FARMINGTON — Basketball co-captains Ryan Camire, Eric Berry and Ryan Rice are three bright players who understand what this year’s group of incoming recruits means to the future of the University of Maine at Farmington program.

And UMF coach Dick Meader knows it will take two fine seniors and a junior with quality leadership skills to flip-flop last year’s 3-22 season.

That’s why Camire, Berry and Rice are Meader’s eyes and ears on the court.

“We just enjoy coaching these kids,” Meader said. “They listen. It is a joy to be around them. It has been a good group. It is a lot of fun for a couple of old guys.”

Camire and Rice, who also room together and are solid students, both agree that the influx of new talent can only strengthen the Beavers. Berry is a junior guard.

“It helps that they worked really hard to get this recruiting class in here,” Rice, a shooting guard, said. “It is really going to help us a lot not just this year, but the future in general. So as captains we are trying to bring that culture to them and carrying it on for years to come.

“I think it is great that these guys have decorated high-school careers. It is going to be different to play at the college level compared to the high school level, but I believe with the hard work and the dedication they put in, along with the returners, it is going to be a good season.”

There is a lot be said about experience, too. Rice, Camire, and Berry are surrounded by veterans like senior forward Jimmy Chaisson and sophomore forward Alan Young.

“Those five do a great job, not much size with that group. We are small,” Meader said.

Camire has clear understanding of his role with all these changes the comes with newbies.

“Try to lead by example, kind of set the tone for everybody else,” Camire, a forward, said. (Recruits) just make us better, makes myself better.

“We are very young, but we can definitely run real well. I think it is definitely going to be a good year. We can surprise some people. I think our intensity in practice, our work ethic goes pretty far.

“Last year was tough, but this year we are very optimistic. We want to bring the culture back. It is a proud program — good tradition. I think definitely this year we have a good group of kids. We definitely want to win some games and become a very competitive team.”

“I am just hoping for a good season and just looking forward to playing with the guys we have this year,” Rice added.

2016-17 UMF men’s basketball preview

Coach: Dick Meader, 24th year

Last year’s record: 3-22

Key players to watch: Seniors — Ryan Rice, guard; Ryan Camire, forward; Jimmie Chaisson, forward; juniors — Eric Berry, guard; Michael Atkins, guard; sophomore — Alan Young, forward; freshmen — Amir Moss, guard; Riley Robinson, forward; Bill Ruby, forward; Isaac Witham, guard; Chase Malloy, forward; Anthony Owens, center.

Season outlook:  The incoming crop of underclassmen, coupled with battle-tested seniors and juniors, has put a positive spin on the University of Maine at Farmington team’s upcoming season — and a great big smile on coach Dick Meader’s face.

‘I feel very good about this class, but the reality is there is a big difference between 18-year-old and 23- year-old bodies and that is going to be a factor,” Meader said. “They have to understand how good the teams they are going play

“They are going to find the officiating much different. There is a a lot for them to learn. But this group is made up of good kids who are a good students for the most part and seem to be solid kids off the court. We do have depth, but it is confusing depth.”

But Meader pointed out that the Beavers lack size so they will have to compensate in other ways on the court.

“We need to shoot the ball well. We move pretty well. The last week in a half, we shot the ball well. Be we haven’t before that,” Meader said. “ We are not big and so rebounding is a factor We will rebound with five guys. That is a problem is for us. Earlier, it will be defense, but we will get better on that.”

And the Beavers will be up against stiff competition inside the North Atlantic Conference.

Hussson College, Green Mountain and Castleton State in Vermont, Colby Sawyer and Maine Maritime are highly competitive in the NAC

“We play a great non conference schedule. We play Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, USM, St. Joes,” Meader said. “Everybody is tough away from home.”

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