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Meet Maine, which is trying at basketball

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NCAA Basketball: Maine at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The main thing with Maine is that Black Bears don’t have manes. Sorry I just had to get that off my chest. Some things are too much to bear and so must be bared. What was I talking about? Oh, I hadn’t started yet. Well anyway, so there’s the Maine Black Bears, and they play basketball.

Not well, mind you, but being bad at something has never stopped anybody in this country from doing that thing as much as they want.

Black Bears Offense

Maine OFF_EFF (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Maine OFF_EFF (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2018 90.9 (342) 46.0 (333) 21.9 (338) 25.5 (275) 29.2 (291)
2019 90.2 (348) 42.5 (306) 21.1 (246) 22.6 (295) 18.0 (332)

Maine fired head coach Bob Walsh this past offseason after four years of deep sadness—the Bears never won more than eight games in a single season under Walsh, and I should again reiterate that we are talking about basketball.

The Black Bears have since 2014 defined the dreck of D-I, never finishing higher than 332nd in the Pomeroy Ratings. This program has not managed double-digit wins since 2013. They are so bad that all the black bears in Maine have left the state for Newfoundland, where they are attempting to re-brand the species. Somewhere there is a black bear gnawing on a rancid carton of milk it found in a dumpster being like, “man these guys are killing our rep.”

New head coach Richard Barron is getting paid to watch these guys disgrace the sport, which is more than the rest of us can say, so he has us there.

Starters

Sergio El Darwich (6-4, 205) — El Darwich is a transfer from South Dakota State, where he played sparingly as a freshman. His assist and steal rates on this early season are good, and he’s also hit 75% of his twos. He’s trying to expand his shooting range—he’s taken seven threes this season after taking only one in his year at SDSU—but who knows what to make of that.

Isaiah White (6-5, 195) — White leads Maine in scoring mostly through sheer determination, as he’s accounting for a third of the team’s shots while he is on the floor but has managed only a 46.1 effective field goal percentage. He’s shooting 37.5% from three but getting buckets inside the arc has been a problem. He’ll be the go-to guy, though, make no mistake.

Vilgot Larsson (6-8, 215) — The Swedish Swede is rebounding well at the defensive end.

Andrew Fleming (6-7, 222) — If someone could convince Fleming to stop shooting threes, he might be on to something. This season Fleming has parked his major-contributor tendencies and has hit 55.6% of his twos, which is easily a career best. He’s only 13-57 from three in his career. Dude is turnover prone but has a pretty good skillset—rebounds well defensively, passes well, and he’ll block some shots here and there.

Vincent Eze (6-8, 218) — Extremely limited scorer, which is reinforced by his 1-10 effort from two so far this season. Excellent rebounder at both ends, though, and he’s the most disruptive post defender they have.

Black Bears Defense

Maine DEF_EFF (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Maine DEF_EFF (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2018 108.4 (239) 51.4 (201) 18.2 (189) 30.8 (269) 36.7 (249)
2019 106.8 (289) 58.6 (315) 18.5 (185) 34.1 (266) 32.5 (142)

[immense amounts of old-man grumbling]

/looks at Maine’s defensive numbers

[astoundingly more-immense old man grumbling]

Maine has decent length in its first five, which bothers opponents to some degree, but the Bears don’t back any of it up with rebounding, and they are damn dreadful in zone defense, which you can expect often on Saturday. I mean both the zone defense and the dreadfulness.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 29.