Cummings to lead Owls into season

14 years ago

Former high school standouts Duff, Bragan join UMPI team
    PRESQUE ISLE – The men’s basketball team at the University of Maine at Presque Isle is looking forward to taking another step towards its ultimate goal of a Sunrise Conference championship.
    After narrowly missing the conference’s playoff “final four” a season ago, the Owls want to make sure they experience that this time around.
    “We have a good core group back from last year and with a talented group of transfers and freshmen we should be right in the thick of things come February,” said third-year coach Terry Cummings.
    Leading the way this year will be the Owls’ tri-captains – 6-foot-5 senior Chris Coffin from Presque Isle, 5-8 junior Devon Peaslee of Woolwich and 6-8 sophomore Patrick Manifold of Great Yarmouth, United Kingdom. 
    Four other veterans also return for UMPI, looking to make major contributions.
SP-UMPImensteam-dc-arshpt-48UMPI OWLS – Members of the University of Maine at Presque Isle men’s basketball team are, in front from left, Gerado Vasquez, Jordan Bragan, Brad Trask, Aaron Hutchins, Devon Peaslee, Brennan Morton and Chad Duff. Back row, assistant coach Alan Gordon, Miguel Vazquez, Jeremy Brock, Michael Warner, Chris Coffin, Patrick Manifold, Cliff McDonald, Ross Sanders, Jeff Morton, Malcolm Turner and head coach Terry Cummings. Absent when photo was taken was Kyle Corrigan.
    Kyle Corrigan, a junior from Caribou, has just returned to the squad after missing the first few weeks of workouts; Brad Trask, a sophomore from Easton, will be counted on to fill a bigger role this year;  Jeremy Brock, a junior from Easton and a high school teammate of Trask’s, is coming off an early pre-season ankle injury, but should recover soon and be able to contribute immediately; Jeff Morton, a sophomore from Pittsfield, should also contribute this year. Sidelined most of the second semester last year with a shoulder injury, Morton has entered this season with his “never say die” attitude, according to the coach.
    Highlighting the list of newcomers is 6-6 senior Clifford McDonald of Sarasota, Fla. McDonald is a transfer from conference rival UM-Machias and was a first-team all-conference selection last year; Miguel Vazquez, a senior from Sarasota, Fla. also comes by way of UM-Machias; Gerardo Vasquez, no relation to Miguel, played for UM-Machias during the 2008-09 season but stayed home in Houston, Texas last year and attended a local community college; Aaron Hutchins, a 5-7 sophomore from East Millinocket, is another guard that can “light up the scoreboard in a hurry,” according to Cummings; Michael Warner, a 6-3 freshman from Norwich, United Kingdom, turned some heads during the pre-season with his outside shooting ability and strong rebounding; Malcolm Turner, a 6-2 freshman from New York City, played for the Lee Academy prep team last year and should help with his ability to play multiple positions.
    Another newcomer is 5-4 junior Brennen Morton from Chepachet, R.I., who played at Central Maine Community College last season.        Rounding out the squad is a trio of talented freshmen. Ross Saunders, a 6-4 forward, played for Ellsworth High School and according to Cummings is “gaining confidence everyday and should become an impact player for the Owls as he continues to develop his game.”
    Chad Duff, a 5-10 guard from East Hodgdon who starred at Greater Houlton Christian Academy, is another welcome addition to the Owls. 
    “He plays the game the right way, working hard and having fun,” Cummings said. “He should become a good player for the Owls once he adjusts to the college game.”
    Jordan Bragan, a 5-10 guard from Houlton, joined the team late “but is showing signs of what he can do on the floor,” said the coach. “He works hard and plays with confidence. I expect great things from him.”
    Cummings feels the team has the schedule to help prepare the Owls for a run at the post-season.
    “Our tough non-conference first semester schedule against the likes of last year’s North Atlantic Conference champion UM-Farmington and runners-up Thomas College should really prepare us for the second semester conference games,” he said. “We will be a work in progress – getting the new guys adjusted to the new system and coach, and getting them to jell as a team, but we should be in every game and give ourselves a chance to win.”
    He said this year’s unit has the personnel to challenge the best teams in the Sunrise Conference.
    “We are looking for a breakout season as we believe we have all the pieces to the puzzle,” Cummings said. “We know a lot of things still have to go right and we are ready for the challenge.”
    The Owls travel to Waterville today to take on Thomas College at 5 p.m. After a 10-day layoff, UMPI goes back to work with its first home game of the season against Maine Maritime Academy Dec. 11 at 3 p.m.