Men’s basketball team:
Last season the USM men’s basketball team won five of their first six games, which was one more win than they had in the entire 2009-2010 season. The Huskies have already repeated their early-season success in 2011-2012 by starting 3-0, and they have a bevy of returners that seem eager to erase the program’s defeats of the past and focus on the opportunity of the present and future.
Captains Mike Poulin (Readfield), Jeremy Jackson (Laplace, LA), Chris Pagentine (Lexington, NC), and Ethan Cushman (Bangor) all have scoring ability from different spots on the floor, but most importantly, provide the Huskies with a base of experience and leadership.
Some other returners who are shaping up to be key components on USM’s roster are Conor Sullivan, a long and athletic 6-3 sophomore from Scarborough who can score from beyond arc or drive to the hoop, and junior Alex Kee of Bath, who provides the Huskies with excellent deep-range shooting along with two-guard handles and the ability to play point guard if needed. Newcomer and sophomore guard Brandon Tomah from Calais was one of Maine High School Class C’s top players in ’07 and ’08 and is a great pickup by Head Coach Karl Henrickson.
Also joining the program are junior Brian Alexander, a speedy guard out of Bradenton, FL, and sophomore Nate Thistle from Skowhegan. A pair of 6-7 sophomores, John Roberts of Portland and Tyler Penney of Barnstead, N.H., and 6-6 freshman Tanner Storey from Cumberland, give USM significant size they haven’t had in the last few seasons.
After winning their annual season opener with UNE 66-51 on Nov. 15, the Huskies beat Husson 80-72 on Nov. 18, routed UMaine-Presque Isle 93-64 on Sunday and edged out Bates College 62-59 on Nov. 22 to start 4-0.
The real test, like it has been in the past, is when USM dives head first into their LEC schedule. Then we will really find out what type of team they are.
Women’s basketball team:
After the first time in 30 seasons the USM women’s basketball program didn’t win 20 games or more (they won 18), the Huskies approach this season with a gang of returners who have the ability to make big things happen on the court.
USM lost their season opener by two points to UNE but came back with two wins at the UMaine-Farmington Dunkin’ Donuts Tipoff Tournament against UMaine-Fort Kent and UMaine-Presque Isle over the weekend of Nov. 19-20. And if one thing is for sure, USM’s offense is in full-force. The Huskies topped Bates College 76-63 on Nov. 22 to bring their record to 3-1.
Senior co-captain Courtney Cochran (Waite) has two double-double performances in three games — 24 points, 13 rebounds vs. UNE and 21 points, 10 rebounds vs. UMPI. Fellow senior and co-captain Nicole Garland (Portland) has been shooting on point, especially beyond the arc, as she drained four 3-pointers and scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field in the win over UMPI.
Also returning is aggressive senior guard Renee Nicholas (Sebago), sophomore point guard Erin McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.), senior guard Kim Rivet (Bridgton), junior guard/forward Haley Jordan (Falmouth) and junior guard Brooke Stevens.
USM has also added seven highly regarded freshmen to their roster, that, along with the team’s veterans, give Head Coach Gary Fifield — who is in his 24th year — a solid base to build upon.