ORONO – The last three years have left much to be desired for the Maine Black Bears men’s basketball team. Just 18 total wins, more than a handful of transfers, and not a lot of optimism left among fans in Orono.
That is in the past, but the Black Bears understand it more than ever in Year 4 of Bob Walsh’s tenure as head coach: there is an urgent need to win in 2017-2018.
“There’s urgency every day. No doubt about it,” Walsh said Tuesday at the team’s first official practice of the preseason.
The Black Bears were picked to finish second-to-last in America East by NBC Sports Tuesday, but Walsh knows those kind of predictions are to be expected with the past several years. He said the key to motivating themselves revolves in getting the team to buy into this season as one they can open eyes in. If they can, then the squad can turn the page on the shortcomings of years past.
“We believe in what we’re doing every day,” he said. “We also understand this program hasn’t had a lot of success lately. So we need to start having some success so guys really believe in what we’re doing and we can turn it into a championship program.”
Walsh said upperclassmen like Ilker Er and Aaron Calixte will be crucial to the Black Bears’ success this year, especially given they haven’t had many reliable elder statesmen the past few years. For the rest of the guys, he said will begin gauging them throughout the opening of preseason hoops, and enforcing core messages that could in turn lead to growth in the win column.
“I think getting the team to understand why we do what we do and why we go about things the way we do so they can really believe in it,” Walsh said. “It’s a fun time of year when you’re trying to pull a team together. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun with this group.”