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Maine Black Bears Open Thread

Washington looks to bounce back from a neutral site loss in Toronto

NCAA Basketball: Maine at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Tuesday, 11/19/19

Tip-Off Time: 8:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: KOMO 1000


Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting line: Washington -23

Maine Black Bears 2019-20 Statistics:

Record: 1-2

Points For per Game: 64.0 ppg (263rd)

Points Against per Game: 67.3 ppg (133rd)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 90.5 (319th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 104.5 (310th)

Maine Key Players:

F- Nedljko Prijovic, Jr. 6’8, 210: 9.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 44% FG, 46.2% 3pt, 0.0% FT

A transfer from Texas State, Prijovic may be slightly undersized as a center but Maine uses him as a stretch 5. He ranks in the top-250 nationally in defensive rebounding rate, shot block %, and 3-pt % which is quite the versatile skill set. That shooting percentage may be the result of a small sample size though as even with that hot start included he’s just a 26% 3-pt shooter over the course of his career.

F- Andrew Fleming, Sr. 6’7, 222: 20.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, 52.3% FG, 0% 3pt, 68.2% FT

Fleming has averaged at least double digit points per game (if you round up) in all 4 of his seasons in Maine. He’s upped his game in a huge way so far this season as he’s massively scaled back the number of jump shots he takes and is playing closer to the basket. Fleming is shooting 61% in the paint while assisting like a point guard and will present a unique challenge for the Husky zone.

F- Vilgot Larsson, Jr. 6’8, 215: 9.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 47.8% FG, 14.3% 3pt, 71.4% FT

He hasn’t found his shooting stroke yet this season but Vilgot shot nearly 40% from beyond the arc in conference play last season so he’s a threat with good size on the perimeter. Considering his height and the amount of minutes that Larsson has played the rebounding numbers should be much higher.

G- Sergio El Darwich, Sr. 6’4, 205: 17.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.0 apg, 48.6% FG, 28.6% 3pt, 86.7% FT

Darwich transferred in from South Dakota State and has made a massive leap in his senior season so far. The biggest difference is he’s driving more often and getting to the line at a higher rate than last season. The big concern for Darwich is turnovers and there’s a good shot given that he plays the whole game and has the ball in his hands most of the time that he could approach double digit giveaways.

G- Precious Okoh, Fr. 6’1, 188: 3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.7 apg, 23.1% FG, 14.3% 3pt, 100% FT

Picking the last key player for Maine was a little difficult as they’ve had only 6 players appear in all 3 games and only four players who have scored double digit points period. All 9 of Okoh’s career points came in their most recent game against Portland and he received starters’ minutes even though he didn’t get the official start.

2019-20 Maine Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

Well I guess if the Huskies keep Maine from taking shots either in the paint or from the right wing then they’re set. At least to this point the Black Bears have done a good job of playing analytics friendly basketball and avoiding the mid range. Tennessee eviscerated the Huskies with those wide open shots on Saturday and we’ll see if the Huskies stay true to the system or make an adjustment after the loss.

The Outlook

We’ll get to the basketball in a second. This Maine team is essentially a group of International mercenaries. The 11 players who have gotten into a game this season are from Norway, Lebanon, Canada, Sweden, USA, Serbia, Ukraine, and Latvia. What a mishmash of cultures. Good stuff.

Oh yeah, basketball. Right. Maine is traditionally an atrocious basketball program. They haven’t won double digit games since 2013 and haven’t had a winning record overall since 2010. They’ve finished worse than 330th nationally (out of 353) in KenPom’s rankings in each of the last 6 seasons. Is there any reason to think this Maine team might not be by far the worst team on the Washington schedule this season?

Short answer: Yes. Maine’s only win this season was over Merrimack by 20 points who turned around and won at Northwestern. It’s been more than 2 years since Maine beat any D-1 team by 20 points (and technically Merrimack counts even if it’s their first year in D-1). The roster is full of transfers and international players. It’s a lot more likely that you find diamonds in the rough when you go that route rather than trying to out recruit programs when you’re Maine.

The primary 4 guys for Maine have played essentially every minute for them. They’re all averaging 34+ minutes per game and two of them are averaging 37+ mpg. If Washington can get any of the starters in foul trouble it will be interesting to see whether the Black Bears switch things up or just gamble and keep rolling them out there.

Looking at their statistical profile there are only two things that really stand out about Maine. The first is that they have the 352/353 average length of possession on offense. Washington’s defense has been 335th so far in that stat. Expect the Bears to take essentially the entire shot clock in every single possession which will bring down the total score. The other thing is opponents are shooting just 25.5% from 3-pt range against them. That figure is completely unsustainable but if Maine sells out to guard the 3-pt line it will lead to Isaiah Stewart eating them alive in the paint.

If everything goes according to plan then this game should be more about Washington than it is about Maine. The Huskies have been atrocious on offense this season as they have somehow simultaneously been turnover prone, can’t make shots at the rim (except for Isaiah Stewart), can’t draw free throws, and can’t make them when they do. That’s a bad combination. This is the first of 5 consecutive home games against sub-100 opponents at home before the Huskies take on Gonzaga. The rest are against teams ranked 100-200 at KenPom so if Washington completely blows the doors off someone it should happen in this game. I really want a feel good, cover the spread blowout but I need to see it from this squad first.


Washington Huskies- 71, Maine Black Bears- 56


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