Posts Tagged ‘Justin Edwards’

Tell us how you really feel: Sam Perkins sounds off on Maine Basketball

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Sam Perkins has long been a recurring guest and America East men’s basketball insider on the Downtown with Rich Kimball show, hosted on ESPN 92.9 FM The Ticket in Maine. Following the latest exodus in Orono — the departures of four players; the team’s leading scorer, dynamic playmaker and rising-senior Xavier Pollard; the top athlete and third-leading scorer in rising junior Dimitry Akanda-Coronel; top-assist man and 6’5″ sophomore point guard Shaun Lawton; and Maine native and recruited walk-on Mitch Worcester — Perkins returned to the Maine airwaves during the 5 p.m. rush hour on Friday, April 11, to discuss the continued downward trajectory of Black Bears men’s basketball.

Perkins pulled no punches in his blunt assessment: The program has become the worst in the league and an embarrassment, it falls squarely on the shoulders of head coach Ted Woodward and it is time (and has been time for several years now) for a change at the top of the program.

Give it a listen:

Among Perkins’ talking points:

-The notion that Maine simply can not recruit and does not have the talent to compete in the America East is complete bunk: in recent years, Maine has fielded America East All-Conference players Troy Barnies (1st Team), Gerald McLemore (All-League honors in all four years at Maine); Alasdair Fraser (All-Conference honors all three years at the program); Justin Edwards (All-Conference honors both years in Maine); Murphy Burnatowski (an All-Rookie selection at Maine and two time Patriot League All-Conference Second Team selection after transferring to Colgate); Pollard (America East Third Team All-Conference selection this past year); along with the high flying Akanda-Coronel and very talented players like Mike Allison and a host of international players. (more…)

OBW America East preseason predictions: #8 Maine

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Projected Starting Lineup:
G – Xavier Pollard, Jr., 6’3” 190
G – Zarko Valjarevic, Jr., 6’4” 210
G/F – Garret Beal, Fr., 6’5” 200
F – Dimitry Akanda-Coronel, R-Fr., 6’4” 190
F – Till Gloger, Soph. 6’8” 220

Overview:

Zarko Valjarevic (second from left) should see plenty of touches for the Black Bears. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Juniors Zarko Valjarevic (left) and Xavier Pollard (bottom) are the only returning Black Bears to play major minutes at the Division I level. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

For years, behind closed doors, Maine head coach Ted Woodward has blamed a lack of talent for the Black Bears lack of success.

At least now the reality will finally match the rhetoric.

Maine isn’t going to out-talent anyone outside of Lowell this year. That is a monumental problem for the Black Bears. For virtually all of Woodward’s time at the helm, the only way the program has won games is by simply being more physically gifted than their opponents. Maine has not been a team that has out-thought, out-worked, out-hustled, out-hearted, or out-executed its opponents.

And now, to paraphrase Rick Pitino, Alasdair Fraser and Justin Edwards aren’t walking through that door.

The Black Bears, of course, lost both Fraser, a 6’7” bruising-bull of strength and power and Edwards, a 6’3” high-flying pogo stick to early departures. Fraser turned pro while Edwards transferred to Kansas State. In addition to losing arguably the league’s best low post player and the league’s best athlete and most explosive player, Maine also lost 6’6” small forward Jon Mesghna, the team’s only efficient three-point shooter, to transfer.

In addition, 6’8” stretch-four Killian Kato, who would have been a junior, and incoming JUCO and one-time UAB forward Herb Harrison are also no longer listed on the Black Bears roster. Kato is reportedly serving an academic suspension and will be lost for at least half the year.

All-in-all, it’s an outright exodus in Orono.

Couple in the graduation of shot-blocking forward Mike Allison, the Black Bears’ cupboard is completely bare. Maine returns no seniors and just two players on their entire roster – juniors Xavier Pollard and Zarko Valjarevic — who have played major minutes at the Division I level. (more…)

For Alasdair Fraser, looking back wasn’t an option

Monday, August 26th, 2013
OBW First Team All-Conference selection Alasdair Fraser is leaving Maine early (Photo by Sam Perkins).

OBW First Team All-Conference selection Alasdair Fraser isn’t looking back after leaving Maine early (Photo by Sam Perkins).

The way Alasdair Fraser saw it, he had two choices and neither of them was looking back.

Before Fraser signed with the Gotha Rockets of the German Pro A league in late June, forgoing his final year of college hoops and officially ending his career at the University of Maine to turn pro, he thought long and hard about transferring to a higher-level school.

