Monday, February 27, 2012

Know Thy Foe: No. 7 Maine Black Bears

By Shep Hayes/DFP Staff

Welcome to 
Know Thy Foe, a new feature appearing twice daily this week in advance of the America East men’s basketball tournament. Know The Foe will help you, an undereducated fan of America East basketball, become an expert on every team in the conference. It's also possible you'll know less than when you began reading this. A 50-50 proposition, to be honest. 

What is the official name of this school? The University of Maine. There is no Orono tagged onto the end, officially, but everyone in Maine adds one anyway because it is entirely possible to confuse UMO (see it in the acronym?) with the other fine campuses of the Maine university system: Farmington, Augusta, Machias, Presque Isle, and Fort Kent. Also, make sure you don't confuse it with the University of Southern Maine, located in Portland and Gorham.

Also, congratulations! You now know the names of more Maine cities than you ever wanted to!

Yeah, but there’s this other city in Maine that I’ve heard of, and I think it’s near where this school is located and it has a really funny name . . . Oh, you’re referring to Bangor, the second largest city in Maine, and which Orono is essentially adjacent to. You probably call it Banger, because, well, tee-hee. It is pronounced Bang-OR, however, like the city is offering you a choice: You could be mature and call it by its real name OR you could act like a fifth grader. It should be noted I choose to act like a fifth grader every time. 

While we’re on the location of Orono, it should be noted that everything north of there is trees. Try driving to the end of Interstate-95 in Houlton and you’ll see nothing but trees for two hours. The exact opposite of Boston.

How old is this place? UMaine was founded as a land grant school in 1862. Going back to the trees thing, that’s why it’s at the end of the world. There were only 12 students and two members of the faculty when it first opened, so we invite you to imagine what it must have been like to have classes that small. 

What interesting things were you able to find on their admissions website? Well, there’s the FAQ page that begins, as you do, with a joke about the weather. There’s also the page with every type of campus map you could possibly want. And then there’s this lovely television advertisement, which seems to run before every YouTube video you will ever watch while residing in the State of Maine [UPDATE: I just saw it before a promo for an SB Nation video in Boston. I hate this ad]. You should Come Up To Maine!

How big is the campus? In the ten minutes I spent poking around the university’s website I could not find the official size of the campus. A half-second look at Wikipedia gave me the size almost immediately: approximately 660-acres. Another Fun Fact from Wikipedia about UMaine: It’s the only land-grant university on an island. You should really work on promoting that, Maine, perhaps even above your jokes about the weather. 

How many people go there? While the size of the campus is not listed on its website, the University does have a department with a staff of four people dedicated to quantifying every little numerical detail about UMaine: the Office of Institutional Studies. According to their Fall 2011 Snapshot, 11,168 people attend the University of Maine, three-quarters of whom are full-time students. 

Who or what is their mascot? Bananas the Bear. He has his own Facebook profile, headlined by a picture of him with Wally the Green Monster. Cute.

Who is their coach? Ted Woodward, who has led the Black Bears since 2004. Tim Whitehead is the men’s hockey coach, so Maine clearly has a fixation with TW initials for their coaches.

Where to they play?  Alfond Arena, which was built for hockey. The basketball team originally played in Memorial Gymnasium, but reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me have forced them to play in Alfond for years. Surprisingly, no one seems to have many complaints about the fact that both teams must walk through the public seating bowl to get down to the court at Alfond. 

How did they do this year? 12-16, 6-10 in the America East

What is their rank in the tournament and who will they play? No. 7. Maine will play No. Vermont on Saturday in the quarterfinals. 

Who would be their basic statistic leaders? Senior guard Gerald McLemore (17.0 points per game), sophomore forward Alasdair Fraser (7.8 rebounds per game), senior guard Raheem Singleton (3.4 assists per game), junior guard Mike Allison (2.1 blocks per game)

What are some of the notable wins this team has? vs. Holy Cross, 72-60; at Rhode Island, 76-74; vs. New Hampshire, 71-58

What are some notable loses this team has? At Notre Dame, 87-78; 

How did they do against BU? 0-2. The Terriers handed the Black Bears their first home loss of the year, 77-68, on a large BU second-half comeback in mid-January. BU then cruised to an easy home victory against Maine, 67-54 a month later. 

Who was their token non-Division-I opponent? Will the University of Maine at Machias please stand up? To open the season, the Black Bears went all #BEATEMDOWN on the Clippers, winning 113-49. Way to go UMaine, beating a school with eight sports total. I congratulate you on your win. 

Do you have some statistic from KenPom presented without any context whatsoever? 18.1-percent defensive turnover percentage in conference play

What about a random factoid from the media guide? The section about Maine’s academics is entitled “Wicked Smart.” Maine: breaking linguistic stereotypes every day.

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