As the NCAA basketball season nears its start, the University of Maine Black Bears are ready to get back on the court. Following a season that was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the hope is that the team can improve from the 2-7 record they concluded the year with. After deciding to prematurely end the season, the squad will be looking to make up for lost time.
Head Coach Richard Barron and his staff have been working around the clock in order to prepare the team for the year, and with a full slate of games ahead of them, there’s a lot to be excited about. Fifth-year captain, Stephane Ingo, will look to improve on an already electric 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds, while swatting a little over two and a half shots per game, as he begins what will be his first full-length season in the starting five.
The leading scorer for the Black Bears last season, third-year point guard LeChaun DuHart, is returning to the program in what will be his second year at UMaine. His 11 points per game were complemented by an impressive 38.5% clip from downtown, to go along with nearly 40% shooting from the field. DuHart was active on the defensive side of the ball as well, nabbing two steals in three of the team’s nine total games in 2020-21.
Adefolarin Adetogun, an explosive second-year guard out of Regina, Saskatchewan will look to find more minutes this season after managing to lead the Black Bears in assists last year. “Fofo” as many call him, was a standout at the Edge School, leading his team in Calgary to a Canadian National Championship while putting up a line of 21.8/10.3/3.9 and 2.5 steals in the regular season.
Third-year forwards Ata Turgut and Veljko Radakovic both led the team in 3-point percentages last year, with 44.4% and 50% marks respectively. However, Turgut is the only member of the duo to be returning this season. With a pure stroke from behind the three-point line, the sharpshooter could be due for an increase in minutes as a chance to maintain his fantastic shooting numbers.
This year’s newest members will also look to make their marks in their first season with the Black Bears. Most notably, fifth-year seven-foot-one-inch big man Chris Efretuei will look to lock down the paint, adding such size that hasn’t been seen in the Memorial Gym in over 10 years. His play at South Plains College in Texas saw him lead the team to consecutive 28-win seasons while headmanning the charge to the 2018 JUCO national title. He most recently featured at Louisiana Monroe University, starting 24 games last season.
First-year point guard Byron Ireland from Baltimore, Maryland is aiming to earn his spot as he embarks on his first campaign with the men’s team. Spending his fourth year of high school at St. Frances Academy of Maryland, Ireland dazzled and proved he’s ready for the next level.
Another guard, second-year Vukasin Masic, completed his transfer from Hofstra University, and the Serbian looks to showcase his skillset in Orono. Rounding out the group, first-year power forward Kristians Feierbergs of Latvia arrives in Maine following a stint in the Czech Republic that saw him score 19.5 points a game, a welcome addition to a unit trying to constantly improve.
The Black Bears will kick-off their 2021-22 season with a matchup in Blacksburg, Virginia as they travel to take on Virginia Tech on Nov. 9.