UMPI men’s hoop team set to open conference play
After winning their first two games, the University of Maine at Presque Isle Owls men’s basketball team soon found out they still have several areas to improve upon heading into the conference portion of their schedule.
Following victories over Norwich University and UM-Augusta, the Owls were humbled during a 41-point loss to Colby College before falling to both the University of Southern Maine and Eastern Nazarene College of Quincy, Massachusetts.
UMPI brings a 2-3 record into its first home contests of the season against North Atlantic Conference foe UM-Farmington, with those games set for Friday and Saturday at Wieden Gymnasium.
“At times, we have shown we can really score the basketball,” said second-year coach Dan Kane, “but we are turning the ball over way too much and giving up too many offensive rebounds. I think we are really talented, but right now we are not committed to taking care of the basketball.”
The Owls have committed 24.2 turnovers per game over their first five contests and opponents are averaging nearly three more shots per game than UMPI.
UMPI has 10 new players joining the four returnees, and Kane acknowledges it will take time for everyone to get on the same page. The Owls are coming off a season in which they went 13-14 overall and reached the American Collegiate Athletic Association championship game but fell to Pine Manor College of Newton, Massachusetts, 62-53.
UMPI lost four important pieces in Kevin Collins, Maurice Harris, Anthony Chacho and Kim Collins, although Kevin Collins and Chacho are back on Kane’s coaching staff serving as assistants.
Kane, who had previously been an assistant coach at UM-Farmington and Connecticut College before taking over the Owls’ program last season, said this year’s team is “probably the quickest team I’ve ever coached” and he is hopeful things will come together in order to make a championship run.
“Our goal is always to win a championship and I think our conference is as wide open as it has ever been,” Kane said. “I think this team has a big ceiling and we will keep making improvements.”
Kane said UMPI must improve its transition defense, defensive rebounding and ball security in order to make a run at a title. Prior to the beginning of the season, the Owls were picked in a coaches poll to finish fifth in the eight-team league, but Kane said his squad is capable of doing much better than than.
Sophomore DeAndre Duncombe of Port St. Lucie, Florida. was Rookie of the Year in the ACAA a year ago and made the Maine Men’s Basketball Coaches and Writers Association All-Rookie Team. The 6-foot guard has come out strong this season, having already captured two North Atlantic Conference Player of the Week awards, and is known as a good scorer and defender.
He also is one of the team’s captains, joining Will Griffiths, a 6-4 junior forward from Queens, New York, and Shyquinn Dix, a 5-11 sophomore guard from Stamford, Connecticut. Griffiths is long and athletic and is a great shot blocker who Kane says is really coming into his own this season. Dix, who is new to the team, brings maturity and is a player others gravitate toward. He has been hampered by a hamstring injury suffered against UMA, but when healthy is the team’s best on-the-ball defender, according to Kane.
Griffin Guerrette is one of just two players from Maine on the roster. Following a brilliant senior season at Presque Isle High School, the 6-0 freshman has done well adjusting to the college game. He has put together some good offensive games and has improved steadily on the defensive end.
Quinn Mitchell is a Meriden, Connecticut, native who transferred from UMA. He owns a good shooting stroke from the perimeter. The 6-1 lefty hit nine 3-pointers in a game against UMPI last season.
Te’Von Hines, a 6-1 junior from Woodbridge, Virginia, is another transfer from a junior college league in Maryland. He is a scorer who is adept at slashing toward the basket but is also capable of hitting from 3-point range if left open.
Eric Anthony, a 5-9 junior, is the backup point guard, while Jahvion Lockridge of Michigan and KJ Minter of Maryland are frontcourt reserves.
The remainder of the roster consists of freshmen Dominic and Frederick Crumbly, both of Fort Myers, Florida; freshman guard Parker Oronato of Bath; sophomore forward Taqwaun Smith of Fort Myers, Florida; and sophomore guard Travis Simpson of Maple Shade, New Jersey.