maine and Vermont.

Warner to be honored

Former Black Bear great Bob Warner will have his No. 52 retired in pregame ceremonies Sunday when UMaine hosts Maryland-Baltimore County.

Warner is the school's all-time leading rebounder and second on the all-time scoring chart. For his career, Warner averaged 18.3 points and 13.6 rebounds.

He will join Skip Chappelle (34), Keith Mahaney (24) and Rufus Harris (20) as the only UMaine players with their numbers retired.

All four of them played their careers at Memorial Gym, aka, The Pit.

Here's an idea for the university: When the renovation of The Pit is finally begun and completed, the school can invite all four of them to return for an encore ceremony in the proper setting in front of a packed house. That would be fun.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home stretch

America East history is clear on the importance of the regular season standings. The higher you finish, the better the chances of getting through the league tournament.

That makes this year's stretch run like no other in recent Black Bears memory.

Tied for first place with six games left in the regular season, UMaine has a chance to tighten its grip on a top seed (maybe even the No. 1 slot) for the upcoming tournament. And there's no downplaying the significance of achieving that high seed.

Beginning with Sunday's home tilt against Maryland-Baltimore County and the two-game road trip that immediately follows, the Black Bears are in the desired position of playing in big games every time out.

America East injuries

Is there another league in America that has as many top-level players out with injuries? Bumps, bruises and injuries are as much a part of the landscape of athletics as the games themselves, but this year in America East is off the charts.

All-conference M*A*S*H team

A pretty good all-conference team could be put together with the players on the league injured list.

Jake O'Brien, Boston U. -- The 6-8 forward recently was declared out for the season after a foot injury sustained against UMass in late-December. A definite all-conference candidate.
Greer Wright, Binghamton -- A classic big guard at the America East level, Wright was a Player of the Year candidate coming into the season. He's been out for several weeks.
Alvin Abreu, New Hampshire -- Another all-conference certainty at the guard position.
Ferq Myrick, New Hampshire -- One of the top freshman in the league last year. A talented wing player.
Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook -- Brenton is the best rebounder in America East. on last year's Although he's not a big-time scorer, the defending regular-season champ Seawolves aren't the same without him. He's an instigator.
And finally, a guy who is battling through a foot injury and is back on the floor:
Sean McNally of the Black Bears. The senior frontcourter is providing inspiration with his presence and persistence to contribute whatever he can although it's obvious the injury is limiting his stamina and mobility.

So, that's a league champion-type roster right there.

Wright and Abreu in the backcourt.
Brenton, McNally and O'Brien in the frontcourt.
Myrick coming off the bench.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bracket black out

Second-place Vermont will get a televised game at College of Charleston as part of the Bracket Buster games coming up in a couple weeks.

When the announcement was made, even ESPN's Vermont-loving Andy Katz said, "that should be Maine." The first-place Black Bears were passed over in favor of the Catamounts despite having a win over Penn State and a double-digit victory at Vermont to its credit. Not to mention a first-place standing in America East.

Apparently, the Black Bears will be paired with Siena, a former America East foe that now plays in the MAAC.

I suppose it makes sense for ESPN. They won't have to do any homework for Vermont. Just drag out Tom Brennan for a few corny bromides and play the T.J. Sorrentine clip ad nauseum.

What do you expect from the network that gives us round-the-clock Brett Favre and Duke updates. ESPN has a formula and sticks to it. And it trickles all the way down to the little guys.

Big MAAC or Big MAC?

Andy Katz of ESPN is projecting the America East-leading Black Bears will play either Fairfield or Buffalo in the network's annual BracketBuster series of mid-major games.

According to Katz, the game featuring UMaine has a chance at being one of the 11 televised on the ESPN family (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESNPU).

Fairfield is leading the MAAC. The Stags are 16-4 overall, 9-1 in conference play. Buffalo is tied for first place in the East Division of the MAC. The Bulls are 13-6 overall. They are tied with Bowling Green and Kent State at 5-2.

We're pulling for a Buffalo matchup here. Buffalo's starting backcourt features Zach Filzen, son of a former high school (Northfield, Minn.) and college (St. Olaf) classmate of mine. Filzen leads the Bulls in scoring at 15.1 a game.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Halfway to a title

The halfway pole of the America East season has arrived with the Black Bears in front by one game. There's quite a bit of ground to cover on the regular season track, but UMaine has worked its way to the pole position.

The Black Bears have done it with sterling (and stirring) play from forward Troy Barnies and contributions all up and down the roster. The defense displayed last season has once again come to the forefront and has become the program's calling card.

