UMaine women’s basketball not far from respectability in weak America East

It is beginning to feel like a time of increased optimism for the University of Maine women’s basketball team.
The Black Bears have won three of their last five games, bolstering their own confidence and instilling hope within their fan base.
Coach Richard Barron has guided UMaine to six victories, surpassing last season’s total, with several games and an America East tournament appearance remaining.
Having seen most of the Black Bears’ conference opponents this winter, one thing is becoming more clear: UMaine isn’t that far away from re-establishing itself as an upper-echelon America East program in a league where mediocrity is rampant.
Boston University is the front-runner this season and Albany is a consistent winner, but there isn’t much separating the next four teams in terms of talent. While UMaine is in the bottom third, disparity isn’t that great.
Given the team’s recent resilience and competitiveness, the Bears have begun demonstrating measurable gains.
The best example is Sam Baranowski, who spent her first three seasons trying to find herself and harness her ability. The senior forward has emerged as UMaine’s most consistent performer and appears to have discovered the confidence she needed.
The Bears have begun to establish some chemistry and their effort is seldom in doubt. They play hard and, increasingly, with a purpose.
Given the current state of affairs in America East, UMaine is only a handful of players away from being back in the conversation.
It’s probably going to take the nucleus from this year’s team and two full recruiting classes to make that happen. But if Barron can bring in two difference-makers — and I’m not saying superstars — in each of the next two years, UMaine is back in business.
The key missing pieces at the moment are two legitimate outside shooters, a polished point guard and a highly-skilled post player.
Having seen what the Bears are up against, Barron must have realized by now that there’s not a huge disparity between last place and third place in America East.
Take heart, UMaine fans. The days of dwelling in or near the America East cellar may soon be over.

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About Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor Daily News Sports staff since 1984. Pete lives in Bangor with his wife of 35 years, Annia. They have two adult sons, Will and Paul. Pete is fluent in Spanish and enjoys visiting his in-laws and friends in Costa Rica. His hobbies including hunting, fishing and listening to jazz.