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Maine played their first exhibition game of the season on Saturday thumping University of Laval (Quebec City) 82-39. The Black Bears played smothering man to man defense in this one, showing off their quickness, length and athleticism. They were led by senior center Mike Allison who pumped in 17 points and 8 boards. Zarko Valjarevic poured in 15 (5 of 9 from deep) and Ali Fraser added 13 points. Some notes from the game... Maine has much more size at the point guard spot with Xavier Pollard 6'2 195 and Shaun Lawton 6'5 190. This tandem can get after it defensively. Last season with Andrew Rogers and Raheem Singleton the point guard spot was a defensive liability. Maine also displayed cohesive team play, nice job by Edwards and Fraser sharing the basketball. This may be a case of addition by subtraction. Gerald McLemore, though a great shooter, was by no means a great teammate. Also of note, Maine was without the services of juco transfer combo guard Leon Cooper Jr, who has a health issue and freshman guard/forward Dimitry Coronel who is sitting out for undisclosed reasons.
 

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BZ i may be off mbr but i'd still love to talk hoops with you!

did you think that the offense looked pretty lost without fraser out there? at times they just abandoned the hi-low setup which I hated. also they let mesghna have the rock in his hands and create a little bit but he did nothing on either end to me that was spectacular or deserving of major minutes. Cato or coronel could contribute just as much at that spot IMO, but i guess time will tell.

with that being said i like how the starting lineup looked overall. the ball movement was really solid and defensively they played quite well. their length will be a major strength and I hope the coaching staff stresses gang rebounding this year as they have the size to have a strong rebounding margin. also: xavier pollard hit a smooth pull up jumper from about 18 feet, top of the key. If he adds that shot to his resume with consistency (him and edwards both!) the two of them could be scary good as an AE backcourt on both ends.

One negative observation: mike allison is struggling as an on ball defender. When he gets backed down he gives up a shockingly high rate of buckets for a guy with his size, length, and athleticism. His problem seems to be that he keeps his arms high so that guys can get shots up underneath his arms, and then when they do shoot over him he doesn't get off the floor, like he's surprised they shot. I think that he is the best off ball defender maine has had in a really really long time and he changes a lot of shots around the rim, but for this squad to be truly elite defensively they need him to improve his on ball D.

as far as replacements, lawton looked pretty darn good and I thought that gloger had a nose for the ball although the results were mixed. I like micovic's size and mobility but he looks like a guy that will have a learning year rather than a contributing year and be a big part of the team going forward. the game just needs to slow down for him a bit but once that happens he has all the tools to be a really productive player at the AE level. A late steal for the staff IMO. valjarevic is such a deadeye shooter I hope that they find a way for him to get some minutes. didn't really pay attention to him on the defensive end.
 

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the only thing i worry about from a personnel standpoint is outside shooting from the frontline. other than that i like the first 5 A LOT.

It looks like it'll be pollard, edwards, mesghna, fraser, allison with Gloger and lawton off the bench first until cooper and coronel are back. they may or may not affect the rotation but we simply haven't seen them to make a judgement. I feel like valjarevic and coronel could spell mesghna depending on the situation and cooper/lawton could spell edwards and pollard.
 

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Agreed on Allison, though I will say that Boris fellow for Laval was a pretty damned good player. He was big and had excellent post moves including a classic sweeping sky hook that he failed to convert. I like the make up and depth of this team. The coaching remains my primary concern.
 
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