By Ian McCalister – Staff Writer
With only a week left in the regular season, the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Men’s basketball team must win in order to secure the top seed in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) where they were tied with Castleton for first after playing New England College (NEC) and Colby-Sawyer College.
The remaining four games are all to be faced against conference teams, beginning with a weekend trip in Vermont against Lyndon and Johnson state.
The team has continued their success with back to back wins last weekend against Colby-Sawyer and New England College (NEC). Farmington received good news by welcoming back their starting center, sophomore Ben Johnson, who had been out with an ankle injury.
“It was huge to have the big man back. Right off the bat he gave us four dunks in the Colby-Sawyer matchup and then another dunk in the New England College game,” said sophomore point guard, Yusuf Iman. “It sent an exclamation point through the crowd.”
Colby-Sawyer is currently ranked 3rd in the standings while New England College is close to last place. The UMF team beat both teams with identical scores of 73-65, but it was the New England College game that they had full control of.
“As a team, we have full respect for NEC. They give us their all no matter what. You also have to put into account they have been struggling with several injuries over the course of the season,” said Iman
“Winning both games over the weekend really boosted our chances of taking the number one seed. Colby has always been good to face so we really had to compete against them,” said Iman.
With an important two game road trip this past weekend, the team must maintain their composure in order to succeed.
“We need everyone to stay healthy and do their job. We can’t overtire our key starters with playoffs right around the corner,” said sophomore Pet Sumner.
An elite team usually has veterans that can take charge and keep everyone relaxed, but this hasn’t affected the young team.
Danny Kane, a senior who is the starting point guard, has been a part of two NAC championship teams. He played for Husson his freshman year and his sophomore year he spent with UMF.
“Danny Kane is by far the leader on our team. He’s the guy that gets everyone going and always has the right attitude,” said Iman.
“To have a captain that’s been a part of that much success is a very valuable factor in our team,” said Sumner.
The coach, Dick Meader, has also been a valuable factor for the young team. “It’s funny, coach always has the right things to say to us win or lose. He keeps it simple by repeating phrases over and over like stay solid or no slippage,” added Sumner.
Meader recently coached the team of a NAC championship two years ago. According to the team he hopes to continue his success by making another run at it.
“I want the fans and whoever else is watching us to know that we’re not just a fluke. We’re the real deal,” said Iman.
Both Castleton and Farmington have four games left. It’s a duel to the finish to see who can come up on top in the North Atlantic Conference.