By Sara Lamb Contributing Writer
The University of Maine at Farmington Men’s basketball team boasts a nine game winning streak as their season comes to a close. The men’s team came into th
Billy Ruby returned to compete in the conference semifinals. (Photos Courtesy of UMF Athletics)
e North Atlantic Conference (NAC) in 5th place as they headed into the semifinal round of playoffs at New England college after Defeating the Thomas Terriers 92-83 at the quarterfinals.
Although the team fell short of the final match with a score of 71-56, they had a season for the record books, winning 14 of their 26 games and beating the top two teams in the conference. Alan Young, a Junior forward, called their nine game winning streak “a great confidence booster for us.”
Prior to the game, Eric Berry, a Senior captain of the team, said in an email interview, “We’re peaking at the perfect time. We have high confidence, and now we just have to win three more.” Berry said the team was hopeful that they could win it all because they had beaten the top two teams.
Berry said that it felt good to be the captain of a tight-knit group of guys who all got along and shared a unifying goal. Berry took it upon himself to personally prepare for the first playoff game.
“I [was] watching film of the opposing team, getting treatment from the athletic trainers, and getting shots and practicing,” Berry said.
Young expressed that the sport will always be important to him no matter what.
“I have played my whole life and I’ve worked very hard to get to where I’m at,” Young said. “Basketball is a sport that has made me a more competitive and successful person and I owe that to the sport.”
Dick Meader is the head coach of the men’s basketball team and has achieved success with the team over seasons.
Dick Meader is the head coach of the Men’s Basketball team and has coached at UMF for 25 seasons. In that time, Meader has brought close to 20 of his teams to the playoffs and has won the North Atlantic Conference championship once in 2010. When asked about the game plan for the first playoff game, Meader said, “nothing really different except we got a couple guys back.” Meader is referring to the return of players Billy Ruby and Amir Moss, who were in better shape than when they played the Thomas Terriers.
Meader added that the Men’s Basketball team is “a group of guys that are very unselfish, and it’s fun to watch them play. They work hard in practice trying to get better, they do what you ask them to do, and it’s just a good group of guys, good students. It’s always fun.”
By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer
Freshman Tyus Ripley puts up a shot at a recent game against Bates College. (Photo by Jeff Lamb Photography)
In spite of several injuries among top players, the UMF men’s basketball team is making a run at the playoffs following a five game conference winning streak sparked by newcomer Tyus Sprague-Ripley. Ripley, a 6’6” freshman transfer has made a huge impact for the Beavers offensively and defensively over the past month averaging 9.4 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game, according to UMF Athletics.
Changing teams in the middle of the season can make it tough for a player to get comfortable, but Ripley, who was previously a Saint Joseph’s College Monk, said the changeover has been smooth. “Some of the players I’ve played with before,” said Ripley, “so it seemed like it’d be the easiest transition.”
Stepping on the court during a game this year for the Beavers wasn’t part of Ripley’s expectations coming into the new team. “At first I didn’t know if I was able to play,” said Ripley, “I was just expecting to practice.”
As soon as Ripley got his chance on the court, he proved to the Beavers he was going to be an important asset to the team. He was recognized as NAC Rookie of the Week for the last week of January, following another UMF Rookie of the Week, freshman forward Riley Robinson.
Ripley was recognized after a week of averaging 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block, while also shooting an impressive 57.1% from the floor and going 5-for-5 at the free throw line. The team went 2-0 that week.
Ripley, who humbly accepted this accolade, said he is hoping for more of a team goal, such as going to playoffs and winning a championship. He said, “I actually didn’t know I got it until like way after everyone else.”
Head Coach Dick Meader explained that injuries have had a huge impact on the team this season. Freshman forward Billy Ruby suffered a broken ankle early in the season, and freshman center Anthony Owens has faced two sprains, according to Meader. Both players are known for their talented offensive and defensive presence on the court.
Meader explained that Ripley has helped make the team stronger where injury has made them weak. “He’s added some size, toughness, doing what’s right getting loose balls, and establish our defense,” said Meader, “he helped fill the gap of Anthony Owens.”
Although Riley came in halfway through the season, Ryan Camire, a senior captain on the team, explains that this isn’t apparent in his play. “He’s growing into his own,” said Camire, “he’s picked up right a way.”
“Tyus definitely is one of our most important guys,” Camire said, “he gives us a nice down low presence.”
The Beavers, who are now 8-6 and tied for third in the NAC, are looking to clinch a playoff spot and home court advantage.
“The big thing is we have some big road games, keeping that focus of what we need to do, trusting the coaches game plan and scouting reports, letting our instincts carry,” said Camire, “we always have to stay hungry and stay on our toes.”