America East basketball roster, coacing changes continue

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kentucky vs Stony Brook
This can be a crazy time in the world of college basketball.

Numerous players announce their intention to transfer and coaches either take jobs to make the next step in their careers or are pushed out the door to regroup.

There has already been plenty of activity at the University of Maine, where three spots have officially opened up on the men’s basketball roster.

On Wednesday, it was announced that women’s basketball coach Richard Barron had signed a four-year contract extension after restoring the Black Bears to an America East championship contender.

No panic is necessary for men’s basketball, which lost a mid-major talent in freshman wing Issac Vann and has now opened the door for combination guards Lavar Harewood and walk-on Walter King to pursue other opportunities.

Former UMaine football coach Jack Cosgrove always used to downplay departures, even of key players, saying he would rather, “talk about the guys who want to be here.”

Transfers are part of college basketball, so UMaine men’s coach Bob Walsh now has a couple of more scholarships to work with as the regular National Letter of Intent signing period begins on Wednesday.

The Black Bears’ rebuilding project will continue with the likes of Kevin Little, Aaron Calixte, Troy Reid-Knight and Garet Beal providing some upperclass experience and leadership along with the influx of youngsters.

UMaine isn’t the only America East program to have experienced turnover. At least seven other players, including three at Albany and one apiece at Binghamton, Hartford, New Hampshire and Vermont, are moving on.

There have been a handful of America East coaching changes in both the men’s and women’s ranks.

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, the architect of Albany’s run of five consecutive conference titles and a 146-47 record in six seasons, has headed south. She was recently hired as the coach at Central Florida, which competes in the American Athletic Conference against the likes of national champion Connecticut, South Florida, Temple and Memphis.

At Vermont, the tenure of coach Lori Gear McBride ended when she was relieved of her duties late last month. The former Colby College coach had a 46-134 record in six seasons, each of which ended with at least 20 losses.

In the men’s ranks, Steve Pikiell has left Stony Brook to take the head coaching job at Rutgers, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County hired Ryan Odom and Stony Brook has brought in Jeff Boals.

In 11 seasons, Pikiell led the Seawolves to a 192-155 record and the 2016 America East title. He may have received a slight pay bump at Rutgers, where he reportedly will earn $1.4 million per year with $100,000 annual increases over his five-year deal.

Boals takes over at Stony Brook after spending the last seven seasons as an assistant at Ohio State.

Odom, the son of former South Carolina coach Dave Odom, spent last season as the head coach at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne after a five-year stint at North Carolina-Charlotte. He replaces Aki Thomas, who had a 28-95 record in four seasons with the Retrievers.

BEAR TRACKS … Speaking of transfers, it’s time to close the books on a pair of former Black Bears. Canadian talent Justin Edwards enjoyed a productive senior season at Kansas State. The 6-3 guard was the Wildcats’ leading scorer (12.3 points per game) and rebounder (5.9 per game) and averaged 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals. K-State went 17-6, but was only 5-13 in Big 12 action. He also played in 32 games as a junior, averaging 6.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Former UMaine point guard Xavier Pollard had a good season as he completed his eligibility at Kent State. He contributed 11.6 ppg (third on the team), 3.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals.

The rugged 6-4 guard made eight starts and appeared in 22 games, but had his season cut short by injury. He suffered a fractured foot on Jan. 26 and underwent surgery that wound up being season-ending. The Golden Flashes wound up 19-13.

Former Black Bears guard Dimitry Akanda-Coronel also is ready to resume his playing career. He left UMaine in 2014 and has sat out the last two seasons, but plans to play as a redshirt senior at NAIA member Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

Akanda-Coronel averaged 8 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assists in two seasons with the Black Bears from 2012-2014.

Editor’s note: This post was updated April 13 at 9:13 p.m. to reflect Barron’s contract extension.

Pete Warner

About Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor Daily News Sports staff since 1984. Pete lives in Bangor with his wife of 35 years, Annia. They have two adult sons, Will and Paul. Pete is fluent in Spanish and enjoys visiting his in-laws and friends in Costa Rica. His hobbies including hunting, fishing and listening to jazz.