Basketball team

Questions still swirl around the performance of the UMaine women’s basketball team as they open the league play.

University of Maine women’s basketball head coach Amy Vachon started this season with many question marks regarding the most inexperienced team she has had in her five years at the helm. .

As its Black Bears prepare to open their America East schedule in Vermont on Thursday at 6 p.m., a few of those questions have been answered, but many are still on the table.

UMaine hasn’t played since overcoming a 19-point deficit to beat Dartmouth 65-53 on December 19. A non-conference game has been called off due to COVID-19 concerns in Northeastern.

The Black Bears have had several practices this week ahead of the Catamounts and Sunday’s 1 p.m. home game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor against the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Under Vachon, UMaine won three regular season league championships and two tournament titles in his first four seasons.

The Black Bears went 3-7 overall against a tough group of non-conference opponents.

What did Vachon learn from these first 10 games?

“I think our team works hard and is competitive. We’re learning every day, trying to figure out our roles, which obviously with such a young team is going to take time, ”she said.

“When we perform well, we can really do damage. It’s about regaining the confidence that we had in some games but that we did not always have. This is going to be important before the conference game.

Her two returning players from all conferences, graduate student forward Maeve Carroll (10.9 points per game, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists) and junior guard Anne Simon (16.4 points per game, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 steals 2.1 assists) led the way as expected and sophomore Alba Orois (9.4 points per game, 4.8 games per game, 3.1 games per match) proved to be a more than competent point guard replacing the late Dor Saar.

Orois only played 16 minutes per game last season, but is currently 11th nationally among 348 teams in minutes played per game, averaging 37.5.

“Anne, Alba and Maeve were really secure. We know what I’m going to get from them. Other than that we have had some really positive points from other players, but some other players have yet to show us what they can do. It’s a work in progress, ”she said.

First-year goaltender and 3-point specialist Bailey Wilborn is the only other player to average more than three points per game at 5-8 thanks to a record 18 threes. It was a pleasant surprise. She’s missed her last six three-pointers, so Vachon will be looking for her to come out of her slump.

Second-year forward Caroline Bornemann had an indescribable season until she had a career-high 15-point breakout game in the 65-53 win over Dartmouth.

Vachon feels that the other players have all seen potential and she is now looking for more consistency.

“The non-conference schedule has highlighted things we need to work on,” Vachon said.

“You can improve anywhere,” noted Vachon, whose team is last in the conference in points per game (54.3), 3-point baseline percentage (23.8) and free throw percentage (56 , 3) and penultimate in points awarded (68.2).

In assessing the league, Vachon said defending tournament champion and preseason favorite Stony Brook (9-1) has separated from the field.

“But anyone can beat Stony Brook on any given night and Stony Brook can beat anyone on any given night,” Vachon said.

Vachon was evasive when asked if all of his players were all healthy and available to play on Thursday.

She said Vermont are an experienced and balanced team and will offer a tall order.

UVM, who are 6-5 and winners of four of their last five games, have lost the last eight meetings to UMaine. But the Catamounts have four double-digit average players with Josie Larkins (11.9 points per game), Anna Olson (11.5), Delaney Richason (10.9) and Emma Utterback (10.8).

Olson is also averaging seven rebounds, and Utterback and Larkins have 3.7 and 3.4 assists, respectively.