During a pre-game interview Tuesday, New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion said if the Player of the Year vote were held right now, Barnies would have his vote. It would take a bit of research, but it seems like a safe bet it's been a while since a senior who hadn't been selected to any post-season honors previously, went on to win Player of the Year in his final go-round.

If you are wondering, only two Maine players have ever won the league's top individual honor and you have to go back to the first and fourth years of the conference's 31-year existence to find them:

Rufus Harris in 1980 (he shared the award with Holy Cross' Ron Perry); and Jeff Cross in 1983.

The second half of the America East race begins with a pair of treacherous roadies (Binghamton and BU). The Black Bears can solidify their grip on the top spot with a couple wins.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Black Bears 70, Stony Brook 59

UMaine had four players in double figures and won its fifth straight.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tourney watch time

We're nearly the halfway mark of the America East season so it's time to begin the tourney watch. Each time there are AE games played, we'll update the "If the tournament started today" feature.

For the second straight season, Hartford will host a combined men's an women's America East Tournament. The tournament begins with two play-in games on Thursday, March 3. The women's quarterfinals are Friday, March 4 and the men's quarterfinals on Saturday, March 5. Both men's and women's semifinals will be played Sunday, March 6.

If the America East Conference tournament started today:

Play-in Game
8. New Hampshire vs. 9. UMBC

1. BLACK BEARS vs. 8/9 winner
4. Vermont vs. 5. Binghamton

3. Boston University vs. 6. Stony Brook
2. Hartford vs. 7. Albany

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Black Bears 72, Vermont 58

UMaine led wire-to-wire at Vermont, led by 14 points each from Troy Barnies, Raheem Singleton and Gerald McLemore.

The Black Bears solidified their hold on first place in America East and sent the Catamounts to their first home loss of the season. Vermont was 8-0 at home prior to Tuesday night. Vermont was held to 38 percent shooting from the floor.

Stony Brook visits Orono Saturday.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Black Bears 77, Binghamton 51

UMaine took over sole possession of first place Saturday with a thorough beat-down of Binghamton at Alfond Arena. After trailing early in the game, the Black Bears surged to a 15-point halftime advantage and continued the trouncing in the second half.

Troy Barnies had another in a string of sterling performances to lead UMaine. Gerald McLemore seems to be finding his stroke and Mike Allison and Alasdair Fraser came off the bench to provide some inside punch.

The Black Bears travel to Vermont Tuesday for a second straight first-place showdown with the Catamounts. Vermont drilled UMBC Saturday to move to 3-1 in America East. UMaine is 4-1.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Black Bears 66, Albany 64

Raheem Singleton hit two free throws with 4 seconds left in the game as UMaine won at Albany. The victory sets up an early-season first-place showdown with Binghamton Saturday at Alfond Arena.

UMaine is 3-1 in America East. Binghamton is off to a 3-0 start, including a nine-point win over UMBC Wednesday.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Black Bears 82, UMBC 67

Troy Barnies led UMaine to the win in Baltimore with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Four Black Bears were in double figures. Barnies was joined by Gerald McLemore (16), Terrance Mitchell (15) and Raheem Singleton (14).

Murphy Burnatowski only played one minute, leaving with an injury.

The Black Bears play at Albany Wednesday and then host Binghamton Jan. 15.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hartford 61, Black Bears 59

Solid wins followed by lackluster losses. That is quickly becoming the M.O. of the 2010-11 Black Bears.

Three days after opening the America East season with a wire-to-wire performance and victory over pre-season favorite Boston U., the Black Bears dropped the ball and lost to a Hartford team that was 3-10 when its bus pulled up to the Alfond Arena doors.

A few hours later, and the Hawks had the upset thanks to 48 percent shooting from the 3-point arc.

UMaine is now 3-4 at home on the season, 7-7 overall. The good news is the Black Bears head out on the road for a game Saturday in Baltimore against UMBC.

The Retrievers won their first game of the season (after an 0-12 start) last week.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Black Bears 65, Boston U. 52

The Black Bears opened the America East season with a win over pre-season favorite Boston University at Alfond Arena.

UMaine held the Terriers to 32 percent shooting. Murphy Burnatowski helped limit John Holland, the league's top scorer, to only eight points. Holland was in early foul trouble and was held 10 points under his average.

Boston U. was playing without Jake O'Brien, who was injured in the Terriers previous game against UMass.

Gerald McLemore paced the Black Bears with 16 points. Terrance Mitchell had 15 and Troy Barnies 14.

UMaine hosts Hartford Thursday before heading down to Baltimore for a date with UMBC.