Maybe one hour and a half before tip isn't the best time for a pregame-preview, but I just got the inside scoop on Maine from Black Bears-fanatic Chris Thurston (UMaine, class of '11). So here is what to expect in the UVM-Maine game that tips off at 7:30 ET in Burlington:
-Troy Barnies leads Maine in scoring and rebounds, so he is the man to watch out for in this one. A 6'7'' small forward, Barnies has emerged as Maine's go-to guy almost out of nowhere. After scoring in double digits only three times in the Black Bears first nine games, Barnies has scored in double figures in his last eight games. He has a pair of 25 point games that helped bring his scoring average up to 13.7 points per game. What's particularly surprising about Barnies' emergence as a star who could compete for America East player of the year honors, is that the Senior didn't even start all of Maine's games last season. Controlling his output on the boards will be key for the UVM forwards. I expect to see a combination of Matt Glass, Briant Voekel, and possibly Luke Apfeld off the bench splitting time guarding Barnies.
-Gerald McLemore is the Black Bears outside shooting threat. After averaging 14.6 ppg last season on 40% shooting from three point range, McLemore has been keyed on by opposing defenses. His ppg output has dropped to 11.8 and he's shooting just under 35 percent from three, respectively. However, McLemore is clearly capable of getting hot from range, and it's important that UVM's guards step out and prevent him from getting open looks. On a side note, McLemore is 12 points shy of 1,000 points in his collegiate career. A good goal for UVM could be making sure that doesn't happen in Patrick Gymnasium.
-Maine is extremely undersized, with nobody over 6'7'' seeing a substantial amount of playing time. The combination of the aptly named Matt Glass, as well as Voelkel, and Evan Fjeld should have no trouble dominating the boards. Hopefully this will create a lot of second chance points, and limit the Black Bears to one shot a possession. Home game+Rebounding advantage=W. A proven formula that will hopefully bring UVM back to the top of the America East Standings.
You're in Catamount Country Tonight!