Maine’s Maddy McVicar, left, defends Stonehill’s Emily Bramanti during the UMaine women’s basketball team’s first exhibition game of the season Sunday in Bangor. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

BANGOR — Seconds into the exhibition game Sunday against Stonehill, University of Maine guard Maddy McVicar fell while backpedaling into defensive position. She popped right up and quickly was back where she was supposed to be.

It may have been the only misstep McVicar made all game.

A redshirt senior, McVicar is the longest-serving player on the roster. A role player her entire career, the Calais native is looking to expand that role this season as Maine seeks a third straight America East title.

“Be a little bit of everything. I guess last year my role was defense. This year I kind of have to fill a couple more spots. Mainly just focus on my defense and hit open shots,” McVicar said after Maine’s 78-56 victory.

With four newcomers on the roster, McVicar is a known commodity for Coach Amy Vachon.

“I think Maddy has seen a lot. She’s experienced a lot. She’s so athletic and can do a lot of different things. We’re trying to find that line between what will work and what won’t work. For her, I think she can become a really good defender for us,” Vachon said.

A 5-foot-4 guard, McVicar started and played 12 minutes Sunday. She didn’t take a shot or grab a rebound. McVicar’s only contribution that shows up in the box score was a single assist, but her value was felt. The Black Bears were plus-7 in scoring differential with McVicar on the court.

That McVicar didn’t attempt a shot wasn’t a concern to her or Vachon. McVicar stepped into a position occupied last season by Parise Rossignol, who averaged 11.4 points per game and is now an assistant coach under Vachon, but will be asked to do different things. Rossignol was a natural scorer with a smooth 3-point shot. Vachon isn’t looking for a Rossignol clone. Offense can come from established scorers like Blanca Millan, Fanny Wadling and point guard Dor Saar.

“They’re different players and can bring different things,” Vachon said.

McVicar played in all 33 games last season for the Black Bears, starting three. She averaged a career-high 3.1 points per game. McVicar’s playing time steadily has increased season by season. In 2016-17, she played an average of just under three minutes per game. That more than doubled to 6.8 minutes in 2017-18, and doubled again last season to 13.5.

“It has a lot to do with just getting smarter. Every year you learn a little bit and carry it over to the next year,” McVicar said.

In the offseason, McVicar focused on shooting. Last season she was just 17 of 69 from 3-point range and McVicar knew that had to improve. Throughout the summer she shot.

“Getting up shots. That’s been a big thing for me. I have to hit the open shot. That’s going to make our team better,” McVicar said.

Added Vachon: “With her it’s just the consistency. She can be a really good shooter, it’s just being consistent with that. Last year her percentage from 3 wasn’t great. We talked a lot this summer about making shots. It’s not anything about form or anything like that. It’s just getting in the gym and shooting.”

Defense was the focus Sunday for McVicar. There were times she passed up a shot that may have looked open but didn’t feel right. Early in the fourth quarter, she was on the wing as the Black Bears were on a break. Taking a pass from Saar, McVicar had a look at a 3-pointer but didn’t shoot. Rather she passed the ball back out, and the possession ended a few seconds later with a Millan layup.

“Take shots when they’re open. (McVicar) doesn’t have to create anything for herself. Dor, Fanny and Blanca will get a lot of attention. She can kind of be the beneficiary of that.”

A bioengineering major, McVicar balances a rigorous academic load with basketball. A Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist in 2015 and 1,411-point scorer at Calais High, McVicar called attending Maine “one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

Vachon has watched McVicar mature from what she called a goofy freshman into a fifth-year senior contributing to a team with lofty goals. Vachon expects big things from McVicar. Maine’s lone fifth-year senior keeps her goals simple.

“Be what my team needs me to be. Don’t try to do too much. I’m here to have fun, enjoy it, and try to win another (America East) championship,” McVicar said.


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