ORONO – If you attend any Bob Walsh-led Maine men’s basketball practice, there is a chance you will hear the word “compete” thrown around once or twice.
It has become the buzzword over the past three years in Orono, and a message all Black Bears are expected to adhere to: if you compete, you have a chance to win. Remedial perhaps, but a necessary notion as a team like the Black Bears looks to prove its relevance in as a program.
“The mentality, the approach that we’ve taken has been really good, but you’ve got to go out on the court and prove it,” Walsh said regarding the preseason. “And we have a lot to prove when we play those 40 minutes between the lines.”
Maine will test itself with two tough matchups to start the year, going on the road against Boston College and Texas Tech.
“It’s to prepare us for our league ultimately. A game like Boston College or Texas Tech forces you to prepare at a high level,” Walsh said.
The Black Bears bring in a litany of new talent this year, but moreover, enter the season healthy on the heels of an injury-riddled 2016-2017. The players have confidence the competitive drive from the team’s two preseason games against Husson and Saint Joseph’s can carry over into opening night, even if against a difficult ACC squad.
“If we can compete the whole time, it will give us a good test towards what we want to achieve this year in America East,” sophomore forward Andrew Fleming said.