January 7

COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Thomas men’s basketball starting over

New-look team blending together under new coach.

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The Thomas men’s basketball team carried a 2-6 record into Tuesday night’s home game with the University of Maine at Farmington. In many ways, the Terriers had to start over this season.

Coach T.J. Maines resigned after an 89-88 record over seven seasons to coach the Cony High School boys. The new coach is Darrell Alexander, a 1,000-point scorer at Thomas, who gradauted in 2010.

Last season, the Terriers compensated for their lack of size by running and scoring. Jarrad DeVaughn averaged 13.5 points per game, and Thomas was 5-0 when he scored at least 19 points, but DeVaughn has graduated.

“It is a rebuilding year, even though we do have five seniors,” Alexander said. “You lose a guy like Jarrad DeVaughn — a guy who scored 1,800 points — there’s going to be an adjustment.”

One big concern for the Terriers this season is their rebounding. They’re getting out-rebounded by 16 boards per game.

“Rebounding is always going to be an issue for us. We’re a small team,” Alexander said. “But I think the one thing we do well is our togetherness on and off the court.”

Sophomore Levi Barnes, a Skowhegan graduate, is the only double-figure scorer for Thomas, at 17.5 points per game. Alexander sees Barnes as a very good player who will be great with improvement in his defense and rebounding.

“Those things get overshadowed, because he will score 30 on you at the drop of a hat,” Alexander said.

Senior Garen Manzo is averaging 9.8 points in only 17 minutes per game. Junior Eric Westbrooks isn’t a big scorer (7.8 ppg), but is second on the Terriers in rebounding as a 6-foot-2 guard and contributes in a variety of other ways.

“He’s going to guard the best player on the other team every night,” Alexander said. “He’s going to move the ball for us. He plays from point to post — all five positions. He probably has the best basketball IQ on the team.”

Thomas was 2-1 in the conference heading into Tuesday night’s game.

• • •

Heading into Tuesday night’s action, Husson was the only men’s basketball team in the North Atlantic Conference with an overall record over .500. What’s interesting is that while the University of Maine at Farmington is 4-5, the Beavers could easily be 8-1.

Only one of UMF’s losses — 75-54 to Bates — was anything like a one-sided game. UMF trailed Colby by just three with four minutes left, but ended up losing by 11. The Beavers were down only four to Lyndon State with about three minutes left, but lost that game by 11 as well.

The real heart-breaker was against the University of Southern Maine. UMF led by seven points with two minutes to play, but USM hit a shot at the buzzer to tie the game, and the Huskies won in double overtime. Next, UMF led Bowdoin by five with five minutes remaining, but came up on the short end of a 59-53 score.

The good news for the Beavers is that they entered Tuesday’s games at 2-1 in the conference, which put them in a three-way tie for third place. All five UMF starters — Nate Carson, Garrett Clemmer, Andrew Dickey, Ben Johnson, and Pet Sumner — are averaging at least eight points per game, and the Beavers have a big edge over their opponents this season in field goal shooting, rebounds, and assists.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo
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