What he didn’t consider was returning to Maine, the program where he made a name for himself while carving out a career on the low blocks.

“I looked at transferring and was talking to some schools in higher conferences,” said Fraser, enjoying a late summer afternoon in his native Scotland.

“I didn’t feel that staying at Maine would have done too much [for me],” he explained. “Ultimately, I decided that going and playing pro was the best option for what I wanted.”

Over his three years in Maine, Fraser scored 915 points and pulled down 564 rebounds, but his game was far bigger than his raw numbers. The 6’7” 250-plus pound Scottish wall cemented himself as a pillar in the post, developing into an offensive juggernaut around the hoop, arguably the league’s best big man and the most dynamic and diverse offensive game of any Black Bear big since Julian Dunkley (’01) and Nate Fox (’00).

He was also one of the rare few players – if not the only – to improve each of his years at Maine. And he did so in dramatic fashion. After averaging 5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 17.3 minutes per game during his freshman year as strictly a back-to-the-basket banger, he added a jump shot out to 19 feet and his averages jumped to 12.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

By the beginning of his junior year, Fraser already had a diverse offensive game: a dizzying array of low-post power and finesse moves, beautiful footwork, rim-rattling dunks, the ability to knock down the jump hook with either hand, and an extremely reliable mid-range game. To this, he added a functional 3-point shot. After taking – and missing – a total of four three-pointers over his first two years, Fraser buried 32.5 percent of his 3’s from behind the arc last season. (more…)

Exodus in Orono: Fraser, Meshgna follow Edwards out the Door

Monday, April 29th, 2013
OBW First Team All-Conference selection Alasdair Fraser is leaving Maine early (Photo by Sam Perkins).

OBW First Team All-Conference selection Alasdair Fraser is leaving Maine early (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Orono, Maine) – For three years, University of Maine center Alasdair Fraser has left the earth quaking, backboards shaking and a trail of battered opponents, bruised egos, bent rims and busted basket supports in his wake.

On Tuesday, Fraser once again shook the earth at the University of Maine, but in a very different fashion.

In a story first broken by One-Bid Wonders, the junior center and OBW All-Conference First Team selection officially requesting his release from the university, bringing to an end his Black Bear career before his senior year. Fraser will either sign an overseas contract and begin his professional career, or transfer to another Division I institution to use up his final year of eligibility.

And with that, the dark days in Orono have turned pitch-black; the hurricane already raging has now grown into the storm of the century.

Listed at 6’7” 230 (and weighing in closer to 260) pounds of muscle, Fraser has stood tall for the Black Bears as a Scottish Wall on defense and immovable object on offense. As a junior Fraser averaged 13.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, ranking eighth, fourth and second in the conference, respectively. Fraser also finished fifth in scoring in America East Conference games at 14.3 points per contest.

Sheer numbers do not do Fraser justice or accurately encompass his impact: Arguably the league’s most dynamic center, Fraser displayed a brilliant and diverse arsenal of low-post moves as well as a silky-smooth jumper out to the NBA 3-point line. He also ranked as one of the most efficient players in the league using NBA-style advanced metrics, despite drawing nightly double – and often triple – teams every trip down the court while playing in a chaotic and dysfunction system in which he was criminally underused and overlooked.

He was also the rarest of rare-breeds: a Black Bear player who continued to grow, develop and improve every year in Orono. Fraser made the leap from a bruising bulldozer and America East strongman as a freshman, to a cerebral big-man with a refined low post game and automatic mid-range jumper as a sophomore, before making another stride as a junior, adding a 3-point shot and deft passing touch.

Fraser showcased the depth of his talent and abilities in a January 22nd upset over Vermont, just missing a triple-double; pouring in 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting, ripping down 10 rebounds and dishing out eight assists while swatting a pair of shots.

Maine was already dealing with the crippling blow of losing its top scorer, most athletic player, and best raw talent in high-flying wing Justin Edwards, who announced his decision to transfer out of the university a month ago. Edwards led league in scoring at 16.7 points per game despite only scratching the surface of his raw abilities.

While Edwards’ departure sent the Black Bears to the mat for an eight-count, it is Fraser’s that might KO the program for the upcoming season – and beyond. (more…)

Edwards Out; Exodus Beginning?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013
Maine guard Justin Edwards flies above the fray and skies past Northeastern forward Reggie Spencer (44) for two of his career-high 30 points Wednesday night. Edwards powered the Black Bears to a 76-73 win.

