The Men’s basketball team’s annual Blue/White gave those in attendance a chance to see one of the most anticipated teams in years.
Ever since the heart breaking loss to New Hampshire in the first round of the America East playoffs in Hartford last March, Maine has been edging towards the 2010-11 season with great optimism. The Black Bears return four of their five starters, as only Junior Bernal was lost to graduation. Maine last season finished with a record of 19-11, and earned their third highest win total in the team’s history. Finishing the season tied for third with Boston University gave Maine a taste of winter sport success usually reserved for hockey, but this is year the Black Bears need to make the big step forward.
The scrimmage allowed the first public look of this year’s edition of the team, and also gave a sneak peak into the two lone newcomers to the squad. The first is Raheem Singleton, a 6-0, 185 pound point guard transfer from Monroe Community College. Singleton is a very quick player with solid ball handling skills that is looking to fill the vacated spot in Black Bear’s starting line-up. He also has a good three point shot and should be competing with Junior Andrew Rodgers for time at point.
Also joining the squad is Alasdair Fraser, a 6-7 forward that hails from Falkirk, Scotland. Fraser is a solid force inside that will give Maine some much needed depth underneath the basket. He played for Scotland in the European U-18 Champions where he lead the tournament with a 20.6 point per game average.
Along with the newcomers, fans were able to catch a glimpse of Maine bred Seniors Troy Barnies (Auburn, ME) and Sean McNally (Gardiner, ME). McNally, a third team all conference member will be the player at the center position for the Black Bears and is a force inside averaging 7.4 rebounds per game. Barnies also provides some size underneath, but also possesses some range from beyond the arch. Both will be influential leaders on this team.
The marquee player for Maine though is the San Diego, California native Gerald McLemore. Named to the America East First Team All Conference last year, McLemore averaged 14.6 points and started all 30 games for Maine last season. He was also deadly from three land, as he finished second in the country with 102 three pointers made.
Also expected to make big impacts for Maine are Murphy Burnatowski (Waterloo, ON) and Terrance Mitchell (Milton, FL). Burnatowski possesses the size to play the forward position, but has the three point prowess to make a perfect guard option. He was named to the conference All Rookie Team, and along with Fraser and fellow Canadian Mike Allison, he has international basketball experience playing for his countriy. Mitchell is another tremendous option to drain some threes for Maine this season and can also handle the ball if needed. The Senior transfer from Faulkner State Community College will also be big for Maine late in games as he’s a 77% shooter from the charity stripe.
Rounding out the rest of the squad are Allison and Svetoslav Chetinov (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) who should be able to spell McNally and Barnies as big men off the bench. Allison also tipped in the game winner in the upset of Boston University in the waning seconds. Maine also has senior guard Malachi Peay (Queens, NY), UMass transfer Travon Wilcher , and Bangor native Jon McAllian to provide much needed depth to the line-up.
Expectations are sky high, as they should be, for Maine this season as they look for their first appearance in the NCAA tournament. Sporting News recently picked Maine to win in their preseason rankings. The Black Bears aren’t letting the press get to them though, they’re just ready to get to the hardwood.
Maine will have an exhibition in Orono this Saturday against Cape Breton before opening their regular season at Utah Valley. The Black Bears will play some tough out of conference games against Maryland, Penn State, and Notre Dame. Conference play begins January 2nd against coaches’ poll favorite Boston University.
Blue/White Scrimmage Statistics-
Points- Singleton (14), Mitchell (14), Barnies (9), Fraser (8), McNally (6), Allison (6), Peay (3), McLemore (2), Rodgers (2), Chetinov, McAllian, Wilcher.
Bryan Stackpole is the play by play voice for UMaine basketball on WMEB 91.9 FM, Orono, Maine. WMEB can be heard on 91.9 FM and streaming on www.wmeb.fm. 91.9 FM is the only commercial free broadcast of UMaine sports. The first Men’s game on WMEB can be heard Nov. 19th at 7:00 p.m. against UMaine Machias.