University of Maine at Farmington guard Issac Witham, forward Bill Ruby, center Anthony Owens and forward Riley Robinson are seniors who will be playing together for the Beavers for the last time. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal

FARMINGTON — You could call them Chairmen of the Board or the Four Paladins of coach Dick Meader’s court.

But University of Maine at Farmington guard Issac Witham, forwards Riley Robinson and Bill Ruby and center Anthony Owens are also certainly the pride and joy of the Beavers men’s basketball skipper.

“No.1, they are great kids,” Meader said. “I shouldn’t use the word kids, but young men. They take their studies seriously. They work hard at it. In basketball, again they work very hard.”

Meader will miss all four of them for their fine qualities and character when they depart with cap and gown in May.

“You see them going in the locker room at times. They will be sitting on the couch with their computers in their laps and working on problems together,” Meader said. “They really take their studies seriously.

“I just hope we have a good season for their sake.” 

For four prosperous years, the senior business majors have played for the Beavers and worked on their studies together, and along the way, they have established lifelong friendships with each other.

“Just being around these guys every single day has been a great four years,” Owens said. “You just couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. We all got along from Day 1. We just hang out even outside of basketball. We are just good friends. They are always there. That’s what I am going to miss the most.” 

Those friendships at UMF allowed the foursome to thrive in the classroom and on the court.

“We have been together for a while, so it has been a learning experience, but at this point, it is pretty seamless,” Witham said. “We kind of know the ins and and outs of each other’s game and how each other like to play. It makes it pretty easy.”

“Our chemistry couldn’t get any better, just from spending all that time on the courts together, taking our classes together, late nights doing homework, watching hoops,” Robinson said. “It seems like we are always together.”

These are four college buddies who have come to appreciate each other over time.

“We have built some good relationships the past four years,” Ruby said. “We all have the same goal to bring home a NAC championship for the Farmington community and coach Meader, too.”

All four have a left an indelible impression of Meader, who has enjoyed coaching them for the past four years.The venerable coach has no problem pointing out each of their strong points on the court.

“Ruby is a great slasher to the basket,” Meader said. “He plays hard and he plays on emotion, maybe a little too much, but he had some big nights for us. He had 36 points at Husson College one night, six of seven from the three-point line. He can do a lot of things for us. He can handle the ball very well for his size. He is quick and when he gets his jump shot going, he is really dangerous.”

Meader said Robinson is the leader of this foursome on the court.

“He is a very smart ball player with high basketball IQ,” Meader said. “He shoots the ball and has range and very effective with a one-dribble jump shot at the elbow area.”

Meader is proud of the way Owens has matured as a player.

“He has just gotten better year by year,” Meader said. “ He is very diligent in his approach to practice. He is a just a great young man.”

Witham is UMF’s man from the perimeter and a crack shot from the three-point arc.

“We hope he is,” Meader said with a smile. “He shoots it well especially with his small hands for us. But he plays hard all the time. He is a focused competitor and again a three-point shooter and a very good foul shooter.”

THE FOURSOME’S HOLY GRAIL

For this foursome, there is only one way to go out on top — win the NAC crown for Meader and UMF.

“We have a lot potential,” Ruby said. “We have our core five and our players coming off the bench. (Starter) Amir Moss’s brother, Terion, just transferred in and is a Division I pick-up. That’s not bad.” 

“I like the way we are looking. That’s for sure,” Robinson said. “You know we lost a couple of players last year. Milani Hicks is going to be a big loss. We have a couple of additions, a couple of freshmen. We got the transfer in Terion’s case. This year we are going to be the best we have been since I have been here so I am really excited.”

Robinson is not sure who will be the fifth man to complement UMF’s four-man contingent.

“It is going to be a day-to-day matchup,” Robinson explained. “We have a lot of guys who can do different things. It is going to be interesting to see what coach uses for a combination of players.”

Witham said a NAC crown would be the foursome’s crowning achievement to end their four-year run at UMF.

“From freshmen to now, we have taken a step every year, and this year we are trying to take the final step in winning the NAC championship,” he said. “Being in our last year, that’s what we really want to do.” 

“For some of us, this will be our last time playing basketball unless it is men’s league…,” Owens said. “If we can bring home a NAC (title) to Farmington, it would be absolutely huge to cap off our four-year career.”


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