Maine guard Justin Edwards flies above the fray and skies past Northeastern forward Reggie Spencer (44) for two of his career-high 30 points Wednesday night. Edwards powered the Black Bears to a 76-73 win.

(ORONO, Maine) – The America East’s top scorer, and arguably the league’s most dynamic, athletic and physically gifted player is taking his talents elsewhere: University of Maine sophomore scoring-machine Justin Edwards is leaving the Black Bears.

In a press release published earlier today, the University of Maine announced that Edwards would transfer from the school at the end of the semester, confirming rumors that had swirled for several days.

“Justin is a fine young man and we thank him for his hard work and accomplishments in our program. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors,” said Maine head coach Ted Woodward in a prepared statement.

A 6’2” guard with jaw-dropping athleticism, Edwards averaged 16.7 point per game to tie for the league-lead in scoring with Binghamton freshman Jordan Reed. Edwards averaged 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and a 1.9 steals (which led the league) and 32.7 minutes per game while being named to the America East Second Team All-Conference as voted on by the coaches (he was selected to the OBW Third-Team).

As a freshman, Edwards averaged 13.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game, was named to the All-Rookie Team and finished as the runner-up to then Vermont guard Four McGlynn for league Rookie of the Year Honors.

Edwards played elbows above the rim and reigned as the league’s best dunker – regularly rattling the back-board in games with dunk contest-worthy slams, including multiple 180-degree reverse jams on of alley-oops. (more…)

Post Season Awards: OBW All-Conference Third Team

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Mike Black, 6’ 175, Sr., G, Albany
Overall: 32.2 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 28.6% of team possessions
Conference: 31.6 MPG, 14.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 29.0% of team possessions
A OBW First Team selection as a junior, Black finished third in the league in overall scoring during his final America East campaign, and was a dynamic playmaker during the Great Danes’ impressive non-conference run. The six-foot senior wreaked havoc off the dribble for stretches, but committed more turnovers than assists (a tough number to swallow considering the scorers around him), and disappeared during some of the biggest conference games.

Justin Edwards, 6’3” 185, Soph., G/F, Maine
Overall: 32.7 MPG, 16.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.9 SPG, 31.0% of team possessions
Conference: 31.3 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 32.9% of team possessions
The America East’s most explosive athlete, Edwards is quite possibly the most physically gifted player in the conference. The sophomore tied for the league lead in scoring while stuffing the stat-sheet by doing a bit of everything else. So why is he only on the Third Team? Edwards isn’t nearly as efficient as his raw numbers might suggest, and beyond that, he’s gone through extreme stretches of selfish play – perfectly capable of drawing one or more help defenders off the bounce, but more interested in trying to finish 1-on-3 instead of dumping the ball off to a suddenly open Alasdair Fraser or kicking the ball out for an open 3.

Jordan Reed, 6’3” 205, Fr., G/F, Binghamton
Overall: 35.1 MPG, 16.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 32.2% of team possessions
Conference: 35.4 MPG, 16.2 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 33.0% of team possessions
Reed’s relegation to the third team may seem as a shock: He led the conference in scoring and rebounding as a freshman – one heck of an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a true frosh. Reed is a top-end athlete who plays with terrific energy and has the potential to one day be the conference Player of the Year. However, as good as Reed was, his numbers were greatly inflated by his massive usage rate – a product of a lack of any semblance of Division I talent surrounding him – and his efficiency was… downright bad.

Clancy Rugg, 6’8” 200, Jr., F, Vermont
Overall: 28.2 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 57.5 TS%, 110.1 ORtg
Conference: 30.2 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 58.4 TS%, 110.1 ORtg
The Catamounts’ leading scorer, Rugg looked like a first-teamer for stretches during the season, giving the Catamounts energy, effort and athleticism around the hoop and in the mid-range, scoring on a variety of post moves while also providing a presence on the glass. When Rugg plays at his best, the Catamounts are extremely hard to beat, Exhibit A being Rugg’s 19-point, 15-rebound performance in UVM’s 81-73 defeat of Stony Brook this January.

Sandro Carissimo 6’2” 170, Jr., G
Overall: 29.7 MPG, 10.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.6 A/TO, 108.4 ORtg
Conference: 30.2 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.7 A/TO, 110.9 ORtg
Other than some unexpected bouts with nerves during the second half on of the non-conference season, “Big shot Sandro” has been calm, cool and collected under pressure. Heady and steady, Carissimo might not be flashy, but he makes big plays in big moments for the Catamounts.

