LeChaun DuHart of the University of Maine goes up for a shot against Boston College on Dec. 22, 2020 Photo by John Quackenbos

The University of Maine’s men’s basketball team finally gets to play a couple of games at home this Saturday and Sunday. But with no fans or media allowed because of COVID-19 regulations limiting the total gathering – players included – to 50 people, Maine Coach Richard Barron said, “I’m not sure it makes a huge impact on the game.”

What Barron said he’ll be looking for when Maine (0-3, 0-2 in America East) takes on old-time rival University of New Hampshire (3-2, 2-0) at Memorial Gym, aka, The Pit, is finding out which Black Bears follow the lead of LeChaun DuHart, a 5-foot-11 guard from Aurora, Colorado, via Western Wyoming junior college.

Vilgot Larsson of the University of Maine goes up for a rebound against Boston College last week.  John Quackenbos

DuHart scored 19 points with five 3-pointers in a 78-62 loss at Boston College on Dec. 22. DuHart kept Maine in the contest with 15 first-half points until the Eagles closed the first half on a 12-2 run to open a 43-24 halftime lead.

“We thought we had a gamer in LeChaun but now we know he’s tough as nails and can really fill it up,” Barron said. “We need to know who our guys are and those first games gave us an idea that this is a guy we can rely on and we need to play through him.”

Now Barron needs to find some more foundational bricks. Stephane Ingo scored a career-high 15 points, all in the second half, at BC. But the red-shirt sophomore forward’s first-half line was zero points, two turnovers and two fouls in barely four minutes.

“Steph had a career high against an ACC team basically playing one half. That’s what I think we can expect from Steph on a regular basis. But Steph doesn’t believe that yet,” Barron said, adding later, “I want him to be more assertive and confident but that’s not something I can just give him. He has to get there.”

Maine’s coach is also looking for more from Vilgot Larsson, a 6-foot-8 senior from Stockholm, Sweden, who made 52 starts the past two seasons and is Maine’s leading returning scorer (6.3 ppg). Through three games, Larsson is averaging 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.

“I still have a lot of hope for Vilgot. I just don’t want Vilgot to be the same player he’s been the past two years,” Barron said. “I think the BC game was an example of being the old Vilgot. … He was passing out of post when he had their 5-11 point guard guarding him on the block. You can’t do that. Score on him. Dunk on his bean and get to the foul line. We need some toughness there. The good news is he responded with a decent second half.”

That’s been a team-wide trend. Maine has been outscored in the first half by 11, 15, and 19 points, falling prey to bad lulls in the latter part of the first half. Overall, Maine has outscored its opponents by 11 points in the second half.

At BC, Maine trailed 15-14 with 9:20 to play, then turned the ball over 10 times to close the first half.

“We need to learn how to play in tight games,” Barron said.

UNH, which had not played since Dec. 6 because of a COVID-19 quarantine, beat Hartford on Sunday and Monday. The Wildcats were paced by 6-foot-7 forward Jayden Martinez (14.6 points, league-best 10.0 rebounds), who earned league Player of the Week honors after his 19-point, 13-rebound effort in Monday’s 53-51 win. UNH is off to its first 2-0 start in the conference since 1994-95.

Nick Guadarrama, a burly 6-5 guard and preseason all-conference pick, is averaging a team-high 14.8 points with 9.0 rebounds per game for UNH.


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