Maine Black Bears
| MESSAGE BOARD
RECORD: 25 - 7
REGION: Mideast SEED: 13
COACH: Sharon Versyp CONFERENCE: Am. East
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
|PLAYER TO WATCH|
Here's guessing it's more fun bobbing for Maine lobsters than it is trying to defend Ernest, who's one of only three players in program history to record at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds during her career. This season, Ernest is ranked in the top-10 of nine statistical categories in the conference, averaging 16.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
Is there really any surprise that coach Sharon Versyp's Black Bears are once again the conference victors? Last season's America East Coach of the Year, Versyp & Co. just weren't going to settle for another upset in the conference tournament championship game.
Heather Ernest, the returning Player of the Year, had a lot to do with that.
Ernest, a 6-foot-1 senior, is once again living up to her MVP status, notching 17 points and almost nine boards. Although listed as a forward, Ernest has the adaptability to play the power role or step out and play as a small forward beyond the arc.
Senior guard Melissa Heon follows Ernest in point production with 11 per game. Heon is a player who's swift, athletic and crafty both at scoring and at working on the opposite end against opponents' top playmakers.
Though not typically one of Maine's greatest strengths, the Black Bears shoot a significantly fine stroke from the trifecta to lead the America East Conference at 37 percent. They have also shined from the free-throw line with a consistent 76 percent.
Like most top conference clubs, Maine does a firm job defensively, holding foes to just 57 points, which garners obvious national recognition.
What really stands out above all else, however, is Maine's ability to elevate its play on the road. In almost every statistical category this season, including field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage, free-throw accuracy, rebounding and defense, the Black Bears are significantly greater on foreign territory. And it's facts like this that bode extremely well for NCAA Tournament potential.