By Ian McAlister, Sports Editor
UMF player, Andrew Dickey, taking a shot
(Courtesy of http://athletics.umf.maine.edu).
The UMF men’s basketball team is looking to have a successful season this winter. The team finished last year just a bit short in the playoffs losing to Colby-Sawyer in the semifinals 72-62.
“Last year we surprised a lot of people. We were picked tied for fourth in the pre-season poll last season and we were in first place the whole year until the very last day of the regular season,” said assistant coach and former player Danny Kane in a recent email interview.
Farmington has been known to play the role of the underdog in the North Atlantic Conference polls (NAC).
“It was disappointing to lose in the semifinals in overtime to a team we had already beaten twice, but last year a lot of players really stepped up and had some great years,” said Kane.
The UMF men’s basketball team from last year
(Courtesy of http://athletics.umf.maine.edu)
With key players out for the year due to either injuries or academics, it’ll take some hard work to compete this year against top contenders. Pet Sumner recently found out he’ll red shirt this year due to a fractured finger that occurred during practice.
“We lost a lot of senior leadership last year but we have players who were underclassmen that are now upperclassmen and are looking to step up with the leadership roles,” said Kane. The dynamic duo of Ben Johnson and Nate Carson will have to be used even more this year.
“We are significantly smaller this year which is going to make it important to keep Ben Johnson and Nate Carson out of foul trouble.”
With having a great team last year and almost winning it all, what is so different in this upcoming season?
“This years team is closer as a whole on and off the court. We have a good freshman class and have a lot of talent but still need to find a way to utilize the talent in the right way to get wins,” said junior guard Andrew Dickey in an email interview.
With numerous amount of players being inactive this year, other players might have to play more minutes.
“Definitely smaller in numbers and size. We have 14 players this year and are very deep with guards and forwards, but only go a few deep with bigs. They’ll definitely have to stay out of foul trouble to help us this year,” said junior guard Sam Leal in a recent email interview.
The men’s basketball team has had good success over the last few years; however, there are other teams that give UMF everything they’ve got. The NAC is a competitive division where most teams don’t know their final place until the very last regular season game.
“It’s hard to tell right now who in the conference has gotten better or worse before games have started. I would say overall teams in our conference have gotten better. Talking to coaches and players around the league it looks like Husson is as good if not better than last year’s team that was very strong down the stretch,” said Kane.
With a new season upon us with new players added and some gone, expectations could be a little bit different. “The goal for this year’s team is the same goal that we have every year, to win a NAC championship. In the last three years the team that has hosted the NAC Tournament has won the championship. That makes it important for us to get out to a fast start to put us in position at the end of the season to host the tournament like we did
three years ago,” said Kane.
Every team wants to win it all, but only the most dedicated and talented team can overcome the odds and bring home the title.
“We have to keep our focus for each game and practice night in and night out to be at our best for the end of the season,” said Leal.
The men are a group of kids that love to play the game. They not only want to win it for themselves but the people who have had their back since day one.
“Our main focus is to win the conference championship and not only to satisfy ourselves but to satisfy our fellow beavers and the people who support us throughout the season,” said Dickey. The Beavers tip off the season home against the University of Maine at Machias at 7:30 p.m. in the Dearborn Gymnasium Nov. 16.