Post Season Awards: OBW All-Rim Wreckers & Backboard Breakers (Dunkers)

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Compared to the major conferences, America East may be a bit undersized, but the AE still has its fair share of guys who want to throw it down with authority. Here’s our list of the newest inductees into the America East chapter of Phi Slamma Jammma:

Justin Edwards, 6’3” 185, Soph., G/F, Maine: Likely the league’s most athletic player and best leaper, Edwards is far and away the America East’s best in-game dunker. Adept at jamming on the breakaway and in the half-court, on a lob or off the bounce, with one hand or two, jumping off one leg or two, he dunks it all. Among his notable slams are multiple two-handed reverse slams, including some on alley-oops. (more…)

The Definition of Insanity

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Sponsored by Marcie Mitler

6'6" 250 pound Boston University forward Dom Morris (right) drives against 6'7" 260-plus pound Maine center Alasdair Fraser (left) Tuesday night. Morris scored a career-high 20 points for the Terriers in a 79-72 win, while Fraser was held to 16 points in the loss (Photo by Sam Perkins).

6’6″ 250 pound Boston University forward Dom Morris (right) drives against 6’7″ 260-plus pound Maine center Alasdair Fraser (left) Tuesday night. Morris scored a career-high 20 points for the Terriers in a 79-72 win, while Fraser was held to 16 points in the loss (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Boston, MA) – If the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistake over and over again and expecting different results, then the Boston University Terriers and the University of Maine Black Bears played one bat-something-crazy game Tuesday night.

Facing off for the 100th and final time as conference foes, both teams continued their season long trends of shooting themselves in the foot while doing their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Terriers pounded Maine’s porous perimeter defense, burying 11-of-22 3-pointers and rode a scorching hot first half to a 79-72 win, but not before nearly blowing a 22 point second half lead while displaying an inexcusable lack of effort.

“We played a great first half,” said BU head coach Joe Jones. “The first seven, eight minutes of the second half I was pleased with and then we lost our concentration: I thought we could have extended our lead – it was really poor on our part in terms of decision making on offense down the stretch.”

The league’s worst 3-point field goal percentage defense, the Black Bears once again employed their never-fails-to-fail 2-3 zone defense of doom in an attempt to combat a barrage from downtown – a defense as useful defending the 3 as a screen door is on a submarine.

“We missed a couple shots, they got a couple turnovers, they got in transition and they hit 3’s – it wasn’t 2’s,” said Maine head coach Ted Woodward.

Not to be out-done, after dropping four conference games – along with a near epic meltdown against an overmatched UMBC squad – by simply not playing hard until the final buzzer, the Terriers once again failed to show even the slightest sense of urgency while mailing it in down the stretch.

“When we don’t play with energy, we’re not very good,” said Jones. “If we’re not going to come out and go after people, we’re going to struggle.”

The Terriers shot 58.1 percent from the floor (18-of-31) and 57.1 percent from behind the arc (8-of-14) in the opening stanza, and 49.1 percent from the floor (28-of-57) and 50 percent from three (11-of-22) for the game. BU dished out 18 assists, forced 18 turnovers and won the rebounding battle against the bigger and stronger Black Bears 34-33.

But the Terriers committed 16 turnovers of their own – many of them by simply being lazy and careless with the ball – resulting in 24 Black Bears points, allowing Maine to make a game of it. The Black Bears also scored 38 points in the paint to the Terriers 20, but shot just 26.7 percent from 3 (4-of-15).

“There were some really positive things: we shot 58 percent in the first half, we were 11-for-22 [from three], we had 18 assists – which is huge,” said Jones. “But if we want to be a championship caliber team… We have to concentrate at a higher rate a lot more consistently.”

Junior forward Dom Morris scored a career-high 20 points shooting a stellar 9-of-13 from the floor, to go with seven rebounds, two steals and a block to pace the Terriers.Freshman point guard Maurice Watson Jr., scored 14 points, dished out eight assists and swiped three steals. Freshman gunner John Papale scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and junior wing Travis Robinson added nine; The duo combined to shoot 7-of-13 from behind the arc. Junior guard D.J. Irving struggled through a tough night on offense, shooting just 1-of-5 from the floor and committing six turnovers, but the diminutive 5’10” guard found a way to contribute, pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds. (more…)

Flying High

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
Hartford freshman guard Evan Cooper slices through five Maine defenders to finish off a Mark Nwakamma (not shown) pass for a big second-half bucket. Cooper scored 13 points and Hartford won 68-61 (photo by Sam Perkins).

