Maine Men's Basketball Picked Eighth In America East Preseason Poll
ORONO, Maine – The University of Maine men's basketball team has been selected to finish eighth in the 2013-14 America East preseason coaches poll, as announced by the conference Wednesday afternoon. The Black Bears received 20 total votes in the poll.
The University of Vermont was picked first in the poll with Stony Brook and Albany taking second and third respectively. Vermont received six, first-place votes and 64 total while Stony Brook was the only other school to garner first-place ballots, with three. Defending champion, Albany, was picked third with 58 votes, while Hartford (44), New Hampshire (31), UMBC (28) and Binghamton (24) were picked ahead of the Black Bears.
"I think this will be a very competitive year in the America East Conference," Maine men's basketball head coach Ted Woodward said. "Certainly, the teams at the top of the pre-season poll are very experienced teams and the favorites. However, there are a lot of good teams that will vie for the title as the year progresses and as many new players become acclimated."
The Black Bears are coming off a season in which the team finished the year 11-19 and earned the fifth-seed in the America East tournament. Once in, the Black Bears nearly toppled the Great Danes, falling by a one-point margin, 50-49. The Black Bears also boasted the leading scorer in the conference along with three conference-team selections.
Maine has also been one of the most competitive teams in the conference for the last four years. When breaking down the numbers Maine is one of only three teams currently in the America East conference to have .500-or-better winning percentage in conference games. The Black Bears have gone 32-32 in that span. The only teams to best Maine in that category are Stony Brook and Vermont who are both 49-15. Recently departed Boston University was also in that conversation with a 46-18 mark.
While the team coming into the 2013-14 season is a young one, the squad returns promising starters from last year Xavier Pollard, the team's third leading scorer from last season, and Zarko Valjaravic. The Black Bears also welcome Maine sensations Garet Beal and Mitchell Worcester along with players that have international experience like Marko Pirovic and Troy Reid-Knight, to name a few.
"We have a lot of guys who will have great opportunities to step up and fill some key roles for us this year," said Woodward. "We've had some great practices, and still have some work to do. However, guys have been working very hard as we prepare for our upcoming exhibition contests.
Maine is a mere two weeks away from kicking off their season with an exhibition game against McGill. That game is slated for Oct. 26 at 2 p.m., in Memorial Gym. The Black Bears first game at the new Cross Insurance Center in downtown, Bangor, Maine, will be on Nov. 19 against NJIT. That game will start at 7 p.m. Check GoBlackBears.com for a full schedule including which games will be played at the new home of Maine Basketball.