Hartford freshman guard Evan Cooper slices through five Maine defenders to finish off a Mark Nwakamma (not shown) pass for a big second-half bucket. Cooper scored 13 points and Hartford won 68-61 (photo by Sam Perkins).

(West Hartford, CT) — There’s a world of difference between high volume and high percentage shooting, and it’s the difference between current University of Hartford Men’s basketball team and its previous incarnates.

The Hawks have always played hard – furious, frenetic energy is a staple of teams playing under fiery third-year head coach John Gallagher and a prerequisite for players he recruits. Now, the Hawks are playing smart; forgoing the bombs away offense relying on forced three’s in favor of running their offense through their front court, hitting the glass and taking what defenses gave them.

On Wednesday, playing a matinee which tipped off at noon before a raucous crowd of nearly 3,000 – almost all students from local grade and high schools – in a battle between unbeatens in America East play, the Hawks played a near-perfect game and knocked off visiting Maine 68-61.

“I thought our guys really, really came out ready to go,” said Gallagher after the game. “We have the talent, now we’re starting to really learn how to play together.”

Sophomore forward Mark Nwakamma led Hartford with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting, dished out a career-high eight assists to just three turnovers and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds – all on the defensive end. Freshman point guard Evan Cooper scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with three steals and two assists and sophomore guard Yolonzo Moore II scored 16 points while drilling 4-of-8 three’s, while dishing out five assists and swiping three steals.

Hartford shot 52.2 percent from the floor (24-of-46), 47.6 percent from behind the arc (10-of-21), and dished out 18 assists to 13 turnovers. (more…)

Showing their Claws

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Maine guard Justin Edwards flies above the fray and skies past Northeastern forward Reggie Spencer (44) for two of his career-high 30 points Wednesday night. Edwards powered the Black Bears to a 76-73 win (Photo by Sam Perkins).

(Boston, MA) – With a massive neck, colossal chest, hulking shoulders, and monstrously powerful jaws, the North American Black Bear is an imposing and intimidating animal. Reaching heights of seven-feet tall when standing on two legs, weights in excess of 500 pounds, and capable of running at speeds up to 30 miles per hour, the Black Bear is an impressive and imposing physical specimen.

Yet, despite its ferocious appearance and prodigious power, the Black Bear’s personality is far more timid than tenacious; A full-grown Black Bear is far more likely to turn tail and flee from an encounter with not only humans, but also with smaller mammals, than it is to stand its ground and fight.

The monstrous appearance but meek persona of the Black Bear has made the animal a fitting mascot for the University of Maine men’s basketball team over the past three seasons:Maine has had the size, athleticism, and physicality to take the America East by storm. But after hot starts in each of the past three seasons, and in spite of their fearsome abilities, the Black Bears have folded down the stretch, turning tail instead of fighting through adversity.

After opening the year with four straight losses, it appeared the Black Bears were set to skip over the promising starts of seasons past, and begin their annual hibernation four months ahead of schedule.

But over the last two games, the Black Bears stirred: After showing fight in a 72-66 win over Siena on Sunday, Maine made it two straight wins over quality opponents on Wednesday, by hanging on against a heavily favored Northeastern team playing on its home court.

Sophomore forward Justin Edwards was a monster, center Alasdair Fraser was a beast on the blocks, sophomore fill-in point guard Xavier Pollard was ferocious on defense, and the Black Bears hung on for a 76-73 win over Northeastern at historic Matthews Arena. Maine saw three starters foul-out and an 11 point lead shrink to one in the games final minutes, and survived Northeastern forward Quincy Ford’s potential game tying three, which went in and out before the buzzer sounded.

“Obviously, it was a tremendous effort by our guys,” said Maine head coach Ted Woodward, “For us to be in such foul trouble, it was very much gut-check time. It was very much a team win.”

Edwards exploded for a career-high 30 points, shooting an unconscious 11-of-12 from the floor, and added five rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block. Fraser bulled his way to 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting before fouling out, and Pollard dished out seven assists, scored eight points and was a tornado on defense, plundering the Huskies back court for four steals. (more…)